While states differ in their requirements for owning and operating your own child care center, you need certain college classes to provide you with the knowledge to make your center successful. You must first decide if you wish to operate out of your own home or a facility. This will help you determine the best road to take in regard to your education. Most community colleges will offer early childhood education and child development courses regularly as part of their programs, depending on the avenue you decide.
In-Home Child Care
If your goal is to provide care to children in your own home, your first step is contacting your own state's department of social services for its child care licensing requirements. The information you need is typically located on your state's department of social services website or obtained by calling your local office. For example, South Carolina requires you to possess at least a diploma in child development or early childhood education from an approved institution or a child development associate credential if you plan to care for seven to 12 children in your home. Texas does not require college classes for in-home care but does require a per-application course, which you can take online or in person. Most states do not require any college classes to provide in-home care but do require an orientation, background check and home inspection for safety complacence.
Child Care Facilities
Opening your own child care facility outside your home requires you be a program director. Becoming a program director takes much more time; however, in the long run, this avenue is more profitable. Program directors often hold a Bachelor of Arts or higher degree in early childhood education or child development, typically consisting of 24 early childhood education or child development units, six administration units and two adult supervision units. An alternative program is a master's degree in early childhood education or child development -- this is often a Master of Arts or Master of Science degree -- or an administration degree with 12 units of early childhood education or child development plus three units of supervised field experience in an early childhood education or child development setting. This setting may be a day care, preschool, after-school program or other program that focuses on the care or teaching of young children. Regardless of the program you choose, you will still need a minimum of one year of experience in a child care setting as a site supervisor.
Most community colleges offer certificate and degree programs in the early childhood education and child development fields. If you choose a degree program such as Associate of Arts or Associate of Science, you will spend the majority of your time in general education courses. Certificate programs offer your core early childhood education and child development courses but will not culminate in a degree. The advantage to this is that they will offer the education necessary to begin work and gain experience in a child care center while you complete the rest of your degree program. This experience will also transfer and count toward your supervised hours, which you need to further your training and degree.
Child Care as a Business
Do not forget the business side of your child care center. While it is not necessary, it is advisable to pursue courses in small business and administration. Keep in close contact with your academic adviser as you work through your general education courses at the start of your degree program. Often, you will be able to take some business-related courses, which double as general education requirements. Business-related courses may also be used as required electives if you choose.
- USDA: Starting a Child Care Center
- Childcare.org: Opening a Child Care Center
- SBA: How to Start a Quality Child Care Business
- Texas Department of Family and Protective Services: Become a Day Care Home Provider
- South Carolina Department of Social Services, Division of Child Care Services: Child Care Facility Requirements
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