10 Steps to Opening a Daycare Center

person planning a daycare business

Starting a daycare business is an ideal pursuit for anyone with childcare experience. Running a childcare center allows you to serve the families in your community while establishing your own clientele, schedule, and unique approach to teaching. If you’re considering opening your caring arms to the public, here are ten steps to opening a daycare center you should be aware of. 

1. Ask Yourself Why You’re Opening a Daycare Center

First, assess the meaningful aspect of your future business: why do you want to run a childcare center? There are many reasons why people open a daycare center, from financial independence to giving back to the community. 

Running a childcare center can be emotionally fulfilling, provide a decent income, and cater to childcare owners who want to include their own kids in their everyday life. You probably have a passion for teaching young kids, but it helps to have clear goals and know why you want to manage a childcare business

2. Learn Your Local Daycare Regulations 

Every state has a set of regulations, standards, and guidelines for operating a childcare center. Learn your county’s additional guidelines front to back, so you can have everything you need to open safely and in compliance with the law. 

  • Check with the Department of Children and Family Services in your state. Gather their guidelines for childcare service providers. 
  • Get licensed! This process ensures you’re CPR certified, have a clean record, and can adequately offer childcare in your area. 

You’ll need to get on the phone and talk with childcare agencies near you. Don’t skip any of these required steps. A great way to organize this process is with the help of childcare software, where you can upload all of your documents in one place. Some of these apps even provide you with a list of state requirements to fulfill. 

3. Find a Good Location

Once you get licensed and know what regulations to follow, start planning your daycare location. Do you want to rent a space to operate a childcare facility? Or are you going to run an in-home daycare? Location is important to families who will enroll in your childcare business, so take the time to properly scout ideal locations. 

4. Develop Childcare Policies, Procedures, and Contracts 

Here is one of the most important steps for opening a daycare center: craft and implement your policies/procedures. You need a plan for every scenario that may occur at your daycare. 

Examples of essential policies and procedures include:

  • Emergency plans
  • Health and safety procedures 
  • Daycare rules
  • Privacy standards
  • Mandated reporter processes (state and federal)
  • Parent handbook
  • Employee handbook 
  • Tuition agreements 
  • Enrollment contracts 

These policies and contracts help protect your students from harm and keep you safe from potential legal trouble. Establishing clear contracts and procedures upfront allows everyone— from staff members to parents to daycare supervisors— to maintain clear expectations in case anything goes wrong. 

This can result in a lot of paperwork. A digital filing system might be ideal for your business. Consider a daycare management system that keeps track of your contracts, policies, and incident reports. That way, you won’t lose track of any important information you might need in the future. 

5. Hire the Right Childcare Staff 

Unless you’re running a solo daycare operation, hiring is inevitable once you hope to expand your business. Taking on help gives you the time, energy, and extra hands you need to attend to more kids at your daycare center. It also helps you manage your business like a responsible childcare director. 

Recruiting and hiring childcare staff might seem intimidating, but it’s worth it if your daycare center needs help fulfilling a larger teacher:student ratio. Make sure you run candidate background checks, talk to each candidate’s references, and make smart hiring decisions. Your business and the families you serve all depend on the best care and education of your students. 

6. Create a Daycare Curriculum 

How (and what) are you going to teach the kids at your daycare? Come up with an early childhood education (ECE) curriculum that meets the needs of young children in your care. ECE curriculums can change depending on the season or developmental phases of your students, so look for a system that allows you to edit and improve your lesson plans over time. 

Don’t forget to pay attention to the required learning and assessment frameworks in your local area. A major part of your job is to observe how each child is on track for going into kindergarten after being at your daycare center. 

7. Set Up a Daycare Activity Schedule

Having a set schedule sets you, your staff, and your students up for success. When young kids know what the expected routine is, it can improve their behavior, attention span, and social development. 

Maintaining a fun, consistent schedule of activities and events at your daycare center isn’t always easy. But there are tools today that help childcare professionals make sure they stay organized and on track. With the use of digital calendars and childcare mobile apps, you can stay alert for every task of the day. 

8. Establish Daycare-Parent Communication Methods

Parents always want to know how their child is doing and what they learn at daycare. Improving parent communication at your childcare center is extremely important to keeping parents happy, and making sure leaders do their job at relaying information to the families you serve. 

Today, many daycare providers use childcare communication apps to send direct messages and instant updates to parents while their child is at daycare. Receiving cute photos, special moments, or learning milestones means the world to busy parents, and digital systems make it easy. 

9. Grow Your Daycare Enrollment 

Once you start enrolling the first few kids into your daycare program, it’s time to further market your business. You can grow your enrollment through digital marketing, local childcare listings, and word-of-mouth referrals from existing customers. 

There are many ways to easily attract new families to your daycare center. To learn more about growing your business, download this free resource: The Ultimate Guide to Growing Enrollment in Your Childcare Center.

10. Manage Your Daycare Business 

When everything is established, your next step is learning how to manage your daycare professionally. Management is an ongoing job, and there will always be room for improvement in this area. Whether or not you have existing management skills, get ready to take them to a whole new level. 

When you become a daycare owner, you become the manager of:

  • Daily childcare activities 
  • Parent communication 
  • Tuition payments and late fees 
  • Teachers and staff members
  • Scheduling
  • Bookkeeping 
  • Daycare marketing
  • And more

That’s a lot of details to keep track of. How do daycare providers manage their childcare business in a way that actually works? These days, it’s useful to set up an affordable daycare center platform. 

Bonus: Use a Childcare Software 

One way to manage your daycare business successfully is to use multi-featured childcare software that has a proven strategy for providers like you. A childcare software lets you track attendance, store official documents, manage your schedule, communicate with parents, encourage staff compliance, and more. 

Use a childcare software like Daily Connect when opening a daycare center. Daily Connect is an app that helps you every step of the way. To learn more about how a daycare management platform can help you when opening and managing a new daycare center, sign up for a free trial today.

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