A safe daycare facility is the foundation for a positive experience for children and parents. The building codes and daycare licensing requirements for facilities vary by state. Checking with the appropriate authorities in your state is an essential step in securing a location for a daycare center. These guidelines offer a general overview of facility features to consider when opening a daycare.
Each state governs the building codes for all facilities, including daycare centers. Specifications on building materials, fire safety, electrical systems and sanitary facilities fall under building codes and regulations. A safety inspection from a state-licensed inspector will assess your building's compliance with the codes. Consult with the state governing entity that handles daycare center licensing when evaluating a potential building.
Emergency exits rank as a top priority for a daycare center. The safety of the children and staff depends upon multiple, easily accessed exits. Exits need to be clearly marked with lighted signs. At least two easily accessible exits should be available for every classroom at the daycare center. Further specifications for emergency exits may be highlighted in state building codes.
Classroom areas allow the children to be divided into age groups, a typical model used in daycare centers. Enclosed classrooms provide a quiet space for each teacher and her students, reducing distractions from activities in other classrooms. An open floor plan with half wall dividers allows for easy collaboration between the classes. Regardless of the layout, children need a defined space for play and other activities. Look for storage areas within the classrooms for toys, books and class materials. Consider the natural light that filters into the rooms.
With so many children, multiple bathroom and hand-washing facilities are essential. The size and layout of the bathrooms deserve consideration when selecting a facility. Teachers often need to help young children in the bathroom. Bathrooms need to be large enough to accommodate both a teacher and student. A diaper-changing area within a bathroom is needed at facilities that accept infants and young toddlers. Easy access to the bathrooms makes the process easier for everyone.
Snacks and lunches necessitate the presence of a designated food preparation area. A full kitchen allows a variety of meals to be served to the children. A refrigerator and stove represent the minimum facility requirements for the food prep area. A clean and safe food preparation area prevents food contaminants that may harm the children. If possible, choose a facility in which the kitchen is fully separated from all other areas in a way that prevents children from wandering into it—this will ensure good hygienic practices while preventing possible injuries.
Office space houses the director, assistant director and secretary. This area holds student paperwork and serves as a welcome station for new parents. Consider the specific uses of the office to determine the amount of space necessary. An area for sick children to rest often falls into the office space, as does the storage of general daycare supplies.