Tips for Getting Started as an Early Childhood Professional
Welcome to the early childhood profession! You are among a very special group of individuals that have chosen to care for young children. You may be wondering if this is something you can do. Where do you start? What is involved? Read on for some tips to get you started.
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How to Begin
Find out what the child care regulations are for your area, and follow them. If you do not follow the rules, you could be held liable for anything that happens to the children in your care.
Join your local child care association. Attend provider support groups. Call Child Connect for Family Success to find out what’s happening in your community.
Contact relevant local organizations. Give them up to date information on your business, to find out about other community resources, and to learn about any trainings being offered.
Join the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP). This federal program offers education on nutrition and pays providers monthly for some of the cost of the food served to children.
How to Promote Your Business
List the benefits of your program. Does it offer a child-centered curriculum with planned learning activities? Do you have an enclosed yard for safe, fun outdoor activities? Will individualized care and attention be provided? Will you become accredited by the National Association for Family Child Care (NAFCC)? Have you obtained and degrees or certification in early childhood education? What is unique about your program?
Maintain a positive, professional impression on the phone, in person, and throughout your home. Record a message on your answering machine that lets the caller identify who you are and the name of your business. Your outgoing message should convey that you are unable to come to the phone because you are with the children.
Make sure that the outside of your home is clean and uncluttered. The entry into your home should be warm and welcoming. Post your credentials, activity schedules, and emergency procedures on bulletin boards.
Create a business name and register it with your Secretary of State’s office. No one else will be able to use your name if it is registered.
Distribute flyers about your business including the benefits of your program in your community. Some places to put flyers would be grocery stores, libraries, schools, hospitals, etc.
Use other organizations to promote your business. Talk to local organizations about how to attract new parents or for advice and encouragement.
Contracts and Policies
Set rules and policies. Use a written contract to describe your rules about payment and hours. Every contract should contain the following: names of child and parents; amounts due hourly, weekly, or monthly; days and hours you are open; vacation, holidays, sick days, payment due dates; rules on late fees, registration fees, activities fees, holding fees; termination plan; and dated signatures of both provider and parents.
Communicate the rules to the parents. Review each term of your contract and policies yearly with parents to make sure everything is understood.
Enforce the rules. To enforce your rules you must establish consequences if they are not followed. You can include additional fees or the ending of care. You can charge late fees if a parent is late for pick up or if they are late with payment. You may end a contract if a parent does not follow the rules.
Be professional about contracts and policies. Stick to what is in your contract or policies and you will have more time and energy to focus on the care of the children in your home.