Starting a child care business can lead to a rewarding career helping parents and young children.
Availability of and equitable access to quality child care and early learning services is essential to the wellbeing and economic stability of families and communities.
A childcare business requires hard work, long hours, significant expense, and ample frustration, so you need to be able to find your reward in the good you’re doing for others. You might want to do a childcare readiness self-assessment from childcareaware.org
There are several types of childcare services in Ohio, each with its own regulatory requirements as administered by the State of Ohio Department of Job and Family Services [ODJFS].
- a Childcare Center [13 or more children]: see ODJFS Center how-to tutorial
- in-home Family Childcare Providers: see ODFJS Provider how-to tutorial
- a Type A Home [7-12 children]
- a Type B Home [up to 6 children]
- Child Day Camps
In Northeast Ohio, there are several non-profit resource centers missioned to help childcare startups and providers. They provide essential training to obtain the necessary State of Ohio licensing credentials and certifications to operate a child care service.
- For Cuyahoga, Ashtabula, Geauga and Lake counties, see: Starting Point http://www.starting-point.org
- For Lorain, Erie, and Huron counties, see: Child Care Resource Center http://ccrcinc.com/
- For Akron, Canton, Youngstown, Medina, see: Early Childhood Resource Center http://www.ecresourcecenter.org/
So, you have taken the self-assessment, the ODFJS tutorial, and have contacted your regional resource center for assistance, what are your next steps?
Step A: Market Assessment
Do #1 and #2 in the following methodology to assess needs and competition: You probably wouldn’t open a pizza shop in a town that already has a half-dozen of them, unless perhaps you had some unique “angle” by which to differentiate yours from the rest. The same principle holds true for child care services — you need to be aware of what the market needs.
- See #1 and #2 at https://www.wikihow.com/Open-a-Child-Care-Business
- Also see Community Needs Assessment Forms at:
Step B: Prepare a business plan.
Whether you’re starting a child care center, a grocery store, or a gardening service, it is always a good idea to draw up a detailed business plan that outlines the goals, needs, opportunities, and obstacles for your new enterprise. A well-constructed business plan will serve as your business guidebook as it gets off the ground — or may even convince you to change your plans. Also request free SCORE mentoring at https://www.score.org/find-mentor
- Use the SCORE StartUp Roadmap online course and tools at https://www.score.org/startup-roadmap
- Download the workbook for SImple Steps to Start Your Business from https://cleveland.score.org/getstarted
- See Finding Funding Hints & Tips for Northeast Ohio at https://cleveland.score.org/blog/finding-funding-tips-tools-cleveland-northeast-ohio-startup-or-growth
Step C: Navigate the Ohio “red tape”
Research regulation & licensing requirements for your type of child care service, and build a relationship with the relevant State of Ohio and local agencies. If you want your child care business to succeed, you need the supervisory local and state (and perhaps federal) agencies to be “on your side.”
- for a Family Childcare service see licensing requirements at http://www.odjfs.state.oh.us/forms/num/JFS01310/pdf/
- for a Child Care Center see https://emanuals.jfs.ohio.gov/ChildCare/ChildCareCenter/
Step D: Establish Your Service and Prepare to Launch.
See Setting Up and Running at https://www.wikihow.com/Open-a-Child-Care-Business#Setting-Up-Your-Child-Care-Business
Notes - Other Resources
SBA Child Care Startup Guide https://www.sba.gov/sites/default/files/files/pub_mp29.pdf
Ohio Early Learning Resources https://www.earlylearningresourcesohio.org/marketing-home/
Ohio Child Care Resource and Referral Association (OCCRRA) https://occrra.org/
State of Ohio ODJFS Childcare Resources
- Childcare Manual library at https://emanuals.jfs.ohio.gov/ChildCare/
Childcare Franchises https://www.nerdwallet.com/article/small-business/daycare-franchise
For-profit or Non-profit Childcare?
- Considerations: https://oureverydaylife.com/difference-profit-day-care-centers-7956026.html
- See candid.org learning resources, including their NP Self-Assessment Tool - Is Starting a Non-Profit Right for You? [may require free registration]
- Then see the helpful Guide to Forming an Ohio Non-Profit at https://www.ohiosos.gov/globalassets/publications/busserv/nonprofit.pdf?