You’ve decided to open up your own home daycare! Great. Now we need to plan out a few details before you open your doors to your group of little munchkins.
Ages of children in your care
Advertising daycare spots for a certain age range of children will help a new caregiver avoid early burn out. Imagine your first week of care and realizing that you need to juggle a baby’s nap schedule, picking up kids from school, and a toddler’s need for outside play. Children of different ages need different types of activities and toys. Let’s think about what ages you would prefer to have as clients for your first year.
Most people look for child care when they are returning to work after their maternity/paternity leave. Therefore, the greatest pool of potential clients are young babies. It is wonderful to start with a young baby and then have them in your care all the way up to school age. The downfall of young babies is that they require more time and assistance than older kids. Figure out how many young babies you feel you can handle. None? One? Two?
Preschoolers will probably make up a portion of your daycare clients. Hopefully they live within your school zone, so when they are Kindergarten age they will continue in your care half days (depending on your Kindergarten program). School age children will need before and after school care. They will also need full day care on school holidays and throughout the summer.
I would recommend getting insurance and finding out from your insurance company how many children are covered under your policy. Depending on where you live, there are different regulations as to how many children you are allowed to care for by law. A quick search on-line about your geographical location should give you the answers you are seeking.
How much should you charge as your daily rate? Younger children, 6 months to three years old are normally at a higher rate than older children. This is because they require more time and attention. Preschool children will have a slightly lower full day rate than babies and toddlers. School age children will only be with you for a portion of the day so they will have their own rate. Remember you will want to offer a full day rate for your school age children for holidays and the summer months.
If you look online in your area for child care you will get an idea of the going rate. Call some child care providers in your city who have high end advertising to get an idea of the range of rates out there. Some caregivers have websites that list their qualifications and rates. After you do your research, you will have an understanding of what other people in your area are charging. Once you have a good idea of the range of rates then you can decide what skills and specialty you have to offer. Your qualifications, experience, physical home and the program you offer all affect the rate you can charge. Often when caregivers are first opening their home daycares they post lower rates because they are unsure of their skills. Remember you can raise your rates each year by a little bit as you gain experience and confidence.
Here is something else to keep in mind when you are setting your rates, what is more precious to a parent than their child? Keeping a parent’s child safe and happy is one of the most important jobs there is. You are valuable, charge accordingly.
What should your daily hours be? This decision depends on your personal schedule. There will be caregivers in your area who are open from the crack of dawn to dusk. Caregivers who are only open 8:00 am to 4:00 pm. Caregivers who offer shift work hours. Caregivers who offer half days or part time schedules. The longer your hours the better chance you will be able to accommodate more parents work schedules. However, be careful of burnout. You only need to find a handful of daycare clients.
There are families out there that can alternate drop off and pick up to shorten the hours their children are in care. Your closing time will more than likely get pushed an extra half hour. So choose a closing time and then schedule to close your doors a half hour before. Then you won’t be frustrated when your daycare parents are late 15 minutes, AGAIN.
Good luck in your home daycare decisions. Don’t worry too much about what you decide because you are your own boss, you can change your hours and rates and age of clients whenever you choose!