How To Start An At Home Daycare
If you’ve ever walked into a daycare facility, filled with screaming little voices, paint splatters, and dried up fruit snacks, you may have wondered, what kind of person does it take to run a place like this? It takes a special type of person. But if you ask around, you’ll likely find that most daycare owners fall into at least one of two categories:
- Parents who were looking for a career that allowed them to stay at home with their kids. Once you go maternity leave, it can be hard to go back. If your previous job came with less-than-ideal maternity benefits, getting back into the force after baby can be quite the challenge. And finding a career that has a worthwhile salary after paying for childcare is another story altogether.
- Entrepreneurs who recognized a SERIOUS need. You’d be hard-pressed to find a single community in this country that was fully stocked on daycare providers. Parents need a variety of options, depending on their work schedule, parenting style, and location. Most daycares have a waiting list, some of which require that you join the day your child gets a social security number.
No matter where you are, there is likely a need in your community for more, or better, childcare. And according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, childcare facilities are listed as the sources of some of the most fast-growing employment opportunities in the workforce. Take a look at other daycares in your area. Where are there gaps that you could fill? Where is there a waiting list that you could be pulling children from? Take note of enrollment numbers, ages, popular hours, costs, and services offered.
If you have a passion for children and lack sensitive eardrums, you’d be doing your community a great favor by starting a daycare. Here’s how you can make it happen.
Where Should You Start A Daycare?
Entrepreneurs may be more drawn to the idea of investing in a daycare franchise. The brand name comes with a certain amount of trust that parents will likely flock to. But it’s a cost-prohibitive option. You should expect to pay a bare minimum of $60,000 in franchise fees.
For most daycare providers, that kind of capital for the franchise fee alone likely isn’t plausible. That’s why you’ll find that so many daycare facilities start at home. The startup fees are minimal in comparison if you’re willing to open your doors to a few sticky fingers. Most single-family homes aren’t set up to accommodate the day-to-day needs of both a family and a daycare center, but an outbuilding on your property will likely be more than enough space to keep children safe, fed, warm, and entertained.
A prefabricated metal building on your property or even attached to your current home can be customized with facades, windows, doors, and roofing to match your overall design. You don’t have to sacrifice curb appeal to create a functional new space for your daycare facility.
What Is Legally Required To Start A Daycare?
Contact your state Daycare Licensing Agency. Each state has a different set of requirements and general guidelines when it comes to opening up a childcare business. This may. Impact whether or no opening up a daycare on your residential property is feasible. However, whether your process continues on or off your personal property, the following steps will likely be the same.
- Get registered. Your daycare registration will be based on the number of children you will be caring for at a time. The number of children you are allowed to care for will depend on the size of your space and the number of staff you plan to hire. In some states, you may not be required to register if you keep your enrollment under a specific number. Remember to check with your HOA to see if there are rules about businesses being operated on personal property.
- Fire regulations. Prefabricated metal buildings are an ideal choice for businesses of all types because of fire regulations. The steel components are flame resistant, meeting even the most strict fire codes without any additional customization.
- Health requirements. These will also vary by state. Not only will they impact what is required of your facility, but your staff and clients (aka the children) will need to have updated physicals and immunization records.
- Get certified. Not every state will have regulations requiring that your staff is certified, although some bare minimums like emergency training may be expected. Parents are looking for a facility with trusted staff that will go above and beyond the minimum requirements for their children, so an Early Childhood Education certification, a degree, or more may make a substantial impact on your business.
Questions You Should Ask As A Daycare Provider
When it comes to planning out your daycare business, there are a few questions you should make sure you have answers to. Just because you run a business out of your home doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have a firm business plan in place. After all, most parents expect to interview potential daycare facilities before putting their child on a waiting list. These are a few questions you should be prepared to answer.
- Will you provide food, or are parents expected to pack snacks and lunches?
- What times are you open? What rules are there about early and late pickups or drop-offs?
- What is the minimum age of enrollment? Are there skills that you’ll require a child to master before enrolling, such as walking or eating solids?
- How many children will be enrolled in the program at a time?
- How many children to each provider?
- What is your daycare philosophy? Are you a Montessori program? Will you use technology as a learning tool?
- How long can I expect fees to remain the same? When is tuition due every month? Week?
- What safety precautions and procedures do you have in place for emergencies?
- What is laid out in the contract? Are there rules about sickness, inclement weather, and lateness?
- What allergies and medical conditions are you prepared to accommodate?
How Much Does It Cost To Open A Daycare?
Opening a childcare facility in your home or at least on your property comes with the apparent benefits of being able to create your schedule, work from home, and be with your kids or grandkids. But at-home businesses still come with a variety of expenses, like advertising, educational supplies, housekeeping, bookkeeping, outdoor play equipment, insurance, licensing fees, food, and more.
You also need to take into account your salary. Before setting your tuition, be firm on exactly how much money you’d like to make. This is your home and your career, and while it may be tempting to set your tuition based on what’s competitive in your area, you need to make it worth your while. Daycare businesses tend to fluctuate in cash flow as older children drop out, and the newest generation drops in. Your tuition should be enough to create a comfortable cushion that maintains your desired salary and leaves enough leftovers for emergency expenses.
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