Operating a Daycare Center
You’ll need to decide on your regular day care hours. Generally, these are from 6 a.m. through 6 p.m. You’ll also need to decide whether you want to offer breakfast for the children. If so, you’ll have to plan for a cook and food supplies for morning meals. We’ll discuss kitchen facilities and kitchen help later, but the first decision must be if you will include breakfast. You’ll already be set up with kitchen facilities and a cook because you will be serving a noon meal. If you do decide to offer breakfast for those parents not wanting to feed their children at home, you’ll be able to add $8 to $12 per week to their billing. By buying your food supplies in bulk, you’ll probably be able to realize some savings in overall food costs.
Mid-morning and mid-afternoon snacks are required in some states, but even where they’re not required, they are pretty much standard fare in most day care centers. Fresh fruit, cookies, and juice are the usual snack foods served in most day care centers.
As mentioned earlier, you’ll definitely be providing a hot meal for the children at noon. This entails a cook, dishes, planned menus, food supplies in bulk, and perhaps even small size table and chairs. You’ll also have to have kitchen help and facilities for washing the dishes.
These are just some of the important overhead costs you must plan for, and of course, you will work to keep them as low as possible. As you should know by now, the greater your overhead, the more children you’re going to have to take in, and the more children you take in, the greater your space requirements.
All profitable day care centers operate according to planned routines. The day is broken down into one-hour segments, with pre-planned curriculum, much the same as classes at a public school.
A typical day begins with a play period from whenever the children arrive until about 9 o’clock. For this, you’ll need indoor sand boxes, toys and perhaps a family-sized television set. From 9 to 10, the children are separated into groups – generally by ages – and you hold a reading or story-telling session. The mid-morning snack time is scheduled sometime between 10 to 11. For the younger children, this might include a mid-morning nap. After snack time, a learning session is usually held. Typically, this is the time when guests are invited in to speak or entertain the children.
Work with your Chamber of Commerce, civic clubs, and city administration for guests. Children will especially enjoy visits by policemen, firemen and others who talk to them about citizenship, show films, and teach them about the things they do in the community.
You can also get upperclassmen at your local colleges to visit and demonstrate such things as drawing, working with clay, building with wood, making things out of paper, and hundreds of other talents or skills they might be learning. The important thing is to bring “outsiders” in to talk to the kids about what goes on in their world.
Noon to 1 o’clock is generally lunch time, and from 1 until 2 is another learning session. During this afternoon learning session, you might offer the rudiments of reading, writing, and arithmetic. These teaching chores can be handled by college students studying for an early education degree, retired teachers, or unemployed persons with teaching certificates. It’s not so much a session to teach proficiency as a time to stimulate interest in formal education. The basic goal of most day care centers is to instill within each child a desire to learn more about the world in which he lives. Thus, each child should be full of plans for “when I get to be six years old and start school, I’m going to…”
About once a week, your afternoon learning session should be a tour or a trip to some place that might be interesting as well as educational for the children. Again, you’re making the idea of learning not only interesting but an exciting ad venture as well.
These trips can be anything from a walk in your immediate neighborhood to loading all the kids into cars or onto buses and taking them to the zoo. Check it out first, but on the whole, you’ll find most businesses in your area will welcome opportunities to show the children around their offices or factories. The same thing quite naturally applies to your city offices, fire department, police department, and radio or television stations.
On days when you don’t have a trip scheduled, your “learning session” might be a film or program related to nature, particularly animals. The advent of the Video Cassette Recorder has opened endless possibilities in this area. Nap time and snack time will fill a period for younger ones, and books and quiet games will occupy older children who do not take a nap. When the nap period is over, they’re allowed to play until their parents come by to pick them up.
Whenever possible, you should encourage the children to be outside during play periods. If you have lots of playground equipment, you won’t necessarily always have to have organized games, but you will have to have a playground supervisor – someone to watch the children and see that they don’t get hurt as they play. You can hire part-time help for this chore, perhaps from the local colleges, for minimum wage. If your city ordinances do not cover the specific age requirements of a playground supervisor, you might be able to hire students from your neighborhood high school. Select all the people you hire relative to their affinity with children and their dependability. Be aware of today’s climate of extreme concern in protecting children in day care situations.
Caring for the Children
Your playground will require a fenced-in area. Drive around and look at the playground equipment in the play yards of your public schools and at day care centers in your area. You should have the basic sandboxes, swings, slides and jungle gyms but in this area you can be creative and original, provided your equipment meets safety standards.
Some states require that you have a registered nurse on the premises, but generally, the main things needed are medical information from the parents and a written procedure to follow in case of accident or illness. Basically, when a child is injured or be comes ill, you should take him to the nearest medical center, while another staff person gets in touch with the parents, and explains what happened. If the parent cannot be present at the medical center, all information should be passed on to him/her immediately it is available.
It’s a good idea to have all your helpers indoctrinated with basic Red Cross first aid knowledge, and have a well-equipped first aid kit on the premises. As for any requirements relative to a full-time nurse, you should be able to hire registered nurses who are either not working or looking for extra income. You might be able to “hire the license” of a registered nurse. You pay a small fee to hang her license in your office, and she agrees to be available to serve your needs when you call.
Recommended Articles on Starting a Daycare Business:
- How to Start Your Own Daycare Business
- Starting a Day Care Business on a Shoestring Budget
- Operating a Daycare Center
- Caring for the Children
- Income Potential of a Daycare Business
- Managing Your Daycare Business
- Complementary Businesses for Additional Income
- Marketing Your Day Care or Childcare Business
- Licensing Requirements of Starting a Daycare: Alabama to Louisiana
- Licensing Requirements of Starting a Daycare: Maine to Wyoming
Recommended Books on Operating a Daycare Business and Caring for the Children:
- How to Open & Operate a Financially Successful Child Care Service: With Companion CD-ROM
- How to Start a Home-Based Day-Care Business, 6th (Home-Based Business Series)
- The Business of Child Care: Management and Financial Strategies
- Dollars & Sense: Planning for Profit in Your Child Care Business
- Child Care Marketing Online