How Long Does It Take to Start a Daycare?A Step-by-Step Guide

Starting any kind of business takes time. But, starting a daycare business can take a significant amount of time because of all the regulatory requirements in place for daycares. State agencies want to ensure the health and safety of young children who are in the care of those who work in daycares, whether it’s an in-home daycare or a separate facility.

So, how long does it take to start a daycare? It will take an average of 6 months to start a daycare business. The steps to start a daycare business are:

Step 1 – Choose Your Type
Step 2 – Create Business Plan
Step 3 – Licensing
Step 4 – Certifications and Training
Step 5 – Inspections
Step 6 – Marketing

In this article, we’re going through the steps for starting daycare and looking at which of the steps take the most time. Knowing what takes the longest in the process will help you keep your efforts on track so you get up and running as quickly as you’d like to.

Your Timeline Is Your Own

Before we get into the steps, we’ll start by saying that not all daycares will take the same amount of time to get opened up. There isn’t a universal standard for regulations and requirements for what is needed to open a daycare. It is left to the different states to set their own standards. Also, the standards are usually different with regards to an in-home daycare and a daycare facility. Some time factors will be within your control and some will not.

Step 1–Choose Your Type

This step is completely within your control. If you don’t know what type of daycare you How Long Does It Take to Start a Daycare?A Step-by-Step Guidewant to open, choosing what type can take you a little longer, but it shouldn’t take too much time. You’ll spend your time researching your community to see what daycare providers are already there. If you’re still trying to decide between an in-home daycare and a separate facility, look to see what there’s more of a need for.

Get familiar with all of the competition you’ll have. Talk to parents who live in the area to see if there are any gaps in daycare options that you could fill. One of the ways that businesses can become successful is by offering something to the community that wasn’t being offered before, or at least not offered enough.

This step shouldn’t take you more than a day or two. You can find all of the information you need quickly if you dedicate some undivided attention to gathering data for making this decision.

Step 2–Create Business Plan

Your business plan is going to be your roadmap for starting your daycare. In this step, you’re going to lay out all of the details for opening your business. You’ll have sections that show what your daycare will look like, how many employees you’ll have, how many children you intend to care for and what age groups, what your expenses will be, how you’ll get funding, what your goals are and how you intend to achieve those goals, as well as your marketing strategy.

The thing about a business plan is you’re going to get out of it what you put into it. If you don’t take much time creating it and it doesn’t contain much in the way of details, then you’re just going to have to put more time into clarifying things for those who will be referencing your business plan later on. Your plan should be clear enough and have enough detail for someone else to be able to understand your daycare business and what your vision is.

That being said, this step is also completely within your control. Don’t leave things out of your business plan so you can skip ahead to other steps to save time. But, don’t spend so much time on your business plan that you delay getting started on other steps that may require more time. You can create a solid business plan within about a month or two. We would caution you not to take any longer than three months to create your business plan simply because by then, you’ll likely be moving into redundancy and futile efforts.

One final note about your business plan is you shouldn’t be afraid to amend parts of it later on in your startup process. Sometimes we get new information that changes things for our established plans.

Check out how to write a business plan HERE!

Step 3–Licensing

This is one of the most important steps, as well as one that can potentially take you quite a long time to complete. You’ll start this step by researching what the licensing requirements are for your state and the type of daycare you are opening. Then, you’ll contact a licensing agent to get specific information about what is needed from you to apply for your daycare provider license, or licenses, in some cases. You may need multiple licenses.

Go into it knowing there will be a licensing fee associated with whatever you’re required to obtain. Also, understand that sometimes the agency will request more information or other documents from you during the processing period. Do yourself a favor and respond to these requests as quickly as possible. You don’t have control over how long the agency takes on their end, but you do have control over your response time. This part of your journey could take several months, sometimes. It just depends on the workload of the licensing agency at the time.

Step 4–Certifications and Training

Much like Step 3, Step 4 has factors that are within your control and some that are not. Certifications are different than licenses. Many of the required certifications will be for each person working in the daycare. For instance, you most likely will have to get certified How Long Does It Take to Start a Daycare?A Step-by-Step Guidein CPR for infants and children. You’ll also need a general first aid certification so you can treat any injuries that may occur before a medical professional being on the scene. These are just a couple of examples of certifications. There are more that could be required by your state.

Sometimes there will be training required, also. For any of these, you’ll be responsible for scheduling your training classes or certification sessions. The more quickly you get on this, the better. The certification and training facilities may be backed up on bookings, so scheduling as early as you can is a good idea. It will be up to you to decide if you want to schedule these for your employees or if you would prefer them to schedule their own.

Proof of certifications and training may have to be provided to the licensing agent to be granted a daycare license. So, these two steps should be performed simultaneously in most cases.

Step 5–Inspections

Step 5 may also have to be completed along with the previous two steps. You’ll have to have an inspection of your home or facility to ensure it is safe for children. There will be a fee for this, as well.

Again, the workload of the inspectors will dictate how long it will take for you to have your inspection completed. Make sure you schedule this as early as you can. An additional amount of time may be required if something is found during the inspection that needs updating or fixing. If the inspector requires something to be changed, you’ll have to take the time to complete what’s been requested, and reschedule for another inspection.

In some states, you may be required to have inspections performed by different officials, as well. An example would be having a home inspector come out and then a Fire Marshal. There can be many schedules to work through in this step, so the length of time this takes varies. Sometimes, this step can be completed within a week. Other times it can take several months.

Step 6–Marketing

How Long Does It Take to Start a Daycare?A Step-by-Step GuideUltimately, you can be doing this step throughout your process. Marketing can be as simple as just spreading the word that you’ll be opening a daycare. When you’re ready to start your true efforts for marketing, though, refer back to your business plan and get to work doing what you planned and budgeted for.

Make sure to get a website up and running and establish a social media presence. Your marketing efforts will be ongoing, so we’re not going to put a time estimation on this step. You shouldn’t ever be finished marketing. If you are, you aren’t likely going to find success.


Starting daycare can be done within 6 months, but the process is different for everyone. Once you decide on the type of daycare to open, you’ll create your business plan. You’ll have to get all of the required licenses and certifications for your state. Then, you’ll have the inspections you need, and you’ll have to make sure the community knows about your daycare so you can start pulling in customers. Take advantage of the pieces you have control over and respond quickly to requests from governing agencies so you can get your daycare started in as little time as possible.

Some Related Questions:

How much money does it take to start a daycare center?

A daycare center will require more money to start than an in-home daycare. On the low end, it will cost you about $50-60k but could be hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Do daycares make a lot of money?

Yes, they can. This will depend on the number of children you are caring for, as well as the tuition you are charging. Daycare owners average about $40-50k a year. However, this can vary a lot from region to region, and due to daycare types.


How Long Does It Take to Start a Daycare?A Step-by-Step Guide

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.