Do I Need to Own my Home to Open a Family Child Care Program?
Don't worry - you're not the first to ask! At NeighborSchools we say "in-home" to distinguish our partners' programs from "center-based" programs. So your program will be in your living space. We partner with Educators who have apartments, condos, single-family homes, or anywhere in between.
What if I don't have a big house with a private wing just for my program?
Don't worry, we hear this all the time. We partner with Educators who live in apartments, condos, single-family homes, or anywhere in between. What matters most is that you are a rockstar Educator. If you are, we can often get creative to design a program that fits your home.
If your space is small, we may suggest that you to start with a smaller group of infants and toddlers - the little ones need a lot of love and a little bit of well-lit and well-configured space to really thrive.
At NeighborSchools we expect that each partner Educator has has some space in their home that is dedicated to the program, and other areas are used as flex-space during the day. For instance, if you have a spare bedroom or a dining room that you rarely use, you might convert that into your primary space that holds all the toys and materials for the program. Then, during the day, the program would expand into the adjacent rooms for certain activities or nap time.
We have plenty of ideas around how to make the most of your space, but the key is that your space feels like a childcare program in a home, rather than a living room with some additional toys here and there.
So what are the actual requirements?
The State requires 35 square-feet per child. Even though your initial license in MA will be for six children, we recommend that Educators have 300 sqft of space that can be included in the licensed area.
How about outdoor space?
Everyone would love to have a full-sized backyard with a lush lawn and jungle-gym, right? If you're in the suburbs and have the space, that's great. If you're in a more urban area and don't, that's fine too, as long as you have a child-friendly public park within a short walk from your home.
A quick warning: the regulations on outdoor space are strict. Before you invest in outdoor play equipment, talk to a licensor or contact us to make sure you understand the regulations around the height of play structures and depth of cushion in the surrounding area. Many Educators are better off using a nearby public park rather than invest in outdoor play equipment that meets the State's requirements!
I rent - what about my landlord?
Many aspiring Educators get hung up on this one. Generally speaking, landlords are afraid of two things: liability, and damage to their property. Most landlords don't know very much about in-home childcare. For instance, they probably don't know that you'll be taking out a special type of liability insurance that is designed specifically for licensed Family Child Care (we can help with this). They also may not understand that your program will be licensed by the State.
We find that when we present a landlord with all of this information, the are more likely to say yes. Contact us to discuss your specific situation.
There are so many benefits to Family Child Care - for children, for parents, and for Educators. Every program starts with a home and an experienced Educator with a vision for their program. If you're ready to open the program of your dreams, or if you are unsure if your home would be adequate, contact us and we're happy to help you think through your options.