Have you been searching for a way to be at home with your own children while earning a living? If so, opening a daycare may be the answer. Home daycare providers typically care for small groups of kids; providing a valuable service to parents in their communities. And by doing so, they get to spend their days with their own children as well.
Getting started takes a little preparation. But with some planning and a small start-up budget, running a successful child care as a home based business can be a great way to have the best of both worlds.
Here are the steps you need to take when starting a daycare in your home.
Learn the laws. Each state has unique regulations regarding home based daycare businesses. So it’s important to familiarize yourself with the laws in your area. This is because most states limit the number of children that a child care provider can host at one time, but the laws vary widely. Some states require no daycare licensing while others require all caregivers to be licensed. There are some places that allow caregivers to take on a few children without being licensed. However, they will mandate licensing for larger groups of kids.
These laws will also outline the steps you will need to take in order to make your home compliant with the regulations. These areas need to be given specific attention in order to avoid getting fines. This will include the need for fire and emergency planning as well as handicap accessible washrooms. If this is the case it may be necessary to obtain a small business loan to fund the start up costs.
Get a grant. Before you even open the doors you will need to do research in obtaining a grant. A grant is monies that are given out by the government to an entity for a specific purpose. Home child care centers are one area of business that has access to a wide variety of grants. Daycaregrants.org is an excellent resource for locating the right program for your business.
Get your house in order. While most homes with children are already equipped with child safety products such as outlet covers, stairway gates, and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, these items become mandatory when a home is used as a daycare. Most states regulate such safety standards. Even in those that do not, common sense dictates that everything possible should be done to ensure the safety of the children in the home.
Go shopping. In all likelihood, it will be necessary to buy some daycare supplies in order to start a home daycare. Each child in attendance should have their own play yard or cot for napping, as well as safe bedding. Spill proof cups (sippy cups), plastic kids' plates and safe eating utensils, craft supplies, books, puzzles, and age-appropriate toys are the basic daycare equipment. Some of these items may already be in place in houses with young children. It may be worth the investment to buy high quality supplies from teaching supply stores as opposed to equipment that is designed for home use. The items purchased will be getting a lot of daily wear and tear. Stores that specialize in these products will provide you with durable items at wholesale prices to lower your start up costs.
Some of these items can be purchased at discount stores to save you money. By checking local thrift stores on a regular basis you may be able to get most of the items needed for your daycare center at a low price. Another great avenue for acquiring supplies is the Internet. The internet has opened a host of wholesale products to savvy consumers. So simply performing a Google search could lead you to a world of home child care products that are just the right price.
Take a class. Many states require that all child care providers be certified in CPR, lifesaving techniques, or first aid training at the least. But even in states that do not, it is wise to take steps in order to be prepared in case of emergencies. When parents drop their kids off for the day they should be assured that their children are in safe and capable hands. Undergoing this training will ensure the children's safety.
There is a plenitude of financial aid programs available for adults who choose to continue their education. But many of these funds go unused every year due to the fact that most adults do not know how to get them. The best way to get started is to visit a local or online college. Let them know you would like child care classes and inquire about assistance. They will help you to gain the funds necessary to start your own business.
Call your insurance agent. Your homeowners insurance does not provide automatic coverage for home-based businesses. However, most companies offer a rider for home daycare providers. It’s vital that daycare centers be amply insured. This is to protect you in case a child was to be injured at your home while in the course of your care. If you plan to transport children in your personal vehicle, make sure that your car insurance provides coverage as well.
Establish your business policies. Before enrolling the first child you must make a few decisions.
- First, establish the hours are you available. Some child care providers choose to operate outside of normal “9 to 5” business hours. This service is a plus for parents who work at night and need daycare after 5pm.
- Next you will need to decide what to charge the parents. This rate varies depending on the business as well as the clientele. However, the average charge for daycare is between $50 and $150 per week per child. Setting fees can be tricky. You need to be competitive, but you don’t want to shortchange yourself, either. Placing a few calls to other caregivers in your area to find the local home daycare rates can help you to decide on a reasonable price for your services.
- You will also need to decide whether to keep children when they are ill or have the parents make alternate arrangements. Many daycare providers choose the latter. However, there are some that will risk caring for sick children.
- Also, you should decide if you will have a formal contract with parents or take a more casual approach. The best way to cover all the bases is to provide a written contract that both you and the parents agree upon and sign.
Remember that there are no “right” and “wrong” answers to these issues. But you should have definite ideas about how you want to run your business.
Set up your files. While your daycare center does not need to have enormous amounts of paperwork, all businesses are sure to have some. Keeping files for licensing information, emergency contact information for each child, copies of your contracts and policies, as well as receipts for tax deductible purchases can make it much easier to stay organized. These papers should be kept organized in a file cabinet that is easily accessible. This will make it simple when you need to access this information quickly.
Spread the word. You're probably thinking, "Now I just need to know how to market my daycare!" Drumming up business it vital, especially when you are just getting started in the industry. You can learn some excellent marketing techniques by taking a couple of online business marketing classes.
But here are some ideas to get you started:
- Place ads in local newspapers. Make sure to save those receipts, as advertising costs are tax deductible!
- Post flyers on the bulletin boards of local businesses.
- Be sure to tell everyone that you know that you are looking for clients. Networking can be a powerful tool in running a successful home daycare!
With the growing population of working parents, the demand for safe and loving home based child care is greater than ever. Parents who have both the space and the patience to run daycare services out of their homes can often make a good living while still being there to witness the important milestones in their own children’s lives.