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Become a Home Day Care Provider: Step-by-Step Career Guide

Research requirements to become a home day care provider. Learn about the job description and duties, and read the step-by-step process to start a career as a home day care provider.

Should I Become a Home Day Care Provider?

Home day care providers, also known as family child care providers, are self-employed workers who run a child care business out of their homes. If you choose to open a home day care, you might supervise the children on your own, or you could hire child care workers to help. Some of your day likely will be spent preparing meals, planning activities for the children, and taking care of their hygiene and other basic needs.

You can set your own hours as a home day care provider, but you might need to work long days to accommodate parents' schedules. You'll also have additional duties related to running a business, such as managing finances, and buying supplies for business operation.

Career Requirements

Degree Level High school diploma, but training and education varies by state; as of 2013, an associate's degree is needed for Head Start program providers, with a bachelor's degree needed in some cases
Degree Field Early childhood education
Licensure/Certification Obtain Family Child Care Home License
Key Skills Patience; interpersonal, organizational, multi-tasking, instructional and communication skills; ability to monitor potential health or development problems in children, scheduling and educational software, account software, physical stamina, CPR and First Aid certifications, background checks and immunizations
Salary (2014) $21,710 per year (mean annual salary for childcare workers)

Sources: U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, California Department of Social Services, O*NET Online, Michigan Department of Human Services.

Step 1: Obtain High School Diploma or Higher Education

Generally, a family day care provider should have a high school diploma or GED. Some high schools have programs that allow the student to take early childhood courses to gain experience. In some cases, an associate's degree or bachelor's degree may be preferred, such as, being an assistant or Head Start teacher in an in home setting. There are early childhood education programs for both associate's degrees and bachelor's degrees at most colleges. Some of the courses that may be required include, child development, health, safety, and nutrition, and leadership and management.

Success Tip:

  • Complete a child care management program. A short-term certificate program in child care management can help individuals learn the responsibilities of running a child care service and meet state requirements in the process. The courses in a program typically cover subjects such as growth and development, family communication, and nutrition. These programs also focus on business management, budgeting, and organization.

Step 2: Complete Licensing Process

Most states require family child care providers to complete a licensing or registration process. The process varies by state, and it often depends on the number of children planned to be in the individual's care. Many states require child care providers to pay a fee and attend an orientation session. The providers and any other adults living in the home must also usually submit to fingerprinting and a background check, which includes any child abuse charges.

The licensing agency will also confirm ownership, or rental status of the home, by reviewing deed or tax information. If providers plan on moving once approved, the registration agency must be notified. In addition, if any household members engage in criminal behavior, violate probation, or are being treated for any mental health issues, they need to notify the agency. Some states also require providers to earn food handler certification.

Success Tip:

  • Meet immunization requirements. Tuberculosis (TB) test results are required for the provider and any adults living in the home. Assistants typically need to submit TB tests as well.

Step 3: Pass a Home Inspection

Family child care providers must meet state requirements for environmental safety and cleanliness. States may require individuals to childproof the home, repair or replace unsafe appliances, and maintain important emergency equipment, such as smoke alarms, fire extinguishers, and telephones. Homeowners would also need to fence any swimming pools, hot tubs, or outside play areas. Family child care providers may need to update their homes according to state fire code requirements.

Step 4: Complete First Aid and CPR Training

Most states require family child care providers or their employees to obtain certification in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR). Individuals may enroll in training courses with a state-approved health organization or agency. Once trained, an applicant must pass a skills test to receive certification. Some states require child care providers to update or renew their first aid and CPR certifications on an annual basis.

Step 5: Career Advancement

While family child care providers are self-employed and generally run their own programs, there is still some opportunity for advancement. One such opportunity would be to apply for a group family child care license. With this license, family child care providers can take on more children, and hire assistants to help with the adult/child ratio thus growing their child care programs.

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