Starting a daycare that's successful in your home.
Step by Step Process of Starting a Daycare
Starting a Daycare Step 1
You need to decide if you want to be a licensed facility, enabling you to take up to 6 to 12 children. Or, if you want to just take a few children with no license at all. You need to first check with your local licensing agency to see how many children you can watch without a license. National Resource Center For Health and Safety in Childcare is a good start to find your state's licensing regulations. Getting a license for starting a daycare is a long and stressful procedure. I would first start with a few kids and see how it goes. If you enjoy the work and would like to take on more kids then go for the license. This is a priority when starting a daycare.
Starting a Daycare Step 2
If you don't have kids already then you are going to need to purchase some books, toys and movies. When I was starting a daycare I went to thrift shops and garage sales. You can find fairly new toys and books for a fraction of the price. When you start bringing in income, then go buy the more “expensive” toys. You will also need to print up some forms and notices for the parents to sign. You can find some good samples of day care forms or contracts at Childfun. If you want to get a license, the State has strict guidelines for certain forms that you need to send in for their approval. You will also need to decide on a “name” for your daycare. Be creative and put a little logo with it! SAMPLE:( I created this name for my mom's daycare) Guardian Angels Daycare~ Guarding Your Little Angel.
Starting a Daycare Step 3
You are going to need to sit down and think about how much you want to charge. This can be tricky, call other home daycares in your area and inquire about their prices. You need to be competitive! Here is a “average” full-time (40+ hours) weekly price plan for different ages:
Infants:$100.00 per week
Toddler:$95.00 per week
Preschooler:$95.00 per week
Kindergarten:$80.00 per week
School Age:$70.00 per week
These prices are rock-bottom. You can also charge more for night care and weekends. I also made good “extra” income on drop-ins. Parents who need the night off, parent wants to do some shopping etc. You would charge hourly for this. I charged about $7.00 per hour for drop-ins. Don't price too low, this can attract some undesirable customers!
Starting a Daycare Step 4
Once you get licensed OR decide on just a few kids, you need to start advertising! I have found that putting a sign out in the front yard attracts attention AND business. If you are creative, create the sign yourself. If you have a computer create some nice flyers to pass around local neighborhoods. I would go out and stick flyers on the mailbox flags. Also put flyers in grocery stores, Laundromats ,elementary schools and churches. Leave your name with child care centers in case they receive more requests than their facilities can handle. Ask if you may call people on their waiting list. Prepare and hand out business cards. Design a logo with the name of your program. Consider using children's art. Have your logo printed on T-shirts, knapsacks, diaper bags, stickers, or buttons. Word of mouth is good too! If you are not licensed, some newspapers will not let you advertise, so call and check it out. When you receive calls be sure to have a paper handy with what you provide, your prices, policies, and hours of operation. Do you provide meals and snacks? Or do you require that the parents bring their meals. If you do offer hot meals then state that. If you know CPR and first aid (I highly recommend getting certified in CPR and first aid so you can prove with certificates to the parents) then tell them also.
Daycare Start Up Tips
(1).Once you start receiving children be sure to get correct and up-to-date emergency phone numbers. Nothing is worse then having a sick or injured child and getting a disconnected phone number!
(2). Make sure to have a strict payment policy in effect. Have the parents sign a form stating these policies. I recommend the first week be paid up front with a money order only. Each week will need to be paid before hand. If the customer bounces a check, require that they pay only in money orders after that. I tell you the truth, there are parents out there who jump from daycare to daycare bouncing checks and getting free care for their kids! Be upfront about it when you sign the parent up!
(3). Have a detailed activity planner. From the time you open to the time you close, know what you will be doing with the kids hourly. Schedule meals, playtime, story time, outdoor play and naps at the same time everyday. Kids are happier and you know what to expect( if you have infants none of this applies!). More tips to come!
If you have any tips to add please let us know! I will be more than happy to post them. Help others learn from your mistakes and triumphs.
Starting a Daycare Resources
How Can I Start My Own Preschool – Step by Step Guide, Don't attempt starting a preschool without this guide!
Looking for pre-screened & certified day care programs?
Childfun: Great place for mothers and daycare providers.
National Network for Child Care: Childcare information from America's leading public colleges and universities.
How to Start Your Own Daycare: A well written report!