Starting a daycare in South Carolina is easy but requires special licensing and good business planning. Every business follows a common structure, and daycares are no exception. A daycare needs good financial management, qualified personnel caring for the children, a solid marketing plan and an accessible location that is preferably close to a residential or commercial area. In South Carolina, there are three mains types of licenses for childcare facilities: Family Child Care Home (up to 6 children), Group Child Care Home (7-12 children), and Child Care Center (more than 12 children).
Create a business plan for your daycare. Include the general business idea, where you are planning on starting the daycare, how your customers will know about you, and how much you will charge. You should also include how much money you will need to start and whether you will self-finance the operation from the beginning or take out a loan. Also analyze the suitability of your location by including what kind of competition there is (are there already several daycares established in the area? How will yours succeed or be different?). Include trends such as how many new schools or newly-wed couples are moving into the area.
Decide whether your daycare will be home-based or a separate center. Home-based daycares in South Carolina fall under the Family Child Care Home category (no more than 6 children), and most of them are registered but not licensed. Registration requires an application, a working telephone number, letters of reference, approval from a zoning board, statements from parents, and fingerprints of all operators. Licensure requires additional assessments such as health, fire and childcare licensing inspections. For Group Child Care Homes or Child Care Centers, the operators must be at least 21 years old and have a bachelor’s or associate degree in child development or early childhood education (or a high school diploma plus three years working as a caregiver at a licensed childcare facility).
Decide how many children your daycare will serve. This affects the type of licensing you will seek in the state of South Carolina. If your center will operate less than four hours a day and less than two days a week, it may be exempt from licensure.
Choose your personnel. At your daycare the caregivers and staff are the face and soul of your operation. If you need to hire staff, favor those who are already studying early child development or education. Remember that the state of South Carolina requires fingerprints of all your operators, and your registration could be revoked if one of your staff members has a bad history.
Create your procedures and policies for day-to-day operation. Set your hours of operation, the maximum time a child can stay at your facility, and how you will pay and keep track of employee hours.
Complaints by parents can result in unannounced visits to your daycare for inspection. All licensed daycares in South Carolina receive unannounced visits twice a year.