How to Have a Successful Licensed Child Care Business
A home daycare owner is a business entrepreneur. Careful record keeping and good business habits are key ingredients for a successful career in licensed home daycare.
When running a home child care business, it is important to use good business practices from the very beginning. Not only does this contribute to giving children the highest quality of care but it ensures the ongoing success of the business.
Communicating With Child Care Parents
A key component of a quality child care operation is good communication with parents. A caregiver needs to let parents know, preferably in writing, what they can expect, and what is expected of them. A good way to do this is by giving prospective families a handbook which covers such things as:
- caregiver credentials and references
- childcare philosophy
- days and hours of operation
- what parents need to send with their children
- potty training policy
- child sickness policy
- caregiver sickness policy
- vacation days
- fees, including early and late pick-up policies and fees
Once parents have read the handbook, they can be invited to visit the daycare with their child. If the parents and caregiver are in agreement about it being a good fit, they can set up an evening meeting to finalize details.
The caregiver needs to talk regularly with all her daycare parents. In a home daycare, it is usually doable to briefly touch base at drop-off and pick-up times since there are not as many children and parents milling around as there are at a large center. It is also advisable, however, to set up a weekly or biweekly conversation time outside of daycare hours. Behavioral or health concerns should always be communicated to parents immediately.
It is good practice to tell parents about cute things children do and say each day and any milestones they reach. Have a notebook for each child to jot such things down. The more such gems a caregiver can pass along, the more parents feel included in their child’s day.
A good caregiver is respectful of the fact that all families have their own ways of doing things and that, within reason, a good caregiver honors those differences and gives advice only when asked.
For group communication, a monthly newsletter or calendar that lists special events, birthdays, closure days, etc. is helpful. This is also a good place to pass on general parenting tips and suggestions.
Licensed Home Daycare Record Keeping
There are a great many records that a home daycare owner must maintain. Each child needs his or her own file with the following:
- childcare contract
- field trip permission slip
- emergency contacts
- parental authorization for others who may pick-up the child
- health and immunization forms
- any incident or accident reports related to the child
- copies of correspondence with parents
The caregiver also needs to have the following::
- attendance records/sign-in sheets
- menus (if serving subsidized meals)
- payment records
- proof of licensing
- proof of liability insurance
- CPR and First Aid certifications
- continuing education certificates
Child Care Business Financial Practices
A child care home is eligible for many tax deductions. Be sure to keep all receipts for supplies and equipment and consult with a good accountant to get the maximum tax breaks. Keep detailed records of all income and expenditures. For caregivers with good computer skills, an accounting program such as QuickBooks may be useful.
Regular child care is not babysitting. It is an ongoing, contractual service. A childcare fee reserves space in the daycare home for a specific child for a specific amount of time. It should, therefore, be paid regardless of whether the child is in attendance or not.
Many family daycare providers require payment in advance, either weekly or monthly. Most caregivers also have a policy of charging extra for children who are picked up after their scheduled time.
Most parents understand and appreciate that these policies help insure their caregiver’s ongoing ability to stay in business. Parents who balk at any or all of them tend to be a poor risk.
Licensed Home Daycare Can be a Good Business
Licensed daycare owners who have good communication with their daycare parents, maintain adequate records, follow sound financial guidelines and combine these practices with a genuine love of children, are on the highroad to a successful child care career. To find more information about starting, managing, and marketing a home daycare, see Books for Home Daycare Businesses.