Designing the floor plan of a day care center requires research and forethought. Day cares must satisfy state and local requirements for safety, efficiency and emergency preparedness. Day care designers must take into account the purpose of each room, who will use it and how. For those going into the day care business, learning what it takes to design a center that satisfies the state's requirements and client needs is essential to making a solid start.
Check your state's building requirements for the size day care you want to run. Find out the ages and maximum number of children you can have for the size building you are considering.
Determine the number and type of rooms you'll need, and draw a preliminary plan. Depending on your business plan and code requirements, you may wish to sketch out classrooms, a kitchen, closets for art and utilities, bathrooms, office space, a break room, a waiting room and a common room.
Use code requirements and accepted design principles to determine floor plan configuration. Classrooms should be spread out around the building in a logical pattern, such as an L-shape or at all of the corners of the building. Kitchens and closets should be centrally located for easy access. There should be one bathroom toward the front of the building and one toward the back. Office space, such as the administrator's office, should be in the front of the building to give access to visitors. A break room for faculty and staff can be located at the back of the building.
Account for health, safety and maintenance requirements. Plan doors, windows, bathrooms and utility sinks for each classroom and the common rooms. Make sure classroom doors give easy access into rooms. Ensure that windows in classrooms afford adequate natural light, and are high enough that children can't climb out of them. Bathrooms and utility sinks should be located close together since their function is similar. Utility sinks should have lockable storage cabinets overhead and underneath.
Plan for a main and secondary entrance, as well as parking. Ideally, entrances should be shielded from the street by landscaping. If the facility is located on a busy street, find out whether getting a school-zone easement from the front of the building to a nearby parking area is possible. If not, plan for patrons to enter the facility on the side or back of the building, away from the busy street.
Re-check your state's day care requirements, as well as specific building codes for this type of facility. Have an architect review your plans and layout to detect any potential problems.
- "Child Care Design Guide"; Olds, A; 2000
- White Hutchinson.com: Top 10 Mistakes Made in the Interior Design of Child Care Centers
Patricia Smith Michaels has been writing business and technology articles online since 2010. She has written instructional manuals and white papers for corporations and has more than 20 years of experience as a researcher and consultant in the areas of health care, education and management. She holds a Master of Business Administration in management and a Bachelor of Science in computers from St. John's University.