Finding childcare that is affordable and fits your families’ needs is increasingly harder to come by. There are gaps in both funding and access to daycare. This is making it hard for people to pay for and trust their daycare options.
Working families need access to childcare, especially in a society that is independent, not interconnection-based. The need will never go away – as quality childcare is important for parents and for the child’s overall wellbeing and development.
While starting a daycare in Florida may seem difficult, people wanting to start a daycare appreciate the neglect that exists in the current system. If you’re passionate about providing better quality daycare services for families in need, keep reading to discover what you need to start a daycare franchise.
Laws and Regulations
There are laws and regulations specific to Florida daycare that govern daycare franchise and home operations. It’s important to read and understand all of these laws before beginning your operation. They can be found here.
The regulations go over licensing, handbooks and guides, statutes for childcare, facility classifications, and federal regulations.
The department of children and families is responsible for the licensing procedures for childcare services. Florida child care facilities, specialized facilities for mildly ill children, large family care homes, and family day care homes fall under this jurisdiction.
The main reason that licensing procedures exist is to ensure the health and safety of the children being cared for. Through regulations and regular communication, securing a license helps improve and maintain the quality of child care that is offered.
Licensing operations routinely check on child care homes to make sure that requirements are being met. The purpose of this is to make sure that quality and standards are being maintained and to shut down any subpar operation.
Sixty-two out of sixty-seven counties in Florida require licensure, while the other counties still require registration of daycare facilities.
Definition of Child Care Facility
What defines a child care operation as an official facility? Some examples of child care facilities are the following.
- Public and nonpublic schooling
- Summer camps with full-time residence
- Summer day camps
- Bible schools
The technical definition for being a child care facility is any child care arrangement providing child care for more than five children who are unrelated to the person in charge. They collect a fee or payment for the child care provided.
Applying for a License
To make sure you are applying the correct way, it is best to contact the local office of the nearest child care licensing center near you.
There is an application fee to pay, which will be determined by your local child care licensing office. Click here to download the application for obtaining a child care license.
You will need to provide information in detail about the business and operating model of your daycare franchise. You may also need to provide additional documentation.
A licensing counselor will review your application during its processing. Granted, there are no problems with the application, your facility will be inspected. You should prepare your daycare to meet all licensing qualifications for this inspection. If there is anything in missing order, you will be directed to make the necessary changes and have to reschedule another inspection.
The typical turnaround time for complete applications is ninety days. If approved, you’ll receive a license to start operation. If not approved, you’ll receive a letter telling you exactly why you were not approved.
Your license is good for a year in total. You will be subject to at least three inspections. You will have to obtain a renewed license after the year is over.
Now that licensing and laws and regulations surrounding starting a daycare in Florida are understood, let’s go to the first steps of what to do.
The first thing you’ll want to do is create a business model and budget. You’ll want to know your financial needs, budget, and financial resources. There is an initial startup cost to begin a business, so figuring out where you’ll get your finances to startup and continue operations is important.
Here are some of the costs you should consider before starting a daycare.
- Taxes on land and property
- Renovation and maintenance costs
- Equipment for classes, office, kitchen, etc.
- Transportation services
- Outdoor play equipment
- Licensing fees
- Staff training
- Impact fees
These are only some costs to factor in before starting your daycare. These are startup costs, but there are also ongoing costs to keep your daycare running. These costs include the following.
- Rent/Mortgage payments
- Equipment maintenance
- Worker’s comp
To effectively plan ahead, it is important to have an itinerary for your budgeting needs. It could be easy to have your business model fail if you do not take into consideration each initial and ongoing cost it takes to run a daycare. It’s also important to have a savings or contingency fund so that you can be prepared for any unexpected payments.
After coming up with a foolproof financial system, there is a lot more to consider. The next steps would be to obtain the required permits, applications, and licenses needed to operate.
You may need to get a business license separate from the child care license. Certain building codes need to be met, while you could need to get occupancy approvals.
Once your location has been picked, you can follow up with your local government offices to see how to go about adhering to building codes and occupancy approvals.
You will also need to speak with your zoning office so that you have the right approval to operate a childcare facility.
When choosing a location, you want a space that can comfortably hold many children and staff. Your capacity is based on every thirty-five square feet of usable space. Things like closets, hallways, etc., are not included in this consideration.
If the location runs on a septic tank, you’ll need an inspection done to see if it is operable for the number of people you will have on-site.
You have to have an outdoor play area with shade and at least a four-foot fence. This area must be safe for the age of the children using its resources.
More to Consider Before Starting a Daycare in Florida
Your space has to meet the required fire safety standards, so you’ll need to get a fire safety inspection completed. This will help make sure the area is safe for children and staff while coming up with fire prevention plans and easy exit scenarios.
The local health department can conduct a health and safety inspection for you. You are required to adhere to environmental health standards throughout the operation. Failure to do so would result in the termination of the daycare’s operation.
As discussed, the steps necessary to obtain a license need to be complete.
You’ll want a director or operator for your daycare. Conduct background checks on potential options and make sure communication and training have been accounted for.
Questions to Ask Yourself
Now that the most practical aspects of opening a daycare center are out of the way, you need to ask yourself some questions to make sure you’re prepared for this commitment. These questions are a way of double-checking you have everything in order to start your business.
The first question is, why do you want to open a childcare facility? Asking yourself this can help you decide if you’re opening a daycare for the right reasons? Usually, if it’s solely to make money and not because you care about offering quality daycare for children, you will fail at some point. Making money is great, but the kids in this business should be the priority.
Have you done your research on whether your area needs a new daycare? If the area you live in doesn’t need daycare, you might be setting yourself up for failure. Make sure there is a need so that you can supply that demand.
Are you prepared to pay for startup costs and operations up to a year after opening? Have you started a budget? Being financially prepared will put you ahead.
Do you know everything you have to ensure to maintain licensure? Do you understand your square footage affects maximum capacity?
Are you up to speed on environmental health, fire, zoning requirements? Are you trained to operate a daycare facility? Is your staff trained and experienced?
The answers to these questions give you a good idea of where you’re at in the beginning process of starting a daycare.
Training and Staff Credentials
To successfully acquire a license, you have to have the proper training and credentials for your staff. You must appoint a director of operations. The director must have the proper director credentials.
For every twentieth child, one staff member must have a credential. This excludes school-aged care and evening care.
Each member has to participate in the forty-hour intro to child care training. In each course, you have to pass. In these courses, you will understand and learn the following.
- Daycare facility regulations
- Safety, Health, and Nutrition
- Identifying/reporting child abuse and neglect
- Child growth and development
- Behavioral observation
- Know developmentally appropriate practices
- Special needs practices
- Infant/toddler practices
- Preschool practices
- School-age practices
In addition, childcare staff has to complete a course in literacy. In this course, they learn literacy and language development. Staff also have to complete ten hours of training throughout the year to maintain their credentials.
Every facility has to be familiar with safety. CPR and first aid training is a requirement for at least one staff member on-site or on a field trip at all times.
If your daycare Florida center caters to infants, you must be made aware of safe sleep and shaken baby syndrome training. Lastly, all staff must be knowledgeable in operating a fire extinguisher.
Before hiring any staff members, extensive background checks must be conducted. There is a list here found on pages five and six that go over each background test that must be passed.
Marketing and Tying Up Loose Ends
As you can see, there are a ton of requirements that go into starting a daycare franchise in Florida. Aside from these necessary requirements, there are also fun aspects of starting the business as well.
Take some time to market your daycare. You can really get creative when it comes to marketing. There are always digital ads you can put out there.
It’s important to maintain some sort of presence online or on social media. You’ll want a website or Facebook page to update your regulars while advertising to new clients. Having your social media account shared goes a long way in reaching a broader, local audience.
It also goes a long way to do some marketing in person. Flyers put up at local coffee shops, on trees, and on telephone poles see a lot of eyes around town. Putting a sign outside of your home or building that you are running the daycare out of sparks curiosity and may hit home to someone in need of your services.
Have fun decorating the space and catering it to the children. If you remain genuine and authentic in your intentions, families will appreciate that more. Families want honest daycare centers that care about their children.
Present this to them through your actions and intentions. Focus on improving the quality of your daycare when things are not going according to plan. Make sure you are always striving for improvement and consideration of others.
Starting a Daycare
At this point, there’s nothing left but starting a daycare in Florida. Get your business plan together, create a budget, and gather your resources to make your dreams a reality.
While the process may be long and hard, it is rewarding and satisfying to start your own daycare franchise.
For an easier way to own a daycare, consider applying to purchase a daycare franchise operation. Check out our resources for more opportunities.