How to Start a Daycare Center in Florida

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The Florida Department of Children and Family Services oversees requirements to open a daycare in the Sunshine State. You'll need extensive training before starting. Also, the facilities must follow a host of regulations, chiefly rules on hygiene and safety. Owners of child daycare centers can expect steady revenues in exchange for superior service, though annual income will vary by location and enrollment.

Obtain Required Credentials

Starting a daycare in Florida begins with the proper credentials. An individual working at a child care facility must complete a 40-hour child care certification in Florida, conducted by the Department of Children and Family Services. An exam must be passed at completion of the course. You have one year to complete the training once you start work. Details on completing the class can be found on the Department of Children and Family Services website.

Additionally, daycare personnel must undergo at least 10 hours in-service training annually.

Minimum Facility Requirements

Locate a building and grounds that meet safety standards. Determine if leasing or purchasing is the best solution. If a private home will be used, be sure to fill out the correct application with the state.

Every facility must meet certain standards. For instance, the building's interior must have at least 20 square feet of floor space for every child. This can include classroom, play area, work area and nap space. The outdoor area must have 45 square feet for each child in any group using it at a time. In addition, it must be enclosed by a secured fence that meets local government requirements.

Furnish and Supply the Facility

Starting a daycare in Florida means you'll have initial investments. Chairs, tables and toys will be among your expenses. You'll also have daily operating costs, such as cleaning supplies and food for snacks. Obtain everything necessary to keep a clean and safe environment for the children under your care.

Obtain a Business License

File for a business license to operate. For example, you must file an "Articles of Incorporation" when starting a daycare in Florida. It must list the legal status of the business — corporation, partnership, limited partnership, sole proprietor. Also, you must get a Tax ID (EIN) number for the business, if it is documented as any legal status other than a sole proprietorship.

After contacting the IRS website for the number, you will need to contact local authorities, including the fire and health departments. Go to your county and city websites to find whom to contact for information on the next steps to take. License requirements can vary depending on your location in Florida.

Complete State-Required Paperwork

Fill out the portable document file application from the Florida Department of Children And Families. It can be found on the website of the department. It totals three pages. At this time, you must declare what type of child care your daycare will offer. For instance, after school, full day or drop-in service, or a combination.

The application fee is not listed on the application. So you must contact the department to find out the amount. Use blue or black ink only and include the daycare's Articles of Incorporation.

Florida Licensure

Submit the application and wait for a response. The Florida Department of Children And Families will reply with a license number when approved. If there is a problem with obtaining approval, you may need to speak with someone in the department for more information. You may need be re-evaluated.

At the time of publication, five counties in Florida have elected to designate a local licensing agency to regulate licensing of child centers. They are Broward, Hillsborough, Palm Beach, Pinellas and Sarasota.

Marketing Techniques

Gain customers by using marketing techniques and by using the enrollment form provided by the Florida Department of Children And Families' resource website. Think about obtaining the Gold Seal Quality Care Accreditation to set the Florida daycare apart from the competition with a respected designation. You may also consider adding supplemental learning features such as language studies to distinguish yourself and increase rates.