How to Start a Home Care Business in California: A Step-by-Step Guide (2024)

Heather Pollock

Written on 30 June, 2023
Welcome to our step-by-step guide on starting a home care business in California for 2024. This practical, informative, and encouraging resource aims to provide you with valuable insights into launching and growing a successful home care agency in the Golden State.

Disclaimer: This guide is for starting a home care business in California, not a home health care business, as the regulations differ. The information provided should be taken as educational, not legal advice. Please consult a licensed consultant or a legal professional for accurate, personalized advice when starting your home care business. Laws and regulations can change and may vary depending on your specific circumstances. Always perform thorough due diligence.


California, one of the most populous states, presents an excellent opportunity for entrepreneurs like you. As the population ages, the demand for compassionate, reliable home care services grows, making it a promising sector to venture into.

But, starting a home care business is not without its complexities. This guide aims to simplify this process, giving you clear, concise, and actionable steps without getting bogged down in jargon. We'll take you through the unique requirements and processes of setting up a California home care business, providing practical growth strategies while maintaining a positive and motivating tone. So, let's get started on how to start a home care business in California.

Read this Guide First: How to Start a Home Care Business

Before we delve into the specifics of California, we recommend that you familiarize yourself with our Comprehensive Guide to Starting a Home Care Business. This article will equip you with foundational knowledge for starting a successful home care agency across any state, making the California-specific details easier to navigate.

Understanding Home Care in California

The world of home care is dynamic and varied. It provides an invaluable service, assisting those who need help with daily activities and ensuring they can remain comfortable in their homes.

Please note the disclaimer above. This guide is for starting a home care business in California, not a home health care business, as the regulations differ.

The Benefits of Starting a Home Care Agency in California

Starting a home care agency in California has many advantages. Firstly, the sheer size of the state's population, coupled with an increasing percentage of seniors, creates a substantial market for home care services.

Moreover, a home care business can be a rewarding venture, both financially and emotionally. You'll have the opportunity to provide a crucial service that improves the quality of life for many people while also creating employment opportunities within your community.

Do I Need Home Care Training in California to Get a Home Care License in California?

Training is a vital component of preparing to run a home care business. In California, while there's no specific training course you must complete to obtain a home care license, having relevant knowledge in the field can significantly help with the process.

For instance, understanding patient care, first aid, basic health and safety, and some business management principles can be advantageous. Many online and community college courses can provide you with this knowledge.

Before You Try to Get a Home Care License in California, Be Sure It's a Home Care License You Need

When it comes to providing care services, it's essential to understand the difference between a home care business and a home health business. The former primarily involves non-medical assistance, like help with daily activities, while the latter involves providing medical care.

Getting a home care license in California will permit you to provide non-medical services. If your goal is to offer medical services, you must consider setting up a home healthcare business with a separate licensing process.

Before embarking on this journey, consider your business goals, expertise, and the needs of your prospective clientele. Knowing which license to obtain can save you valuable time and resources.

Laying the Foundation for Your Home Care Business

Staying a solid foundation is essential before diving into the specific logistics of launching a home care business. These initial steps are critical from your unique selling proposition to the business structure and the initial set-up.


Identifying Your Unique Selling Proposition (USP)

Your Unique Selling Proposition, or USP, is the factor that distinguishes your home care business from competitors. It could be a specific service you offer, a high level of expertise in a certain area, or even your approach to patient care.

Consider what makes your business stand out. Is it your staff's exceptional training or the range of services you offer? Perhaps it's the personalized care plans you create for each client. Your USP is what will attract clients to your business instead of choosing a competitor.

Deciding on how you want your California home care business to be taxed (Inc vs. LLC)

The next step is deciding on the legal structure of your home care business. Your choice between an Incorporation (Inc) or a Limited Liability Company (LLC) will affect how your business is taxed, your personal liability, and the way you run your business.

Each structure has pros and cons; your choice depends on your circumstances. It's recommended to consult with a business advisor or attorney to understand which is best for you. The California Secretary of State's website provides an excellent starting point for understanding the differences.

Creating your home care business in California

Once you've decided on your USP and legal structure, it's time to create your business officially. This step involves registering your business with the state of California, obtaining a Federal Tax ID, and getting the necessary licenses and permits.

The California Business Portal CalGold can provide information on the specific permits and licenses you will need. It's also a good idea to consult with a business attorney to ensure you have all your legal bases covered.

Remember, this is the first step on a rewarding journey. Take your time to plan and prepare properly to set your home care business up for success.

Setting Up Your Operations Center

The operations center or office for your home care business is crucial. Here, you'll manage administrative tasks, conduct staff training, hold meetings, and more.

While the location depends on your specific needs, it should be easily accessible, provide a professional meeting setting, and have enough space to accommodate your staff comfortably.

When setting up your operations center, also consider the technical requirements. A reliable internet connection, office equipment, and suitable software for managing appointments, payroll, and client records are essential. The California Small Business Development Center can offer assistance in setting up your operations center.

Does my California Home Care business need an office?

While much of your staff's work will be conducted in clients' homes, having a dedicated office for your home care business can be beneficial. An office provides a professional setting for staff meetings, client consultations, and day-to-day administrative tasks.

However, the need for an office may depend on the scale of your operations and the nature of your services. For instance, a small business focusing on a narrow geographical area might initially manage without a dedicated office space. Consider local and state regulations when making this decision, as some jurisdictions might require an office location for licensing.

Developing Your Business Plan

A well-crafted business plan is like a roadmap for your home care business. It outlines your business goals, the strategies for achieving them, marketing plan, and financial forecasts.

Your business plan will guide your day-to-day operations and help you make informed decisions. It's also essential if you're planning to seek outside funding, as lenders and investors will want to see your business plan.

Elements to include are an executive summary, company description, market analysis, organization and management structure, services, marketing and sales strategy, and financial projections. The U.S. Small Business Administration has a comprehensive guide on writing a business plan.

Remember, developing a business plan isn't a one-time task. It should be revisited and revised as your business grows and changes.

Setting Up the Legal and Financial Structure

After establishing the foundation of your home care business, it's time to set up the legal and financial structure. This process involves ensuring your business, getting your Tax ID and EIN, and understanding California's specific home care policies and procedures.

Insuring Your Home Care Business in California

Insuring your business is a critical step. Not only does it protect your business from potential risks, but it's also often a requirement for getting your home care license. You'll need liability insurance at a minimum, and depending on the specifics of your business, you might also need professional liability insurance, workers' compensation, and non-owned auto insurance.

When choosing an insurance provider, consider their reputation, coverage options, and cost. The California Department of Insurance provides resources to help businesses find the right insurance.

Obtaining Your Tax ID and EIN Number to Start Your Home Care Business

To start your home care business, you must obtain a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) from the IRS and a State Employer Identification Number (SEIN) from the California Employment Development Department. These numbers are used for tax reporting purposes.

You can apply for an EIN through the IRS website. For the SEIN, you can apply online through the California Employment Development Department website.


California Home Care Policies and Procedures

Understanding the policies and procedures regulating California's home care services is critical. These guidelines dictate how services should be provided, staff qualifications, and health and safety protocols, among other things.

The Home Care Services Consumer Protection Act governs home care organizations in California, and the Home Care Services Bureau is responsible for licensing and oversight. It's essential to familiarize yourself with these regulations to ensure your business remains compliant. You might also consider consulting with a legal professional who specializes in-home care to help navigate these complex regulations.

Obtaining Licenses and Permits

Ensuring you have the correct licenses and permits is critical to starting your home care business in California. This process involves understanding what you need at the state and local level, how to apply, and how to maintain compliance.

Obtaining a California Home Care License, Permits, and Accreditations

All home care agencies in California must obtain a home care business license from the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) Home Care Services Bureau (HCSB). To obtain this license, you will need to submit an application that includes information about your business and its services, background checks for all home care aides and staff, proof of insurance, and a $5600 application fee. More information on this process can be found on the CDSS website.

In addition to the state license, you may also need to obtain permits and accreditations depending on the services you offer. Be sure to research what is necessary for your specific business model.

Obtain Local Business Licensure and Prepare to Open Your Home Care Business

In addition to your state license, you may need to obtain a local business license in the city or county where your home care business will operate. The requirements vary by location, so you must contact your local business license office for specific information.

The California State government provides a tool, CalGold, to help you identify the specific permits and licenses you will need based on your business type and location.

Once you have obtained all necessary licenses and permits, you can begin to prepare to open your business. This involves hiring staff, setting up your office, and beginning to market your services.

Home Care License Requirements in California

Obtaining a home care license in California involves meeting a number of specific requirements. These include:

  • Submitting a complete application to the CDSS HCSB

  • Completing criminal background checks for all administrators and home care aides

  • Providing proof of worker's compensation insurance for all employees

  • Meeting the standards for personnel, including qualifications and training for home care aides

More detailed information on these requirements is in the HCSB Licensing Application Guide. Remember, ensuring that you fully understand and meet all requirements is crucial to avoid any potential delays or issues with your application.

Building Your Caregiver Team

Your team will be at the heart of your home care business, providing the services that your clients need and representing your business in the community. Building a strong, competent team involves careful recruitment, thorough training, and setting up efficient payroll systems.

Bookmark this article to read next: The Comprehensive Guide to Recruiting Caregivers: From Job Ads to Retention. While not state-specific, this guide covers creating job ads to how to retain top caregivers, and everything you need to build a strong caregiving team for your home care agency.

Recruiting and Training Your Staff of Non-Medical and Medical Professionals

When hiring your team, look for candidates with a passion for helping others and a history of reliability. Home care aides need to be dependable, compassionate, and able to handle various tasks.

Recruitment can be done through job posting sites, local classifieds, or healthcare job fairs. You could also contact local training programs or colleges offering home care courses.

Once you've hired your staff, training becomes a top priority. Training should include job-specific skills, company policies and procedures, and state regulations. In California, home care aides must complete at least 5 hours of entry-level training before interacting with clients and 5 hours of annual in-service training.

For further guidelines and standards, consult the California Department of Social Services.

Hiring Staff and Setting Up Payroll in California

Once you have recruited your team, it's time to set up your payroll system. This includes determining salaries, setting up a payment schedule, and ensuring you withhold the correct amount for taxes.

You might consider using payroll software or hiring a payroll service to streamline this process. If you choose to manage payroll yourself, be sure you understand California's specific regulations regarding wage and hour laws, tax withholdings, and more. The California Employment Development Department provides resources to help with this process.

Hiring and payroll are areas where legal mistakes can be costly. It's recommended to consult with an HR professional or employment lawyer to ensure you're following all laws and best practices.

Marketing and Growth Strategies

Launching your home care business is just the first step. The next is attracting clients and growing your services.

Marketing Your Home Care Services

Effective marketing is key to reaching your target audience and standing out in a competitive market. Marketing strategies for a home care business may involve building a strong online presence, leveraging local partnerships, and investing in advertising.

However, marketing a home care business involves a lot more than just spreading the word about your services. You need to understand your client's needs, develop a strong brand message, and create a marketing plan that brings everything together in a coherent, effective strategy.

Given the importance and complexity of marketing, we've dedicated an entire guide to this topic. We highly recommend reading The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Your Home Care Business to learn how to attract and retain clients, increase your visibility in the community, and stay ahead of your competition. 

Bookmark this guide and use it as a reference as you develop and implement your marketing strategy.

Professional Help and Resources

Starting a home care business can be complex, but you don't have to do it alone. There are numerous resources available that can provide guidance, advice, and professional services to help you navigate this journey.

California Home Care License Resources

The California Department of Social Services (CDSS) is a key resource for any home care business in California. Their Home Care Services Bureau provides detailed information on licensing requirements, including the Home Care Services Consumer Protection Act and licensing application guide.

California Resources for Starting Your Home Care Business

The California Secretary of State provides resources for starting a business in California, including forming an LLC or corporation, registering a business name, and more.

CalGold, provided by the California State government, is an invaluable tool for identifying the specific permits and licenses your business will need based on your business type and location.

California Home Care Services Bureau

The Home Care Services Bureau is part of the CDSS and provides a wealth of information on home care licensing, training requirements, and other regulatory matters.

California Association for Health Services at Home

The California Association for Health Services at Home (CAHSAH) is a professional association for home care providers in California. They provide education, advocacy, and resources for their members.

California Home Care Consultants

Consultants can provide professional advice and services to help with starting your home care business. They can assist with developing a business plan, navigating licensing requirements, setting up operations, and more. While many consultants work nationally, finding one specialising in California home care businesses can be beneficial. Always be sure to research any consultant thoroughly to ensure they are reputable and a good fit for your needs.


What licenses do I need to start a home care business in California?

You need a Home Care Organization License from the California Department of Social Services (CDSS) and local business licenses depending on your city/county.

How do I get a California home care license?

You must apply through the California Department of Social Services (CDSS), complete a 10-hour training program, pass a background check, and meet other requirements.

How much is a home care license in California?

Information from September 2021, the initial licensing fee for a Home Care Organization was $524. Check the CDSS website for the most current information.

Do you need a license to be a private caregiver in California?

Private caregivers (Home Care Aides) must be registered, and background checked through the CDSS.

Do I need a business license for a home-based business in California?

Yes, you generally need a business license for home-based businesses in California, but specific requirements can vary by city and county.

How do I become a home care provider in California?

Home care providers must obtain a Home Care Organization License from the CDSS, register their business, meet all local and state requirements, and hire qualified staff.

Is the home care business profitable in the USA?

Home care can be profitable, with revenues depending on factors such as the number of clients, services offered, and operational efficiency.

How much do home care providers get paid in California?

Pay rates for home care providers can vary greatly depending on the services provided, location, and specific arrangements. Always consult current labor market information.

Can a non-resident start a business in California?

Non-residents can start a business in California, but additional requirements and implications may exist, particularly for tax and legal purposes.

How long does it take to get a business license in California?

The time to get a business license can vary based on local regulations and the specific type of business. Always check with your local city or county for the most accurate information.

Final Thoughts on Starting Your Home Care Business in California

Starting a home care business in California is a rewarding venture requiring careful planning and understanding of state and local regulations. While the process can seem complex, by following the outlined steps, you're well on your way to creating a valuable service for your community. 

Remember, it's essential to stay updated with the latest regulations from the California Department of Social Services and to consult with professionals when necessary. With determination, preparation, and a strong business plan, your home care business can become a reality, providing essential services to those who need them most. Best of luck in your home care business journey!

Schedule, Invoice, Track, and Manage - With ShiftCare

With ShiftCare's HIPAA-compliant home care software, managing your home care agency has never been easier. It's specifically designed with the unique needs of home care agencies. Your team can add care notes on the go with our mobile caregiver app. They can even update patients' vital signs using our convenient voice-to-text feature.

We also provide document templates tailored for different patient groups, ensuring no crucial information is overlooked.

ShiftCare comes packed with a wide range of essential features, including scheduling, time-tracking, and billing, all intended to streamline your operations as you establish and grow your home care business in California.

Experience the ease of care management. Try ShiftCare for free today.

Like this story? Share it with others.

You may also like these stories

Start your free 7 day trial.

Deliver a higher standard of care, all from just $9 per user a month.


Support Rating


Hours Scheduled


Clients Supported


Revenue Generated

Would you like to visit our site?