If you’re opening a childcare center, it’s an exciting time. Even though it’s a worthwhile venture, inevitable stresses come with any new business— many of which catch new childcare business owners by surprise.
To prepare for success, you need to have a plan. If you want to create a sustainable, thriving childcare center, you have to do everything right. That way, you can avoid major pitfalls, lead your business with confidence, and establish the type of credibility families want in a childcare provider.
Whether you’re planning to open a brand new facility, a home daycare, or your next franchise location, this free childcare center opening checklist is for you.
Here’s what’s inside our free childcare center opening checklist:
- Business Plan
- Childcare Policies
- Billing Software
- Childcare Management Technology
Let’s start at the beginning and review each of the items in our free childcare center opening checklist in order.
From the start, you want to protect your childcare center. To operate legally, childcare centers must be officially licensed by the state’s Department of Children and Family Services.
Licensing regulations differ from state to state, and different countries will have their own requirements too. Get clear about the childcare licensing requirements in your location, including any fees, annual renewals, state safety laws, and more. Sometimes, it can be helpful to contact a state licensor directly.
Consider other requirements and certifications that may be useful beyond state licensing standards. CPR certifications, early childhood education (ECE) credits, and a Childcare Director’s Certificate may be necessary.
2. Business Plan
A business plan is essential if you want to fulfill not only the minimum requirements to run a childcare center, but also reach big-picture goals in the future.
With a business plan, you have a step-by-step guide to building a lasting and profitable business. From your mission statement to annual goals to a list of standard operating procedures (SOPs), an effective business plan has everything you need to scale and serve.
Read more about Childcare Business Planning here.
It’s better to clearly outline a budget than to guess how much it “might” cost to open a childcare center. Include financial projections in your business plan, and track every financial detail you can possibly think of.
What will the cost of licensing be per year? What is your budget for rent and utilities? How much will you need to pay your employees? Sort through all the numbers before opening your doors.
Many childcare business owners open with the help of business loans. If this is something you need to look into, consider how much you want to grow enrollment every year, as locking into one location or contract may put limitations on growth.
There’s a common slogan for in-person businesses: “location, location, location.”
Where you choose to operate your childcare center can make or break its potential for success. Decide if you’re going to run a private daycare, a niche-specific childcare program, a large childcare company, or something different— then consider the best location for it.
For example, maybe you’re offering childcare to a diverse population in a big city, in which case you’ll need a safe yet easy-to-find building. Or if you open a smaller daycare in the suburbs, you might prefer to operate out of your home. No matter where you open your business, remember to clarify city laws and childcare licensure ahead of time.
5. Childcare Policies
Policies and procedures are necessary because they provide documented legal protection against anything that could go wrong in your business.
Childcare policies also set clear expectations for your employees and customers. Many state licensing laws require childcare providers to have these policies and procedures in place. They may include:
- An employee handbook
- Childcare enrollment paperwork
- Incident report forms
- Parent-teacher communication forms
- Staff evaluations
- Health and safety procedures
- Mandated reporting
- Emergency action plans
- Privacy policies
Creating policies and procedures is a whole process in itself. For best results, you might want to hire a specialist so you know what to include in each one.
Your business needs employees to function. For you to deliver on your childcare business plan, fulfill your educational philosophies, and hit your business goals, put plenty of effort into hiring the right staff.
What’s important to you when it comes to employees? Do they need rigorous educational training or would you prefer staff members who are passionate to grow in the field of child development? Do you want an assistant director to help you run your business or are you planning to hire support staff only?
Know what you want and need. Determine which type of employee culture would benefit your childcare in the classroom and as a work unit. Create clear guidelines and rules for your staff. Most importantly, always strive to be a positive example to the team.
How will you furnish and decorate your childcare center? This is something to consider before, during, and after securing a location.
Equipment and supplies for your business include everything from tables and workstations to craft supplies and snacks. Here are some must-have items:
- Sanitation supplies
- Child hygiene products
- Age-appropriate toys
- Educational materials
- Walkie-talkies for staff
- Naptime cushions or sleeping pads
- Electronic devices for the classroom
- Storage equipment and cubbies
Depending on your childcare business, you might require unique supplies. For example, a Montessori daycare will look a lot different than a traditional preschool. Make a list of items your childcare program will need ahead of time so you know what to buy.
These days, online marketing is one of the best ways to stand out in any industry. The same is true for childcare. How will you market your business?
- Have a website. Aim to rank for search terms like “childcare center in [your area]” on Google by investing in SEO. You can also run paid ads on mega-platforms like Google, Facebook, and Yelp.
- Use social media. Promote your business on Facebook, Nextdoor, Angi, or Instagram. Hire a social media manager if necessary. Want to stand out? Provide free, educational content for parents in your area.
- Spread the word. Where can you share your childcare center with locals who need your service? Post banners or flyers at local gyms, libraries, community centers, college campuses, or anywhere else parents may frequent. Tell your friends and family to share the news with their communities.
Marketing is a long-term strategy. It’s important to sustain a marketing plan year after year. You never know when enrollment might get low or if someone might withdraw from your program, leaving you short on funds.
9. Billing Software
Ideally, childcare centers should have digital billing software with the option for automated payments. Not only does this make it easier for parents to pay tuition, but it also makes accounting easier for childcare providers.
Here are some features to look for in childcare billing software:
- Automatic invoicing
- Credit/debit card payment options
- ACH transfer options
- User-friendly online dashboard
- Affordable processing fees
- Childcare accounting integrations
Childcare financial software helps relieve you of manually calculating bills and fees for customers. Spend less time crunching the numbers and more time providing excellent care and education to the kids.
10. Childcare Management Technology
No matter what aspect of childcare you need to plan for— and eventually, organize on a daily basis— a childcare management software is an invaluable tool.
Childcare software helps you:
- Securely store essential documents
- Track licensing requirements and renewals
- Follow learning frameworks
- Record student learning assessments
- Manage staff schedules
- Communicate with parents
- Automate and organize childcare funds
- Receive billing
- And more
Opening up a childcare center is a lot of work. You have to pay attention to all the details that will ultimately set the foundation for the families you’re committed to serving.
To make checking everything off your list easier, start using the best software for new childcare centers. Get a free trial of Daily Connect today.