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.
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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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