How to Start a Daycare Center on a College Campus

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As more adults and stay-at-home parents choose to pursue a college education, the need for reliable daycare for the children of these students arises. While some college campuses already have daycare centers in place for employees and students, many do not. Starting a daycare center on a college campus requires extensive collaboration with college administrators. Since the daycare center will be located on college property it will be subject not only to state and local laws but also to the college's rules, including employment and facility use policies.

Research the actual need for a daycare center on the college campus, including gathering information about how many students, faculty and staff would use this resource, what other child care options are readily available in the community, and the costs that students currently pay for child care.

Determine the best campus location for the daycare center. It is more cost-effective if there are any vacant buildings that are suitable or can be easily remodeled. If no buildings are readily available, evaluate the open areas of the campus to see if construction of a new building could be handled quickly and easily, without significant disruption to classes.

Prepare a comprehensive business plan and budget for the daycare center. Include information about the proposed location of the center and costs associated with constructing or remodeling an existing facility to meet state and local regulations for daycare centers, operating hours and fee structures, eligibility requirements for daycare services and daily operating costs.

In addition, outline the procedures your daycare center will use to obtain the appropriate government licensing, screen and hire new employees, track accounts and maintain compliance with daycare laws, college policies and safety mandates. Specify if you expect the daycare center to be a part of the college's resource offerings to students or an independent company contracting with the college.

Submit a proposal to the college Dean regarding the need for a daycare center located on the campus, including a brief overview of the research you conducted and a copy of your business plan. You may be asked to attend meetings to discuss your proposal with the board of directors or other college decision makers, provide solutions to potential problems or answer questions, and gather funding sources.

Begin preparing your daycare center for use, once your proposal has been approved by the college. You will need to ensure the building meets all of your state's regulations for daycare facilities, including having emergency exit routes clearly marked, fire extinguishers and first aid kits in designated areas, etc. It is also advised that you child-proof the building as much as possible by covering electrical sockets, lowering the temperature on water heaters and ensuring all poisons, cleaning supplies and potentially toxic art supplies are locked up.

Apply for a daycare license with your state and/or local government. This will require an inspection with the licensing agency. In addition, depending on whether the college is supporting the daycare center or your business is acting contractually with them, you may need to apply for a separate business license and tax ID number.

Once you've received the appropriate licenses and permissions, you can begin hiring employees and enrolling children in your daycare program.

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References

  • "How to Open & Operate a Financially Successful Child Care Service"; Tina Musial; 2007
  • Jennifer Mays; Administrative Analyst/Specialist; Planning, Resource Allocation and Evaluation Department, California State University Chico; Chico, California
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