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How to Open a Head Start or Preschool

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According to a report released in May, 2011 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, seven out of ten American mothers work outside the home. This influx of women into the workforce and stay-at-home mothers seeking quality early childhood programs creates a need for quality preschool programs. Consider opening a preschool or Head Start that offers a comprehensive program to help stimulate preschoolers with hands-on learning projects, literature and creative play as well as provide parents with an alternative to daycare.

Privately-owned Preschool

Write a comprehensive business plan before attempting to start a preschool. This plan should include specific information associated with the day-to-day operation of the business. Perform a demographic study of the area. Complete market research to determine how many homes have children that fall into the category of potential preschool students. Mail out questionnaires to all local schools and churches. Research the number of existing public and private preschools within your neighborhood or city.

Obtain the necessary licenses needed to run the business. Contact your local, county, and state officials for specific license requirements. The license should be in place before you begin providing services. Find out if you, as director, must have a degree in education. Laws vary from state to state. Find out requirements for operating a preschool from the local Department of Child Welfare or Department of Health and Human Services.

Determine the location of your preschool. Decide if the business will operate from your home or another location. Check on local zoning restrictions. Know how much space you need to accommodate the number of children you plan for. Advertise your services in the local newspaper, church bulletins and place an ad in the local telephone directory. Join a local organization of preschool mothers. Network with other preschool owners and share ideas.

Set a budget for your business. Allocate funds for equipment, toys, supplies and advertising. Arrange for liability insurance and ask for advice from an insurance agent about how much coverage you need.

Investigate preschool curriculum programs that meet educational requirements for preschools in your state. Purchase a comprehensive preschool curriculum from online sources or from educational publishers. Preschool programs should include evaluation criteria. Determine the number of personnel needed based on projected enrollment. Screen, interview and hire only highly qualified teachers and staff members.

Head Start Preschool

Apply for a federal grant from The Office of Head Start. Most grantees are nonprofit agencies that provide child care for communities, but some are for-profit agencies in the private sector.

Arrange for a location that meets federal, state and local guidelines for preschool education. Provide school readiness programs for low-income children. Arrange to work with other community agencies to also provide health, nutrition and social services for all children.

Decide if the program will be provided for a half or full day. Organize and coordinate all extra services in your daily routine such as speech therapy or health-related services. Plan activities to include parents in their child's learning process. Follow the guidelines set forth by the Office of Head Start and the Department of Health and Human Services.


Learn the requirements before considering opening a preschool or Head Start facility. Visit several similar facilities in your area and within a day's drive to obtain diverse ideas and to talk with those who have already gone through the steps of opening a center.


Be prepared to submit to a criminal and child abuse background check before a license is issued.


Linda Woolhether is a retired teacher born in Texas, but now resides in Wyoming. Her career as a reading and writing teacher spanned 20-plus years. She holds a Master of Arts in education in curriculum and instruction and is experienced in various types of writing. She was successful in writing several educational grants while teaching. Completing a novel is presently her goal.