Six Steps to Starting a Child Care Business in Your Home
Starting up a child care business in your home involves quite a bit of planning. Here
are some things to consider:
1. Licenses and Legalities - The first step you'll want to take is learning everything
you can about your individual state laws concerning home child care. Health codes, zoning
laws, liability insurance, required certification, income taxes... just to name a few. Even
if you are re-starting your business after taking some time off, you'll want to brush
up... the laws you remember may have been amended.
2. Research the Competition - Call around to various day care centers, as well as home
child care providers and ask questions. Check on rates, guidelines, hours, how they handle
payment, sick children, and behavior issues. The more you know about what other providers
offer, the better you will know the parents' expectations and will be able to prepare your business.
3. Educate Yourself - Take local classes. Subscribe to child care magazines or visit
your library and read through several of the latest copies. Sign up for several e-zines
and e-newsletters to receive information on day care tips and trends as well as general
news about kids - their behavior, health, and the latest scientific research. Some
information is timeless, but new developments in caring for children pop up every day.
Be in the know and kept up-to-date on these changing issues.
4. Child-Proof Your Home - No matter the age of the children you'll be caring for, you
can't child-proof your home too much. Invest in cabinet and drawer latches, secure gates
for the top of stairs or rooms you want to block off. Put away any fragile items, and
reserve your green thumb for outdoors or put potted plants on high shelves that aren't
reachable, even if an older child stands on a kitchen chair.
Cover sharp corners on tables, furniture or fireplace hearths, and secure fireplace
openings. Lock up all unsafe foods and beverages. Don't light candles. Put away perfumes
or sprays. Keep outlets plugged and cords inaccessible. Keep floors as free as you can of
lint or other objects that babies will inevitably find and put in their mouths. These
things may seem obvious but are often overlooked.
5. Policies and Procedures - If you can, get your hands on a couple of contracts from
local day care centers and see how they are worded. Decide which of these policies you
need to implement. Some important things to cover include the same things you've
researched. Rates, payment options, how much you will charge for late pick-up, behavior
matters, and your policy on sick children and last-minute cancellations.
Be sure to require two or more emergency contacts, as well as full medical information,
including any food allergies or concerns. Have a few trusted and experienced day care
providers look over your contract before implementing, to make certain there are no loop
holes and that everything is covered.
6. Advertise - Of course, word-of-mouth is the best advertising. Make sure parents have
a reason to recommend you to their friends and family. Come up with a brief paragraph that
describes your credentials and have a response ready for when parents ask why they should
hire you. Check into advertising in your local newspaper, on your church bulletin board,
or on Craig's List (www.craigslist.com). Also post ads in places where parents hang out
with their kids: at the park, the zoo, your local YMCA, or town library.
Now that you have covered much of the planning and preparation for starting your own
child care business, it's time to get to work!
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