Many parents need full-time daycare for their children, but part time daycare can work better for some families. So what’s the difference between full time and part time daycare? And can offering part time daycare help your daycare business succeed?
In some cases, parents work part time or work non-traditional hours so they only need childcare when most daycare businesses are not available. You can fill a need in the community by offering different hours than most other providers do.
Check out more info on running a home daycare.
What Does Part Time Daycare Mean?
There are many options for offering part time daycare. You may be able to run a viable business only on school breaks and keep school-aged kids only. There are also providers that only keep teacher’s kids and only provide care during the school calendar.
Many parents work shift work and they may be served better by a provider that is open 6 pm to 4 am or 2 pm to midnight. This can be a great business model as well if there is a need for it in your community.
What about regulations? If you only offer care for summers, spring break and Christmas break, do you have to be regulated? You’ll need to check with your state’s regulators. In Oklahoma you have to be licensed if you are open 15 or more hours a week.
What about running an after-school program only from 3:15 to 6 and avoid DHS altogether? I love that idea. It may be part of my retirement plan.
How Many Hours is Part Time Daycare?
Part time daycare can also mean less than a full day. DHS considers part time from 0 to 4 hours per day and over 4 hours is a full-time rate for that day. But you have the freedom to set your own rates.
I consider one minute to 10 hours full time – I don’t do part time rates for a day. I also don’t do part time rates for the week. So, if you contract with me for 1 hour a week, it’s the same as if you do 50 hours a week.
But charging different rates for part time daycare may work for you. It’s important that you set up a business plan for your home daycare and crunch the numbers to see what’s best in your situation.
I learned years ago that you have to be able to depend on your income, so I made my payment policies according to that need for my family. My kids pay whether they come or not, unless I take prearranged vacation days. This helps me to live.
I used to not charge if the kids took days off, and I was always short on income to pay my bills. You have to structure something so you can pay your bills.
Once you decide your rates and what days or hours you will be open, you’ll need to set up a contract and go over it with your parents. They will sign that they understand what they are contracting for and you’ll both know what to expect financially.
For example, if you want to work only Monday through Thursday, or only 3 to 6 pm, be sure parents know and agree to that and everything will work out great.
Part Time vs Full Time Daycare
For many, the traditional full time home daycare hours of operation are 7:30 to 5:30, Monday through Friday. For years I worked 7 am to 6 pm, but that’s a lot of hours and hard to sustain. As I got older, I did 7:30 to 5:30, but still 10 hours a day is a lot.
It’s important to be firm with your hours. People always asked to come at 7, so I ended up working from 7:00 to 5:30. I HATE working late, so I changed my hours to 7:30 to 5:00 and that extra 30 minutes changed my life!
I learned that most people who ask for 7, show up at 7:30 anyway, so I started saying no to the extra time. I would LOVE to work 6 to 3, but that doesn’t fit the needs of my community, so this is what I do for now.
Just remember that no matter what you offer, people will always ask for more.
Part Time Daycare Hours
Your hours for your business can be whatever you want them to be of course. You’re in charge.
But making your business a financial success so you can support your family is an important part of running a business. You can love what you do, but you can’t do it for free. So, think about what you would be able to charge and how that would work into your family’s budget.
If you’re committed to offering part time daycare, consider starting your business with a partner. You could provide care with more flexible hours.
For example, you can offer full time daycare, but only work part time. If you want part time days, you could contract your partner to work from 6am to Noon and you could work from Noon to 6pm. Or you could work M/W/F and your partner could work T/TH. There are many ways to be able to work less than the usual grueling 50 plus hours a week in home daycare.
Remember when setting your hours, not to ask your clients. If you did what everyone wanted or needed, you could work 24 hours a day. You are a human and have to take care of you. So set what you’re willing to do and stick to it. Don’t do everything for everyone else. Offer what you offer and stand firm.
Learn more about how to start a home daycare.
Part Time Daycare Rates
Part time daycare rates are usually far higher than full time care. Many providers who, for instance, charge $30 a day for full time care or $150 a week, would charge $45 a day for part time care. So, if a parent needed 3 days of care per week, they would pay $135 a week.
Set your fees based on the average cost in your area. Try not to price yourself out of the market. But remember to make sure you charge enough to make a profit. Again, we can’t work for free.
But you can offer a specialty of some kind and charge even more for your services. So, think about what you can promote that makes you unique.
Marketing Part Time Daycare
When you market your part time program, make sure you put special emphasis on the fact that it’s part time daycare you’re offering. Great places to advertise your home daycare would be doctor’s offices, libraries, and grocery stores.
There are a lot of moms who don’t work outside the home and would love to have a few days a week to get it all done without their kids in tow. They can schedule appointments and errands on the days they are kid-free. I never had any problem finding moms with a need for that service.
Remember that word of mouth is the very best way to build a business. Be professional in your dealings with others, and sell yourself on the daily by telling the world about what you do and why you’re so proud to be doing it. You’ll never wish for more business that way.
Remember, no matter what type of daycare you’re providing, a contract and payment policies are the most important thing for success. Charge a flat rate for whatever parents choose to contract with you (that works with what you’re offering) and stick to that whether they come or not.
Do Kids Do Well in Part Time Daycare?
Kids will not adapt to daycare well if they don’t attend enough to get used to it. So, it may be better to do at least three days a week for the benefit of the children you serve.
I have done a lot of mom’s day out type things in the past when I had kids that didn’t need a full-time spot. I would find other kids to fill the days they didn’t attend. And for some kids, it was very difficult to get acclimated to daycare in my home that way.
Some kids don’t have problems with separation anxiety, but some do. So, consider the child and their personality when deciding what to offer and what policies to put into place.
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