Before you begin the process of opening a child care business, it is important to understand the types of regulated child care and to learn about the local resources that can support you through the start-up process. Take the following steps to help you get ready.
- Choose Your Child Care Type
The start-up and licensing processes will look different depending on the type of child care you plan to open.
Child Care Centers
Child care center programs have a dedicated director and numerous staff. Child care centers are generally operated out of non-residential, commercial buildings, and children are often grouped by age. Some child care centers may operate as a non-profit. They may be owned by an individual, faith-based organization, public school or government agency. Other child care centers may operate for profit and may be owned by an individual or a corporate chain.
Family Child Care
A family child care home is a place where a small group of children are cared for in a residential setting for a fee. Often this type of care and education is offered in the caregiver’s own home. Programs may offer care for typical work or school hours or during non-traditional hours, such as evenings or weekends. Most states require family child care homes over a certain size to be regulated or licensed. Regulations for licensing vary from state to state. For those family child care programs that are not required to be licensed, choosing to obtain a license can show the families in your community that you are committed to providing safe and quality child care.
Your state or local area may refer to family child care using other terms. Some examples include registered child care homes, group child care homes, group family daycare, home daycare, etc. This website uses the term “family child care” to refer to regulated child care programs in residential settings that do not qualify as child care centers.
- Find Your Local Supports
Once you have decided which type of child care program is the right fit for your situation and vision, learn about the local resources that can help you get started.
Find Your Local Child Care Resource and Referral Agency
Most areas of the United States are served by one or more Child Care Resource and Referral agencies, or CCR&Rs. CCR&Rs help families find child care that meets their needs by providing referrals to regulated child care programs, and many also provide support and resources to child care programs. They may have a number of tools for your business and professional development needs. Your local CCR&R will be an important partner for you and your program before, during and after the licensing process.
Take a moment to find your local CCR&R agency using the online CCR&R search tool. Record the appropriate contact information on the form below or in your phone so that you can return to it if you need to reach out for assistance or with questions.
Find Your Local Child Care Licensing Office
A second key resource for the start-up process is your state or local child care licensing office. You can reach out to your child care licensing office with many of your start-up questions. Find your state or local licensing office contact information on our resource map. Click on your state, then click on the Child Care tab to find the licensing resource. Record the child care licensing contact information on the form below for future use.
- Do a Self-Assessment
Opening and operating a child care program is a big undertaking. Take some time to think about why you want to start a child care business and to consider some important questions before you get started.
Child Care Center Owner Self-Assessment
- Learn About Community Needs
Understanding the community need for child care is critical for your business to be successful. As you think about opening a child care program, take the time to do a complete and thorough needs assessment. This is an important first step toward building your business plan and it helps you to determine whether your community needs your services. Business owners of all types are more likely to succeed when they continually consider the needs of their consumers.
Child Care Center Needs Assessment