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How to Run a Successful Child Care Business

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 How to Reduce the Risks of Running a Business
from Getting Started in the Business of Family Child Care
Running a family child care business creates a greater risk of accidents and injuries in your home. You can never eliminate these risks. But you can do a lot to reduce them and to protect your business and your family in the event of a major incident.

When you start caring for children, you become a self-employed business owner. Other options include forming a partnership or a corporation. Carefully consider the pros and cons of each option. Most providers run their business as a self-employed owner.
Comply with all local (child care and zoning) regulations. You are less likely to have an accident if you are following all regulatory standards. You are also more liable if an accident occurs while you are violating a rule. Check for any local zoning or deed restrictions in your town.
Seek out training in health and safety.
Screen families before enrollment. Look for signs of conflict and inflexibility.
Communicate regularly with parents. Listen and respond to parent concerns.
Screen potential helpers. You are responsible for the acts of anyone working for you.
Follow reasonable business practices. Use medical release forms, field trip permission forms, and parent evaluations.
Establish a transportation policy. Address what you would do if the parent comes to pick up the child and is drunk, on drugs, or without the appropriate car seat. Create a list of names of people who can take children home in these situations. Call 911 if the parent insists on taking the child.
Parents cannot waive their right to sue you. If parents sign a liability waiver that says they will never sue you if something happens to their child, the court will not enforce such a waiver.
Report child abuse or neglect. You are probably required to do so. Make sure you understand your responsibilities. Talk to your regulator or your county child protection services agency for advice.
Update your insurance to provide protection against major incidents. Read the "exclusions" section of your homeowner's or renter's policy to see if you can run a business in your home. Find out if there are limits on how many children you can have in your care. Find out whether you need extra coverage for furniture and appliances that are used for business. Purchase business liability coverage. Ask your agent how many children you would have to transport, and how often, before you would need extra coverage for your car.
Investigate other forms of insurance for yourself that are normally covered for employees of established businesses, such as medical, disability income, workers' compensation, and long-term care.
For a list of insurance agents and companies in your state, go to and click on Insurance Information.
Family child care providers may not discriminate against parents or children based on race, color, sex, religion, disability, or national origin. "Disability" includes physical handicaps, learning disabilities, HIV, and AIDS. It also includes other conditions that affect seeing, hearing, walking, or talking. Parents are not required to tell providers if their children are HIV-positive. There is no documented case of HIV being transmitted by one child biting another. To find out more about HIV and AIDS, contact your local child care resource and referral agency.
You must take reasonable steps to make your program accessible to children with disabilities. Spending $100 to modify your bathroom would be considered reasonable. Spending $5,000 to build a wheelchair ramp probably would not. If making your program accessible would create a "significant" difficulty or expense, you do not have to provide care. However, it is not reasonable to refuse care for a child with a special need simply because the child would require more attention. You may not charge more to care for children with special needs. You may not discriminate against prospective employees who have disabilities.
Redleaf National Institute
450 North Syndicate, Suite 5
St. Paul, MN 55104
Ph# 651-641-6675
Fax# 800-641-0115 

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