Start your own daycare

By starting your own daycare, you have the opportunity to not only make some extra money, but you'll be able to stay home and spend time with your own kids. Both benefits are very important -- who doesn't need to make extra money? -- and your kids will only be young once.

But starting a daycare isn't as easy as buying a sandbox and handing out flyers with your name, phone number and address. There are things that you'll need to do before you actually start minding other people's children.

First, do you actually like being with children? Do you like playing with them? Does it bother you having to run after unruly children (and they're all unruly sometime or another)? Will you be able to feel affection for the children of strangers? Children need affection from their caregivers -- parents and daycare providers alike. Some people can be very loving to their own children, but can't seem to feel the same affection and love for the children of others. If you can't provide that loving, patient affection, then running a daycare is not for you.

Personal suitability is obviously the first requirement to starting and running your own daycare service. Just like any business endeavor, you have to love the work you'll be doing, and you'll have to want to do it. But if you love kids in general, and you have more patience than your friends and family can comprehend, you ought to do well.

The market for daycare services is booming. More and more, families are finding that they need two incomes to support their lifestyles, and are turning to home-based daycares to look after their children. Plus, single-parent homes are more prevalent than ever before. Single moms have to go out to work everyday, and need a safe, nuturing place to send their children. But, while there are many opportunities, please keep in mind that you won't make your fortune minding the children of others. However, it'll provide a much-needed second income for you, and will allow you to stay home and care for your own kids.

If you've passed the personal suitability "test", the next thing you need to do is to find out what laws and regulations apply to home-based daycares. There are usually limits on the number of children that a daycare can take in, and requirements on the ratio between adult caregivers and children. You must find out all the laws and regulations that apply before you can prepare to open a daycare service. Other legal obligations might include first aid requirements, the provision of meals and snacks, and even planned curricula for the children. Know the details before you start up!

Next, you need to work out a budget, so you can determine how much you'll charge for minding the children. Keep in mind that a small home-based daycare will never be a source of instant riches and easy money. In fact, if you don't watch your finances closely and plan in advance, you may actually find yourself losing money instead of making it. There are start-up costs that have to be taken into account. Child-proofing your home, setting up an appropriate (and fenced in) play area in the yard, first aid kits, as well as the promotional material that you'll need in order to market your daycare services.

Next, you'll need to come up with written contracts that both you and the parents will sign spelling out in detail how much they'll pay, the drop off and pick up hours, and just what you'll be providing. There'll also be forms to create that will record the details of each child's week -- drop off and pick up times each day, how the child was, what he did or learnt, the food he ate, etc.

There's an ebook -- Starting a day care center -- that you can buy and download that will help you in your preparations, providing sample contracts and forms, lots of information, and some helpful advice. Remember, learning all you can before you start will save you lots of time, energy and money in the future. Be prepared!

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