Economy & Jobs
Starting a Child-Care Business: A Behind-the-Scenes Look
Blair Burnette has been running an in-home child-care business for a little more than three years, and she loves her job. In speaking with her, we learned that starting a child-care business is a rewarding option for an entrepreneur, but the process isn’t easy. It requires following your state’s regulations and passing state inspections.
Blair runs Little Christian Learning Center, an in-home preschool for children ages two through five, in Savannah, Texas. After a teacher hiring freeze made it difficult for Blair to find a new job with her teaching degree, one of her bosses suggested she try this route.
Her business took off right away. “It’s been doing really well ever since we opened,” she says.
Blair first advertised her business by mailing fliers and postcards. Her best lead proved to be a listing on the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) website, which details local child-care information, including providers’ inspection results.
“That listing has really benefited my business,” she says. “A lot of people ended up finding me there.”
Meeting State Regulations
Texas has strict regulations for in-home child care, Blair explains. You must be listed with the state if you care for one or more children who aren’t related to you for at least four hours a day, three days a week, according to Texas DFPS. The state also divides in-home care into three categories based on the size of the home and the number and ages of the children: listed family homes for one to three children, licensed child-care homes for seven to 12 children, and registered child-care homes for up to six or 12 children.
The state requires a minimum of 30 square feet per child, but Blair provides more space. Studies have shown that children do better with 50 square feet per child, so that’s what she provides. She also prefers in-home child care to commercial day care.
“With an in-home child care, you have continuity of care because their caregiver will mostly remain the same,” she says. “That’s really important to children and how they develop. The mixed age groups with in-home care also benefit them.”
Setting a Curriculum
Blair is conscientious about choosing her curriculum.
“I use Sing, Spell, Read & Write, which the local pre-K program uses in our public school system,” she says. “I also use Zoo-phonics, which are super cute little animals in the shape of letters. Even my two-year-olds pick it up.”
While Blair says the Sing curriculum is wonderful, its worksheet format isn’t great for her age group. She added Zoo-phonics and other resources to provide a hands-on learning experience, which she believes is important for young children. “Doing a variety approach helps make well-rounded students,” she says.
Finding Fellow Providers
For anyone considering starting a child-care business, Blair recommends finding other people who run in-home care first.
“Starting a child-care business can be challenging, but eventually you get it down,” she says. “It’s nice to have the support of other providers. I think that’s benefited me the most, especially since this business can be so isolating, where you’re always in your home and not with other adults. I’ve followed other providers’ advice as I’ve gone along, and it’s helped me learn the ropes. I cherish those friendships.”
Before starting, however, Blair cautions you to make sure child care is the right fit.
“You have to enjoy spending time with children and enjoy aiding them in their development,” she says. “And you need to be self-motivated enough to be your own boss. If you can do those three things, then this is a really, really wonderful career!”