Starting an at-Home Infant Daycare

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The demand for quality infant daycare is high. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, as of 2008, 1.3 million people worked in child care and 33 percent of them were self-employed. As the need for daycare increases, the job outlook for daycare providers is expected to increase by 11 percent through 2018. A well-trained person who loves to spend time with babies and children is ideally suited for a potentially lucrative career in child care.

Call your state's department of children and family services (it may be called health and human services or something similar). Ask them to send you their regulations on opening an in-home daycare service. Your state will have regulations on how many infants you can have per member of staff, health, safety and building code compliance and the background checks required on the adults who will work with the children.

Work for a child care center and gain some experience working with infants. This is particularly helpful if you have never had children of your own or never babysat before.

Take classes or pursue a degree in Early Childhood Education or Child Development. Some community colleges offer daycare track certificates that you can pursue without having to get a full degree.

Get certification in first aid and infant CPR. This is not only reassuring to parents, but important knowledge for any care provider to have.

Make sure you have adequate fire escape routes, smoke detectors, food preparation space and that your home meets other building and sanitation codes. Your county may require you be inspected, prior to starting your business.

Apply for a license. In some states, if you are only offering a babysitting service for a certain number of hours a day or for a certain number of children, this isn't necessary. However, many parents like the reassurance of a licensed facility, so applying for a license is practical from both a business and safety standpoint.

Gather equipment for your business. Depending on how many infants you will be watching at one time, you will need cribs for them to sleep in and a room to put them in. In addition, you will need quality, safe toys; bottles; diapers; a changing table; a stroller (for as many kids as you are watching); an outside play space; safety gates; outlet covers; cabinet latches; high chairs; first aid kit; books and other supplies, depending on the ages of the children.

Create a contract that includes strict procedures for pick-ups (who is allowed to pick-up a child, for example) and payment and vacation policies. You want to make sure you are getting paid for your services in a timely fashion.

Advertise your services in local newspapers and websites. Create an ad that is professional and shows a place that will be fun learning environment for an infant.

Meet with prospective parents. This is their time to inspect you, but also your time to let them know what your expectations are. You want to make sure that issues like payment, hours, days off and holidays are clear from the very beginning.

References

About the Author

Michelle Hogan is a writer and the author of 13 books including the 2005 bestselling memoir, "Without a Net: Middle Class and Homeless (With Kids) in America." Hogan studied English at American University and has been writing professionally since 1998. Her work has appeared in "The New York Times," "Redbook," "Family Circle" and many other publications.

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