Moms who want to stay home with their children yet work often choose to open a daycare center in the home. In many ways, it’s an ideal scenario for the mom who wants to work at home. You can be with your children, they don’t have to go to daycare, you’re at home and it can be a profitable home business. But there are pitfalls.
Why do you want to open a daycare center?
If you’ve considered opening a home daycare center, ask yourself why. What are the benefits to you? Is it so you can be with your children? If so, consider their ages and how well they might handle seeing you care for other children. Is it so you can stay at home and make a living? If so, consider that having many children in your home can result in a lot of wear and tear on your furniture and other belongings.
Before deciding that it’s time to take the plunge, it’s important to consider issues like these first.
Things you need to get started
Before you even make up a flyer for your home daycare business, you must take care of the same basic business issues first.
Each state has different requirements for your home daycare, and there will be local requirements you must meet as well. At a minimum, these requirements will likely include having first aid and CPR certifications, a food handling permit, and a business license. The local requirements might include having a fire inspection done, passing some basic tests, and sometimes even taking specific classes.
In addition, you’ll want to stock your daycare with the essential products and tools you’ll need to run your business. Some of these items might include toys, art supplies, sippy cups, plastic plates, and other items. Before you make any purchases, you’ll want to consider the age of the children you intend to enroll. While you can have children ranging from infants up through school-age, you might want to focus on a specific age range.
If your own children are preschoolers, for example, you might want to focus on enrolling preschoolers so you can run a preschool curriculum and at the same time provide good playmates for your own children. You might prefer caring for infants and want to start with enrolling infants only.
Depending on the age of the children you do plan to care for, pay careful attention to your local requirements about how many children you can care for in your home. You might be able to hire extra help if you want to exceed the ratio of adults to children, but there will be overall limits on how many children you can care for in general as well.
Both the children in your care and your family members will benefit from having a structure in the home daycare. Make sure you have a set schedule for when children can be dropped off and (even more important) when they can be picked up.
Talk to parents about your system for discipline (and include it in a parent handbook as well). Write up contracts outlining the financial obligations – what kind of payments you’ll expect and when. Have a system for how to handle delinquent payments. Set up a fee schedule for parents who are late retrieving their children.
The more you treat your home daycare like a business, the more the parents whose children are in your care will also see it as a business. They will treat you like a skilled professional rather than a babysitter.
You will have problems. You’ll run into situations like the child whose parents said he was potty-trained, yet he clearly was not. You’ll run into problems with difficult parents and difficult kids. You might have problems with billing or collecting payments. You might run the risk of someone reporting you to child protective authorities when you’ve done nothing to invite it.
Before you open your at-home daycare center, consider all the problems you might run into and consider what your reaction will be to them. If you think you need to have a lawyer draw up your contracts, then spend a bit of money and do that. If you think that you might need to have helpers, hire them.
Opening a home daycare is an excellent option for moms who want to work at home. Plan ahead and do the necessary legwork for a seamless business experience.