child playing image by Christopher Hall from

How to Start a Child Care Center

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If you love children and enjoy working with them, starting a child care center may prove the right career for you. During the summer months, 32 percent of children in the US are either in a daycare environment or cared for by a relative other than the parent, according to Turning your love of children into a profitable business where children can thrive not only helps you, it provides a vital service to hard-working parents who want their children in a stable, loving and safe daycare environment.

Decide whether you want a home-based business or a facility. Once you've determined whether your business will be a small, home type or a school-like facility, choose a name appropriate to help define the type of theme you want your business to portray. You can choose to play up the individual care a home environment gives the child, or your name can emphasize the learning a building-based daycare provides.

Find your preliminary investment money. Opening a child care center can run from $500 to $5,000 depending if you want to start a small, home operation with a few toys, a first-aid kit and the required permits, or if you want a larger operation based in a rented building with several rooms, playgrounds and several educational items. Your own savings, a loan or state-offered daycare grant are options. The Department of Children and Families in your area can inform you of state grants available.

Contact your state and county government licensing bureau to make sure you have complete documentation of everything you need and the proper licensing to start your daycare business. The requirements vary largely in each state. Some of the permits and licenses you'll need before opening your daycare include a business license, fire department permits and health department permits.

Purchase the proper child-friendly equipment. Put a first-aid kit, safety plugs for unused outlets and gates or child-safe barriers at the top of your list. Other items include educational as well as fun toys, books, puzzles and any other type of age-appropriate toys. If you plan on taking care of infants you will need to buy high-chairs and playpens. Napping mats will be necessary for napping and resting times. You do not have to spend a great deal on toys but having a few playthings and educational items are essential. If you are on a budget, you can find items at garage or yard sales and local secondhand stores. Be sure to clean and disinfect all toys before placing them in your center.

Advertise and market your daycare. Once you have your child care center properly set-up with all the essentials to keep the children safe and happy, the final step is advertising. This can be done with yard signs, local online postings, posters and newspaper ads as well as word-of-mouth.



  • "Starting a Child Care Center": Millicent Gray Lownes-Jackson: 2004

About the Author

Rose Smith has been writing professionally since 1992. Her how-to and relationship articles have appeared in "Family Circle" and several other national publications. She has also written the books "Sizzling Monogamy" and "101 Ways to Date Your Mate." Smith holds a Bachelor of Science in mass communications from Illinois State University.

Photo Credits

  • child playing image by Christopher Hall from