Learn what it takes to open and operate a family child care business
Family childcare is a noble endeavor, and a great entrepreneurial option because of the high demand and low overhead – but only if you’re well-suited for the work and thoroughly educated about what it entails.
Family child care providers are self-employed professionals who fill an important need in the community. Home-based care is the most common form of childcare in the U.S., and young children thrive in a stable environment in which they can develop long-term relationships with a trusted adult and a small group of peers. Also, parents often feel more capable of progressing in their career and committing themselves to their work when they know their child is in the care of a caring and knowledgeable individual.
But is family child care the right job for you? Develop an in-depth understanding of what it takes to start a family childcare business before you take the plunge.
If you want to make a little extra cash on the side while watching your own children, you may be better suited for babysitting. Running a family daycare is an involved job and truly enjoying children and having a vested interest in their growth is a key component to professional success.
Aside from the basic child-care tasks of naps, snacks, lunch, and diapers or potty breaks, you also have to plan and implement structured activities that are both fun and developmentally appropriate.
The job involves more than just keeping children occupied and safe – it’s helping them grow into their future selves.
There’s quite a bit of research that should be done to properly prepare for the potential of opening a family child-care. For instance, what licensing does your state requirements, and what other guidelines are in place? How many children can you have per adult caregiver? What background tests, inspections, insurance, first-aid certifications, or physical examinations may be necessary? Are you eligible for funds to purchase equipment or programs to be reimbursed for food?
All of the above is just to see if getting started is even an option. Once you’ve decided it is, you need to decide on appropriate equipment, age ranges, developmental milestones, activities, policies, paperwork, and more. Running a child-care from home involves a lot of homework.
When it comes to evaluating your space, the first step is to see if the state has any size requirements; some require 35 square feet per child, and other states require outdoor playtime.
Next, make sure the space you are using is safe, functional, and well organized. Can you block off the rest of your home from the care space? Will you still be able to enjoy your house as a home in your off areas?
Aside from the logistical details, the most essential characteristics to being a good candidate to open a family child care involve your interest and ability in developing meaningful relationships that contribute to the overall success of children and their families. Assess your personality and intentions, your space, and the VDOE guidelines and decide if operating a family child-care business is the right fit for you. The Virginia Infant & Toddler Specialist Network helps improve the quality of care for infants and toddlers through extensive resources, services, and education for caregivers. Learn more about how we can help you improve the standard of care.