I have to admit something, although this website is committed to being a resource for new child care providers most, if not all, of my posts have been written with the assumption that the reader had done all of the preliminary steps, become licensed and had already opened their business. Well today I want to backup a bit and make sure I am not leaving anyone behind. Because what if you are just in the phase of thinking about getting into child care. Just how do you start a child care? What is that process like? Where do you start? Well hopefully right here.
How to Start a Child Care: Where to start
Assess is it for you?
For the most part, this post will address the practical steps toward becoming a licensed home-based child care provider, but this is a very necessary first step – do you have the chops for child care?
What do I mean?
You love children and may even have children of your own, so surely you would be a perfect fit caring for many children, RIGHT?
Yes, it is very necessary to have a real love for children to be able to commit to caring for them, but there are quite a few more attributes that make this calling a good fit.
Is Childcare for you?
- Do you have a good amount of patience?
- Will it bother you to have the childcare in your home?
- How will your family adjust to the child care?
- What kind of experience do you have working with children?
- Do you have space in your home?
- Is this something you will continue long term or just for a short time?
- Do you have a business mind?
All of these questions and more should give you some self-reflection as to whether to start a child care and if its right for you. It might be a good idea to visit a provider, maybe even volunteer for a day or two to get the feel of what an average day is like in the life of a provider.
Ready, Set, Start
Ok, you have given it a lot of thought and its all a green lights. You are ready to go! What’s next?
Well, in most states there is a process that an individual must go through with the state or county where they reside to become a licensed childcare provider. In most cases, a provider must be registered prior to starting their business and providing childcare.
In some states, there is an orientation process which is a workshop type of session. During the orientation, specific regulations that a provider must follow are reviewed. Basically what is and what is not allowed in a licensed child care along with mandated safety regulations to be followed.
There is also a review of how to submit an application and the inspection process. A potential provider (you) are able to ask questions about the process, like how long it takes, when can you expect to become licensed and what issues you might face during the process.
VERY IMPORTANT!!! One thing to remember is that each state has their own procedure for licensing, so it is imperative that you contact your state or county licensing office to determine what your particular state requires. Remember it is your responsibility to know which regulations you must adhere to for your state. Every state is different, so do a thorough review of what is necessary for your state.
You may also be required to go through a fingerprinting and background clearance process. If required, your licensing office will tell you how to initiate this. Additionally, most states require that providers are certified in CPR and First Aid trained. The Red Cross is the usual source for such training. Local child development programs and CCR’s can also be a resource for low-cost training as well.
So you submitted your application and have done all of the preliminary steps. You are just waiting for your licensing visit or home inspection. This can be a stressful period for the potential provider, especially if there is a significant wait. You might find yourself reviewing your paperwork, doing mock walk-throughs and calling the licensing office more than once just to make sure you haven’t missed or forgotten anything.
Reach out for some support.
One of the best things you can do at this point is to reach out for some support. Either to a licensed provider, your local Child Care Resource or even a book on how to start a childcare. Often times they may be able to help by providing you with a sort of checklist to help you get ready for your inspection.
One provider informed me that our local CCR provides a Pre-licensing visit where they come out and do a walk-through mimicking what the actual inspection will be like. This can be very helpful, especially if there are areas that wind up needing to be addressed. That way you can get everything in order before the actual inspection.
You will have time to prepare.
Most licensing inspection visits are scheduled sometime in advance and are not a surprise, pop-in visit so you will have time to prepare. On the inspection day, it is very important that you pay attention to your analyst as they most likely will be your point of contact within the licensing office. Try to be calm and professional. Being pleasant never hurt either. If everything is a go the analyst most likely will issue your preliminary license following your successful inspection. The formal document typically arrives via mail sometime after your visit.
Congratulations! You are a licensed provider! Take a bow!
Think that was a lot? Well, there is so much more left to do. Now that you have taken all of the necessary steps to become a licensed provider you are now ready to start your childcare business.
Are you contemplating just how to start a childcare? Or are you in limbo waiting for your inspection? Leave me a comment below and tell me how your process is going.