Starting a Daycare Service at Home

If you love children, have small children of your own, and need cash, starting a daycare service in you home might be the answer.

| September/October 1981

  • 071 starting a daycare
    Starting a daycare at home gives you the opportunity to supervise and spend time with your own small children.

  • 071 starting a daycare

Four years ago, I found myself in a situation that many folks have to face at one time or another in these days of economic uncertainty: I was unemployed and—worse yet—had two small children to support. I needed to come up with a profitable business venture that would generate a few much needed dollars for the family "pot" and allow me to stay home with my preschool daughters. So, since I had always enjoyed being around children, I decided to try starting a daycare business in our house.

Of course, jumping into that undertaking was a rather risky proposition, but as a result of my experience I'm now able to say that a home-based childcare business can be an ideal occupation for a parent who's determined to stay at home with his or her children and yet earn a steady income. Child care is a surprisingly profitable enterprise, too: In just a few months, my venture grew from little more than part-time babysitting to operating a full-fledged certified child-care center ...and I've found that I can make more money from this at-home work than from any of the outside jobs I've held in the past. In fact, it's possible to earn around $300 a month taking full-time care of only two children (depending upon your locality and your clientele, you will probably decide to charge between 70¢ and $1.00 per hour per child). And while doing so, of course, you'll be able to spend time with your own youngsters and provide them with playmates.

Make It Legal

The first step in starting a daycare business is to contact the nearest office of the Department of Human Resources or the Department of Social Services. (They're located in every state capital and in many other large cities as well.) The folks there should be able to tell you about the current regulations that govern in-home services in your state. In some areas, a person can legally take care of as many as five children without being formally licensed. Other states require certification or registration if even one child is taken into someone else's home for pay.

Whenever state regulations offer you the choice of being licensed or not, you'd do well to consider the pros and cons of each option in your particular situation. Obviously, a licensed daycare business will be subject to strict state and federal regulations; you'll have to deal with a lot of paperwork. Furthermore, the process of obtaining a license is time consuming in itself: As a potential operator, you'll probably have to submit— to the state licensing agency—detailed applications and floor plans of the space you intend to use ...and you can expect that your home will be subject to thorough fire, health, and building inspections before you receive your license.

However, there are a number of advantages to legalizing your business, too. For one thing, licensed child-care facilities can frequently qualify to receive government money to subsidize children from low-income families. Only a very small percentage of the youngsters at my center have their tuition paid by federal funds, but it's always nice to know that I can expect to receive those fees regularly.

Another advantage of certification is that, in many states, the USDA has reimbursed some owners of licensed centers for the cost of food prepared for the children. In addition, "lending libraries" of toys are sometimes made available to certified nurseries and daycare facilities. Some local social agencies even publish monthly bulletins that contain helpful hints for organizing and operating your business.

10/1/2007 11:08:09 AM

I think opening a home day care is a great option worth exploring for moms wanting to work from home. I wish I'd done it a lot sooner. Just like with anything new, you want to do your homework and remember it is a "business", so you must treat it as such in order to be successful.

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