How to start a family day care on a tight budget!

There are a number of different things to consider when starting a family day care. Here are a few things that I learnt in setting up my family day care business:

Start small! Don’t try to over-invest when you start. Have a few basic family day care resources available which cover a range of age-groups and borrow some from other educators or the family day care scheme that you select. When your family day care business is more established you can share resources with other educators and attend playgroups arranged by your family day care scheme.

Try to plan smart purchases. Purchasing in bulk can save you money. Consider everything that you need, from the furniture to the paints and all the family day care resources you need to run the business. Also get to know the age-groups of the children who enrol; their interests and areas of development. This will enable you to develop an educational program that will meet their needs and this will drive the resources that you require.

There are many consumables and food types that we use on a daily basis. These are generally low-cost and can be used for a range of different sensory-type activities. In addition, once these items are consumed the boxes and containers that they come in can provide hours of endless entertainment for the children e.g. arts and crafts, cubby houses, etc.

Consider whether you actually need a 6-8 seater car. When you start a family day care you don’t really know which children will enrol in your care and what their care requirements may be. Use what you have and invest in what you need when the situation arises.

Find a Family Day Care Scheme that will support you. There is so much to learn at the outset and it can often be overwhelming if you don’t have support. The right Family Day Care Scheme will provide resources to assist you while you get started as well as on-the-job training and guidance. Some will even have cots, mattresses, high-chairs and other resources to lend you.

Make sure that you engage with your Family Day Care Scheme before you get started on any renovations on your home. It’s one thing having read the National Quality Standards (NQS) and Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) however it is another applying it. Some Family Day Care Schemes will have years of experience and their know-how will be invaluable. Get them involved at the outset. They can help you with ideas in setting up your indoor and outdoor play and rest areas to ensure that they are compliant with the NQS and EYLF.  They can also provide you with a list of suppliers whom other educators may have used.

Learn as much as you can from others. You will generally find that people are open and willing to share what they have learnt. Visit the homes of other family day care educators and learn from them – both the good and the bad.

Reflect. This is a word you will come across alot in the family day care industry. When you put aside time to document the good, the bad and the ugly in a day and how to move forward it can make the world of difference. It somehow moves you into action mode instead of a “I feel sorry for myself” mode.

Think about the way in which you structure your family day care business. Getting the structure right at the start can save you hours of time and money. Many family day care educators only consider the structure after they have started their family day care business however it is equally important to consider the tax structure from the outset.

It might seem like there is so much to digest from the start – there is! However there is no need to feel overwhelmed. Put a list together of your priorties and focus on those. We don’t all have the same background or experience and it is important to acknowledge that and to identify your strengths and weaknesses. Given your background and experience, some areas may take you longer to learn than others. There is no need to feel like you have to be a jack-of-all-trades. You are now a business owner and you need to make business decisions which are good for you. Consider areas like accounting, taxes and cleaning which can be outsourced .This will free up your time to focus on the things that really matter.

When you start a family day care your priority and focus should be on getting the children settled. Complying with documentation and regulatory requirements will come in time. Use scheme templates to start off with and develop your own in time.  

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