With an ever-growing demand for child care amongst working parents, opening a preschool in Florida can be a good opportunity for individuals that enjoy working with children and are familiar with the early stages of learning. When selecting your preschool location, consider that Florida has 67 different counties to choose from and numerous resources to help you launch your business. Even if you have minimal experience in education, the Florida Department of Education will help guide you in the right direction to ensure all credentials and requirements are met before launching your preschool.
How to Open a Preschool in Florida
Determine your start-up cost and identify your financial resources. Consider all financial aspects of opening your Florida Preschool including land/property taxes, construction or renovation costs, classroom equipment, kitchen equipment, office equipment, maintenance equipment, van or transportation costs, playground equipment, utility connection charges, professional fees, licensing and application fees, marketing and advertising, insurance, and staff training. Ongoing operational expenses like rent, utilities, taxes, supplies, and salaries need to be included as well. Decide where the capital will come from, whether it's a loan or a personal investment.
Select a location for your preschool. Choose a county in the state of Florida and find a facility with enough space to accommodate the district’s strict staff-to-child ratio. Ratios are established by the county and information regarding the exact number can be found by calling the county’s local municipality. Find a facility that also includes enough space for a designated outdoor play area.
Contact the local county municipality in which the preschool will be located. Each of the 67 counties in the state of Florida will have a unique set of requirements for business license, occupancy approvals and building codes. The zoning office will ensure proper zoning approval for your new preschool.
Furnish and decorate your preschool. Furnishings and all equipment must be appropriate and safe for preschool-aged children. Florida requires a minimum four foot fence for the outdoor play space and the fence length must be at least 45 square feet per child, or 1/2 the maximum capacity of the facility. Do not invest money into the facility until all structural requirements and regulations have been approved by the county.
Schedule all facility inspections. Contact the county's local fire inspector and schedule an environmental health inspection with the local health department. Upon approval, your preschool will be subject to periodic inspections.
Contact your local child care licensing office. Complete the licensure survey form found on the Florida Department of Children and Families website (dcf.state.fl.us), take it to the local licensing office, and you will be assigned a counselor who will be your guide throughout the whole process. A license to operate your preschool will not be issued until you and your counselor have worked together to ensure all licensing requirements have been met.
Incorporate and name your business. Contact the Florida Department of State, Divisions of Corporations to file for incorporation. Inquire if registration of a fictitious name is required.
Hire and train your preschool staff. Contact the Florida Department of Education to obtain a list of credentials needed for your preschool personnel. The Florida Department of Education provides courses that will need to be completed in order to certify you and your staff. All preschool staff members must take and pass these courses in order to meet the requirements set forth by the Florida Department of Education. Course fees apply.
Open your preschool facility. The licensing counselor will work closely with you to insure all paperwork is completed and approved, and all credentials have been verified before the grand opening of your preschool.