Child care start-up checklist

Are you interested in starting a business to care for and supervise children? Whether you plan to operate a home-based or centre-based business, our Child care start-up checklist is designed to help you find information related to this highly-regulated industry. For general information on business start-up, consult our Business start-up checklist.

  • Business start-up checklist
    When you're setting up your business, you need to ensure that all of your bases are covered. Consider the following steps as you navigate through the business start-up phase.

Learning about child care needs in your area

Before you start your business, you may want to conduct a needs assessment for child care in your area. Be aware of your competition, and find out if there are other child care centres nearby. Take a look at demographics and family trends. Is the need for child care in your area likely to change in the next 5 to 10 years?

Would you prefer to take care of infants, school-age children or children with special needs? How many children are you prepared to look after? How many hours would you be willing to work each day? Could you be flexible if you had to occasionally change or extend those hours? The answers to these questions will determine how much space you need, and how many employees you might need to hire to help you run your operation.

Use these resources to help develop your knowledge and expertise.

Setting up your business

Before starting, you will need to decide where to locate your business. Will you run a home-based business or a child care centre in a different location? If it's the latter, you can either establish the centre yourself, or you may want to consider buying an existing business.

  • Buying a business
    Find out what you need to know before buying a business: where to look, how to evaluate potential acquisitions, and what a fair price would be.
  • Choosing and setting up a location
    Trying to decide where to locate your business and how to arrange it once you get there? Consider your options.
  • Franchising
    Learn more about buying a franchise as an option for starting a business.

You may want to develop a centre or program philosophy, and an operations plan for activities, meals, outings, etc. For example, you may decide to take a well-rounded approach to child care that combines play, learning, and social development. This is the kind of information potential customers will want to know before deciding to leave their children in your care.

The way you operate will affect everything from the physical layout of your space to your hiring process. It will also play a part in determining what kinds of licences and permits you will need to run your centre.

Complying with child care regulations

Once you know where you want to locate, and how you want to approach your business, you need to then look at the regulations that will affect your operations.

The requirements for operating a child care centre differ across Canada. You may need to obtain a licence or permit from your province or territory, or perhaps even from your municipal government. Certain regulations will determine how many children are allowed in your care. Other regulations apply to transporting children, and health and safety inspections. You and your employees may also be required to receive certain immunizations or first aid training.

Managing your finances

The location of your business and the services you provide will play a big part in determining how much you charge, and what you will need to purchase when setting up. You may want to identify comparable competitors in your area, and find out what kinds of fees they charge.

  • Pricing
    Know the factors that will help you determine the payment you will receive in exchange for your goods or services.

If you run a home-based child care centre, you may be able to deduct certain expenses from the income you report on your tax return.

Hiring and training your employees

Proper employee screening is important, particularly in the child care industry. You'll want to protect your business from potential risks, and ensure that you have the best qualified people working for you.

You may want to consider offering training, or hiring employees who are trained in first aid, health and nutrition, or child development, for example. Depending on the type of child care services you offer, and the legislation in your area, you and your employees may need to be certified as early childhood educators.

Protecting your business

Security and safety are important when you operate a child care business. In addition to following the regulations set by your province or territory, there are additional measures you can take to avoid or minimize potential risks.

Additional Resources

Whether you are just starting out or are an experienced entrepreneur who's been in business for years, you can never be too informed when it comes to your business.

  • Starting a business
    Want to be your own boss? Find out how to start a business.
  • Business support organizations
    Seeking the advice of peers, professional business counsellors and coaches can help you transition from new business owner to experienced entrepreneur.
  • Contact the Canada Business Network
    The Canada Business Network has centres across the country that offer guidance, information and resources to help make your journey in business a success.
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