Opening your own home daycare center can be a wonderful way to spend more time with your family and enjoy a career working with children. Before setting off on this adventure, however, you need to determine what your motives are. If you are looking for a way to get rich it isn’t going to happen. If you are looking for an easy job and a day lounging around the house you are in for a shocking surprise.
Running a daycare is not an easy job and there is no place in this field for those who do not love children and have the patience and endurance that is needed to work with them on a daily basis. Taking care of other people’s children is an entirely different job than caring for your own. You need the ability to love unconditionally and to accept the children in your care into your home and family. If, after thinking long and hard about this career choice, you decide that daycare is right for you than there are several steps you must take.
First, you must find out what your state regulations regarding home daycares are. Most states require a food handler’s permit, first aid, C.P.R., and a business license. These are easily obtained with some time and small fees. There are organizations out there that will provide grant money as a reimbursement for your start up costs after you have remained licensed for a set period of time.
After you have done that you need to find out what your city regulations are. The state and local regulations are not always the same. In order to do business in the city that you live in you must follow their ordinances. They will generally want to do a fire inspection of your home and will take a written plan for the amount of traffic you will receive during business hours. None of these things are hard. They simply require time to process.
Create a Plan
Once you have fulfilled all of the legal requirements of running your home business you need to determine what your business model will be. Hours of operation will have to be decided, keeping in mind that you will need to work longer hours than the parents you serve in order to give them time to travel to and from work. A daily schedule will make your day go much smoother and give the children a routine to count on. This will relieve many of the behavior issues you may run into. A contract and parent handbook is necessary to maintain good relationships with the parents and to assure that your own needs are met.
The contract should cover weekly fees, payment due dates, consequences for late payment, and the type of notice on monetary compensation that must be given when the contract is terminated. The parent handbook should cover the rules of your business at home. This is the place to tell parents what you expect of them. Some things you may want to include here are your sick policy, whether or not you allow children to bring things from home, what your stand is regarding vacations and sick days etc. There are many home daycares that have posted their contracts and parent handbooks online that you can look at for ideas.
Be as thorough as possible because these are the things that will primarily determine your satisfaction with your business. It allows you to be in control and avoid many of the typical complains of daycare providers. Once you have a contract be sure that you follow it. This sounds simple but it is easy to become lax in rules trying to please the parents. You need to remember that they have not employed you. You are running your own business and you set the rules. They are a client and agreed to the terms that you set for them. Start strict so the parents know where you stand. It is easier to be more lenient over time as you develop relationships with the parents than it is to go the other direction. The last thing you want is to hate your job because parents are constantly late picking up or paying their fees.
Many daycares choose to provide full preschool programs. If you are not comfortable developing your own curriculum there are many companies such as Mother Goose Time and Funshine Express that will send you boxes of materials every month with each day planned for you. This is not a requirement for running a home daycare. Children can learn quite a lot through play as long as they are actively engaged in activities and interactions throughout the day.
Advertising can be fairly easy. Signs can be printed for under $20 at vinyl shops with your business name and phone number. These can be placed in your yard if your neighborhood allows it or on streets nearby. Flyers can be posted on bulletin boards at many local businesses, including grocery stores. Word of mouth is the best advertising. Talk to everyone you know and let them know what you are doing.
Parents are desperate to find quality daycare and once you build your reputation you will never need to advertise. Local Resource and Referral agencies offer fantastic childcare placement services. They link parents searching for daycare with a list of daycare providers in each city. Be sure and sign up with them once you have received your license. It can take up to 6 months to fill all the openings you have but once you develop a name for yourself your business should be pretty steady.
Daycare can be a wonderful profession with the right attitude and passion. It requires patience and love and a lot of work but the time it gives you with your own children and the freedom to control your employment is well worth the work.