6 things to consider when starting a day care


By Raúl Arcos Hawkins, former staff member

Para la versión en español, por favor oprima aqui.

Day cares offer a critical service to working families and help keep the economic wheels of our communities spinning. There’s a well-documented need for more child care to serve rural America’s hardworking parents. Opening a day care, whether in-home or a center, is an exciting business opportunity that comes with unique challenges.

If you’re thinking about starting a child-care business, here’s a list of six topics you should consider:

  1. Safety. Parents want to know their children are safe and well cared for. Are you ready for the responsibility of providing a safe environment for children? Safety plans and certifications in CPR and first aid mean a safer place for kids and peace of mind for parents.
  2. Licensing. Nebraska law says anyone who provides care to four or more children from different families must be licensed as a child-care provider. Being licensed also opens doors to loan and grant opportunities to pay for equipment, supplies, and ongoing caregiver education.
  3. You charge how much? A day care is a business. And, like any other business, day care providers need planning to ensure their financial success. Charging the right amount to cover costs and make a profit is essential to building a sustainable business that provides care parents can afford.
  4. Make a plan. A day care business plan takes a lot of work, but it pays off in the end. A plan will cover topics like a mission statement, marketing plan, staffing, budgets, operating hours, and more.
  5. In-home or center-based? Opening an in-home day care versus opening a dedicated facility have vastly different requirements and considerations, including staffing, expenses, licensing, business software, developing policies and procedures, and zoning laws.
  6. Insurance and Limited Liability Company. Forming a corporation and getting  insurance will help limit your liability, protect your personal assets, increase your tax options, and boost your credibility. Kids are clumsy. A broken arm can mean big liability for the day care provider. It’s important to protect your business and family.

The Center for Rural Affairs Child Care Academy teaches the requirements, licensing, child safety, and important business considerations for running a day care. The academy, offered in both English and Spanish, includes a series of classes available both in person and online.

For more information, contact our Women's Business Center at wbc@cfra.org.