So, you did it. You’ve decided to turn your passion for children into a career plan. You’re going to open a child care center!
Starting a child care business can be complicated, and there will be many questions to ask and decisions to make as you set up a daycare or preschool. One of the most important choices, and one you should make relatively early, is "what type of child care you want to own?" Franchise vs In-home vs Center. We'll walk you though the pros and cons of each.
Within the self-owned category you’ll have to choose between in-home and center-based. The differences between all these options can be drastic. Here are some things to consider when picking the child care business model that’s right for you.
Franchise child care centers are like the other types of franchises you may know and love. No, you’re not going to be a McDonald’s®or a Subway®, but the model is similar. With a child care franchise, you’re buying a brand. This can be helpful for a number of reasons:
Being a franchise owner has its advantages, but it’s still your own business. While support may be offered, it’s ultimately up to you to make the business work. Here are some things to keep in mind when considering a franchise:
Now, let’s take a look at the pros and cons of opening a self-owned child care center. The major deciding factor for choosing to setup a private preschool or daycare center is where you want to open your business: in your home or in a building you rent or buy? Let’s break down the differences between the two options.
In-home child care centers are exactly what they sound like, a child care you run within your own home. In-home centers can offer a plethora of advantages for an owner and the families that enroll their children there:
In most states, in-home child care providers have less stringent licensing requirements. For example, under the state law of Indiana an in-home child care operator is required to have a high school diploma or equivalent while center-based operators must have a college degree plus education in early childhood development. Requirements vary by state, so make sure to check with your state’s child care licensing agency to learn which education requirements apply in your situation.A child care center with staff who participate in regular continuing education courses and training, or have four-year degrees can be more attractive to families in the market for child care. If you choose to run your business in your home, keep this in mind as you consider how you will stay up-to-date on the latest in the early childhood education industry. Many parents actively look for continued education from their child care provider.
Does this sound like the right option for you?
Here are some challenges to consider as you think about opening an in-home child care business:
A center-based child care facility comes with its own sets of advantages and drawbacks. Let’s start with the pros:
And here are the challenges of center-based child care:
When selecting your location for your child care center, you have several options. You could build or purchase an existing building. You could also co-locate with another established business or partner with a church or ministry. Each of these options have unique requirements and regulations. Check with your state’s local child care requirements for various inspections, square foot requirements per child, and education and program requirements.
Now that your head is filled with the some of the basic components of the various child care setup options, what all does it mean? The first step is simply deciding what is important to you. Try making a list of all the things that you’re set in stone on and a list of things you’re willing to compromise. Having a clear outline of your own values and philosophies will help guide your decision.You should also think critically about the amount of finances you have available. Starting a child care center is not cheap. Selecting a model that fits within your budget will help to ensure success.Lastly, and perhaps most importantly, talk to the parents around you. If there is a gap in the market or an unmet need for parents, they will likely be ecstatic to tell you about it. Listening to your potential clients’ biggest struggles with child care can help you pick the structure that is best for your community.
Be sure to do your research. This outline is by no means exhaustive, but it’s a great place to start. If you’ve started to lean toward one form of business, dig deeper into your state’s local requirements.
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