How to Start a Home Daycare Business
Are you interested in how to start a home daycare but you’re not sure it’s right for you? Do you love kids and want to stay home with your own? Do you want to know all the deets on how to do it and how much it will cost to get started? Get your free printable checklist and see if it’s the right move for you.
How to start a home daycare business
First and foremost, are you cut out for this job? What is your temperament like? Are you organized enough to run a professional business? Do you like kids? It’s not about just sitting on the couch collecting paychecks. It can be isolating and it’s physically and emotionally a very tough job.
You may be the greatest thing to start a home daycare since sliced bread. That’s great. But if you can’t get along with people, maybe it’s not the gig for you. It’s definitely not for everyone.
The first thing you need to do to decide if you want to start a home daycare is to look around your house. Do you have room for a handful of kids to play? Is your yard good to play in?
Do you have the temperament to handle when kids tear up your furniture and other things? It’s going to happen. Kids are messy and rowdy and they do put a lot of wear and tear on your home and its contents. To tell you the truth they put a lot of wear and tear on your body as well.
How will your family work with a family child care? Do your kids interact well with other children? Does your cat try to scratch people’s eyes out? Do you breed pit bulls? Even if you think they are the greatest breed in the world, many perspective families won’t. Does your husband hate kids?
Would a home daycare work with the dynamics your family already has? Think through each scenario and see what you think would work and what wouldn’t.
Can you stand up for yourself but in a kind and professional way? You’ll need to know before you start a home daycare that people will always try to take advantage of your kindness. They see you as a caretaker and might ask for more than what is fair for you or good for your family.
It happens more than you would believe. When dealing with people you have to keep your cool and be professional even if someone hurts your feelings. They will. I promise at some point. If you are a doormat and let everyone take advantage, you will hate the job and be miserable.
There are many benefits to having childcare in your home. One of them is playmates for your own children. Income is certainly one if you can turn a profit. Having the meaning in your life of really helping families is a great perk too.
Drawbacks of having a daycare in your home
There are also plenty of drawbacks to family childcare. Sometimes your own kids don’t want to share you or their homes and toys. Your spouse may complain about the kids relentlessly. Believe me, that’s no life to live. Everyone in the family needs to be on board before you start a home daycare.
Do you have room to store the massive amounts of paperwork, supplies, and equipment required for daycare? Do you think you’ll have tons of time to do your house chores? Nope, you’ll be busier than you ever thought possible.
You are isolated. No coworkers, no adult conversation ALL.DAY.LONG. Can you handle that?
There is no insurance or other benefits.
There are no breaks, no lunch hours, no time for yourself.
It’s difficult to schedule appointments for the doctor or anything else. Car repairs, dentist, going to the bank, and anything else that’s not open late in the evenings. It’s even hard to buy stamps.
There will be a ton of errands to run, but you can’t leave to run them.
You miss many school events for your own child.
If you call in sick, you are putting a strain on many families.
It takes a large initial investment in upgrades, toys, equipment, and supplies.
Low income. (national average is $16,000 a year for child care providers)
People don’t respect this profession and that can be exhausting.
If you think you still might want to start a home daycare, keep reading.
Requirements for home daycare
Once you decide you really do want this gig, the first step in getting started in childcare is to check the laws in your area. Many places, including Oklahoma, require a license to watch even one child in your home. If your laws require a license, you should have one. Running a bootleg daycare is dangerous for you and the kids you watch and their families.
You might think you won’t get caught doing daycare underground, but you probably will. And when you do and they make you send all your kids home, what will that mean for your business and the families you serve? People don’t like being called to pick up kids because you were caught breaking the law.
In Oklahoma, you can be assessed a $500 fine for doing daycare without a license. There is safety in a license as well. We are required to be trained in first aid and CPR in order to watch children. If you are not trained and work with kids, what happens if something happens and you don’t know what to do.
What can you charge for daycare?
What are the rates in your area? It’s not legal to call providers and ask their rates. It’s considered price gouging. You can find out rates by checking the DHS rates in your area and setting your rates according to that. What will DHS pay you to watch kids on subsidy? That will give you an idea of where to start.
Next, you need to figure out how much it will cost to run your business. Here in Oklahoma, I spend an average of $7,000 a year on food for my 7 kids. It costs a whole awful lot to feed kids. Many of them eat more than you can imagine and if you keep school-age kids, multiply what you think they’ll need by about 3. They can eat the house down!
There are other costs to consider. You’ll need arts and craft supplies, activities for the kids to do, toys for them to play with, dishes and bedding. All of those things have required parameters, so that’s one big reason you need a copy of the rulebook for your area before you consider making your decision. If you can’t make a profit doing child care, it’s not going to work as a job.
For more information to help you have a successful home daycare, click on the highlighted text.
How to start a home daycare in Oklahoma
Oklahoma requires a daycare license to keep even one child in your home. For more information on opening a home daycare in Oklahoma, click here. Click here to go to Oklahoma Department of Human Services and get a copy of the rules.
How to run a successful in-home daycare business
There are a ton of supplies you need for daycare. Safety measures must be met as well.
Many of the expenses you’ll have to pay to get started have to do with safety measures. Do you need to install a handrail on your porch stairs? What about a fence around your yard or a better fence? Do you have smoke detectors in every room? You’ll need them.
What about an approved thermometer to take temperatures or one in your refrigerator? Do you have a fire extinguisher? Are you certified in CPR and First Aid? All of that costs money and it adds up.
Starting a family child care home
Once you get all of your expenses taken care of and have your plans in place, you need to work on the day to day running of the daycare. You’ll have to set up a daily schedule so you’ll know when you’re supposed to be having the kids rest and feeding them.
You’ll have to plan a menu. For help with that click here. Do you want to get on a food program? I would highly recommend it. Why? Overall, even though I don’t totally agree with all of the USDA rules, kids will receive more healthy meals if you follow the food program requirements. It’s a great outline of what kids need. Another reason to be a food program? Money. They pay you for the food you feed the kids and it costs A LOT, so take the money!
You’ll need to set up a daycare contract.
You’ll also need policies. To see the difference in contracts and policies, click here. You may think about skipping this step, but childcare is a professional business and you NEED to treat it like one. I have done it both ways and believe me, I have a lot of regret for the time I flew by the seat of my pants.
Parents and families will respect you more if you respect yourself and present yourself as a business owner instead of a “babysitter” Don’t even get me started on the lack of respect for this business. Respect yourself and you can help change some of that.
You’ll need to get the required training to start a home daycare. CPR and First Aid are a must, but you will also need other training to get started. Here in Oklahoma, we have to have Early Learning Guidelines and Health and Safety Training in addition to CPR and First Aid.
Insurance for home daycare
Your homeowner’s insurance will not cover your daycare business as you might think. You’ll need liability insurance to cover yourself. In Oklahoma, if you don’t have it, you have to have each family sign a waiver stating they know you don’t have it.
Advertising your family child care home
Once you get all of the above in place, you’ll need to start advertising. Click here to see how.
Click on the highlighted text for templates you can use to plan your home daycare.
Starting a home daycare checklist
Now you’re ready to start a home daycare business. Get your inspection and approval to open, if necessary in your area, and open your doors. Remember every day to be the best you can be for the kids and families you serve. This is not a job where you can only give part of yourself. It takes your whole heart, mind and body. It’s the toughest job you’ll ever love!
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Now that you’re open, you’ll need to start keeping records. I highly suggest getting Tom Copeland’s Family Child Care Record Keeping book. It will help you set all of your affairs in order. The bare minimum you need is:
A box to dump all your receipts for your expenses (EVERYTHING)
A sign in and out sheet to record times children are in care
Food program paperwork to record menus, attendance (yes, everything is required twice) and meals served.
DHS required enrollment paperwork for each child (there is enrollment paperwork for the food program as well) Click here to see what goes in an enrollment packet.
A receipt book for cash paying parents.
Medication administration records for anything you administer to children.
Some type of spreadsheet, computer software, a sheet of paper or something to record every single expense and every single dollar you bring in.
A place to record observations of children that may be of concern or for developmental tracking.
A file for each child to keep everything in.
Files for DHS, the food program, and all of your expenses, bank statements, etc.
When it’s time for taxes if you have kept all of these records and all of your utility bills, you’ll be able to start getting organized for your taxes. Click here to see must-haves to daycare taxes.
FREE PRINTABLE HOME DAYCARE CHECKLIST
If you’d like more details on how to get started in your own home daycare business, check out my e-book for everything you need to know and tons of templates you can use to plan your new business venture. Whether you’re brand new, or you’ve been in business for a while but need to get on target, this book will help you get there.
What are others saying about the book?
Daycare is not right for everyone
You may be the next great child care provider in your area. Your community may really need someone like you. I hope you will give this a lot of thought and make sure it’s really something you want to do. It can be a wonderful blessing. I cannot imagine doing anything else with my time and my life. I LOVE home daycare and I feel so blessed every day to get to do it for a living.
I’m not rich, I don’t have much and I don’t keep up with the Joneses but I am so happy and satisfied to the bottom of my soul in this job. I feel respected, loved and appreciated every day and I can’t imagine my life without all the crazy chaos that comes with taking care of kids. If you think it might be for you, get started and give this a try. Like I said, it’s the toughest job you’ll ever love.
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