Starting a Home Daycare – Ages, Rates and Hours

Starting a Home Daycare-Ages, Rates and Hours

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 parent’s 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!


  1. How do you bill your clients? Do they pay ahead of time or after services rendered? Do they have to pay for all of the days their child was supposed to be there or just the days they were actually there?

    • Hi Crystal. My clients sign a yearly contract and agree to pay for all the days they are suppose to be here (full time or part time care). They pay me every two weeks for the upcoming two weeks of care. I have found this method has provided me with a reliable income.

      • Shaughnessy says

        In regards to the above comments: Do your clients pay in cash or with cheques? Or both?

        • HowToDaycare says

          In the past my clients have paid me using cheques. Currently, my present clients are using direct bank transfer to pay me. I give them the choice, whatever is easiest for them. 🙂 Jana

      • Jana,
        This might be a dumb question; however you say your clients pay in advance so you are always 2 weeks ahead. How do you start this? Do you charge them in advance for the first week?

        • HowToDaycare says

          Hi Christina, this is an excellent question. I have my payment schedule outlined in my contract which I go over with my clients before they enrol their child. Yes, they pay in advance and I always receive payments two weeks ahead. I’ve never had a client complain. It helps me weed out the clients who aren’t completely committed and I never have to chase clients for payments. Makes life easier! Jana

  2. How many hours could I open my daycare (I’m starting one) and I don’t know if I want to do usual 10 hr long days because I believe kids will probably get too attached to the caregiver. I want to open mine from 8-3 or 9-4 like the school hours children are usually in M-F. But is that too short and I only want to care for preschool aged children. Are those hours too short or is it alright?

    • HowToDaycare says

      Most caregivers open for 9-10 hour days because parents have to drop off their kids, put in their typical 8 hour day and then drive back to pick them up. Some parents will stagger their work day so mom drops off the child and then Dad picks up. This is how I only work a 8.5 hr day. However, most parents work long hours and need a caregiver who is open long hours as well. It is more difficult to find parents who are looking for a home daycare environment but can pick up at 3:00pm. More difficult but it is not impossible. You can always start off by searching out clients for a shorter day and see what the market is like in your area. There are no hard and fast rules, you get to decide your hours and then go about finding clients to fit the daycare model you envision. Same answer for preschool age children, you get to decide your age group then design your program around that focus. Good luck!

  3. I want to open a home daycare, but I only want to care for preschool age children. Will I alienate a great portion of potential clients?

    • HowToDaycare says

      Kim, many home daycare providers focus on one specific age group (preschoolers or only school agers) and it works out well for them. Make sure you read through the regulation for home daycares in your area about the number of clients you can accept and the age restrictions. In most states, you can have a group of preschoolers but a lower number of infants/toddlers (since they require more time and care). Good luck Kim!

  4. Hi,
    I am going to be studing ECE next year and afterwards I wish to start a home daycare. In my area there are basically NO places that accept infants, I would love to have infants as my main focus, but my mother says that’s foolish. I want to keep the same children ALL day, and am considering offering home schooling to school aged kids, opinions? I’m 17 and am having my first within the next two months. I have always loved kids and have always known to want to work with them. My parents also say we wont make enough money because childcare doesn’t bring anything in. I’m looking for ALL and ANY advice you can give me.

    Thanks so much,

    • HowToDaycare says

      Hi Victoria, I would suggest looking into the home daycare regulations in your area to see how many infants you are allowed to accept as clients. This link will help, Infants require so much time and attention that having one person looking after just two infants is huge. You will have a better idea after looking after your own child and studying ECE if a home daycare is the right fit for you. Child care does bring money in and it is a fantastic business if you also have a young child of your own. You can choose to have full time, full day children as your daycare clients if you wish. Generally people who homeschool their children (at least the ones I know) want to stay home themselves with their child. My best advice to you is to keep doing what you are doing, research, ask questions, get your ECE, get valuable experience simply by caring for your own child and then open up your own home daycare when you can. Start small, sign up one client and then expand your business as you can. If you are eager to learn exactly how to make your home daycare business successful from the beginning, you can find out more here, I wish you all the best! Jana

      • katrina walker says

        I plan on starting an at home daycare when my son starts Kindergarten, which is half day. I keep running into the same issue which is preventing me from opening and at home daycare. Any ideas on how I can drop off and pick up my son while running a daycare from home?

        • HowToDaycare says

          Hello Katrina, I ran into the same issue when my daughter started half day Kindergarten and I had to figure out how to coordinate her school schedule and my home daycare. That year, I shifted my daycare hours by 15 minutes and bought a mini van. My husband dropped her off at school on his way to work (we didn’t get bus service) and I took my daycare children in the mini van to pick her up. If the weather was nice we walked to get her and I found a second hand triple stroller to make the walk easier. I had to let some clients go the summer before school started. I found other clients (one boy in her class) so I picked up the both of the together. It took planning and change but it worked out well in the end. If you have bus service, it will be much easier for you. Another idea would be to find a neighbour or older child to walk your son to and from school.The beautiful thing about having your business is the fact that you can make adjustments to your schedule each year so it supports your family life. Jana