Caring for children in your home can be a wonderful experience, allowing those with a genuine love of children to make a living doing something they enjoy. Turning your home into a daycare, however, can be a tricky process. Several steps need to be taken before you can successfully open your doors to the world.

First and foremost, decide how many children you wish to care for and find out whether you need to become licensed or not. Most states do not require licensure for in-home care of small groups of children, but if you wish to have more than three or four it will probably be necessary. This can be done by contacting your area Office of Child Care Licensing. Whether you decide to become licensed or not, it is a good idea to complete a course in pediatric first aid and CPR-this way you will be prepared for emergencies that come along.

Then examine your home. Is it childproofed? If you are planning on accommodating small children, and if you’re planning on making daycare a full-time profession you probably are, you will need to take appropriate measures to ensure that your home is safe. Childproofing supplies are available at many local stores. Outlet covers in the wall, childproof latches on doors and cupboards, and appropriate safety gates on stairways are a good place to start (when buying a gate for a stairwell to ensure it is the kind that can be anchored to the wall-children may push over a pressure gate). You may also want to consider a safety latch for the toilet-very small children who can fall into a toilet and not be able to get themselves out.

Next, you want to purchase your supplies. Necessary daycare supplies range from outdoor playground equipment and an assortment of toys to high chairs, booster seats, cribs, extra sippy cups, and plastic flatware. If you have completed the licensing process you will have already obtained a list of these items. Ensure that all equipment meets current safety standards, and no toys have been recalled. It also is a good idea to stock up on basic art supplies, such as crayons, watercolors, child safety scissors, and coloring books.

Don’t forget your first aid supplies! You are going to want to have on hand a full first aid kit, with plenty of disinfectant, band-aids, antibiotic ointment, burn spray, calamine lotion, sunblock, and lotion (for the eventuality the sunblock does not work). It is often beneficial to have Children’s Ibuprofen and Tylenol on hand, but bear in mind this should not be administered without a parent’s approval.

You can choose to advertise your new business by word of mouth, classified ads, fliers-the the possibilities are endless. Be sure to have an interview sheet made up when meeting a new child. This should contain questions on emergency contacts, allergies (food, drug, and other), past daycare history, any favorite objects/hobbies, and any dislikes, as well as any other information you would like to have on hand. Be sure when meeting the parents that you establish your policies on pick up and drop off times, payment, and what supplies you will provide versus what you would like them to provide It may be a good idea to have these policies printed and signed to avoid disputes down the road. Once these steps have all been completed, sit back, relax, and enjoy the new career you’ve chosen.

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