Starting a new daycare business is an exciting adventure that will require a great deal of hard work as well as unlimited rewards. If you are opening a daycare center business, there are likely many tasks on your plate. It would be wise to make sure that establishing a clear set of rules is high on your “to-do” list.
Daycare opening rules include legal rules for you as the business owner, operational rules for all employees involved, safety rules for all parents and guardians, as well as to conduct rules for the children who sign up for your center. Some of these opening rules are rules you should set up for your daycare, others you must set up for your daycare.
While it might seem overwhelming to subject your business dream to so many rulings, keep in mind that these rules are only in place to keep everyone involved safe, satisfied, and sharing clear communication.
Legal Daycare Rules
While you, as the business owner, will have the opportunity to set most of your daycare rules, some rules are likely already set for you.
These rules are called laws.
What Laws am I Subject to?
Laws can vary drastically just as daycare centers themselves can vary drastically.
Depending on your location, size, operating capacity, as well as what you will be doing with your students, your daycare may face different legal rules than the daycare down the street.
One of the largest factors of what laws you need to consider for your center is where your center will be located. This includes state, city, and even township.
While there are national legal restrictions to pay attention to, your state likely has its own additional guidance as well. Your city and township may place additional rulings on your center, so talk to any local authorities about what might be necessary at all levels before you get started.
If you don’t know where to find all levels of authority that you need to talk to, ask another local business person where you can find this information. More likely than not there will be a website with contact information for who you can call for more guidance.
Additionally, your local Small Business Administration literally exists to help people like you figure out problems like this.
Don’t be shy about asking for help.
Some daycare centers are run from the comfort of the business owner’s home. Other owners rent space in a shopping complex or office and still, others own their own buildings.
Each situation has its own benefits and downfalls. They each will also require a different set of laws to be followed.
Will you be transporting children to or from your daycare center business?
If so, this is likely to add additional rules for you to follow.
Some centers are more marketable because they offer transportation:
- Rides from practice/clubs to daycare
- Rides from daycare to practice/clubs
- Trips to local destinations
- Trips to farther destinations
- Pick-up or drop off from home
While these perks may be very appealing to parents or guardians who are too busy to shuttle their child around every day, there are additional laws and liability that come with transporting students.
Will you be educating students in any formal manner?
Some daycare centers double as pre-schools or provide extra tutoring.
If you are going to be teaching students in any official capacity, you may need to adhere to specific laws and regulations to make sure your lessons are up to speed.
This does not necessarily include the general enrichment activities that many daycares provide. You can certainly offer educational lessons and games without it being part of the child’s formal education.
Size of Daycare
Finally, how big is your daycare?
Both physically as well as how many students you can care for.
If you have a small center that can only safely hold five children at a time, your rules are going to be different than if you run a center that could hold fifty children.
Daycare Employee Rules
Hopefully, you are not too stressed out about all of the rules that are enforced upon you, because now it’s time for you to be the one to develop and enforce the rules.
That’s much more fun, isn’t it?
Of course, it is!
That’s why many people start their own businesses – to make and play by their own rules.
Well, now is your chance. We’ll start with your employees.
If you will be hiring staff for your center, it would be wise to develop the rules that you want them to adhere to before they join your team.
If you are not sure how to do this you could ask for help from friends you trust, others in the industry, or even develop your own daycare board full of minds who would be helpful for decisions like this one.
Before they even arrive at your center for their first day, guide your employees on:
- How to act
- How to dress
- How many hours to work
- How to treat the children
- How to remain safe
- How to keep order
- How they may or may not interact with technology at work
- Any privacy rules
- Where they may drive the students (if applicable)
- What words are not to be used with the students
The list could go on and on depending on how particular you want to be with your staff. Ideally, you will hire bright and capable people who love children as much as you do.
However, that someone is consistently acting out, it helps to have rules to lean on in the case that you need to take action against their poor behavior.
Here are some tips for interviewing new employees HERE!
Daycare Parent Rules
Yes, rules can apply to the parents in your daycare circle as well!
Specifically, this usually entails how pick-up and drop-off will and will not take place.
For example, some daycare centers require parents to show or scan an Identification Card every time they pick up their child.
There may be additional safety protocols if a relative or guardian is picking up a child that they do not typically pick up.
Typically, these rules are accepted all around.
However, they can sometimes be a cause for conflict. This is particularly so when someone arrives with the intent of picking up a child, but they are not allowed to per daycare policy.
If the child’s Aunt did not know any better, it is understandable that they would be frustrated about not being able to take their niece or nephew home.
Your staff member who is enforcing the rules will likely be equally frustrated that they cannot let the child go home with the family member until everything is officially straightened out.
The best way to prevent issues like this is to make all rules as clear and well-known as possible. They should be regularly reviewed by parents to ensure everyone knows what protocols they are agreeing with when they utilize your daycare business.
Rules for Students
Last but not least, it is important to develop a list of rules for your students.
Similar to any potential employee misconduct, having a list of rules will give you something to point to if you need to take action.
This action could simply be letting the child know that they did something wrong. Or it could be more drastic such as kicking them out of your program altogether.
Hopefully, it does not get to that point for you or them!
Student rules have another important purpose though:
They keep order.
They ensure your children are not causing harm to themselves, your daycare, or others.
Even the most minimal set of rules will help you to keep everyone happy and safe.
How do I get new signups for my daycare center?
Getting new families to register for your daycare center is a matter of being known enough that when people need a daycare, you come to mind.
This means you need to get your center’s name out there in your community.
You can do this by being a presence in the community both in-person and online.
When you show up, try to focus less on selling and more on helping others. If you are a daycare business leader, you have a lot of expertise worth sharing!
Host some family-related or childcare-related classes in-person or online.
Be accessible and valuable. People will notice and when someone has a need arise for childcare, your daycare will be the first place that they think of.
How do I make my daycare center stand out?
As with any business, standing out is usually a matter of “niching down.”
Is there any way you can specialize your center so that it differs from any typical daycare?
Can you be the center that provides more trips to students?
Can you be the center that focuses on education?
Can you be the center that only serves the healthiest of foods?
There are many ways to specialize in a daycare, but the most important way is the way your community is most interested in. Be sure to ask around thoroughly so that you understand the local needs intimately before deciding on what your daycare will be known for.
Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.
To learn more on how to start your own daycare checkout my startup course and documents here.