Childcare services are in high demand in most areas and opening a childcare business can be a very lucrative venture! If you are thinking of starting your own childcare business, you may be wondering how many children you can watch at one time. This is an extremely important question to ask because your business can get in legal trouble if you have more children than you are legally allowed to watch.
The number of children a childcare business can watch is determined by the specific state requirements, the ages of the children, where the business is located and how many adults will be present to watch the children. In most states, you are required to have a certain number of adults present for a specified number of children in your care.
Research Your State Requirements
Every state will have different requirements when it comes to how many children a childcare service can have at one time. One of the first steps you need to complete before you open your childcare business is researching what your specific state requirements are.
The best way to find out what the specific requirements are for your state is to get in contact with your local government. You can either call or you can visit your local city courthouse. Some states will list their requirements on a website, but this is not true for all states. We recommend reaching out to ensure you have a very clear understanding of what will be required of you. You want to make sure you have no confusion regarding the requirements.
If you fail to meet state requirements for how many children you’re allowed to care for, your business can end up getting shut down by your state and you can also face legal action. Making sure you follow all requirements provided by your local government is one of the most important steps in starting a childcare business.
Decide on Ages of Children
When you are starting your business, you need to decide what age ranges you want to focus on caring for to determine how many children you can watch. A large factor in how many children you can legally have in your childcare business at one time is determined by the age of the children. If the children you care for are younger, you will be able to watch fewer children at one time. However, if a child is older, you can have more children at once.
This is due to a child needing less direct supervision as they get older. When a child is younger, they will rely on the person caring for them more. An infant is not able to do anything on their own and will require very close supervision. An adult is only fully capable of watching so many infants at one time alone. Because of this, most states will allow one adult to watch only 2-3 infants at once in a daycare setting.
Even if your state allows you to care for more, we recommend never leaving one person with more than 3 infants at a time. If one adult is caring for more than 3 infants, it becomes much easier for the person to get overwhelmed and not be able to provide the proper care.
For the ages between 2 and 5 years old, we recommend not leaving one adult with more than 5 children. Since these children are a bit older and can vocally communicate what they need, one person can handle caring for more of these children than infants. However, since children in this age range can be very active with high energy, we do recommend not caring for more than 5 children at one time. This will help you be able to keep an eye on all the children.
Determining Location for Your Business
Another factor that will determine how many children you can watch is the location of your business. Childcare businesses that are held in a home will be able to legally watch fewer children in some states than if the business is held in a commercial building. The main reason for this is due to the space limitations a home can have.
When you are first starting your business, it is common for daycare owners to start in a home setting while their budget is low. We have seen childcare businesses still become very profitable while being held in the owner’s home.
As your business grows and you increase the number of children you care for, you can make the decision to move to a commercial building if you prefer. Since commercial buildings come in all sizes, you will be able to care for more children and build your business into a larger organization by moving into a building.
Hiring Additional Help
In most states, you can increase the number of children you can legally have in your childcare business by increasing the number of adults that are caring for the children. The requirements regarding how many children one childcare business can watch at one time is put into place to ensure that all children can properly be watched after. If you have more adults available to supervise, your business will be able to care for more children.
For example: If one adult can watch five toddlers in the age range of 2-5 years old, then two adults will often be able to watch around 7 toddlers. By having two adults present, there are two sets of eyes that can keep a consistent watch on the children.
You need to keep in mind that for the number of children to increase, the additional adults need to stay in the room where the children are. If one adult needs to leave the room, then another adult must replace the adult that’s leaving.
Caring for young children can be very demanding, so we always recommend having extra help available. If your budget doesn’t allow for a full-time employee, you can hire additional help or have a friend available to help on call when a situation may arise.
Another benefit of hiring additional help is then the adults caring for the children can take more breaks. When a caregiver is feeling overwhelmed and stressed out, another adult can step in to provide relief for the first caregiver.
If you are wanting to grow your childcare business and increase the number of children you watch, hiring additional help will be the best and easiest option to consider.
Overall, we recommend always leaning on the side of safety and ensuring that the adult watching the children is comfortable with the number of children they are watching. Even if your state allows an adult to watch more children, it is important to first make sure the adult feels at ease and comfortable with the children that are present.
If they are uncomfortable with the number of children they’re watching, they are more likely to get stressed out and not be able to control the situation well. You can never go wrong by keeping the number of children one adult watches at a lower amount. Generally, the quality of care given is higher when there are less children.
Determining how many children you can care for at one time is the first step in creating a solid foundation for your new childcare business! By following our recommendations and guidelines mentioned above, this process does not have to be stressful and you will be on your way to making an impact in the lives of the children you care for!
Can I operate a daycare business by myself?
Yes, it is possible to open a daycare business and operate the business with one person. However, you want to keep in mind that you will be able to care for fewer children with only one person due to the limited amount of supervision one person can provide.
Many daycare business owners start their business in their home on their own and then hire additional help as they grow. Operating your daycare business by yourself is a great way to get started when your budget is still low.
If you are operating your daycare business on your own in the beginning, we recommend focusing on caring for older children that are at least 4 years old. If you care for older children, you will be able to legally and properly care for more children.
What types of expenses can I expect to have if I open a daycare business?
The expenses of owning a daycare business ultimately depend on the type of budget you are working with! As you get started, you can keep your expenses low by operating your business in your own home, which will cut out any extra rent expenses.
Whether your business is in your home or in a commercial building, you can expect to invest in expenses like your business license, cleaning products, snacks, toys to entertain the children and learning activities. If your budget is limited, you can always look for most of these items at your local discount store.
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.
Did you know that we have a free eBook to help you on your journey to opening a daycare business? You can check it out for yourself here.