When making a business plan to start a child care business, there are many decisions to consider. One of the first is to decide the ages of children you will serve. A preschool typically accepts children anywhere from about 2 1/2 to age 5 or 6 (pre-kindergarten). A daycare may accept infants as young as 6-8 weeks old and still keep children until the pre-kindergarten ages. Some care facilities may also offer after school services for elementary-aged children.
When making your decision, there are many factors to consider. Check your state licensing guidelines to see the ratio of providers to children. You will likely need more providers per number of children if caring for infants. Special guidelines may also be in place if you offer after-school care to older children.
Preschools may focus more on a specific educational approach, though most preschools and daycares keep their focus mainly on learning through play. You will need to plan for furniture and supplies that are appropriate for your children's ages and sizes, so consider this in your plans.
Regardless of the children's ages, you will need to provide appropriate sleep/nap areas and equipment to fit their needs. You will also need to plan for sanitation, health and safety, which may include diapering procedures and no-shoe policies for young children's areas - where children are mostly on the floor. The key is to make your environment fun, safe, and healthy for all. You may want to use a consultant to help with space planning to be sure you can see all areas in your child care without visual obstruction. Having someone help you design your care facility can help you be sure you are providing the safest environment possible.
You will also need to decide on the schedule you will offer. Some daycares offer part-time schedules for parents who just want a half-day option, while others offer full-day only options or some combination of these. Others offer extended care for after-work hours to meet parent needs.
Whatever choices you make, be sure to have a thorough business plan before you begin. Follow your state licensing guidelines, and be well trained, with well-trained staff for the best possible outcome and a service that many parents will want to use. For help with training see Extension Online's Child care training courses. These courses are affordable and convenient. They can be taken any time in the comfort of your home. You will also be provided a verified certificate upon completion of each course that can be used in most states to meet annual professional development requirements. Check your state guidelines for specific requirements.