Everything You Need to Start a Daycare


Starting a daycare requires more than a love of children or experience in the child care field. A great deal of planning and organization goes into the start-up and operation of a daycare. The preparation for a daycare follows a similar pattern, whether the daycare is based out of a home or is a separate building in a commercially zoned area. The specific laws governing different types of daycare vary, but the basics apply to any daycare center.


  • A daycare requires several forms of paperwork before the first child is enrolled. Local and state laws dictate the licensing and permits needed to start the daycare. Ensure you understand the laws governing the specific type of daycare center you plan to start. Insurance coverage and paperwork provide protection for both the daycare and the children who attend the center. A daycare also needs established policies, procedures and rules for handling any situation that may arise. This paperwork establishes the philosophy and operation of the center. It gives parents an understanding of what to expect from the daycare and is essential to avoid conflicts in the future. Daycare centers should have parents fill out paperwork on each child, and keep these documents on file.


  • A daycare center needs to be spacious enough to accommodate the kids comfortably. Children need to spread out, run and play throughout the day to stimulate growth and development. The daycare center should have dedicated space for the kids that allows them to easily complete activities. Areas for eating, playing and napping are essential to a daycare. Outdoor play areas enhance the experience for the children. The physical space of the daycare should be organized in a logical way that allows for easy movement throughout the center.

Baby Gear

  • A daycare that accommodates infants requires baby gear for proper care of the youngest kids. Cribs, baby swings, bouncer seats and high chairs represent the standard range of baby gear. These items provide safety and entertainment for young children. Ensure the baby gear meets current safety standards and isn't part of a safety recall.


  • Toys provide the children in the daycare a source of imaginative play throughout the day. Select toys that provide educational value and fit the ages of the kids at the daycare. Toys should be in good condition and cleaned frequently to prevent the spread of illness. Establish a toy organizational system to keep the toys in order. Add a selection of books and art supplies to round out the educational entertainment supply.

Safety Supplies

  • Safety supplies are vital, whether the daycare is home-based or located in a commercial building. First-aid centers should be located in every area of the daycare center for easy access. Keep at least one copy of a first-aid manual on hand as a reference for emergencies. Use child-proofing safety tools to ensure that chemicals and other potential hazards are kept away from the children.

Record-keeping System

  • A record-keeping system maintains organization for a daycare. Well-organized records facilitate easier tax preparation. The record system allows for easy access during an inspection for licensing purposes. It also allows you to access the records quickly when parents have questions or inquiries. Records for a daycare center include individual paperwork for the children in the daycare, expenses for the daycare, income received, licensing paperwork and supporting materials, attendance records and documents detailing any accidents that occurred on the premises. Create a system that works for you, incorporating a backup system to ensure no important documents are lost.


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