The first thing you should do if you want to start a daycare, before even soliciting working mothers, is to check your local education department for licensing requirements and insurance needs. You should, by yourself, be able to care for up to ten children at one time. To keep the children happy and occupied you should have a supply of children’s books and games, and, if possible, outdoor equipment like slides and swings. Small classified ads promoting your service in the local newspaper should be enough to draw a number of inquiries. The usual charge for this kind of service comes to about $2 or $3 per hour per child. This means you could gross as much as $30 an hour with almost no overhead. Working mothers will be expected to bring their children to your home in the morning and pick them up in the afternoon. You may provide lunch for the children, but many small, private day care centers ask that children bring their own lunch, and this has not proven to be too much of a hardship for the working mothers.
Once you have a “full house,” you will be in a position to earn anywhere from $300 a week on up. Of course, you have to like children and children will have to like you. It is not easy to supervise a group of children. You will probably be tired at the end of the day. Your business could grow from a home day care center into a larger number of centers with a staff that you train. The idea is to keep your fees reasonable enough so that it is worthwhile for a working mother to pay to have her child watched and still earn money from her own work.
An important feature of your business, especially at the beginning, should be a willingness on your part to watch children for as little as an hour or two at an hourly rate of $3.00 while the parent shops or keeps an appointment. Don’t commit yourself only to full day watching of children. Be flexible, be understanding, and make the environment you are creating one which children will want to return to whenever their parents must go out. Bear in mind, of course, we are talking about preschool children, so that it will not be a necessary for you to offer any kind of classroom instruction. The degree of versatility you are ready to offer will really depend on how much energy you wish to put into the center itself.