Child Care Service

Startup Costs: Under $2,000
Home Based: Can be operated from home.
Franchises Available? Yes
Online Operation? Yes

If you love kids, you're a Big Wheels and Barney fan, and you've got patience to spare, then you can help parents in your area hit the workplace with easy spirits with a child-care service. You'll care for kids in your home, providing a safe and loving environment as well as snacks and meals. Some child-care services offer child development activities; others provide extended or 24-hour service for parents who work the late shift. Still others combine senior care with the tot set, giving both generations the chance to enjoy and learn from each other. The advantages to this business are that you can work at home; your startup costs are low; if you have kids of your own, you can work and care for them all in one; and you get the joy of watching little people grow. You'll need a genuine affection for the crayon set--if you haven't got it, you'll burn out quickly--as well as patience and the mind-set to enjoy being at home all day with only tots to talk to. You should also have a good working knowledge of child care, child development and psychology. (You needn't be a trained pediatrician, but you'll have to know the basics, things like the difference between teething and an illness-induced fever and at what age children learn to share.)

The Market

Your customers will be working parents and grandparents with preschoolers to be cared for. Post fliers on church or temple bulletin boards and place ads in their newsletters. Network among friends and neighbors; have your spouse or significant other spread the word at work and at professional and civic organizations. Place an ad in your local newspaper. You can also target local businesses. Send letters extolling the benefits of paying for employees' child care with you--you're close at hand so employees won't be late arriving or early leaving work, and with your exceptional care, there's no lost productivity worrying about Junior.

Needed Equipment

Depending on your locale, you may need licensing, certification, inspection or some combination thereof. Be sure to check before embarking on your business. Even if it's not required, you should take courses in CPR and pediatric first aid. You'll need to install safety devices in your home, including smoke detectors (if you don't already have them); fire extinguishers; first-aid kits; gates around pools, spas or other hazards; stairway gates; outlet covers; and safety latches on cabinets and cupboards containing any potentially dangerous substances or materials. Once safety's accomplished, you'll want to think entertainment. Stock up on development-oriented toys, kid videos, tot-sized tables and chairs, and arrange adequate sleeping quarters for your prospective charges.

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