5 Things to Be Aware of Before Opening a Daycare Facility

Your immense love of children is nudging you toward opening a daycare center. Picturing it fills you with excitement! You can almost hear the giggles of happy tykes and see their shining eyes. You can practically feel the sweet babies, cradled in your arms.

But what will it take to realize your vision? Here are the basics of what you need to know.


A daycare center is an operation where preschool-age children receive hands-on care and supervision. The facility provides childcare during hours when parents are otherwise occupied.

While anticipating the joys of running a daycare center, you need to realize the logistics involved. There will be mishaps, accidents, behavioral problems, and emergencies. You may need to work extended hours to accommodate parents’ work schedules.

To be successful, you must have business sense or the assistance of someone who does. You should develop a business plan and be prepared to oversee employees, bookkeeping, and other administrative tasks. You must apply for a childcare license and conform to state laws.

To provide the highest quality childcare, you’ll want to take college courses or earn a degree in early childhood education or child development. You must receive training in CPR and first aid. You should also have childcare experience by working at a licensed facility.

You need to assess your finances versus operational costs, such as licensing fees, insurance premiums, furniture, supplies, food, and employee pay. If you operate a commercial daycare center, you’ll owe rent for building space. In short, before opening a daycare, you must have adequate funds or be willing to take out a loan.

Hopefully, this briefing hasn’t burst your bubble! Its purpose is to give you a full understanding of what’s required to successfully run a daycare facility. If you feel equal to the responsibilities, then follow your heart. Here are five steps to take toward your goal.

1. Choose the type of daycare facility to operate.

There are two types of businesses. The model you adopt dictates the conditions to be met.

Home Daycare – You can opt to run a childcare center within your home. In this case, find out your state’s requirements for the total number of children allowed. The capacity depends on child age and the number of staff members.

Commercial Facility – If you rent building space, you can likely accept more children than a home daycare, giving you more revenue. To be authorized for a commercial operation, you apply to your state, documenting your qualifications, intended hours of operation, meal plans, and emergency action plans.

2. Follow the career road map.

Your state may not require you to obtain a degree in early childhood education or child development. However, an associate’s degree with this focus will make you a more qualified caregiver. To prepare for administrative tasks, take business courses. You’ll be better informed on bookkeeping, contracts, scheduling, and policy-making. Classes in public speaking and writing will help you communicate with parents and staff.

A licensing prerequisite may be taking an orientation class. Such a briefing will likely inform you of local daycare laws, licensing, administrative tips, child health, and safety.

Certification will make you a standout daycare provider! This credential is granted by the Council for Professional Recognition. After meeting the qualifications, you’ll be awarded a Child Development Associate certificate. To be eligible, you must achieve a certain level of education and experience. You must also undergo observation, provide parent surveys, and pass an exam.

With 720 hours of supervised teaching experience, you can sit for the exam given by the National Child Care Association. Then, you’ll be a Certified Childcare Professional!

3. Meet facility requirements for licensing.


Whether you can run a daycare from home depends on how many children you can accommodate. If you don’t have sufficient room in your house, you’ll need to rent commercial space. Either way, your indoor layout should ensure a large play area, space to rest, and a nearby bathroom, including changing tables and low toilets for potty training.

All states require a center to have an onsite kitchen for meal preparation. Outdoors, you should provide a large, fenced-in play area. If you plan on running a large daycare facility, you may want separate rooms, for children of different age groups.


Here’s where you’ll have fun – purchasing child-sized furniture, decorations, art supplies, games, and child-safe toys. Make sure furniture doesn’t have sharp edges, creating a safety risk. Buy age-appropriate toys that encourage mental and physical development and teach skills. Also, obtain diapers and mats for napping.

You’ll need filing cabinets. States require daycare providers to keep records of enrolled children, documenting immunizations, healthcare, and onsite accidents. You’ll also want to maintain records of your business expenses, particularly for tax purposes.

Outfit your facility with safety equipment, including fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, locked medicine cabinets, first aid kits, and electrical socket covers. Equip your kitchen with baby bottles, sippy cups, 4-ounce cups, napkins, and bowls.

If you plan on accepting children old enough for local trips, consider investing in a van and child safety seats.

4. Obtain licensure and insurance.


A license is a state requirement, legally granting permission to operate a daycare facility. To be eligible for licensure, you must ensure child health, safety, and quality care. Every state has specific licensing standards. Some cities and counties do as well.

To know the laws that will apply to your situation, first contact your local Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) agency. Call Child Care Aware at (800) 424-2246, and the organization will give you contact information. Alternatively, use the search tool at http://childcareaware.org/ccrr-search-form/ to find your local CCR&R agency.

Secondly, contact your town’s childcare licensing office. Child Care Aware offers a search tool by state at http://childcareaware.org/resources/map/.

Both your local CCR&R agency and licensing office will advise you of how to obtain a license and apply for financial assistance, such as start-up grants and scholarships. They can also refer you to training resources so you can meet licensing requirements. Other sources of licensing information are your local Department of Health, Department of Social Services, and Department of Family Services.

To be authorized to open, your facility must pass a safety inspection. To maintain licensure, your center will be subject to periodic inspections. You’ll also need to renew your license upon expiration, the date ranging between one and three years from issuance.


To protect your business, you’ll need to invest in several types of insurance. Among them are property, liability, business, and workers’ compensation. Your state’s licensing requirements will guide you regarding the kinds of insurance to obtain.

5. Hire staff.

Your state’s legally mandated adult-to-child ratios will determine your staffing needs. The National Association for the Education of Young Children recommends one adult per three babies age 12 months or less, for a maximum group size of six. The same ratio applies to toddlers, for a maximum group number of nine. One adult should supervise no more than six 2-year-olds, 10 kids ages 3 and 4, and 15 children age 5.

Given these ratios, you’ll need to hire employees. In that case, you’ll want an adequate payroll fund before start-up. Until your business yields enough income for salaries, payroll will be an out-of-pocket expense. To calculate childcare fees to charge, call other daycare centers in your area, and ask for their prices.

When considering job applicants, look for those with backgrounds in early childhood education, and verify their work references. State laws may require daycare staff to undergo criminal record checks and fingerprinting. All employees must adhere to state childcare laws.

Loved and Valued

Admittedly, this information is a lot to digest, but don’t be overwhelmed. Step by step, you’ll realize your dream of opening a daycare center. Your rewards will be the children’s love, parental gratitude, and the self-esteem that comes from providing a valued service.

Keep picturing your vision, guiding your decisions. Soon, your life will be filled with giggles, smiles, shining eyes, and the praise of grateful parents!