RCFE Administrator License

How Do I Get an RCFE License in California?

Opening and operating a California RCFE requires licensure and Administrator certification and is a great business model that benefits those receiving care as well as the investor. 

The first thing to do when wanting to open an RCFE is get your California RCFE license.

This article describes in more detail on how to obtain your RCFE license. 


What Is an RCFE?

So what exactly is a Residential Care Facilities for the Elderly (RCFE). RCFEs are known by many names, especially in states outside California. Some examples include assisted living facilities, retirement homes and board and care facilities. 

They house elderly residents and provide assistance with things like general care, grooming, social activities, and medication assistance. Licensed facilities can be as small as one resident or as large a facility that has several hundred. 


RCFE Licensing — RCFE Administrator Certification Training

California requires that anyone operating the facility as an RCFE administrator be certified and the facility must be licensed.  In order to become an administrator, you must complete the 80-hour Certification course, pass the state exam with a score of 70% or better and submit a certificate application with the required documents and fee.

To open a facility, an applicant must complete the three-hour online orientation that is required by the Department of Social Services (CDSS). An application for licensure is submitted once you have legal control of the building that you plan to operate from. 

The RCFE Certification Course gives you the basic knowledge to operate an RCFE successfully and competently and to prepare for the role of an RCFE administrator. 


Because you will have the responsibility for a number of people’s health and well-being under your care, and you need to know what you’re doing. 


What RCFE Training Includes

A well-structured certificate program includes both online and classroom learning. Once training is completed, you must take the exam and submit your application. Once CDSS processes the application, a certificate will be issued to you and is valid for two years.

In regard to the actual training, Assisted Living Education provides a thorough curriculum that covers all the aspects of opening an RCFE that includes laws and regulations, staffing requirements, application process and allowable and prohibited health conditions that affect client care.

These are just some of the topics you should be prepared to learn during RCFE training in preparation for your Administrator Certificate:

  • Personnel requirements, including initial and ongoing training
  • Background checks
  • Resident Records, Documentation and Privacy
  • Types of Services that can be provided in an RCFE
  • Health-related Services (and staffing requirements)
  • Compliance Requirements and Oversight

Preparing the RCFE license application to open an RCFE can be quite challenging.  The RCFE license is a necessary step to opening a facility. After you establish a facility, you’re going to need properly trained staff and possibly hiring an administrator if you are not going to manage your own facility.

The elderly population may need a variety of services and different levels of care. Assistance with activities of daily living (ADL’s) such as grooming, toileting and medication assistance are some of the common tasks that most caregivers can provide. 

As the level of assistance increases, however, so must the skillset of the caregiver.

RCFEs are not medical facilities and should not provide medical care that falls under the scope of a registered nurse or doctor unless those people are either employees of the facility, on call to the facility to provide as needed assistance or assistance is through the use of a home health or hospice agency. 

These agencies assist the facility with specific care needs that a facility is limited by or restricted from performing assistance. If caring for residents with dementia, staff are required to have a specific amount of hours of training to provide proper support and assistance. 

Proper Staff-to-Client Ratio  

Unlike skilled nursing facilities, RCFE’s do not have regulated staff to client ratios. 

For example, there must be at least one qualified employee (meets the required training to provide care as a caregiver) on call on the premises for 1-15 residents.

In facilities with 16-100 residents, there must be at least one employee on duty on the premises and awake. Another employee must be on call and capable of responding within 10 minutes.

In facilities with 101-200 residents, there must be one employee on call on the premises. Another employee must be on the premises awake and another employee must be on call and capable of responding within 10 minutes.

The need for elderly care will only grow in demand. If you are interested in opening and operating an RCFE in California, now is a great time to enter the industry. 

An increasing aging population will require qualified, ongoing care delivered by caring professionals. Contact Assisted Living Education or check out our upcoming RCFE classes for more information on how to get started on licensing a property as an RCFE or for online classes to maintain your current Administrator Certificate.  


People Also Ask

What is an RCFE license, and why do I need it in California?

An RCFE license, or Residential Care Facility for the Elderly license, is required in California to operate a facility that provides non-medical care and supervision to elderly individuals who can no longer live independently.

What are the basic eligibility requirements for obtaining an RCFE certificate in California?

Basic eligibility requirements include being at least 21 years old, completing required training courses, passing a background check, and having sufficient financial resources to operate the facility.

What training and education requirements are necessary to qualify for an RCFE certificate in California?

Training requirements include completing an 80-hour RCFE Administrator Certification Program, passing a state exam, and obtaining CPR and first aid certification. Additional training may be required for specific services.

Are there any specific background check or fingerprinting requirements for obtaining an RCFE license in California?

Yes, all individuals associated with the facility, including the administrator, staff, and volunteers, must undergo a criminal background check and fingerprinting to ensure the safety of residents.

How long does it typically take to receive approval for an RCFE certificate in California once the application is submitted?

The processing time varies but can take several months. Factors such as the completeness of the application, background check results, and inspection findings can affect the timeline.

What are the costs associated with obtaining an RCFE certificate in California, including application fees and any required training?

Costs can vary but may include application fees, training program tuition, exam fees, fingerprinting fees, and any necessary facility modifications to meet licensing requirements.

Are there ongoing renewal requirements for an RCFE certificate in California, and if so, what are they?

Yes, RCFE certificates must be renewed every two years. Renewal requirements typically include completing continuing education units, updating documentation, and paying renewal fees.

Can you operate an RCFE facility in California without obtaining a license, or are there consequences for doing so?

Operating an RCFE facility without a license is illegal in California and can result in fines, closure of the facility, and legal action. It’s essential to comply with licensing requirements to ensure the safety and well-being of residents.

About Assisted Living Education
Assisted Living Education has been operating in and improving the growing senior care industry for over 15 years. Founded by certified RCFE administrators, Jane Van Dyke-Perez and Bill Perez, we have licensed more than 1,100 assisted living facilities and built close relationships with the California Department of Social Services, assisted living managers, owners and industry professionals. As senior living care educators ourselves, we strive to contribute our knowledge and skills to continually improve senior care and the satisfaction of those working in the industry.