Do you have a passion for working with children? Have you ever wondered what parents/guardians without traditional working hours do for childcare? Are you interested in opening and operating your own overnight daycare business?
How to start an overnight daycare? Here’s a quick overview of the steps you’ll need to take to open your own overnight childcare service:
- Conduct market research
- Recognize the needs of your customer base
- Create a business plan
- Research legal requirements in your area
- Find a suitable location
- Obtain proper licensing
- Purchase necessary supplies
- Recruit and train employees
- Market your newly opened business
- Get customers
- Have fun and enjoy knowing that you provide a unique yet needed service to many parents and guardians.
If your passion lies in the care of children and you want to provide security and service to parents/guardians with non-traditional work schedules, this article has been written just for you! Let’s dive right into how you can start your own overnight daycare.
What exactly is an overnight daycare?
Overnight childcare, also known as overnight daycare, is care provided to children by caregivers during the night and outside of conventional childcare hours. Parents/guardians can keep their children under the supervision of a professional during the evening hours with this type of care. Children are often expected to sleep over at the site or be picked up in the early morning hours.
Overnight daycare is frequently sought by parents who work irregular hours, such as early morning, evening, or overnight shifts. Traditional childcare facilities typically provide workday hours that are not always suitable for the needs of a family. Jobs in the healthcare, restaurant or hotel industries frequently require employees to work late at night, making it challenging to find care that works with a parent/guardian’s schedule.
Now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s get out our favorite blankets, stuffed animals, cutest nightlights, and get rolling on how YOU can open your own overnight childcare center.
Is there a need for an overnight daycare center in your area?
Before considering opening an overnight daycare center, you must do extensive market research in your area to make sure that your venture will be a viable one.
There will be a specific niche of parents/guardians who need overnight childcare. A large portion of the American workforce work non-traditional hours. Healthcare workers, those in the service industry, police officers, and other first-responders are just a few of the jobs that may require overnight shifts.
When researching your target market, keep an eye out for businesses open past the traditional hours, like hospitals or late-night restaurants. You could take your market research one step further and speak with employees to ask if they require overnight childcare.
Another lucrative area for research is online. Social media platforms have groups that focus on local topics or issues. These forums will allow you to post your information and gather feedback from a larger sample size.
Recognize and acknowledge the unique needs of your customer base
Your overnight daycare center will satisfy a different set of conditions as compared to a traditional daycare facility. At a conventional daycare facility, children are awake, playing, learning, and spending time with one another. However, your main goal will be safety, security, happiness, and productivity with your new overnight facility.
Your new nighttime childcare facility will need to provide comfort, a relaxing environment, and a place where children can sleep peacefully.
A few of the primary customer needs you should aim to cover with your overnight daycare center are:
- Peace of mind for both parents/guardians and children: As an owner of a nighttime childcare facility, it will be your responsibility to put both the parent/guardian and child at ease when they enter your center. This can be accomplished by having a quality facility with everything a child will need and positively interacting with all involved parties in a relaxed, reassuring, and compassionate manner.
- Flexibility and convenience: Compared to a conventional daycare center, where most children will be dropped off around 8 AM and picked back up around 5 PM, your new nighttime childcare facility will have a more comprehensive array of drop-off and pick-up times. Beyond flexible care times, another means to bring in customers would be offering their children transportation services.
- Unrivaled comfort for the children in your care: It can be a big deal for a child to sleep somewhere other than their own bed. When you add in strangers, you can get yourself in a difficult situation. You obviously won’t have the comfort of loved ones in your facility to help children sleep more easily. Still, you can create an environment where children in your care will love to sleep. One way to achieve this is to provide children with things that are comforting, neat, or simply things not ordinarily found in their homes. Things like:
- Weighted blankets
- White noise machines
- Soothing aromatherapy
- Comfortable mattresses
- Room decorations like glow-in-dark stickers or soothing murals
- Massage pads
Create a Business Plan
After putting in the legwork to research your market and understand the needs of your clientele, it’s time to put pen to paper and create a business plan. Constructing a well-written, robust business plan for your new overnight daycare facility will help you achieve the long-term goals you have for your new venture. A business plan allows you to cover every single detail that will go into building your new business.
These are the main components found in most business plans:
- Executive summary
- Brief overall description of your business
- Possible problems and solutions
- Opportunities and how to have a competitive advantage
- Model your business will follow
- Description of your company
- Company name
- Services provided
- Where your business will sit in the available market
- Market Analysis
- Service area
- Competing businesses
- Creating a specialized niche
- Management and Organization
- Structure of business
- Owner(s) (if you will have investors)
- Employee hierarchy
- Overall service
- Niche products
- Selling points that create something unique to your business
- Sales and Marketing
- Plan for advertising and marketing
- How much funding will you need?
- What type of funding will you be requesting?
- Financial Projections
- Total start-up costs
- Analysis of break-even point
- 1-year, 3-year, and 5-year projections
- Loan repayment
- Additional relevant documents and resources
Do your legal-eagle homework!
You’ll need to do a bit of homework to find out the exact requirements your state has when it comes to an overnight childcare center. The best place to begin your research is with your local Health and Human Services Department or Social Services Department (the agency names vary from state to state).
These types of departments are responsible for the regulation of childcare centers. They can provide you will all the information you will need to ensure that you are starting your new business venture out on the right foot!
Location, location, location!!
All that legal-eagle homework regarding the regulations and requirements of your state will definitely come in clutch when looking for the best facility to suit your needs. You’ll need to be very specific about the safety and sanitation regulations that you’ll require to become (and stay) legally compliant.
Licensing? You’re going to need that!!
After putting in the legwork to find out about compliance, licensing, and regulation and sorting out a prime location, it’s time to get to work on becoming a legal, operating overnight daycare facility. A few essential things you’ll need to do are:
- Register your unique business name with the Secretary of State’s office
- File your business’ federal tax identification number with your state and local revenue (tax) offices
- Choose how to appropriately register your business (sole proprietorship, partnership, LLC, PLC, or corporation)
- Obtain a federal employer identification number from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) office (gotta be able to legally pay your employees)
- Register your federal employer identification number with your state and local agencies
- Obtain a business license per the regulations of your state, county, or city
- Secure business insurance that will appropriately cover the needs of your business
- Obtain the appropriate education, certifications, and licenses specific to overnight childcare in your state, county, or city. One excellent resource for this information is Childcare.net.
- Look into joining childcare associations.
It’s a lot to take in, I know. However, following the rules and taking flight legally gives your fledgling overnight daycare facility the best chance for longevity. Remember, there are places to cut corners and save money, but becoming a legal, licensed business is definitely not one of them!
You’ll need more than just crayons for this gig!
As I’ve previously mentioned, you’ll need to set the stage for a child to feel secure and comfortable enough in your facility to have a quality, peaceful sleep. In addition to general supplies (like sanitation supplies, hygiene supplies, and general office furniture), you’ll likely need to secure a few things to make your overnight daycare facility the cream of the crop. A few essential items you should plan on purchasing are:
- Bed frames, mattresses, and box springs
- Comfortable sheet sets, blankets, and child-sized pillows
- White noise machines
- Essential oil diffusers
- Child-sized weighted blankets
- Room decorations to create a soothing yet fun environment
- Food and snacks
- Comforting drinks appropriate for children (rum and cola are NOT child friendly, I don’t care what your Aunt Mae said)
- Stuffed animals
Of course, these are just suggestions. You need to ensure that anything and everything you purchase complies with the safety regulations outlined by your state, county, or city. Regardless of how fun or nifty something may seem, safety is the ultimate goal for the children in your care.
Check out this comprehensive checklist for a daycare infant room!
Recruitment and Training
So, we’ve covered a few things that are imperative to creating a thriving overnight daycare center. One topic we haven’t discussed yet (which is a bit odd because it is one of the most important) is recruiting and training top-notch employees.
Finding the right employees is vital in any business (I mean, think about that gas station you no longer frequent because of the rude cashier), but it is imperative to choose the individuals who share your vision and passion for having a successful nighttime childcare facility.
In a traditional daycare, you need employees that are energetic and engaging. Those individuals who can herd cats, I mean care for children. Whereas the ideal employee for your overnight daycare center will be comforting, calming, compassionate, and willing to devote the time necessary to calm children and aid them in falling asleep.
After choosing the best of the best, you’ll need to focus on training. A few situations that your new employees need to be educated on and trained for are:
- A child cannot sleep
- A homesick child
- A scared child
- Defiant children (which is pretty much every kiddo at some point, amirite?)
Training for these particular (and other) situations can include:
- Reading age-appropriate storybooks
- Soothing music
- Yoga and meditation
Recruiting, hiring, and training your employees is one of the keys to unlocking a lasting overnight daycare facility.
Again, (I hate to sound like a broken record, BUT!) be sure to follow all state regulations regarding the number of employees needed in ratio to the children cared for and education/certifications required. Remember, legal eagles fly much more easily than con-artist-crows.
Time to create a buzz!
When starting any new business, one sure-fire way to get your name out there is to advertise! There are numerous, inexpensive (and even FREE) means to get customers in your doors before you have the expendable budget to cover marketing services. Utilize social media platforms or partner with daytime facilities to get a buzz going about the services you offer.
Remember to highlight what makes your facility unique so that you stand out from the crowd.
Open your heart and open your doors!
The final step in opening an overnight daycare center is simply opening your heart and opening the doors!
Opening and operating your own overnight daycare center can be pretty daunting. There is no actual blueprint for success, but these tips will help start you off on the right foot. Hopefully, I’ve covered all the bases and have helped you bring your dream of a nighttime childcare facility to reality.
Do employees need to be awake at an overnight daycare center?
Short answer: YES. Most states have laws and regulations set in place regarding the supervision of children, especially overnight. At a minimum, one staff member must remain awake and on duty to ensure that all children in your care are safe and secure.
Are the certifications different for a nighttime childcare center from a traditional daycare facility?
Each state varies in its requirements for overnight daycare centers versus conventional childcare facilities. Most will require additional certification and possibly additional training. Your local office of the Department of Human Health and Services Agency or Social Services Agency can definitely help you line out everything you will need to have a thriving nighttime childcare center.
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.