How to Start a Daycare in Michigan

By Dora Diamond
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Many people are considering entrepreneurship to combat economic downturn. For Michigan residents who love caring for children, starting a day care is a good idea. A lot of time, money, and research is involved, though the potential to make a good profit exists. Business will succeed when state rules and regulations are followed and support exists from other day care providers, friends, and family members. In addition, the Department of Human Services' Division of Child Day Care Licensing will answer any questions you may have. It is illegal to care for unrelated children in your home without being licensed or registered by the Michigan Department of Human Services.

Rules and Regulations

Call a Division of Day Care Licensing representative in Lansing at 517-241-2488 or 866-685-0006 to request a package titled "Licensing Rules for Family and Group Child Care Homes." You may also request "Licensing Rules for Child Care Centers" if you want a large day care facility for children. The representative in Lansing will send you an information packet containing all of the rules about providing day care, departments that you need to contact, and procedures that you must follow to operate a day care in the state.

Present these items when you return your Child Care Application (BCAL-3970): a Supplemental Application Information form (BCAL-3737); a $50 check or money order written out to the State of Michigan; a Fingerprint Clearance for the applicant; a Licensing Record Clearance (BCAL-1326) for everyone over the age of 18 in the home; a Medical Clearance Request (BCAL-3704) or the applicant; a Medical Clearance Request for each assistant caregiver; documentation of a tuberculosis test for everyone in the home over the age of 14; documentation of infant, child and adult CPR as well as blood-borne pathogen training for the applicant and all assistant caregivers; proof of inspection and approval of your heating system and documentation that radon gases do not exceed 4 picocuries per liter of air in the home.

Request the "Child Development and Care Handbook" (DHS Publication 230) as well as "Childcare Changes-How to Talk to Parents" (DHS Publication 129). You may find these resources and others at michigan.gov/daycare, including requirements for day care aides.

Know the hourly rates for licensed and registered child care providers enrolled in the Child Development and Care (CDC) program. Effective Nov. 22, 2009, the hourly rate for day care providers for ages 0 to 2 1/2 is $3.75, and for ages 2 1/2 and above the hourly rate is $2.50. For Family and Group Homes, providers for ages 0 to 2 1/2 are entitled to $2.90 per hour and for ages 2 1/2 and above the rate is $2.50 per hour.

Preparation

Decide upon a name for your day care, and register it on Michigan.gov/business, the Michigan Business One Stop Shop.

Contact the IRS to establish a federal tax identification number for your business, after receiving confirmation of certification of your new day care business name.

Decide if you want to start a family home day care--caring for up to six children, a group home day care--caring for six to 12 children or a day care center.

Visit child day care centers and other family home and group home day care facilities to see what your competitors are doing, and document your findings. Ask employees questions about their day care policies, prices and schedule of daily activities. Request packets that the providers issue to parents, because you can use this as a guide for the packet that you develop for your own day care. Be sure to check the lists provided by the state to ensure that your packet is accurate and complete.

Purchase and seek donations of books, movies, toys and other equipment that will be needed in your day care. You may purchase these items from thrift stores and garage sales to save on business start-up expenses. Keep a list of all of these items because they will have to itemized later in your state orientation. The state of Michigan will ensure that you have items such as puzzles to improve a child's motor skills.

Evaluation and Operation

Schedule an appointment with your local licensing agency by calling the Bureau of Child and Adult Licensing at 866-685-0006 for a six-hour orientation and review of your entire day care plans. The person who schedules your appointment will also ensure that a letter is sent out to you with an explanation of documents you will need to take to the orientation.

Secure a Statement of Registration which indicates that you are in compliance with day care rules and the Child Care Organizations Act (1973 PA 116). After orientation, you will be asked to take the Statement of Registration home to ensure that you are in compliance with the law before signing it and returning it.

Await the Certificate of Registration. This Certificate of Registration will be good for three years--as long as you comply with the rules and laws that govern day care for children in the state of Michigan. Within 90 days, a licensing consultant will inspect your home to be sure that you are in compliance in your family or group child care home. If you are a child day care center provider, a fire department may also conduct an evaluation for safety.

Market your day care. Purchase business cards or, if you have business card software, make your own. You may also print fliers and place a sign in the front of the new facility. Your fliers may be distributed to local stores or to college campuses, where students with children may need care. Have friends assist you with marketing your day care.

Establish a relationship with the owner of a day care facility who is willing to serve as your mentor.

About the Author

Based in Loganville, Ga., Dora Diamond has been writing articles since 1998. They have appeared in "The Gwinnett Post," "The Loganville Post," and "TAS Journal." Diamond holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and a Master of Arts in instructional design and performance improvement.