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So You Want to Start a Daycare: 7 Important Tips to Get You On the Path to Childcare

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Is it your dream to start a daycare? Taking care of kids might come naturally to you, but figuring out how to run a daycare center can be more challenging.

Starting a business in childcare requires you to follow stringent guidelines and manage the business side of things, which isn’t as natural to some people.

So You Want to Start a Daycare: 7 Important Tips to Get You On the Path to Childcare

A home daycare center is the easiest option to start since you don’t need a commercial space. State regulations are often less strict for home daycares.

You can ease into a childcare business and eventually expand into a commercial daycare center if you want. Keep reading to learn how to start a daycare.

1. Research State Laws 

When figuring out how to start a daycare, you need a full understanding of the laws in your state. Each state sets requirements for starting small businesses and daycare centers specifically. Before you open a daycare center, ensure you understand those laws and follow them completely.

Some states allow residents to run an in-home daycare without a license. Others require all daycares to be licensed. The licensing process varies, so you’ll need to review the process and complete every step before opening.

Even if your state doesn’t require a license, you might consider getting one to make your business seem more official. Being able to advertise yourself as a licensed facility can appeal to many parents.

2. Write a Business Plan

Starting a daycare requires a business plan to help you run your business. It outlines all of the details of your daycare business and helps guide you as you start and run the daycare.

Things to put in your childcare business plan include:

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  • Mission statement and care philosophy
  • Organizational plan
  • Budgeting details, including operational costs and fees you’ll charge
  • Marketing plan
  • Staffing

Going through the business plan process helps you clarify all of the details and make sure you have a solid plan. You can find business plan templates online to make the task easier.

3. Choose Your Location

When it comes to daycare, 29.5% of infants and toddlers go to in-home daycares while 11.9% go to a childcare center. Many business owners start with an in-home daycare since it’s a more affordable and less involved process.

For a home daycare, you’ll need a dedicated spot to care for the kids that’s safe and has plenty of room. You can use a shared space, such as your living room, but you might need to add some safety precautions. Having a secure, fenced outdoor play area can also be helpful.

If you open a commercial daycare center, start scouting commercial properties in your area that would work for a daycare setup. Reviewing the local daycare facility requirements helps you determine if the building meets those codes or could easily be modified to meet them.

4. Secure Necessities

When figuring out how to run a daycare center, you’ll start learning that some things are essentials. You need liability insurance for your daycare center, whether you run it from home or from a dedicated center. You might need additional insurance types, or you might need to add coverage to your existing homeowner’s insurance if you run a business from home.

If you’re running a center-based daycare or you want extra help in your home daycare, you’ll need to hire staff members. Check state requirements for daycare employees, which might include background checks. Remember that your employees reflect on your daycare’s reputation, so you want reliable, trustworthy people.

5. Create Your Policies and Procedures

Your policies and procedures set expectations for you and your staff members as well as the parents. They cover things like safety, nutrition, schedules, a crisis plan, and attendance.

For example, you might specify that kids can’t come to daycare if they have certain symptoms, such as a fever or vomiting, and that they have to be free of symptoms for at least 24 hours before returning. You’re laying out specific guidelines so parents are clear on what you expect.

Once you develop your policies, turn them into a handbook that you give to parents. Have them sign an acknowledgment that they received the handbook and agree to abide by your policies. This can prevent arguments down the road.

6. Set Up Your Space

Start by making the daycare space kid-friendly, especially if you’re running your business from home. Having a separate room where you can close the door helps keep kids secure.

Adding a door chime to all exterior doors can also be a good safety precaution to keep kids from sneaking out unnoticed.

Check with your local regulations to see what types of safety features you need in the space. You might need a fire extinguisher, first aid kit, and other items, for example.

Once you have the safety elements in place, add the fun stuff. Give kids comfortable spots to sit and plenty of room to stretch out and play.

Set up a toy storage area where kids can easily access age-appropriate activities. Other things to consider include a mini library, craft table, dining space, and outdoor play areas.

You might need extra equipment to keep the kids safe. If you’re caring for young children, you’ll need highchairs, strollers, and cribs to care for them safely. If you plan to drive the kids anywhere, you’ll need car seats.

7. Market Your Childcare Business

When starting a business in childcare, you’re starting from scratch without existing clients. Marketing your new daycare business helps spread the word.

You can start with your current contacts, but marketing beyond your circle helps you reach more clients so you can fill your daycare.

Look for places to promote your business where parents of young kids spend time. That could be online parenting groups, local childcare directories, and local family-friendly events.

Starting social media pages for your daycare business can also help you reach more local people. You can post daycare information and share fun things you do with the kids in your care.

Avoid posting pictures of kids with their faces showing without written permission from parents.

Start a Daycare Now

When you start a daycare, you can make money doing something you enjoy. Doing it the right way and following all legal requirements starts you off on the right foot.

Explore our archives for more startup ideas and advice.

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