Interested in starting a home daycare. Tips please.
September 19, 2011 12:45 PM   Subscribe

Interested in starting a home daycare. Tips please.

Both my SO and I currently work in education and we're considering starting a daycare. We are also planning on having one of our own within the year. We both work in education, she is working with 2-5 yr olds as a counselor and I work with high schoolers. She has her marriage and family therapist license, degree in counseling, reiki master etc. so I feel like we're fairly well qualified. We have a few homes in our price range that are over 2500 sq ft and sit on 2+ acres of land near Boulder, CO so I feel like we have a great market and place to set up shop. I'm reading about all the licensing needs etc for CO. Mostly just looking for ideas to consider, problems we might run into or anything that might have slipped by me.
posted by no bueno to Work & Money (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The issues of health insurance and vacation time come to mind. You'll need to find an affordable health insurance plan and you'll probably want to have some time off when you have a new baby. Parents generally need daycare year-round, and they don't all take vacations at the same time.

A friend of mine who did home daycare only took children whose parents were teachers, that way she got school vacations and summers off. She, however, had a spouse with a regular job that provided benefits for the whole family.

Doing daycare can be really exhausting. You need to accommodate parents so you have to be open from maybe 7 AM to 6 PM, that's a very long day, especially if you have young children of your own.

Before you take the leap consider spending a week or two shadowing someone in a home daycare or in a daycare center.
posted by mareli at 1:14 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

We've looked into this in the past, (as a second income when my wife staying home) and the numbers don't really add up. Many states now require licensing if you have more than a couple of kids that aren't your own in the home. As soon as licensing kicks in you might have to deal with surprise inspections from social services, food safety, etc. The liability insurance ain't going to be cheap either. Plus, a home daycare is going to be limited in the number of kids you can take on.

I suspect once you do the math you'll find there is no way you can live on the profit from a home daycare, if you can even make a profit. If you really are interested in the daycare field, a franchise may be a more viable option for economic self-sufficiency. But even that is tough. My wife works for one of the big national daycare chains, and it's a brutal business. Parents will yank their kids in a heartbeat if they can save $10 a week down the street, all the while they are bitching because the really good teachers don't stick around when their pay maxes out at $10 a hour.
posted by COD at 2:09 PM on September 19, 2011

I think it's best (maybe required) if the daycare area is separate from your living quarters with a separate entrance and fully self-contained. The one we go to is a converted ground floor with a totally separate entrance and kitchen along with three smaller living/napping spaces. Depending on the ages of the children you'd enroll, you'll need separate areas for different age groups since the needs and sleeping requirements of infants will be very different from the older kids.

And also, I don't know how to put this delicately, but daycare is traditionally a female-dominated field. I would have no problem with male caregivers in a daycare center and might even welcome it but I'm not sure if I would feel the same way about dropping my child off at a guy's house for in-home care. You may find that others feel similarly.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 2:47 PM on September 19, 2011

Best answer: From a sister of mine who spent years doing home daycare:
1.Follow all licensing/insurance regulations, including the maximum-number-of-kids-permitted rules.... she says that's the rule she sees ignored most, and that's the one that results in the most lost/strayed/injured kids. Have a backup the parents can turn to if you're too sick to work.
2.Treat it as the business it is. Make sure all parents PREPAY at the beginning of each week; not prepaid or the check bounces? then you do NOT provide daycare, even if they're standing at your door and you turn them away --- and yeah, sister says this is where you'll get ripped off the most. Also under treating it like a business: be firm on drop-off and pickup times, as well as late charges for late pickups. Sister said if you're not rock-hard on this, some parents WILL take advantage by dropping the kid off earlier and earlier plus picking up later and later so they'll have a little extra time for errands ("But what's the problem? You're home anyway, and it's just an extra 15/30 minutes/hour or two!" Hah.)
3.Be firm on what the parents have to supply --- you should NOT pay for their kid's diapers, for instance, unless that cost is included in your charges. Do you or the parents provide meals & snacks? Who washes the kid's dirty clothes when he messes his pants?
posted by easily confused at 3:20 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Seconding the separate space. I once visited a home daycare near Boulder that was wonderful. They had transformed their three- or four-car garage into a daycare, I think they'd even put in a special bathroom. They did use one of their bedrooms for naps.

It was run by an older couple. They had a huge fenced yard and lots of play equipment. A lot of that sort of stuff can be acquired cheaply, along with extra clothes and other useful stuff at thrift shops and yard sales.
posted by mareli at 4:14 PM on September 19, 2011

Seconding treating it like a business and making people pay, every single week, up front. No pay, no care, full stop. If you let them do it once, they'll do it forever.

Also, I wouldn't suggest starting a daycare with the plans of having your own child within a year. At the very least, you're going to need quiet and time off to have your child/bond with your infant--and if it turns out that getting pregnant is harder than you expected or something goes wrong with your pregnancy, caring for someone else's children could be pretty overwhelming and devastating, especially if you don't have a way to say "No, ok, I can't do this for a while."
posted by MeghanC at 7:33 PM on September 19, 2011

Best answer: Check out the Child Care Resource and Referral agency in your area. Here's a link for Colorado. Usually CCR&R offers training, support, and referrals. Also, check out technical assistance provided by the National Child Care Information Center (NCCIC). Both organizations have goals related to improving the quality of available child care - and they do that by providing resources and assistance to child care providers (along with educational info for parents seeking child care).
posted by kbar1 at 8:54 PM on September 19, 2011 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Carefully read the IRS' regulations about day care businesses. I was a tax preparer in 2010 and we learned a lot about the specifics of what was deductible for child care providers. For example, I believe you're allowed to deduct around $2.50 per day per child for food. Think hard about how you can feed kids for that amount.
posted by bendy at 11:42 PM on September 19, 2011

Best answer: My parents' busines is daycare, and one huge thing that has enabled them to make it profitable is being extremely DIY - they both can make or fix just about anything, and are really good at cutting costs by finding good toys secondhand. Kids are really hard on toys, furniture, sheets, towels, floors, everything - the better you are at keeping the place in good shape without spending a huge amount of money, the better chance you'll have at making it go.
posted by 5_13_23_42_69_666 at 12:02 AM on September 20, 2011

Response by poster: Thanks for all the help! The daycare plan is years down the road. SO has enough in her savings to take at least two years off w/ the baby but we were considering it for some extra income from year two on.
posted by no bueno at 6:26 AM on September 20, 2011

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