Want to Open a Daycare?
Is running your own home daycare business a great income opportunity from the comfort of your own home or a daily torture session that will stress you to your breaking point? Both can be true so it's important that you understand what you're getting into before you begin. It can be a lot more complicated than you imagined to open a daycare, especially if you intend to include infant daycare. However with a bit of information and a good daycare business plan you can approach the potential possibilities of running your own childcare well prepared and with realistic expectations.
Here’s some pros and cons to weigh out when considering a home daycare business:
The Pros of Opening a Daycare
-It's a recession-proof job that's always in demand.
-You can stay home. No commuting needing.
-You can utilize down time with the kids to take care of other matters around the house or simply relax.
-If you really love children you will have lots of opportunity for rewarding experiences.
-You can make some pretty decent income this way especially if it’s supplemental income.
The Cons of Opening a Daycare
-Obviously crying, fussing, and demanding kids can be very stressful.
-Fussy parents can also be quite stressful.
-There's never as much down time as you would like, especially being in your own home setting. Being constantly interrupted whenever you’re trying to do some simple task can be quite frustrating.
-You may not have to commute to a workplace but at the same time your workplace and your home life will all blend together possibly disturbing your sense of "home sweet home" even when the kids aren't there.
The Legal Requirements For a Home Daycare Business
This all depends on your state and will require some research on your part. Be careful of relying on what others say because many don't really know what the laws are and will give you conflicting information. The best solution is to simply go to a state government website or call a government number where you can talk to someone directly. Some states may require all daycare providers to be licensed daycare providers. Others may only require that you register. Many states will not require either as long as you don't watch more than a certain number of children. If registering is optional in your state then you will have to decide which is more preferable for you. Registering with the state may mean compensation for food and supplies as well as access for the parents to some kind of government aid. On the other hand registering with the state can mean regulations, red tape and even inspections. Also required by some states, whether you're registered or not, is CPR certification. Even if not required it's certainly a good idea and some parents may insist on it.
Making a Daycare Business Plan
With these preliminary considerations in place now it’s time to take your daycare business plan to the next level. There’s a lot to think about and think through before you start:
Your Home Setup
Your home of course will need to be a clean and safe environment. You'll need to consider just how your home will be used, and, not be used for childcare. Which rooms and areas will you keep off limits and how? A baby gate or two may be needed. Will you allow the kids to roam about in your kitchen? You'll want to take extra precaution to avoid injuries especially as this could bring about legal issues. Is your backyard suitable for the children to use? Do you have pets? Pets can be a real problem. Even if they are safe and gentle some parents may have an issue. It will be important for you to be able to keep any pets separated and secure as needed from the childcare.
Other Family Members
It's very important that other families members at home are in synch with the childcare. It can be very challenging for them as well and some clear communication beforehand is essential. They'll have to realize that there will be some sacrifices required on their part.
Number and Ages of Kids
Think carefully about how many kids you want to take in as well as how many you can legally take in. Licensed daycare providers are typically allowed to watch more kids than those who are not. More kids of course means more income but also more stress and complications. Furthermore, the more kids you have the more organization and efficiency your operation will require. Fewer children can keep things a little bit more laid back and flexible. Also think about the age ranges of children you are looking for. Do you prefer toddlers only or is doing infant daycare also a possibility for you? Much of the demand for childcare will be for infants but many childcare providers will only take in toddlers. This means more potential clients if you do infant childcare as well as longer term childcare with the same children. Which is better, to take infants or only toddlers? It depends on you. Infants have simpler needs, they don’t fight with one another and they stay put wherever you leave them. On the other hand they require a more complex feeding schedule and whenever they want something they want it right away and will often scream until they get it. A couple of infants in your house can sometimes result in a sense of constant crying which can really wear down your nerves after a while. Toddlers on the other hand offer the advantage of being more interactive, capable of responding to instruction and are readily occupied with activities and TV (note: some parents will understandably want their children’s TV time to be restricted). However, toddlers can also be prone to boredom, whining, restlessness, getting into things they shouldn't and fighting over toys. This can require a lot more attention on your part to try to keep them occupied and at peace.
Since you are no doubt a parent yourself the supplies you need will be pretty obvious. Highchairs are a must. If you don't have any you certainly don't need to buy anything new. Yard sales are also a good cheap source for just about anything you will need. Most people will practically give away children's items at yard sales. When it comes to beds it usually works best if the parents provide you with a pack and play or some type of portable type of bed that you can keep at your home all the time. These can just be folded and put away during off hours as needed. You probably still have plenty of old toys to get you started. It’s best if children don’t bring their own toys as this can lead to fighting with other kids over their personal toys as well as having their toys get mixed up and lost among your own.
For infants some parents may supply breast milk which you'll have to keep close track of and sometimes freeze or thaw. Whether the infant is on breast milk or formula the parent will likely request some kind of notes for the feeding you give them each day. For toddlers it's actually simpler if you provide the food. You can streamline the whole process and serve everyone the same. Don't forget to keep your receipts for the food you buy so you can deduct the cost from your taxes. If on the other hand the parent supplies the food, and some parents will insist on it, you'll have more to do in keeping up with who gets what. Sometimes the food a parent supplies may also require more work in storing and preparing.
Diapers and Potty Training
If you're watching the little ones they’ll be in diapers and you’ll have task of changing diapers and disposing of them as well as following any special instructions parents may have for the procedure. The hassles of diaper changing however pale in comparison to the challenges of potty training. For one, many parents want to rush the potty training. Being their daycare provider means that you’ll have to go along with their decision to begin potty training whether you think the child is ready or not. Furthermore you’ll end up bearing most of the responsibility for the potty training. This is where you truly earn your money when it comes to doing daycare. Another difficulty with potty training is that even though you will be expected to do the bulk of it, you will not be doing all of it, meaning there will often be inconsistency between your approach and the parent’s approach. Communication with the parent is vital but you may still find yourself feeling stuck between a rock and a hard place with the parent pressing you to make great strides on one side and the child stubbornly resisting your efforts on the other.
Continued in How to Open a Daycare pt 2...