How to Start a Home Daycare

There are a lot of things to consider before starting a home daycare business. Do you love being with children (and not just your own)? Does your home have the space and supplies? What will your fees be? Are you willing to get a certificate in early childhood development to gain more clients? There are a lot of questions to answer, but a home daycare could provide you with a career that allows you to also be home with your own children.
A woman watches over three children who are coloring pictures on paper.

If you are a stay-at-home mom and love being with your kids, but the stress of not making any money is eating away at you, perhaps opening a home daycare is the way to get the best of both worlds.

Unless you want to just call yourself a babysitter, opening a home daycare is a lot of work. Plus, you have to love kids, love teaching them, and love playing with them--and not just your own. If you want to start a home daycare business and be taken seriously, there are several things to be considered before you open your doors.

1. Contact your local licensing agency and get information about child care regulations. You’ll have to get licensed if you want to care for a certain number of children, and certain ages. If you are not hiring anyone to help you, you'll have to stay with a low adult to child ratio. If you hire an assistant, you'll be able to take in more kids.

2. Consider your qualifications. Sure you’re a mom, but having a certificate in early childhood development is a great asset to impress the parents you are hoping will hire you. The Council for Early Childhood Professional Recognition offers a Child Development Associate certification for about $350 for a three-year certification. It may seem costly, but prospective parents will be impressed and your own kids will benefit from what you learn as well.

3. Evaluate your home and the space that you’ll be using for daycare. Everything will need to comply with required safety regulations such as exits, windows, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, first-aid kits and much more. Your licensing agency should have all that information for you.

4. Purchase the necessary supplies. It will be costly to get started--to have a place for everyone to nap, to have books to read, chairs to sit in, a table to eat at and toys to place with. You may think you have a lot for your kids, but by adding several more kids to the environment you will need a lot more of everything for their entertainment and comfort.

5. Name your business. Your name should set you apart from others, but it needs to state the obvious.

6. Set your fees. Contact other local daycares to see what they charge and determine your fees based on that. Will you set your fees lower to stand out from the competition? Will you charge more for infants because they are more work? Will you raise your fees every year? Will new families be grandfathered into the opening fees forever? Will you provide a discount to families with more than one child at your daycare?

7. Write out your policies. You’ll have to determine your hours, your sick policy, your vacation schedule, and after-hour options you may want to offer parents for an additional fee.

8. Organize your paperwork. You’ll have to create a contract and application for parents (make sure you get copies of immunization schedules for the kids). Contact your insurance agent about getting daycare provider insurance. Talk to an accountant about your tax laws and taxes for your new business. Set up a file cabinet and electronic files on your computer exclusively for your business.

9. Advertise your business. Use social media as much as you can (it’s free!). Spread the word to friends and pin up flyers at store bulletin boards, churches, and other locations where families congregate.

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