Building a Home Daycare Business: Getting Started
If you have a genuine love of children and an entrepreneurial spirit, starting a home daycare business may be a rewarding and fulfilling career path. By starting a home-based business, you may be able to limit your up-front investment expenses and keep overhead costs to a minimum, which makes it a more accessible option than starting an independent daycare center for many caregivers. Still, there are some factors you will need to consider before accepting your first clients and turning your home into a place of business.
Licensing and Regulations for a Home Daycare Business
Federal regulations are limited for childcare businesses, leaving individual states to regulate them according to their own laws. For childcare providers and daycare owners, this means that the laws and regulations you need to follow may vary widely from one state to the next. Some states also make clear distinctions between a home daycare business and a larger daycare center, so you’ll need to make a point of familiarizing yourself with the requisite licensing requirements and business regulations in your area. In addition to state laws, your local government may enforce additional regulations to ensure the health and safety of children in home daycare settings.
Depending on the expected size of your business, your state may not require your home daycare business to become licensed at all. Choosing to forgo licensing will typically limit the number of children who can legally be enrolled in your program, and may also be a deterrent for parents considering your services. If you’re not able to become licensed through your state due to the size of your business, it’s wise to consider accreditation through a reputable program to provide parents with proof of your dedication to high-quality childcare standards. Some avenues for accreditation include NAFCC, NAC and NAEYC.
Even though you will not need to secure commercial real estate to start your business, there’s a strong chance you will need to make some changes to your home in order to meet licensing requirements or simply to facilitate high-quality childcare on your property. For instance, you may choose to renovate an unfinished basement or convert a large garage in order to keep your home daycare business somewhat separate from your personal space. In such cases, you may need to secure financing for a small business loan. In addition to the lending programs available through your own financial institution, you may want to research programs like the United States Small Business Administration. Through such programs, you may be able to secure the financing you need in order to get your home daycare business off the ground.
Contracts and Client Files
The relaxed, friendly environment of a home daycare business can be an attractive feature to parents who feel larger centers are impersonal. Still, it’s imperative for childcare providers who operate a home daycare to understand the difference between “relaxed” and “too informal.” Even though you will likely be marketing and promoting your business as a loving, family environment, you should protect yourself and your clients with the right contracts. You’ll also need to keep a file on each child under your care, where important information like emergency contacts, medical history and allergy information is kept.
Childproofing and Safety Measures for Home Daycare Businesses
A larger daycare center needs to be childproofed and the proper safety measures taken, but a home daycare business may require even more attention in order to ensure a safe, healthy environment for children. Unlike a daycare center, your place of business will also be part of your personal space, so you’ll need to ensure the safety of your clients by keeping any and all medications out of reach, eliminating potential safety hazards and complying with health regulations. Make sure diapering areas and food preparation areas are separated, all toys and equipment is in good repair and basic childproofing guidelines are met.
After you’ve established a business plan, created an environment conducive to childcare, researched and met licensing regulations in your area, you’ll be ready to start accepting clients and building your own home daycare business.