An Overview of the Daycare Service Industry
The daycare or ‘child care’ industry generally refers to the care of children by non-family members outside of the home. The industry is quite broad and includes small home-operated daycare centers right through to large pre-school centers that take on an educational role as well as caring for the physical needs of children.
Some daycare businesses focus on children of a certain age. Infant care centers look after babies and children younger than two and ‘before’ and ‘after’ school care centers cater mainly to older children up until their teenage years. The main sector of the market is children under six who have not started school yet.
Daycare is a multi-billion dollar industry in the US and it has shown phenomenal growth over the past three decades, spurred on by the fact that more women are choosing to work instead of remaining at home with their children.
Higher divorce rates have also meant that women are sometimes unable to take care of their children at home and have no choice but to work to support themselves financially.
The industry shows no signs of slowing down and is set to continue to grow over the next decade. Daycare has proven itself to be surprisingly resilient to recessions in the past.
Many people are drawn into the industry as it offers good opportunities for smaller sized businesses and it generally has low barriers to entry in terms of costs as well as red tape.
The top reason that attracts people into daycare though would be a love of children. Daycare professionals work with children for most of the day and have a great chance to contribute to their growth and development.
Training requirements are still quite minimal for daycare workers with most states only requiring a child care certificate that can be achieved with less than 100 hours of study.
While many people think that working with children is a dream come true they often discover that it can be more stressful than they originally thought so staff turnover rates are generally higher than other industries.
Parents are becoming more selective about the kind of environment that they want to leave their children in. Most parents now understand that the first four or five years of a child’s life are so important in that they highly influence the way that a child will learn and interact with others and their environment as they get older.
Daycare has become much more than babysitting as parents have realized that it is important that their children are in an environment that stimulates learning and mental and physical development. There is definitely a trend in the industry towards quality in this respect.
The future of the daycare industry looks bright and savvy entrepreneurs who are able to balance a love of children with some good business sense should be well rewarded for their efforts.
The Different Types Of Daycare
Individual have different dreams in life. Most people have difficult time in choosing their careers. Other women don’t practice their professional career because they are obliged to stay home to take care of their children.
If you’re one of them, why not consider a career in daycare. You can watch and care your own children and at the same time you earn extra income to take care other children.
Before you start opening your own daycare business, you must know which type of daycare you want to run. There are few facts you should know. There are different kind of daycare, the facility daycare and the family daycare.
You can choose which type of daycare business you want to operate. In facility daycare, enrolled children under your care must be 12 or more. Your daycare center must pass the inspection made by the inspector of the state. You must meet the requirements they need.
They make sure the children under your care are safe. Inspector checks the premises if your house has fenced including the play equipment outdoor must meet their expectation.
On the Family daycare you need up to 8 children enrolled under your care. You also need to pass the inspection on safety and health they required. You must also have assistant to help you in caring for the children. You have to secure licensed for your daycare business.
Your assistant must be licensed on CPR. Some facilities required their employees for background checking and even criminal record checking. This policy is advantage in your business and for the children. You will be sure the employees you hire are trustworthy.
Having a quality daycare service is rewarding, parent will trust you and your daycare that their children are in good hand. You can select what age group you want to take care.
Taking care of them is easy because they have same interest. Children aged 4 to 6 loves to draw, you can give them coloring book. And you can tell them their favorite story. Having a license means higher pay as well. Infants and toddlers need more attention and care.
It depends on you which type of daycare center you want to operate. But make sure you meet the entire requirements before you operate your business. Secure insurance license for your daycare center.
This is for your protection and the children as well. If you want to know more about daycare, there are websites that can help you. They will give you guidelines on the different types of daycare.
7 Steps to Starting Up a Home Daycare
Starting a home daycare is a great business for stay at home mom or someone that wants to work from home and loves to care for children. Moreover, there is a great need for infant/toddler care and a many parents prefer that their young children are in a home setting until they are old enough to go to preschool.
Step 1: Is a Home Daycare The Right Business For You?
Caring for children is a very rewarding and at the same time is very demanding. Also, caring for children in your home could mean working 10-12 hour days. Moreover, if you prefer to work from home and love to nurture and care for young children… starting a home daycare is the right business for you.
Step 2: Licensed or Un-Licensed Care
In most states, you do not need a license to care for 4 or less children and there are less regulations to follow when starting up as an unlicensed childcare provider. If you are going to care for more than 4 children, you may need to apply for a childcare license. Having a childcare license, simply means that your home daycare practices will be monitored by the local childcare licensing division.
Step 3: What Age Group will You Accept
The age groups in your daycare will inspire the type of equipment and material that you will need in your home daycare. If you choose to care for infants you will need 1 crib and/or a playpen for each infant/toddler and a cot for each preschoolers.
Some of the other materials needed for infants includes: a high chair, changing table, diaper genie, wash-able floor mats and infant/toddler toys. For preschoolers, you will need: preschool size tables/chairs, puzzles, blocks, pretend play toys, art supplies, books, outdoor equipment, science materials and a preschool curriculum.
Step 4: Establishing your for Childcare Fees/Rates
Your rates for your services will determine the amount of income that you will make in your business. A great place to start with determining your childcare prices is by calling other childcare providers in your area to compare prices. Keep in mind, when you provide high quality care, parents are willing to pay for it. Charging an non-refundable enrollment fee, secures the child’s slot and it assures you that the family will bring their child to your daycare.
Step 5: The Name of Your Home Daycare
The name of your business will compel families to visit your daycare. For example, if you choose to name your daycare, Alphabet Kids, this gives parents the impression that your daycare is all about learning. Your name should also reflect your goals and desires for your daycare.
Step 6: Marketing Your Daycare
Marketing for business owners has become less expensive because of all the free places to advertise online. Some of the places that you can market your daycare for free includes: Craigslist, Facebook, Twitter, your local child resource and referral agency. Also, contact the local schools, to inform them that you are starting up a daycare in your home. Creating a website is also another way that you can market your home daycare. In fact, Websites are very affordable now and in some cases they are free.
Step 7: Holding an Open House for your Daycare
Once you have all of your materials and equipment that you will need for your home daycare, it is now time to hold an Open House and invite families into your home. Telling your neighbors about your open house is a great place to start.
When you tell your neighbors about your home daycare, the news will spread from neighbor to neighbor and this is another way to help build your enrollment. Word of mouth referrals, are the best referrals!
Are you searching information on daycare laws? You would like to take your baby sitting service to the next level and you realized, you want to run a daycare business. There are things you have to consider, this pertain in taking care of children which are not your own.
You must know the laws in your community regarding in running a daycare service. There are different laws from state to state regarding on childcare. Have your daycare service certified by the state. The inspector from the state will check your facilities. The state inspector makes sure that your daycare center is suitable for children daycare.
The inspector will ask you, how many children you will accept in your daycare? You make sure that there are available spaces and safe place for each child. You will receive certification stating you can operate the daycare center, if you pass the inspection. Make sure the employees you hire have been certified to perform CPR and your staff must be adults and certified to perform life saving on infants and children.
Call your Better Business Bureau – this can help you figure out which agencies handle the daycare law licensing in different state. They will able to pin point the right state licensing bard for you. You then received a document before the state inspection.
You must know the requirements in opening a daycare center because it changes from state to state. Passing the inspection is quite hard. The playing area must be fenced and playing equipment that meet certain expectations. Cleaning chemicals should be properly kept.
Your employees should undergo a background check and criminal check. In knowing that your employees have no criminal records, this will give confident that the children under your care are safe.
This will give you advantages, if the employees you hire are trustworthy. Some daycare employed nutritionist to ensure the right food was given to the every child in their daycare. Opening a daycare service is not easy. There are lots of things you need to settle, especially in the beginning.
In opening a daycare center you must be familiar with the rules and regulations. State law on daycare varies from state to state. You need insurance as well, for your business protection as well as children’s protection.
Your daycare must have play equipment for children and right equipment for infants. Make sure all things are okay and you can cope with everything details needed in your daycare business.
Planning Your Daycare Activities
Most parents look up the activities offered by the daycare centers before they decide to enroll their child or children. Modern times have pushed parents to demand more than just supervision from daycare centers.
Nowadays, parents demand that daycare centers impart knowledge and at the same time be playful and fun to their children. Daycare activities are crucial in developing the children’s physical, mental and emotional aspects of his or her personality.
As children’s needs vary as they age, daycare activities should be custom made to fit specifically the needs of the children considering the appropriateness to the children’s age and needs.
The range of age your daycare center caters will aggravate this problems but with patience and proper planning, one can create a systematic way of developing the best out of the children. Read on to find out more about the activities fit for the age of the children you have in your daycare center.
Infants and young toddlers, how little and innocent they may appear, also need activities like older children. For younger infants, they need to develop their motor control and muscle tone.
This can be achieved by letting them play more on the floor. Their cerebral functioning may be stimulated by presenting to them colored and noisy rattles and squeeze toys. As they grow up, they will find interest in push-pull toys, building blocks toys they can ride and stacking toys. Music is also a good stimulus for this age group and peek-a-boo games are very much liked by them.
Moving up the ladder, older toddlers need to develop new skills and fresh concepts that they can use as they grow up. These children love to dress up and act out adult tasks like going to work, making a home, having tea parties, etc. Being able to accomplish outdoor activities, solve puzzles, build blocks, and create arts and crafts are very important in the development of these children.
Accomplishing these does not only stimulate them mentally but socially as well. Try to find activities that accomplish both tasks. This is also the age group that I mentioned a while ago that finds pleasure in helping out with adult tasks. With proper guidance and supervision, you can let them help you take care of younger children.
Books benefit pre-schoolers to prepare them for school. Reading is the most crucial skill this age group has to learn to do. Provide them with an ample supply of picture books and let them tell their own stories as they go about the pictures.
It is important that your daycare center be structured and systematic especially if you cater to a wide range of enrollees. Have separate schedules for each age group activity.
However, because of unforeseeable circumstances like the uncooperativeness of the children, schedules should never be too rigid and stay flexible and susceptible to change. It is still possible to combine age groups in one activity but close supervision should be implemented when doing so.
Activities should never be limited and confined indoors. Children can learn a lot from the environment outside the 4 walls of your daycare center. Activities that can be done outside are baseball, hide and seek, tag you’re it, and many more.
The playground is a heaven for these young children. They love to slip and slide and simply let everything come loose and play. Infants benefit from this outside experience by generating Vitamins created through exposure to sunlight.
The Equipment and Materials Needed
Children need lots of love and attention and every daycare facility’s goal is to provide this in lieu of the parents. This is why individuals who want to open a daycare must be well prepared for the service, providing their charges with everything necessary to keep them comfortable and safe while keeping them mentally stimulated. This can be done through an excellent staff, a good management plan and of course, the right materials close at hand.
Crayons, papers, glue, child-safe scissors, clay and various other art materials should be kept ready at all times. Art time is something that daycare facilities should encourage to develop the creativity of the children. Note however that some art materials might prove dangerous when ingested which is why children should be thoroughly supervised during this time.
Age Appropriate Toys
The toys should be free of small parts that could prove as choking hazards. Some of the most common toys found in daycare facilities include Lego, puzzles, fire trucks and dolls. Ideally though, the daycare should be able to provide toys that are educational or would help hone the child’s skills and talents. A good example of these would be musical toys, perhaps encouraging children to sing or conduct concerts during playtime.
Play Area – Swings and Crawling Spaces
Art and toys aren’t enough considering the amount of energy children have. Before trying to open a daycare, owners should first make sure that there is ample space for a make shift playground. Ideally, this should contain slides, swings, tunnels, climbing area and other facilities that would keep an energetic child satisfied. Note that the play area should be free o sharp edges or any loose parts.
Beds and Cots
Provide the children with a comfortable sleeping area with proper padding to keep them protected. Note that the bed area should be separate from the rest of the room and kept clean at all times.
Clean Bathroom and Towels
There’s no question that children are prone to getting dirty no matter what they do. Daycare facilities should be prepared for eventualities like this by providing children with a clean bathroom, towels and even extra clothes for the children.
Snack Time Equipment
Provide the children with dishware made in plastic to ensure that there wouldn’t be any breakage during snack time. High chairs are necessary for daycare facilities taking care of younger children.
This is crucial for daycare facilities catering to infants. The diapering area must be far away from the other areas of the room while being close to the faucet. This would make it easier for the staff to clean and sanitize the area to ensure that the children remain safe at all times.
Of course, those aren’t the only things needed before trying to open a daycare center. Note that some things must NOT be present in the room such as hazardous materials, wide open doors or easily accessible wires and electric sockets. For a more thorough idea of how to start a daycare, refer to the local business administration for their rules and regulations.
The 7 Biggest Mistakes Most New Daycare Owners Make – And How to Avoid Them!
What does it take to be successful in child care?
Obviously, you should have a deep & passionate desire to take care of children, a huge amount of patience, and the ability to juggle several tasks at once (such as warming a bottle while helping toddlers with an art project).
It also helps if you have a separate space in your home, such as a finished basement, where you can run your child care business.
But as if that isn’t enough, there are many things that a successful home daycare owner needs to be good at besides caring for children. Honestly, it can be quite daunting.
Things like getting paid on time from parents, writing solid policies & contracts, marketing your business to new potential clients, obtaining the right insurance policy, understanding record-keeping and how it affects your taxes, and overall, just getting started in a manner that will optimize success.
To help you get started more successfully, here are seven of the biggest, costliest mistakes women make when starting their own home-based child care business, and how to avoid them.
BIG MISTAKE #1: Not doing the proper research on the child care market in your town or city.
This is a crucial step that many new child care business owners miss, usually because they’re not sure how to go about it. Or they may think that it’s not really necessary to do the research, because they don’t understand how it could impact them.
After all, it’s just a small home-based business, right? Why do you need to do all that extra work up-front?
The goal here is not to spend weeks or months completing some huge market research project that you’re not ever going to use.
I’m talking about spending a few hours over the next few days, calling around (or maybe visiting some other child care businesses) and asking key questions.
Let me give you an example of what I’m talking about. My neighbor Mary, who runs a child care business in her home, discovered a couple things about our local market that helped her create a more profitable business. The first thing was, our town has ½-day Kindergarten, not full-day. By talking to other Moms in our town, Mary found there was a need in our town for “before-and-after care”, that is someone who could watch Kindergarteners & older kids before and after school. She structured her daycare to fill this need. All she had to do was make sure the buses were able to pick up & drop off these kids at her home, and she was able to start taking kids.
So what you want to uncover, when you do your upfront research, is a “pocket of unfulfilled need” in terms of child care. You don’t need it to be a huge pocket, but something unique about your business that will bring you customers who have that need.
Other examples of this are:
– offering second or third shift care if you have large companies in your town who employ people on evening or overnight shifts
– offering bilingual care or special languages, such as sign language for babies
– offering special meals (such as organic or vegetarian) if you live in a town where that would be considered desirable (like Boulder, Colorado or a similar college town)
Again, you are asking key questions and trying to uncover an unfulfilled need in your town or city. You can begin by calling your local Child Care Resource & Referral Agency (CCR&R), your local elementary schools, talking to neighbors and friends, and visiting other child care businesses in your town. You can even call other home child care businesses and talk to these women about what they are seeing in the market. Usually, women in child care help each other out by forming friendships and partnerships, so don’t be intimidated.
By taking the time to do the research, you will gain a huge advantage by understanding your market and how you can be successful within that market.
BIG MISTAKE #2: Not getting the right liability protection for you and your business.
If you want to be able to sleep easy at night and not worry about getting sued, you’ll need to be properly covered. You need the real scoop on what type of insurance to buy, and how much it should cost, so you don’t overpay.
Many new child care business owners make the mistake of
thinking that their homeowner’s policy is enough to cover them if there’s a
problem. But the truth is, that policy usually doesn’t provide enough
protection, nor the right kind of protection you need for special situations
that a daycare owner can face.
An example of this situation would be if your house had a power outage, and you had to close temporarily due to the loss of electricity. If you had a business liability policy with coverage for “business income interruption”, you would be covered by your policy and you would still get that income.
Likewise, if you were sued by a parent for some situation,
your policy would cover you in most cases.
Surprisingly, a business liability policy for a home daycare is not that expensive, and is well worth the investment (in my opinion). These type of policies usually cost $30 to $40 per month. Is that worth a good night’s sleep?
BIG MISTAKE #3: Not charging the right fees.
Do you know how to find out what other child care homes and centers are charging? Most new daycare owners literally leave money on the table by not setting their rates properly. You’ll get short-changed by charging too little, and if you charge too much, you won’t get any clients!
So how do you go about figuring out what to charge? This is a similar process as doing the upfront research in your town…it’s simply a matter of making some phone calls or visits to other child care businesses and setting you prices appropriately.
Many new family daycare owners charge the same weekly rate
for each child, regardless of the child’s age. However, if you talk to centers
in your town, most of them charge the highest rate for infants, and the lowest
rate for older kids (pre-K and older). Many parents are used to this type of
So depending on the ages of kids that you can accept, if you charge a bit more for infants and young toddlers, you may find that your income will be a bit higher than a flat-rate for all ages. You’ll have to look at your individual scenario and choose what’s best for you.
For example, let’s say that according to your state, and the ages of your own children, you can accept 1 infant, 3 young toddlers (15-24 months), and 2 older toddlers (3-4 year olds). If you charge $120 per week as a flat rate, you would have a weekly income of $720.
If, however, you charged a bit more for infants ($135/week), and young toddlers ($125/week) and less for older toddlers ($115/week), your weekly income with this scenario would be $740. That amounts to an extra $80 per month, or an extra $1,040 per year.
Small adjustments like these in your price, if it makes sense based on your local area, can make a difference in your take-home profits at the end of the day.
BIG MISTAKE #4: Not covering yourself with a proper daycare policy handbook and contract.
Okay, this is a really big one. You need to have a well-written contract for your parents, and you need a comprehensive policy handbook. If you use your contract and policy handbook properly, you can literally save yourself thousands of dollars of lost income (and countless hours of headaches!).
So what’s the difference between a contract and a policy?
A contract is a binding legal agreement between two people. If you agree to care for a child and the child’s parent agrees to pay you for that care, you’ve made a verbal contract. If you put the contract in writing, it becomes a written contract.
There are 5 key elements of a child care contract: the names of the parties, the hours of operation, the termination procedure (that is, how either party may terminate the agreement), terms of payment (including rates, due dates, and extra fees), and the signatures of the parties. Be specific and clear with your wording.
A policy handbook is longer and more detailed than a contract. It should contain all the rules that state how you will care for the children, how you’ll handle specific kinds of situations, and how you run your business. For example, you should include your vacation & sick day policies, how you handle behavior issues & discipline, and how the children will be fed.
It’s a good idea to require a signature page at the end of
your policy handbook, where the parent agrees that he or she has read the
entire handbook and agrees to abide by the policies you’ve laid out.
You need to have both documents in writing. (If you need actual examples that you can copy & edit to fit your business, they are provided in my Daycare Success System…more about that later).
BIG MISTAKE #5: Not using the best ways to market your business to future customers.
Let’s face it, you may not be a marketing and advertising whiz, but you need easy and low-cost ways to get the word out and bring in new customers.
We’ve all heard that the best advertising is word-of-mouth. That’s after you’ve gotten started and your clients recommend you to their friends and neighbors.
But what about when you first open your doors, and you have no proven track record?
Fortunately, there are lots of ways you can get the word out about your new child care business, and most of them won’t cost you much money. Here are 4 marketing ideas to get you started.
Marketing Tip #1: Register with the Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) Office in Your Area.
This is the very first thing you should do to get your name out there, and it should be done prior to opening your doors. The website is located at: www.childcareaware.org
Then enter your ZIP Code in the search field and you will receive the contact information for your nearest CCR&R office. You can also call them toll-free at (800) 424-2246.
As of December 2007, in order to be registered with most
CCR&R’s, you do not need to be state-licensed or certified. However, they
may have special requirements to be listed, based on your state.
For example, in Ohio, they request that solo family daycare providers have a maximum of 6 children at any time, and no more than 3 children under the age of 2. If there is more than one caregiver in the home/facility, the numbers can be higher. These rules vary by state, so be sure to call your local CCR&R branch to confirm your rules.
Once you register with your CCR&R, they will provide your contact information, along with any special information pertaining to your daycare, to parents seeking child care….for free!
Marketing Tip #2: Contact All Elementary Schools on Your Bus Line and/or in Your Community.
Most schools maintain a list of Childcare Providers, which they provide to parents upon request. Ask to have your name and phone number added to their Provider list.
Marketing Tip #3: Verbally Communicate to Everyone You Know.
Tell everyone you know that you are providing child care and ask them if they know anyone who is seeking childcare in your area. Make an announcement at your church, and at all other groups to which you belong. If you don’t belong to any community groups, join some! You’re an entrepreneur now, it’s time to start networking!
This may be your strongest source for enrolling daycare children. Most parents prefer to leave their children with a provider that was recommended by a friend, neighbor, coworker or family member.
Marketing Tip #4: Place Announcements or Small Ads in Community Newsletters.
Ask every organization you know and/or belong to such as a Church, Play Group, or Community Group, if you can place an announcement in their Newsletter.
If you know a community group, church, and/or business professional that mails out a newsletter, ask them to advertise your business for the local residents on their database. In your advertisement, focus on the unique features of your business and the benefits that children and parents will receive from being enrolled with you.
Remember, this is just the tip of the iceberg. When you learn these easy and inexpensive (or free) methods to bring in new leads, you’ll have a full and profitable daycare center and you’ll establish an ongoing relationship with your parent-clients that will have them raving about you to their friends and family!
Now let’s get back to the 7 Biggest Mistakes and how you can avoid them.
BIG MISTAKE #6: Not utilizing the tons of free resources in your local area, including sources of grant money.
Many new daycare or preschool owners don’t know about the local resources available to them, and how to navigate the waters of state, regional, and local government agencies.
With so many organizations and websites out there, it can be really tough to figure out where to go and who to ask, if you don’t know where to begin.
The best place to start is with your state. Every state in the U.S. has an agency within their state government that sets the rules for family child care providers. This agency is usually called something like the Department of Child & Family Services (DCFS), or the Department of Job & Family Services (DJFS) and they all have websites.
(If you are in Canada or another country, you probably have
a similar office in your government).
Simply go to your state’s website (such as http://www.Illinois.gov) and look for the appropriate department, or type “child care” in the search box.
The website should contain phone numbers for the Child Care contact person in your state. Call them on the phone and inquire about your state’s rules and what they recommend for people who are just getting started in family child care.
Most counties also have a child care office that helps people at the county level. Ask your state contact person how to find help for your specific county. Then, contact your county rep and ask the following questions (these are also good questions to ask your state rep):
– What do you need to know that’s specific rules or
regulations for your county?
– What training are you required to take before you open your doors?
– What kind of ongoing training / learning is required?
– Do they have any recommendations on insurance providers for child care owners in your county?
– What resources do they have to help you get started?
– Do they know about any sources for grants or low-interest start-up loans?
– Are there local or county support groups that meet to discuss child care issues?
There may be other questions you’ll think of, too. Don’t be intimidated. You have the right to get the best information to get started, and you owe it to yourself to start out as successfully and as knowledgably as possible.
BIG MISTAKE #7: Not getting licensed or certified by your state.
Getting licensed or certified with your state can be a bit of work, but it’s probably easier than you think. Usually, to get licensed you are required to take a certain amount of training (often very low-cost or even free) and your home will be inspected once or twice a year by a state inspector to ensure that guidelines are being met.
There are lots of reasons why you should consider it…the top reason being that you can charge higher rates!
Here are some of the other benefits you will gain by being
licensed or certified with your state:
– You will be proud to know you are providing the highest quality of care (and you can communicate this to others).
– Potential parents will be more likely to choose you, so you won’t have to spend as much on marketing and advertising
– Schools and other businesses will be more likely to recommend you.
– You may be eligible for grants or low-interest loans to expand your daycare or improve it with a new outdoor play area, etc.
– You will stand out from the crowd as a superior business.
You will have the highest chance for success if you strive to be the best at what you do.