Is There a Need?
Before you open a new center you should find out if there is a need for child care in your area. First, find out what types of child care are currently available in your community. We can help you with this information, or you can check with the NYS Office of Children and Family Services. You can also check the Yellow Pages, parents' newspapers, and other local publications for ads that may give you an idea of how many child care programs already exist in your neighborhood.
When gathering this information, you should focus on:
- Total number of centers in the community
- Ages of children being offered care
- Hours offered by other centers; early morning or evening care, and part-time or flexible care
- Whether centers have waiting lists or a lot of vacancies
- Location of available centers
- Demographic information to help you estimate the number of working families with young children in the community
Make Your Program Stand Out
If there are many other centers in your area, you may want to take steps to make your program different. Some options to consider include:
- Open your center in a different community with higher demand and not enough child care openings
- Provide non-traditional hours of care not offered by other centers such as evening, weekend, or overnight care
- Provide higher quality care and pay higher wages than other centers; hire well-educated, experienced staff
- Offer a type of program or service not available in the community, such as a Montessori, school-age care program, or mildly-ill child care
Facilities and Equipment
One of your primary concerns in starting a program will be determining the location, size, and type of space you need. Things to think about when looking for a space include the child care needs of the local community, zoning, Americans with Disabilities Act regulations, fire and health department regulations, parking needs, and licensing requirements. Contact us for more information.
Every center needs to pay close attention to the business of child care, even if the center is run as a nonprofit. You will need to set up an efficient system to manage the many aspects of running a center. Keep organized records of all your expenses and income. A good record-keeping system will provide the information you need for tax purposes, and will allow you to gauge your income and expenses on a regular basis. Here are some tips for the major business items that should be set up before you open your doors for business:
Tracking Income and Expenses
Develop a bookkeeping system to track each family's fees, payments made, balance outstanding, and other payments. Parents appreciate a receipt for payments, especially if payment is made in cash. Keep your financial records in a secure place. You can request help with developing a system from us or the Small Business Administration in your area.
- Rent or mortgage
- Salaries and benefits
- Educational supplies and equipment
- Food and kitchen supplies
- Cleaning and diapering supplies
- Staff professional training and development
- Advertising costs
- Building repairs and maintenance
- Legal fees, transportation, office supplies, etc.
The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) runs a NYS Department of Health program which supports providers. It pays child care providers a part of the money they spent to serve nutritious snacks and meals to the children in their care.