Are you considering opening your own in home childcare business? Maybe you are only watching a few children right now and haven't committed to offering full time care.
As a previous childcare provider, I can say without a doubt, it can be one of the most rewarding jobs I've ever had. To make sure you are avoiding some common pitfalls, you may want to make sure you've considered these things before opening your childcare business:
1. Is there a demand? Before you consider starting a childcare business you should assess the need for childcare in your area. Have you scoped out your city for competitors? Are they full? One thing to consider before starting a childcare business is whether or not there is even a market for childcare in your area. You may be in area where childcare is provided by a major employer in the area, or there are several stay at home moms. It doesn't mean it's not possible to have a lucrative childcare business-it just means you may need to be more creative with the type of care you offer to meet the demands in your area. Consider creating a questionnaire, polling your local community groups, and discussing it with families in the area.
2. Have you looked into what it takes to get licensed? There are many rules to follow when you become a licensed provider (and rightfully so), but this does mean you may need to make physical changes to your home, changes to your families routine-and even changes on who might be allowed to visit your home during your business hours.
3. Have you estimated your start up costs, and expenses? Although there are many deductions in childcare, there are also several re-occurring, and upfront costs associated with operating a childcare program. When you are first getting started it may take a while before you attract customers and have an operating budget-let alone re-coup your start up costs. Some start up costs to consider are renovations, toys & equipment, office supplies, insurance, licensing and advertising. There are also a variety of items that you will need to anticipate replacing each month such as cleaning supplies, art supplies, diapers, and wipes (if you provide them).
4. Is your family on board? Consider the hours and days you will open. Is your whole family on board? Many providers start a business with their young children in mind, not taking into consideration the long hours you will be committed to caring for other children. This may leave your own children with a feeling of jealousy. Does your spouse want to come home to peace and quiet after work? Having an in-home childcare means you will have little privacy, and constantly have company in and out of your home.
5. How well do you communicate with adults? As a childcare provider you are not only caring for children-you are also forging relationships with their parents. You are working together as a team and need to communicate your needs effectively and professionally. This can be a challenge, especially if you allow clients to overstep boundaries.
6. Have you considered liability? There isn't a way around it, caring for young children in your home can put you at risk. Accidents can easily happen to anyone, and accidents are especially prevalent among young children. It's important to contact your insurer about liability. It's also important that you aren't taking on more children than you can safely care for (even if it's less than licensing allows). If you will be alone caring for children, one question that is important to ask is: "If there were an emergency, how many children would I be able to safely evacuate by myself?".
Advice from other providers
Here is some advice from childcare providers in our Facebook Community on what they wish they would have known before opening their doors...
The children are the easiest part of this job and are rarely ever cause a major problem, it's usually the parents causing issues. If you need to terminate a family, 9/10 times it's going to be because of something the parent has done such as not following rules, not paying, arguing etc. The children just suffer the consequences. -Tammi C.
I wish I would have known that loving all these children for 23 years (lifting/holding/playing on the floor etc) would ruin my back and knees! UGH! I wish I would have known that after 23 years of providing care to little children I would forget how to talk in an adult voice with an adult vocabulary!!! haha...I talk to everyone like I am talking to a 3 year old.... -Deb O.
I get so attached to them. They become family. As they move on, it hurts. But, watching them grow and to see where they are now, my hearts is filled with joy. I love each and everyone! I pray everyday for loving, supportive parents. I've had very few that I've had to terminate. Having a terminally ill child, 90% Of my families are beyond what I could ask for! Our future is in our hands daily. Structure and routine is key. -Jodi G.
People will try to take advantage of you!- Cheryl C.
As a home provider, switching from teaching in public schools, I wasn't prepared for how long the hours are without a true break, or how lonely it is without other adults around on breaks. -Kristin R.
You do get weekends off.... sort of!!! But if you're a one woman show and opened 60hrs a week.... then you will probably be doing all of your errands, housework, and planning during those precious child free hours! -Jacksie W.
My weight gain over the years-Rae A.
I wish I had known how to separate home/work life when it is in the same space and to ensure that my business didn't encroach onto my family more than necessary. We put a large addition onto our home last year so that the daycare is separate now and it has been the most amazing thing! I am less stressed since I can 'go to work and leave work' and my family isn't surrounded by kids items (my kids are middle/high school now). If you don't have the space, then arrange your space so that you don't feel like you are living in a daycare all weekend. Have shelving that has doors or is attractive enough to blend in, not overwhelm. -Jodi N.
Something I wish I had known before would be how to handle those parents who don't want to pay their tuition even though they have read my contact and understood my terms and agreements. Also to never enroll a friend/family member. -Holly I.
Parents.... need I say more- Kelsey P.
You can say no. -Lugene B.
Poop....sucks -Holly L.
The biggest changes I made when I reopened my daycare was to require payment in advance and charge early drop off/late pick up fees. Families are much more considerate of my schedule when ignoring it costs them extra tuition. -Andrea H.
With doing in-home child care, my own children definitely get the short end of the stick. -Mandy C.
That it NEVER ends. Especially if it's in your home. You're constantly cleaning, planning meals, curriculum and crafts. The dishes Lord the dishes lol -Julie W.
I wish I would have taken pictures and wrote each child name in a book with a little about them. After 41 yrs. I must not of changed much besides gray hair because more than once a grown child has come up to me and said Hi do you remember me.. -Dianne H.
Stand firm in your contract. Parents, not all... will try to change things like payments or bringing in food for their child and not enough for the others. It takes time away from your family even after hours. I have spent countless hours cleaning, prepping, reorganizing, getting preschool ready for the following week or day. Oh the hours! And for me my brain is non stop child care! lol - Stephanie W.
Never do any favors or good deeds for your families. Most will take it as an invitation to take advantage of you, you will feel used and unappreciated, your good nature will be taken for granted and the feeling of dread will eat you alive! Never!- Elena B.
How to budget for the year... -Sarah N.
To get payment before care and never let them get behind on payments. - Tasha H.
Pay on a Monday ... before care. Your house will smell like poop. You will be cleaning toilets all day. All kids do not sleep at the same time. Kids tell everything they hear from home.. lol - Shay S.
How to plan a curriculum a little better. And how much time it takes from my family. Finding a reliable person to help you with personal things such doctors appointments and going to my kids school events such as field trips. -Adrianna D.
No need for a adult size chair....you never sit down unless its the floor to play with the kids or read books with them. -Christina H.
Wish I would have known that I needed to put money into some kind of retirement account. -Sandra R.
In home daycare takes over your home, and it doesn't feel like a "home" anymore because there's not really a separation. - Michelle E.
The hours of prep time! - Phyllis J.
Wish I would have organized the preschool graduation pictures I took of each child and when they graduated from high school sent them their picture with a nice poem and a picture dictated about what they want to be when they grow up. Started it this year. -Wendy P.
That children were the easy part...parents ideas, expectations and drama not so much. Who knew that 37 years later I still love this, learn more everyday and hope to see a few more through to school. My Sunday fun time is cutting and laminating while catching up on recorded shows....and I like it! Barbara D.
The sentences " oh I'm pretty sure it's allergies " or " I don't think he/she are sick its teething " make me cringe.. -Amy H.
To have went to school when I first started and should of charged weekly on Mondays and found my tax accountant sooner. Sure would of made things better. -Katrina V.
That you must take a day off no matter what. -Raiann A.
2 things: (1) Treat the business side (schedules: clients and provider, service friendly policies, paid vacation time and holidays, as examples of the business side) like a business and it will treat you "better". (2) Provide a child centered program; children need more "intentional" (child centered, play based, "most natural") care, not more institutional care. -Matt T.
I wish I would have known how parents mentally exhaust me.... I get it I really do but I have had quite a few *what in the heck* moments in my 24 years! -Jennifer A.
What do you wish you would have known before becoming a childcare provider?
The tax write offs are fantastic!... yet complicated. You'll definitely need a daycare taxes specialist. -Jamie C.
Let me know in the comments!
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