How to Start an In Home Daycare in Iowa

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Starting an in home daycare in Iowa can be a fun way to make money from home. Before you jump right in, here are some steps you should take.

Determine the area of your home that will be used for the daycare. Make sure you have plenty of space for the children to play, nap and eat. Also consider where you will store the daycare toys and equipment.

Evaluate the market in your area to determine the weekly fees you will charge. Craigslist is a good way to find other in home daycare centers to call to determine a fair price. Once you set your price, determine how many kids you can handle, keeping in mind that Iowa only allows up to 5 kids in a non licensed in home daycare.

Decide if you will be unlicensed, licensed, or registered in the state of Iowa. Even if you are not licensed or registered, state law dictates the number of kids allowed in a home daycare in Iowa. There are different requirements to be a registered in home daycare and to be a licensed in home daycare in Iowa. Check out the DHS website for the latest information (link below in resources section). Get started on the requirements if you choose to be registered or licensed.

Research the tax implications of running an in home daycare. You will have to pay taxes on the money you make. However, you will also receive tax breaks for business expenses. Check the IRS website or with your tax adviser for the latest rules as they change frequently.

Create a contract and handbook for the parents. This is an important step that many people overlook. It will make you look more professional. It will also force you to decide what rules you want. It's important to let parents know the expectations up front. That way if they break one of the rules, you have it all in writing.

Set up the area in your home that will be used for the daycare.

Advertise your daycare services. If you don't have any clients, you won't be making money at home. Word of mouth is one of the best ways to attract clients. Craigslist is free and effective. The Iowa Child Care Resource & Referral website is an excellent place to advertise as well (link is below in resource section). Parents can search for an in home daycare in Iowa using the site's search option.

Keep up with the licensing requirements if you decided to become a licensed daycare.


Ask parents of current children for referrals and references. It's always good to have references available.


Be sure that you keep up with the licensing requirements. Remember that your income may not be steady. It may take you some time to find clients. You may also have people stop coming to you for various reasons without much warning. Keeping a waiting list will give you contacts to fill an open spot if someone does stop using your services.