Child Care – The Business!
Delaware Code Title 31, Chapter 3, Subchapter III § 341-347 sets forth the definition of “child care” and as well as the requirements or exemptions specifying which facilities or programs require licensure. Under that Code the Office of Child Care Licensing (OCCL) is given the powers to set standards for the operation of child care facilities. This includes:
- Issuing of licenses to new or existing child care facilities;
- Helping child care programs achieve and maintain regulatory compliance;
- Monitoring compliance with child care regulations;
- Investigating complaints of improper or illegal child care;
- Taking enforcement action when Licensees are found to be in serious violation of child care regulations.
In addition, OCCL works closely with elected officials, other state and local government agencies, the caregiver community, child advocacy organizations, child care experts and child care consumers on issues related to quality of care and protection of the health and safety of children in care.
The Office of Child Care Licensing (OCCL) should be your first stop when considering opening a child care business. The OCCL does not
charge fees; for child care applications, information and orientation sessions, fingerprinting and criminal history reviews and technical assistance. All of these services and resources are available free of charge to those operating or wishing to operate a child care business. OCCL staff will answer your questions over the phone, by mail or email.
All persons/organizations interested in opening a child care business must participate in training sessions that provide information on the licensing process, requirements and resources available. Since OCCL wants child care businesses to succeed, OCCL Staff is supportive and flexible in responding to concerns and questions during the inquiry and application process and after a license has been issued. Just ask! On our website you will find information and links to the building blocks of a successful child care business. Remember that building upon a strong foundation of quality is the best way to build your child care business.
Child care is a business. People often enter this profession because of their love of children and a desire to serve children and their families. Their training and education, however, usually does not include information on operating a business. To operate a successful business, it is necessary to know what proven successful business people know and do, and to learn how to apply that knowledge. What you do, the time you take, and the thoroughness of your preparations, the due diligent your pursue prior to opening a child care business are the keys to its success. It’s not how quickly you can open a child care business that matters it’s how long and successfully you operate a child care business that is important to you as well as to the children and families you will serve.
Questions to Ask Yourself
- Why do you want to open a child care business?
- Do you have the appropriate training and experience to operate a child care business?
- Have you researched the number and type of child care businesses in the area where you are considering opening a child care business?
- How do you plan to pay for the start-up costs for opening the business?
- Do you have adequate financial resources to operate the business for 1 year after opening?
- Have you developed a monthly budget of estimated expenses and income to determine if your business will be profitable?
- Do you understand all the rules and regulations that must be met in order for a child care business to be licensed?
- Do you know how the square footage of the building and the outdoor space determine the number of children you can have in care?
- Do you know the fire, zoning, and environmental health requirements required for licensing?
- Do you know how you will meet the staffing and training requirements for licensing?
Business Costs and Fees in Delaware
Clicking on to this link will take you to a chart that shows the different fees and costs for opening and operating a child care business in Delaware. This chart is provides information on State and municipality fees across Delaware but may not include all costs or fees as they can change periodically. For the most accurate information always contact the agency responsible for the services or requirement.
Starting a Child Care Business
The Office of Child Care Licensing wants those to whom we issue a license to succeed! Unfortunately, often by the time an entrepreneur comes to OCCL they have already made sizeable investments, including purchasing, constructing or leasing a building. This is sometimes done without knowing many of the actual requirements, neglecting to investigate the competition in the area where they plan to open their business, and failing to learn the history of an established child care when looking to buy and existing business.
Many important factors should be considered before making the decision to open a child care business, including knowing the start-up costs involved and how you will finance your business. We suggest that the first stop be OCCL. OCCL Staff are here to help advise you on the requirements and direct you to important resources. Technical A ssistance is one of our services and it is free!
Far too often, people are so eager to start a new business that they end up skipping some very important considerations. This is very likely one of the major reasons that so many new businesses fail within their first five years. During this economic downturn, many child care business have struggled to maintain their enrollment and generate sufficient revenue to cover expenses. This precarious balancing act has led operators to use business and personal credit cards to keep their business afloat, to get loans from family members, and to withdraw funds from savings and other accounts to finance business operations. Some have failed to pay legal obligations such as federal and or state taxes and have even issued pay checks to employees when there were not sufficient funds to cover those checks. OCCL has seen far too many businesses fail in the past few years.
This downward spiral has led, in some cases, to situations that have placed the health and safety of children in care at-risk by Providers failing to maintain staff to child ratios, enrolling more children than permitted, using unqualified staff and ignoring needed building repairs. These situations have sometimes resulted in OCCL taking an “enforcement” action against the child care business ranging from Warning of Probation to License Revocation.
- http://www.kids.delaware.gov/occl/occl_resources.shtml#occlregs - Delaware Child Care Licensing Regulations
- http://delawaresbdc.org/ - Delaware Small Business and Technology Development Center
- http://www.desu.edu/business/delaware-center-enterprise-development - Center for Enterprise Development at DSU
- www.state.de.us/revenue/obt/applying.htm - Delaware Division of Corporations
- www.state.de.us/dedo/index.htm - Delaware Economic Development Office
- www.delawareinnovationfund.com – Delaware Innovation Fund
- www.delawaremoneyschool.com – Delaware Money School
- www.state.de.us/revenue - Delaware Division of Revenue
- www.dscc.com – Delaware Division of Revenue
- www.ywcade.org – YWCA Center for Women’s Entrepreneurship
- www.firststateloan.org – Delaware First State Loan
- www.sba.gov – The US Small Business Administration’s site contains loads of information
- www.sbdcnet.org - A national research site for the Association of Small Business Development Centers
- www.entrepreneur.com - The Entrepreneur magazine’s site
- http://www.score.org/learning_center.html - A good collection of links and information
- www.allbusiness.com - A D& B resource
- www.smsmallbiz.com - The Smart Money magazine web resources
- www.foxsmallbusinesscenter.com - The official Web Site for the Fox Business Network
- www.wsj.com - The Wall Street Journal
- www.startupnation.com - Source for Small Business Advice, Help Starting a Business, Entrepreneur Forum
- http://www.lib.udel.edu/ - University of Delaware library contains an impressive list of resources
- http://state.lib.de.us/ - Delaware’s library system, both onsite and online provides a lot of information
- http://office.microsoft.com/en-us/templates/ - Forecast template from Microsoft Office Online
- http://www.bplans.com/ - Business form templates, business plan
Family Child Care Business
The Delaware Center for Enterprise Development offers a 28-hour Course for Family Child Care Providers. This course is recognized by the Office of Child Care Licensing for annual training hours. Topics being covered are:
- Pricing and Cost Analysis
- Financial Records and Cash Flow Budgeting
- Marketing Strategies
- Identifying your Competition
Note: For a schedule of classes and costs contact Ilona Figat at (302)857-6953.