How to Start a Home Daycare
The search begins! It seems like everyone is looking for the perfect work-from-home career. There has been a shift across our nation to working for someone else in a 9-5 job to working from home as your own boss. This new dream brings flexibility, independence, and control over your future.
Let’s be completely honest, who wouldn't want that?
What If I can help guide you through how to work from home, be your own boss, and still be a parent to your children while working? Too good to be true? Not at all!
The solution is easy as we show you how to start a home daycare in this blog and in our free downloadable e-book below, so keep reading!
BTW - Go here for tips on how to start a daycare (group center/commercial)
Why Home Daycare for a Career
Operating a daycare from home allows you to:
- Be your own boss
- Create a work schedule that is perfect for you and your family
- Be there for your children
- Be a huge asset to your community
There has always been a massive need for childcare, but even more so now. Childcare programs are oversaturated with children and parents are finding themselves lost with no place to take their children for care. If you are a parent struggling to find placement for your child, starting your own in-home program might be a great option for you too!
I’m not a mind reader, but I have heard it many times and can hear the thoughts filling your head now: “Isn’t this just going to be so much work?” “I don’t even know where to start?” “I know it’s going to be complicated!”
The steps for starting a home daycare vary by state, however, there are certain processes that all home daycares must follow to get started. If you get frustrated or overwhelmed don't worry, contact Child Care Biz Help and we will help guide you through this journey.
So let’s jump into some of the general steps and information!
Terms to Become Familiar With
Let's dive into some common vocabulary of the industry to help guide you through the process.
Home Day Care - This can also be referred to as a Family Child Care Home, In-Home Care, Family Day Care, Home Child Care and I’m sure a few more I’m leaving out. They all mean the same thing, caring for others children in your home.
Licensed - Becoming a licensed childcare provider means that you will be monitored by your local state agency ensuring that you meet certain health, safety, program, child ratio, space, and staffing requirements. The requirements might seem overwhelming when you first look at them, but it is set standards to make sure children are safe in your care. These requirements will vary from state to state.
Registered - In most states there is an option to become a registered in-home childcare program. To become a registered family childcare home you will not be monitored on a regular basis by state agencies, but they are aware that you are caring for children in your home and require you to submit certain documentation on a regular basis to ensure you meet staff and safety requirements for caring for children.
Unregistered - Unregistered, sometimes referred to as family friend and neighbor, is when you are caring for children in your home and a state agency is unaware. This is illegal and you can get yourself into legal trouble. Make sure to check in with your local state laws to see when you would legally be required to become a licensed or registered home provider. The number of children in care requirements vary from state to state but typically read: A home childcare provider who is caring for (blank) or more unrelated children at one time must become registered or licensed with (blank) state agency.
Exempt or Faith-Based Exempt - This is an option in many states for faith-based programs but not typically an option for in-home childcare. Church and other faith-based programs have the option to be licensed exempt and have different standards they are required to meet than registered and licensed programs.
Learn What Your State Requires
The very first step is to research exactly what your state requires and make sure this is a career that will align with your goals. The easiest way to locate your state agency is to visit the National Database of Child Care Licensing Regulations and you will find a simple drop-down to select your specific state. Once you select your state and hit the “Find Data” button it will provide you with links to your state’s webpage.
I honestly find it very helpful to call the agency directly and ask a person any specific questions you might have, sometimes they will even send you resources, and provide you with details and tips to get you started. Just know this is not a process that can happen overnight, it will take some time to get up and running.
Now that you have done your research and found out exactly what requirements you have to meet to open your own in-home daycare, it's time to start plugging away and getting those items accomplished. Most states will provide you with a checklist or a document that details your steps. If your state does not provide this to you, write down the requirements and prioritize your steps.
Some typical requirements are:
- Background Check
- First-Aid and CPR certification
- Home visit
Plan Your Brand and Business
The easiest solution to this step, we suggest partnering with a Child Care Consultant who understands the industry and can help navigate you through building your brand and business. A child care consultant will assist and guide you through making important decisions, follow through with those decisions, and can keep you accountable and adjust if you need to.
In this step, you are planning out exactly what your program will be. There are many decisions in this step, but it can be extremely fun to plan and design the future of your business.
Some decisions you will need to make in this step include:
- What will be your hours
- What will you charge for tuition
- Will you provide meals
- Design your logo and how you will market your program
- What will your design aesthetics be
- Will you need to hire someone to help
- What are your budget and targeted profitability
- What processes and procedures do you need to ensure a healthy and safe environment
If you do decide to work with a childcare consultant, they can help you work through the above steps by using the below project outline for opening a new childcare program:
- Due Diligence (Feasibility study, workforce & demand, financial & enrollment projections, liability)
- Executive Strategy
- Brand Development (Unique Selling Proposition, differentiation, core values, logos)
- Program Development
- Vendor/Systems Evaluation
- Marketing, Advertising, & Lead Tracking
- Implementation of Childcare Plan Services
- Post-live Support
Fine-Tune Your Program
You now have found out what requirements you have to meet and how you would like to design and run your business. The next step is to start setting up your program and fine-tuning the details.
When running childcare in your home it is important to have space for your business and space for personal use. You want to think through where families will drop off and what areas will be accessible for children in your care. You will need to ensure that all the spaces children will be in are safe and secure from the areas they are not allowed to access. You can use child gates and safety locks to ensure children can not gain access to areas they are not supposed to.
You will need to purchase supplies and materials for your program. Some of these items include:
- High Chairs
- Changing table and supplies
- Child-sized tables and chairs
- Cubbies or storage areas for personal items
- Learning Materials
- Naptime items
- Outside Materials
- RugsFirst Aid and Safety items
- Cleaning supplies
- Food items and materials
It's Go Time
Once you have the green light you can start advertising to care for children, you will need to market yourself to families for them to enroll their children with you. When working with a consultant they will typically support you with ironing out a marketing plan, enrollment plan, and business plan, so this step will be much easier.
However, when enrolling families some things you need to consider include:
- How will you market yourself - social media, word of mouth, community events?
- What documents do you need to enroll a child
- Parent Handbook
- Shot records
- Health exam
- Enrollment forms
- Do they sign a contract
The best tip for enrolling families is to start as soon as you can by letting families know your expected opening date and how many spaces you will have available. Many programs choose to have an enrollment fee and/or a registration fee to hold the child’s spot.
The need for family child care homes across our nation is tremendous, and individuals need to take the leap and reach out to becoming a family child care home. It might seem overwhelming at this moment but there are organizations like Child Care Biz Help and your local community agencies to help guide you through the journey!
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