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How to Start a Home Daycare in Pennsylvania

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Many couples with children find it difficult to make ends meet without both parents working. This has created a growing need for child care. It also has created the opportunity for some parents to work at home by starting a home daycare business, enabling them to earn money while still caring for their own children. In the state of Pennsylvania, there are specific regulations pertaining to registered home daycare providers.

Consider whether you are capable of running a home daycare. Do you enjoy being around groups of children? Are you a patient person, not just with your own children, but with those of others? Are you at least 18 years old, and do you have a high school diploma or general education development certificate (GED)? You must be 18 to operate a home daycare center in Pennsylvania.

Check with the local government to see whether your neighborhood is zoned for a home business. If it is, contact the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare office in your area or use its website to obtain forms necessary to apply for a Pennsylvania Child Abuse History Clearance. As of 2010, the fee for this was $10. This clearance also is necessary for many other jobs pertaining to children. The Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare also is where you can obtain forms to apply for a license or certificate to operate your home daycare.

Evaluate your living space. You will need areas for the children in your care to eat, sleep, and play. Areas must be clean, safe and of adequate size depending on the number of children you will care for. In the state of Pennsylvania, a registered home daycare provider working alone may take in as many as six children unrelated to the care provider. The actual number depends on how many infants and toddlers are in the daycare. According to Pa. Code 3290.52., if there are no infants, five toddlers are allowed; if there is one infant, four toddlers are allowed; and if there are two infants, three toddlers are allowed.

Determine the number of children you have room for and feel capable of caring for, along with what ages you will accept. Decide what hours you will be open, and whether you will accept drop-ins. Determine how much you will charge and what you will do if a parent is late picking up her children. This will help you develop your business plan and create written policies to avoid confusion or misunderstanding with your clients.

Decide what items you will provide as part of your service, such as sleeping mats or playpens, and whether you or the parents will provide meals and/or snacks. Clothing, diapers and formula usually are supplied by parents, but it always is a good idea to have extras on hand. Obtain new or used toys and equipment from stores, yard sales and other venues, checking carefully for safety and health issues in any older items, such as the size of crib slats and the possibility of lead paint. Thoroughly clean and disinfect any used items you buy, and maintain a cleaning and disinfecting schedule or all items after your facility is open.

Set up your home daycare, cleaning and decorating as necessary. Try to keep some spaces separate from your family area, especially if you have older children of your own in the home. Get down on your knees and look around the areas you have designated for your daycare to assess any potential safety problems.

Create advertisements to post when you are ready to accept children. Include fees, ages and hours of operation. Create a form for parents to sign indicating they are aware of your policies and procedures, and collect contact information, health information and personal preferences for each child in your care.

Operate your home daycare in a safe and nurturing manner. Be prepared for inspection at any time by the state, and comply with training requirements and regulations as dictated by the State of Pennsylvania and provided by the Department of Public Welfare.

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