IN THIS EPISODE
You may not be required to get licensed and why you should anyway. Being licensed, registered, certified, or whatever your state calls it, can make a big difference in getting new clients and making more revenue. Learn the rules and what you need to do before getting the licensing process started.
About this episode…
- Why Get Licensed
- In-Home vs. Child Care Center
- Learn the Rules
- Resources – questions and regulations
- Provider Rules
- Determine Licensing Level
- Get the Rules
- Understand the Rules
- Compliance Checklist
- Self-Survey (What do you need to do to be compliant?)
- Create Task List
- Estimate the Cost
- Resources – questions and regulations
Hi everyone Troy here from the Child Care Business Academy welcome to Episode 3 of the Child Care Business Academy podcast.
Today is part 1 of How to Get Licensed. We’re going to talk about the licensing decision, learning the rules, trying to figure out exactly what’s expected of you as a home child care provider, and then how to get your application process going.
If your state will allow you to provide child care in your home without a license, or being certified or registered, whatever your state calls it, then what’s the point? Why Get Licensed?
Why Get Licensed?
It’s my opinion that getting licensed is the way to go, even if you can legally operate without being licensed. There may be quite a few differences in what’s expected and what you’re allowed to do when you’re licensed versus non-registered.
For example, in Iowa if you’re not registered then you’re allowed to care for fewer children. You’re not going to be able to care for as many children as you may want and just because you are not licensed or register doesn’t mean that you are not regulated. There are clear regulations for non-registered homes and you are still expected to provide a certain level of care.
It’s not like you can do anything you want and just fly under the radar, you are still regulated by the state of Iowa. I suspect most states are this way. If they give you the option of not being licensed it doesn’t mean you can just do whatever you want, there are still regulations.
So, why get licensed? I think the biggest reason is professionalism. Commitment to being a professional child care provider is obvious to parents. Getting licensed provides oversight of your program. Volunteering to be licensed means you are putting yourself out there, you’re saying to the state this is what I’m doing, and I want you to come into my home and make sure I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing. When you get licensed you make that commitment. You’re telling parents who may bring their children to your daycare that you expect to operate in a certain manner. You are willing to have the state inspectors come into your home and make sure you’re doing what you are supposed to. Getting licensed gives parents peace of mind that they’re bringing their child to a legitimate care provider who is willing to open their door to the state for inspection.
Another reason is the food program. The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is a U.S. Department of Agriculture program that helps child care providers pay for the meals and snacks served to children in their care. I don’t want to get too far into the food program because that’s a topic for another podcast, but the Food Program is another level of oversight and also helps you to pay for the food that you’re going to have to buy anyway. It’s a great program to be involved with and we’ll talk about that more detail in another podcast. You must be licensed to participate in the food program.
There are probably many more reasons than this, but finally, you are your own boss and it’s easy to get complacent. Without a someone looking over you every day making sure you’re doing what you’re supposed to be doing it’s easy to become a little complacent. Unintentionally letting your program go downhill can affect the quality of your daycare program and success. Program quality is not something that you can just forget about. It can slowly degrade into poor care. Parents may start noticing you’re not providing the level of care that you did at one point and remove their child from your care.
It will help keep you on track knowing there’s some outside oversight. Being licensed helps to keep you on the track of providing quality care. Being licensed is accountability that you may need since you’re not going to have a boss watching over your program. You are the person that must maintain program quality and oversight. Accountability will allow you to operate a better business and do a more consistent job.
Another decision you must make is whether you are opening a home daycare, or a childcare center based business. Al lot of people who I hear from are considering opening a daycare center. I recommend that if you don’t have experience in providing child care, and I’m not talking about your own children, you start out in the home. It’s a lower entry cost.
Getting ready and getting the money together is usually an obstacle. It’s one of the other questions I get often. How much is it going to cost and where do I get the money to do it to get started? Opening a home daycare costs much less than opening a center. In a home you’re not required to commit to a long term lease. If you’re talking about opening a center you’re likely going to have to commit to a lease of some sort. If it doesn’t work out for you that lease is still there. You’re still held accountable for payment. The lower entry cost just makes sense to me as far as a home over a daycare center.
You’re going to have fewer headaches with a home daycare and you’re not going to have the staff worries that you would have in a center. If you’re opening a center you’re going to need some help. The taxes are simpler.
Of course, you can’t watch as many children and you might not make as much money overall operating from your home, but I really do think it’s a great place to start. If you open a home daycare and you decide you now I want to take this to the next level than that to me that’s the logical path starter start out small with limited financial.
Please keep in mind everything that I put into this podcast is based on my experience helping to operate our home daycare. I’m not an attorney. I’m not a accountant and I’m not a professional of that type, but Julie I have had this daycare for twenty years, over twenty years.
The daycare has been Julie’s full time job for all of these years. I work outside the home, but help with the business side of the business. Julie handles the daily operations.
I think there are a lot of similarities between what’s going on in a home daycare versus a center. The center might be on a bigger scale, but there’s there are some similarities there that you can apply to both.
Once you make the decision to get licensed, you need to find out what the regulations are for your state and what’s going to be expected of you. Not only at the time you apply for the license but ongoing once you get licensed. Often there are some minimal requirements that are that you must certify to and you may be inspected before you apply.
Sometimes the state will try to make it easier for you to get into the business and defer some of the training and educational requirements to a later time. For example they may say you need X number of hours of training in certain topics. One is almost certainly going to be C.P.R. & First Aid. Then later require more educational hours in childcare related training.
You can count on this training being a career long requirement, so once you get licensed you’re going to have to recertify, or relicense, every so often. In Iowa, it’s every two years.
There are training requirements for when Julie goes to re-register she must provide the certificates for all the required training. She must have twenty-four hours of training every two years.
You are going to have questions while learning the rules. The first question is probably, “Where do I find the rules?” When you get the rule book you’re going to have questions about the rules, so you’re going to need resources you can trust. The state is probably your biggest resource.
If your state has multiple levels of licensing the regulations for each are most likely different. There will be common requirements, but you will likely see more regulations for the higher licensing levels as compared to the lower levels.
For example we’ll talk about an imaginary licensing system. In this system, a level one license lets you care for “X” number of children. Let’s say maybe four or five kids. The training may be fewer hours and for level one than let’s say, level 2. As the level increase, you can care for more more and more children. The requirements for maintaining the higher levels also increase. The training hours may also increase. You’ll have to be the one who decides which level is right for you.
Let’s Get Started!
Another great resource is Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R). Find their contact information on the internet and give them a call. They are a great source of information and assistance. Just to give you an example of our local CCR&R and how helpful they were for our daughter.
Our daughter went into childcare and decided to start out unregistered at first, while she was going through the registration process. She would then have some income and start building a roster while she was getting ready to become fully registered.
At the time, she lived on a busy street, so we put out a yard sign for people who drove by. One day someone shows up at the door and introduces herself as the local representative from Child Care Resource and Referral.
The representative said she noticed the sign and just wanted to know if she was registered (she already knew she wasn’t). My daughter said she wasn’t, but fully intended to get registered. The representative from CCR&R offered to assist and went through the regulations and application process with my daughter. It was a big help.
Having help like this is great because even though you have the regulations in front of you sometimes it might be a little unclear how to apply the regulations to your situation. When you must have the correct answer, it’s very good to have someone who is an expert giving you advice.
While you are waiting for CCR&R to contact you find your state’s web site and do a search. Look for a download of your state regulations. Once you download your state regulations and requirements, give them a read through. Take notes about wat you don’t understand so when CCR&R shows up, you can be ready.
Also, try to get a feel for the levels of licensing and see if you can determine which level makes sense for you. Save your questions for a representative of the state or CCR&R. The state child care reps are the ultimate expert, but can sometime be more difficult to get in touch with than CCR&R.
Once you complete your self-survey checklist and know what needs to be completed to qualify for your licensing level, you are ready to take the next step. Be sure to check out part 2 of How to Get Licensed. We’ll talk about completing the self-survey, your application plan and applying for your license.
Until next time…