Do you have a passion for nurturing young minds and an entrepreneurial soul? Starting a daycare in California could be your ideal enterprise, allowing you to build a rewarding business while making a difference in your community. Daycares enable parents to work, boosting the economy and supporting other industries as parents spend their income.

This guide will outline critical steps to help you navigate licensing, regulations, and business fundamentals to start your daycare correctly.

Tending for children outside the home dates back centuries. Formal daycare centers emerged in Europe during the Industrial Revolution of the early 1800s to support working mothers. Inspired by European models, daycare centers appeared in the U.S. by the mid-1800s, often aimed at low-income families.

The daycare industry is a significant economic force, generating $60 billion in annual revenue from more than 600,000 childcare businesses nationwide, contributing millions of employment opportunities. Despite economic success, more childcare access is needed—20% of stay-at-home moms would join the workforce with accessible childcare. Childcare challenges cost businesses an estimated $12.7 billion annually, stemming from lost productivity and employee turnover.

Demographic trends and the need for two-income households have affirmed daycare permanence. Challenges like cost and accessibility need solutions, and we may see exciting developments, including more employer-supported daycare and technology integration to enhance learning and communication.

Before delving into the world of toys, early learning, and naptime, there are fundamental business steps to tackle:

Successfully launching your daycare lies in meeting state requirements:

  • Begin by choosing a daycare type, Home-Based or CenterThe Community Care Licensing Division of the California Department of Social Services distinguishes between Family Child Care Homes (FCCH) and larger Child Care Centers (CCC), significantly influencing the number of children you can serve.
    • FCCH: Smaller, in-home daycare for up to 8 children (or up to 14 with specific qualifications).
    • CCC: Larger facilities that can care for more children and have multiple staff members.
    • Additional Permits: Depending on your location, California may require further business permits or licenses. Visit CalGold to identify which permits apply to your daycare.
  • Prepare for background checks, fingerprinting, health and safety training (CPR, First Aid, etc.), facility inspections, and developing age-appropriate activity plans.

Beyond licensing, consider these key aspects:

  • Location: Consider the neighborhood’s safety, accessibility for parents, zoning regulations, and the demographics of families in your area. Consult resources like the LA County Department of Regional Planning and the U.S. Census Bureau to discover detailed socioeconomic data to help you understand South LA’s needs.
  • Equip and Supply: Furnishings, toys, art materials, and safety gear are essential. Established daycares can be great resources for age-appropriate recommendations.
  • The Right Team: Hire qualified staff who share your love of children. California has specific staff-to-child ratio guidelines.
  • Spread the Word: Market your daycare and consider partnering with family-focused businesses or community centers. Through VSEDC, access tailored coaching to help guide you through traditional and digital marketing.

Take your daycare to the next level with these final tips:

  • Insurance: Protect yourself with liability insurance and explore additional coverage options.
  • Clear Policies: Have well-defined, written policies for everything from child drop-off and pick-up to handling conflicts.
  • Daycare Community: Join professional associations such as the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) for early childhood educators. Connect with other providers for support and idea sharing.

Starting a daycare is momentous, and the joy of shaping young lives makes it immensely fulfilling. Utilize the resources provided, seek professional guidance, and embrace your entrepreneurial yearning!

Success Stories await. Visit our blog from last month to learn tips about what to avoid when starting a business. Engage with us on InstagramFacebook, and LinkedIn.