Child Care is NOT a Low Cost Start-Up Home Based Business!

This week, as I was browsing, and doing my normal readings keeping up on the murmuring of child care and preschool stuff around the web.  I found myself interested in a conversation that started on Facebook, a women was  requesting information on how to help get the licensing fees that where required by her state.  Well, this is simple enough until you read into the conversation a bit and find that she had already acquired toys and the what not.  Items that she thought were needed to start her new business. The information she received was very supportive and positive, so as not to dampen her enthusiasm for her new adventure. Even the information that she might not have thought this process completely through, and the fees and licensing should be the first priority, was written in a very positive way.  This really started turning in my brain.

Why? is there the impression that child care is cheap and easy.  First, I believe that people still confuse quality child care with babysitting.  Second, if you search for low-cost start-up businesses child care is in hundreds of articles as a top 10 business to start. “What… Please!” It is obvious that the people that wrote these articles have no clue what it does cost to start a child care business.  I am going to emphasis the word Business. No matter what the reason or your ambitions to starting your child care it is still first a business and needs to be treated as such.  Let me break down some start-up business expenses.  These will vary depending on the State.

Licensing, Fees and Training:

$250 – 500 and these keep going up.  Each state though different usually requires some up front training done in health, safety, nutrition, CPR & First Aid, and early childhood development.  Some of these trainings you can find free, most are not.

Income in Reserve:

I know that in Kansas, it will take you at least two months just to get through the licensing process, so you can start enrolling children. Some, states take even longer.  Are you planning to continue to work during this process?  Now, in my dream land, I can open my new business and I have lines of parents and kids, screaming and chanting about how much they love me, and want to do business with me. “Yipee!”  In the real world it is likely to take 3-6 months to fill your spots.  In this economy it could take a great deal longer. Where is your income coming from?
Are you going to be able to support your family with two children enrolled?  It is a good idea to have at least $2000 dollars set aside so you don’t struggle. Some would probably argue that this is not enough.


This is the one spot where I think you can do low-cost and add as you go.  Nannies and home visitors do it all the time.  Using creativity and resources available throughout the community you can do low start-up and still have a great program.  But, usually this is the first mistake that most make, thinking that they have to go out and spend $1000 dollars on equipment and toys.  I would say at a least $500 for toys and equipment and that would be doing the garage sale, Dollar store and thrift store dance.

Marketing and Advertising:

$50 – 100 for getting your name out there.  It has to be done, just because you build it does not mean they will come.  Especially, if they do not know about it.  There are many creative ways to market and save some bucks, but it does take some time and work.

So, just with this bit of  business planning we are up to almost $3000. That is not a low-cost start-up.  Plus, I have not even mention the cost of insurance, food, utilities and a bunch more little things that add up to a significant start-up cost.  With, the push for more quality child care programs through Accreditation and QRIS, I think start-up cost are going to rise not decrease.  In the future it will take more planning and money to start a child care business.

I did not write this to dampen anyone’s ambitions on starting a child care business. I want to encourage people into this business. I think we need more quality child care.  Some day I plan to retire.  I think child care is remarkable and I feel I learn more from my children than they ever do from me.  I just do not like to see anyone struggle because they were given inaccurate information.   Here are some good resources to get smart information about starting your child care business.

National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC)

Here you can find great information on business stuff, associations and more.

Tom Copeland

You can find everything about starting a child care business here.  Plus, he will tell you like it really is.

Child Care Aware

Here you are going to be able to find your local Resource and Referral Agency.  You will be able to find classes, mentors and so much more from them.

6 thoughts on “Child Care is NOT a Low Cost Start-Up Home Based Business!

  1. Thomas says:

    Well said. These numbers change if you gear your in-home child care facility as a “preschool,” and moreso when modelled to say Waldorf. The costs of toys, silks, playstand, beeswax, all natural, etc—not to mention continuing teacher education—will ratchet up quickly. Also, remember in economics that everything has a cost. Staring and running this kind of business will have a notable cost that you can’t deduct: time! If you care at all about what you’re doing, you will spend much time planning, purchasing, researching, running errands, hanging flyers, editing your website, website? ;-), setting up your FB page, etc. On that note, it reminds me: you will also need bookkeeping software, time to learn how to use it, time to learn basic bookkeeping, time to set up a your Chart of Accounts, etc. Good news is, There are some nice free open source alternatives like Gnucash if you don’t have that last $100 to $275 dollars for other proprietary programs.


  2. This is the first time I comment on your site, but I’ve been keeping up with your work for a while now. I admire the passion with which you write the articles and hope someday I can do the same. Love


  3. Thank you for …filling in the blanks in a positive and additional way to what was said on the site..I have been in this business for over 10yrs and was blessed to have a home with a full basement , kitchen and a separate entrance..i bought, begged,found sales, made curtains, chair covers, etc…joined a variety of websites and learned , learned ..i was in chicago until relocating in july..2010 to vegas and classes were free a lot of free things will have a price…including background…vegas is $185.00 and the young has to be able to accept comments with grace…


  4. Low cost is relative, of course. For a parent of young children, considering child care as an income possibility, it CAN be a relatively low cost start-up, as compared to many. That’s how most family child care providers I’ve met have gotten started. I know I started with: A CPR/first aid training ($50 or less?), registration ($25?), free orientation, a food handler’s card ($10), a fire extinguisher ($30?), some child proofing I hadn’t done yet…would have done it for my own anyhow. I added toys as I could, which wasn’t much at first.

    As you point out, it was awhile before you start making a lot of money. And it’s not anywhere near a high profit business all the time, don’t get me wrong 🙂 But I think that if you have the temperament, desire, and commitment, it is a WONDERFUL business to start.


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