Monday, January 26, 2015

Opening a Home Daycare

For the past few months we've been knee deep in opening a small home daycare. Its been really exciting, and Cody is enjoying his 'I told you so' moment. Apparently, he told me I should run a daycare years ago! Its quite a process, but I am so motivated and ready for the world that is opening up for me. This is going to be a very long post, but I wanted to create a one stop source for the process, beginning to end. Every state has slightly different regulations, so my experience and advice is based on my journey with the County of Alameda in California. 

The best place to start is to just research your heart out. I read lots of blogs and websites of daycare owners across the country to get a feel for the 'day in the life'. I have worked with children since I was a kid myself, but the idea of it being an official business with taxes and permission slips intimidated me.

Once I had read enough to feel confident, I made a to-do list for myself. Again, by searching around on the internet, I found there are three non-profit childcare resource and referral agencies which assist both providers (me!) and parents looking for childcare in my county. In my case, based on my address, the 4-C's is my agency. The staff provides tons of free classes and consultations, topics range from application assistance to running the day to day of your childcare business. Your state childcare website (CA here) is also a great resource, every form you could ever need is ready to print.  There is also a mandatory orientation, link is on the far left (I took mine online).  My to-do list looked like this:

1) Complete Orientation

2) Complete Health & Safety Training Class (you can make sure its child-care focused by taking it through your agency). Complete CPR Class (Most agencies offer a package deal for this and the Safety class)

3) Complete Application (The application packet also has a to-do list for completion and pre-inspection, I added to it as needed just to keep myself on track and mentally organized.)
-Fill out all forms
-Talk to and arrange your emergency re-location sites
-Get TB test (& documentation)
-LiveScan Fingerprinting (recommended after you submit application and are given a pending facility number)

4) Ready Home for Inspection
-outlet covers
-install fire extinguisher (2A:10B:C is the minimum size for my area)
-baby gates to designate off-limits areas (kitchen, bath)
-drawer/cabinet locks in kitchen and bathroom (extra security measure)
-door handle covers on master bedroom and hall closets (extra security measure)
-learn/refresh on main gas and water shut-offs
-move all cleaning agents to garage upper cabinets
-Copy of home ownership deed
-Post copy of emergency plan, Never Shake a Baby Poster (page 4, given to me during inspection) and parent's rights. Choose an area that is easy to see and has room for your license and other daycare related postings you wish to display. I placed mine in 8x10 picture frames in the entryway of my home.

**At this point you should submit your application to your county licensing office (in-person is best!). I was given a facility number on the spot, with that you are ready for fingerprinting. Once the county office receives the report, inspection is scheduled. This all happened in two weeks for us, but can take upto several months depending on available inspectors.**

5) Extra Home Preparations (NOT required for licensing, but did give me peace of mind!)
-earthquake preparedness (emergency kit, first aid kit, secure furniture to the wall, etc.)
-install back up smoke alarm/s
-binder for all necessary forms, record keeping and parent packets
-designate area/s for kids individual supplies such as port-a-crib/s, diapers, extra change of clothes, etc.

Throughout this process I also gathered contracts from local daycares and childcare centers to assist me in writing my own. I had around ten that I read through and noted commonalties on various policies such as hours of operation, vacation & sick time, parent provided supplies, etc. Writing a contract was probably the hardest part of this process for me. Contracts are serious in nature and I was nervous about how I portrayed myself through it. Regardless of how much a person enjoys and is passionate in taking care of children, it is a serious responsibility. The health, safety and well-being of that child is in your hands while they are in your home. As a daycare owner, you are self-employed. Your contract is your place to protect yourself in a, hopefully rare, stressful and damaging situation. I determined my rates based on anonymous data compiled by my referral agency.

6) Once my contract was completed, I made copies of both state required forms and others I found helpful. I keep a master copy of the enrollment packet in my provider binder. I organized enrollment packets as so:
-Emergency Medical Treatment Consent Form (LIC627) - required
-Emergency Contact Form (LIC700) - required
-Liability Insurance Affidavit (LIC282) - required
-Health History (LIC702) - required
-Additional Development & Routine Questionnaire (via CCHP, additional topics here too)
-Sunscreen Application Permission
-Consumer Awareness Checklist (LIC9212) - required
-Personal Rights (LIC613A) - required
-Parents Rights (LIC995A) - required
-Background Check Publication - required

7) Additional items in my provider binder are as follows:
-Childcare Facility Roster (LIC9040)
-Medication Administration Permission Form (LIC9221)
-Medication Administration Tracking Form
-Nebulizer Administration Form (LIC9166)
-Ouch Report (for recording minor occurrences)
-Unusual Incident/Injury Form (LIC624B)
-Child Abuse Reporting Requirements & Form (LIC9108)
-Immunization Blue Cards & Window Guide (available at your agency and/or county health office)
-Individualized sections for each child's signed packet and additional forms as appropriate
-Self created spreadsheet for tracking parent payments (very basic: name, amount & date paid through)
-Pocket for business receipts

Whew! You made it to the end! I hope this guide is helpful to any of you who are working towards licensure, and if I've left something out please let me know! Once you pass inspection, you can begin advertising with your facility number that same day. I'm still learning the ins and outs of effective advertising but word of mouth is always your best bet as in any business endeavor. Be sure to let your family and friends know what you're upto! I was (and still am) immensely blessed with prayer and personal check-ins on my well being :)

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