If you're at home perhaps without a job thinking about what you could do instead, consider starting a childcare business. Being a parent during Covid-19 is an unusual time, for those going to work and leaving children to participate with online education, for unemployed parents who spend time applying to new roles while taking care of their children, or for parents working from home who are expected to help with their children's remote education... either way you look at it: parents and children need safe, fun help.
A daycare business, babysitting business, or after-school activity business are all great ideas given the circumstances and needs for parents and kids during the pandemic. But! It's not without a few upfront requirements. Here's how to begin:
Know your state or city's Covid guidelines and restrictions:
To begin building or reorganizing a childcare business during Covid-19, it's very important that you know your state guidelines and restrictions on gatherings, infection rates, and safety protocols. If you are presiding in a state regulating capacity of gatherings, requiring masks, or working in a town or city where children are in-person learning, remote learning, or hybrid - you will have to comply not only by these requirements, but also decide what guidelines you want to set for your business itself.
These are the rules of business these days, especially for childcare, where the obvious concern is for the health of children, you and your employees, and families. Utilizing the CDC's Control and Prevention guideline is a good place to start, AARP's state-by-state guide, or your state's website (or town's website) can provide resources for you. It's important to note that these rules are fluid and constantly changing based on new research about the transmission of the virus, and can differ overnight if rates of infection grow rapidly in concern for the safety of the public and essential workers.
Learn about licensing, credentials and business registration:
The next thing to understand about starting a childcare business is The Child Care Aware of America' license guidelines, and then find your specific state and city for additional information. You can also contact the state Department of Children and Family Services to learn about the regulations for child care providers. Some licenses require a CPR certification, a clear background check, or specific accreditation from Child Development Associate (CDA). This will illustrate your experience and understanding of early childhood education, and may be useful to have all future employees showcase as well.
Parents want to feel secure in leaving their children with you, and you should want to feel secure in caring for their children. Crossing all the legal requirements and certifications for the sake of every child's safety is not something to gloss over. If you have an educational background, this may read as things to cross off your list, but if you are completely new to working with children, you do need to jump through a few hoops to get started.
Additionally, you will have to register your business with the state and government as either a LLC if you're a sole proprietorship. This allows you to separate your personal and business finances during taxes and throughout the year. If you choose to hire a team, acquaint yourself with 1099 forms. But for now, start with an LLC.
Use these resources:
Create a business plan and offering:
As a determined new business owner, you must come up with what you are offering to families and children. What is the greatest demand in your town or city? Are you offering after-school care, full-time day care, one-on-one child care, a specific activity or class? Will you offer care in multiple languages? What age range?
Once you answer these questions, then it's important to know where. Will you rent out a space? Will you require a permit to facilitate care outside, in a public space?
Finally, how to price your services. Start with the recurring costs: the cost of the space, staff to hire, technology to keep customer information, payments and scheduling organized, sanitation supplies, child safe toys, snacks, and equipment. Then, decipher how many kids can and need to work with you on a daily basis to operate a successful business. This will help you to determine the cost to operate and the charge per child, as well as funds to promote, advertise and market.
Consider these accounting tools, great for new small businesses:
Cover yourself legally: policies, procedures and insurance:
We swear it's not all paperwork, but we can't stress enough how important it is to do all of this upfront work to demonstrate your trustworthiness to work with children. Especially during Covid-19, parents are extra weary of where their children are, and you want to be available and able to provide care.
Insurance wise, kids will be kids and accidents are inevitable. Get small business insurance to cover items like: liability, equipment breakdown, property, business income and crime. A lot of insurance is common sense - ensure you have safety equipment, smoke detectors, fist aid, fire extinguishers, child safe facilities, and basic first aid and pediatric CPR training for all.
It's important to develop your own policies and procedures for both staff and families. Create guidelines for general health, Covid-19 related rules, safety precautions, privacy, nutrition protocol. Determine a detailed contract that outlines what you provide as well as the expectations to families: information about drop off and pick up, shared responsibilities, cancellation, payment, and such.
Consider these legal services to have a secure and legal relationship with clients.
The fun stuff:
Okay, we swear that running a childcare service is more than proving your worth and covering your bases. Childcare should be a joy and a place and service that children and families love and look forward to. We want you to be so successful and safe that there's a waiting list to join in the activities.
Let's talk about getting your first customers and ongoing new business. You should start with 2 tactics. One, is your online presence. Most parents will validate your business by checking your website, social media profiles, and looking to read reviews, your protocols and credentials and pricing. Consider your online profiles and website as a way to convince someone to call or email you. It's important to set up smartly, with clear messaging and transparency.
The bigger step in childcare is word-of-mouth referrals, happy customers, and partnering with other child related businesses. Insert yourself in the community, in the conversation, and create a way to get feedback from current customers to ensure that new families will be satisfied too.
Our list of free or low cost tools to build a website, schedule social media posts, create videos, host virtual meetings, send email newsletter, and create easy branding:
If this article hasn't completed spooked you from setting up a childcare business during a global pandemic, we know and believe it's an important service in these crazy times that parents and children want and need. Good luck!
Ready to get started? Here at