How to Start a Daycare Business| I will show you how step by step!
How to Start a Home Daycare Center
Childcare is an essential service in today’s economy, and it is something that many parents worry about quite a bit. Starting an affordable, reliable daycare center fills an important need by alleviating some of this worry. At the same time, childcare is sometimes so prohibitively expensive that it makes more financial sense for one parent to stay home. Sometimes it even costs more than college tuition!If your family has made this decision, starting a home daycare center can be a way to bring in some extra income while taking care of your own children.
Crafting a Business Plan
Understand the need.There are many reasons why starting a daycare center is especially economically viable today. Are you a person who can help families adjust to these realities?
- The majority of families today do not fall into a male breadwinner-female homemaker model.
- Shift work is an increasingly prominent feature of the new economy, with more and more people working nights and weekends.
- In some two-parent households, one person works the day shift, and the other works the night shift
- People are waiting longer to retire, which means that grandparents are less available to take care of children.
Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses.If you are thinking of starting a daycare center, you probably like working with children and are familiar with the tremendous amount of energy and commitment that this work requires, but that is not enough to run a successful business. There are a number of other qualities you will need:
- Professionalism and business acumen
- Willingness to take risks
- Ability to supervise staff
- Access to financial resources
- Organizational and record-keeping skills
Think about your particular community.Once you have established a need for daycare in your community, think more specifically about the kind of services you want to provide. You’ve already decided to establish the center in your home rather than in a commercial space, but there are many other considerations to address.
- Look at demographic data. How many children are there under the age of five in your area? You can get this and other important pieces of information from the U.S. Census Bureau or local municipal centers and school systems. Also consider conducting a focus group of parents in your area.
- How many childcare centers already exist to serve these children? You can find this information through your municipal center's licensing office, local daycare referral agencies, or the phone book/Internet. Once you've established a comprehensive list, contact each center to find out how much they charge.
- Is there a need that these centers are not currently serving? Perhaps an age group or time frame is being neglected. If so, this could be your niche. You might want to consider the following options:
- Care during the traditional work day
- Before or afterschool care
- Evening, overnight, or weekend care
- Care for a specific age group
Put aside start-up cash.How much money will you need, and how long will it take you to save it? Alternatively, if you take out a loan, how long will it take to repay it? You will need to calculate both costs and revenues to determine the financial viability of your plan.
- What supplies will you need to purchase? Keep in mind that this is not a one-time cost. You will need to replenish supplies regularly. These include toys, games, books, arts and crafts, playground equipment, and more.
- What alterations, if any, will you need to make to your house to make it safe for children?
- What are the licensing and insurance fees in your state?
- How much will it cost to provide meals and snacks for the children in your care?
- How many children can you care for in your home?
- Will you need to hire extra staff, and, if so, how much will you pay them?
- How much will you charge parents for your services? Will it be enough to balance out costs? Conversely, will it be so much that it drives parents away?
Choose a name and legal structure.Your name should be simple, catchy, and memorable. Your legal structure will depend on the kind of center you hope to operate.
- Many home daycare centers are sole proprietorships. While this is the easiest and least expensive structure, it means that you will have to file both business and personal taxes together.
- Consider becoming incorporated if you employ other people. You will likely need to pay attorney’s fees and higher taxes, but your own property will be protected. Becoming a Limited Liability Company (LLC) is also an option, but the parts of your home, furniture, materials, etc. that you use for the daycare will not be protected.
- Choose a partnership if you and a trusted colleague have complementary skill sets and wish to divide the labor. While this will allow you to participate in business decisions and receive any profits equally, you are also both responsible for any losses.
Look into funding opportunities.Federal, state, and local governments provide a number of grants and affordable loans for people looking to start childcare businesses. See if you qualify for one of these programs to mitigate your start-up and operational costs.
Part 1 Quiz
Which of the following do you need to start a home daycare center?
Research the requirements for home daycare center licensing in your state or locality.The process will not be the same everywhere, but it will have many common elements. Most states will have an office specifically dedicated to licensing childcare centers, most likely located in a division or department of family and/or child services. The U.S. Small Business Association can help you find your state's licensing requirements.
Get the necessary orientations.In some states, you cannot even fill out an application until you have taken an orientation. This will often be free and available online. The orientation serves the following purposes:
- Helping you decide if you want to start a daycare center
- Determining if you are qualified to start a daycare center
- Informing you of what is required before you can open your center
- Going over rules and safety requirements
- Providing information about adult-child ratios and staffing issues
- Introducing best practices in the care of children
Fill out and submit your application.Your state's licensing requirements will tell you where to submit this, although in many cases it will be your county's licensing office. Along with basic identification and residential information, you may need to provide any or all of the following:
- Character references or recommendations
- Medical information, including testing for tuberculosis
- Information about any criminal convictions
- Forms allowing background checks for anyone living in your house (and any staff) who is older than fourteen
- A fee
Receive training.There are a number of areas you will need to know about to run a daycare center successfully. Before you become licensed, you will need to demonstrate your understanding of several different things:
- First aid, CPR, and emergency preparedness
- Developmentally-appropriate discipline and activities
- Child health, nutrition, and development
- Making sure your home is safe for children
- Communicating with parents
Purchase required insurance.Home-based daycare centers will need fire, theft, and liability insurance. You will also need to make sure that your homeowners’ insurance covers the materials you purchase for your business.
Get your home inspected.Before you can open your business, inspectors will need to make sure both that your home is safe and healthy for children and that you have considered their educational, recreational, and disciplinary needs.
Part 2 Quiz
What do you need to do to get your home daycare center licensed?
Running Your Business
Keep detailed accounts.This is where your organizational acumen comes in. You’ll need to keep track of every expenditure and form of income, both for your own solvency and for when it comes time to do taxes.
Maintain affordable prices.In certain states, infant care is more expensive than college tuition. This situation forces parents to weigh very carefully whether or not they can afford to send their children to daycare, or if it makes more sense for one parent to stay home.
- Grants and loans can allow you to keep your prices down.
- You may also be eligible for tax credits.
Stay up-to-date on the latest developments in child psychology, educational theory, and health and safety.Even with stringent licensing requirements, there is no guarantee that daycare centers provide high-quality care. Set yourself apart by establishing yourself as an expert in children’s developmental, educational, and nutritional needs. Consider taking classes at a local community college, which will usually come with a modest charge.
Communicate with parents.Parents will not know what makes your center special if you do not let them know. Consider a weekly or biweekly newsletter that highlights the activities their children have been engaging in. It is even better if you can provide pictures!
Don’t neglect marketing.Many childcare providers say that demand is so high that they often have a waiting list without doing any marketing. However, if you are just starting out, you want to establish your reputation as a professional business.
- Look into graphic design and writing professionals in your area.
- If you are working with someone who has children, you may even be able to trade childcare services for their services.
- As you are designing your marketing plan, think about the same questions you considered when deciding what kind of service to provide (and make sure that your materials describe these specific services to avoid any confusion).
- What audience are you trying to reach?
- How will your service be different from, and better than, the one they are currently using or others they might be considering?
- What characteristic(s) do you want to emphasize? Caring? Flexibility? Affordability? Choose the most important ones, and use them to craft a consistent and appealing image.
Part 3 Quiz
What is the best way to run a successful daycare business?
QuestionCan I do a daycare in my apartment?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou could. It might be a struggle, depending on how small or large your apartment is.Thanks!
QuestionHow do I find out the rules and regulations for starting a center in my area?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerGo to your town hall or courthouse, or look up the rules and regulations for your area online.Thanks!
QuestionDo I charge per day or per month?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt is up to you. Most charge by the week or month.Thanks!
QuestionWhat are the most suitable toys for children 0 to 2 years of age?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerYou should get toys that make sound, like squeaks or music. Toddlers also like to push buttons and play around while younger kids like small balls or rattles. Bells could help.Thanks!
QuestionIs it acceptable to have a friendly, passive pet in my home daycare center?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerHaving a friendly pet in your professional in home daycare is perfectly acceptable. To cover your bases, be sure there is full disclosure of your pet in the marketing of your daycare, your pet is properly trained, and your pet is up to date with shots.Thanks!
QuestionHow old do you have to be to start you own daycare at home?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerIt depends on what country and state you live in. You should be able to find that information on Google. The minimum education you must have could be a factor, as some countries require a few years of higher education. It also depends on the size of the daycare home. If you only have a few children and are the only staff member there, some countries only require you to be at least 18 years old. In many places, you need to be licensed.Thanks!
QuestionI live in Conway, S.C. Where can I go to find out what the laws are in operating a home-based child care system?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerGo to D.H.S. for guidelines.You will also have to get a business license for the state in which you live and apply for the license in the name you want to call the daycare.Thanks!
QuestionDo I have to own a home?KateKatey GirlCommunity AnswerLaws governing an in-home daycare center differ from state to state. Try Googling something like "how to start a home daycare in (enter your state)". Most states have specific departments that handle licensing, regulations and assistance in opening a daycare in your home.Thanks!
QuestionCan I start an in-home daycare at 12 years old?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo, you cannot legally open your own in-home daycare at 12 years old. However, you could start your own babysitting business.Thanks!
QuestionDo I need any professional courses in order to start my daycare?wikiHow ContributorCommunity AnswerNo, but I would highly recommend going through some to make yourself seem more legitimate. You'll probably get more business that way.Thanks!
Sources and Citations
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