The Complete Guide to Starting a Daycare in Missouri

starting a daycare in missouri

Starting a daycare center in Missouri can be a daunting task, but Child Care Aware® of Missouri is here to help!

Before starting your new venture, you should take appropriate steps to ensure that starting a daycare in Missouri is the right career path, such as taking our free self-assessment.

You can also find more information on the types of child care you can offer by visiting our website.

After completing the prerequisite steps, you’ll be ready to start building out your business plan.

Since starting a daycare in Missouri can prove to be so challenging, we are going to walk you through the entire process of how you can receive your daycare license in Missouri.

Receiving your daycare license in Missouri comes with multiple requirements, such as providing a safe environment for the children and ensuring that all staff receives adequate training.

From applying for your daycare license in Missouri, all the way through to welcoming your children on their first day of class, we will help provide the information you need to make starting your daycare in Missouri a less challenging, more rewarding task!

Determining if You Require a Daycare License in Missouri

Before you begin the entire licensure process, you should check to ensure you even require a daycare license in Missouri for your business.

You will need to obtain a license if you want to operate a daycare center that provides care for more than five children under seven years of age.

If you plan on providing care for fewer than six children, you may be able to do so without a license. However, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and obtain a license if you’re unsure.

Your First Steps in Starting a Daycare in Missouri

When starting a daycare center in Missouri, it is essential to research the licensing process and other factors to consider from a business perspective before you start.

The first two steps you should take are taking your child care center needs assessment and researching the requirements for a daycare license in Missouri.

Completing these two tasks will help you understand better what your community needs and how you can ensure that starting a daycare in Missouri is a profitable venture for you.

Child Care Center Needs Assessment

It’s highly advisable that before starting a daycare in Missouri, you take a child care needs assessment quiz.

Your local Child Care Resource and Referral Agency can assist you with much of this information.

Researching Your Daycare License in Missouri – Your Local CCR&R Agency

Finding your local CCR&R agency (Child Care Resource and Referral Agency) should be another first-stop resource you should familiarize yourself with when starting a daycare in Missouri.

Your Child Care Resource and Referral agency will help enhance the quality of your program through training, coaching, and connecting you with more resources that can help assist your daycare center.

Additionally, your local licensing agency can help you understand the rules and regulations you must follow when starting a daycare in Missouri.

What Background Checks Will I Require When Starting a Daycare in Missouri?

All employees that work at a licensed, license-exempt, regulated, and registered child care provider must all have criminal background checks conducted per new federal law.

This law affects not only the staff working directly with the children but also any staff working in the building, such as bus drivers, chefs, and sanitary professionals.

Again, your local CCR&R can help update you on where your state is with the implementation of this law.

When calling your local Child Care Resource and Referral Agency, utilize this free licensing and background checks resource from Child Care Aware of America that will outline the steps you need to follow to obtain a background check for you and your employees.

Preparing a Budget for Starting a Daycare in Missouri

After you have researched and understood all the legal, tax, insurance, licensing, and background check information, it’s time to begin taking actionable steps toward building the business you plan to run with your daycare license in Missouri.

Preparing a budget helps you see the large picture of whether your projected income will exceed your expected expenses.

Things you will need to consider are:

  • How many children you plan to serve
  • Tuition fees
  • Staffing costs
  • Start-up costs such as application fees
  • Equipment
  • Materials
  • Marketing

These are just a few crucial topics you should carefully consider while preparing your budget before starting your daycare in Missouri.

Child Care Aware provides a budgeting worksheet to help determine how much income you predict versus how much you plan on spending.

Your business plan helps you define how much money you will need when starting your daycare in Missouri.

Securing Funding After Receiving Your Daycare License in Missouri

One of the most significant challenges for new daycare owners is securing funding for their center.

There are many ways to fund a daycare, such as through private investors, government grants, or bank loans.

Exploring all your options and finding the funding method best suits your needs is essential.

Check with your local CCR&R Agency for ideas on possible funding opportunities for your business.

Some of the most common funding sources for child care include:

The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP)

The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) is a reimbursement program that allows qualified child care providers reimbursement for a portion of their child care food costs.

The Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF)

The Child Care and Development Fund (CCDF) is a federally funded state grant to support child care subsidies.  Check our State by State Resources Map, which will connect you to your local program

The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)

The SBA offers various information on small business loans, grants, and other funding opportunities.

Find a Location for Your Child Care Center

After determining there is a need in your area for quality child care, consider finding a location for your facility.

Ensure you check with your state licensing office to learn more about the specific requirements in your area before you start your search for a location.

You will need to check local zoning laws and covenants to ensure you follow local laws before buying, renting, or building a space for your childcare business.

Please be advised that if you buy a franchise, the parent company may have additional specific guidelines regarding where you can operate your childcare business.

Developing Policies and Procedures for Your Daycare Center

Outlining the policies and procedures of your daycare in Missouri for employees and families is your next step on starting a daycare in Missouri.

It’s important to have policies and procedures which reflect the Code of Ethical Conduct for the early childhood field.

You should be careful to include specific topics designed to help your business run smoothly, in addition to any other state required policies for families.  Your local CCR&R or state licensing agency will be able to assist you with what you will need to include.

Creating a Family Handbook

A family handbook is a document that includes all your daycare center’s policies and procedures, as well as other important information for families.

Be sure to encourage families to read through the handbook and contact you with any questions they may have.

  • Common things to include in your family handbook are:
  • Mission and philosophy of your program
  • Description of your program, including operating hours and ages of children served
  • Information on whether your program is a part of your state’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS)
  • Information on when payments are due and your policy for late payments
  • Description of curriculum and daily schedule for children
  • Description of family involvement activities
  • Required forms for families to complete, such as registration forms, guidance and discipline, drop-off and pick-up procedures, emergency closings, fee and payment arrangements, food and nutrition, program closings, and transportation policies.
  • Description of disaster and emergency plans.

Creating a Staff Handbook

Much like your family handbook, your staff handbook will outline the expectations of employees, as well as your mission, philosophy, family communication and involvement, and much more.

Additionally, your daycare center’s staff handbook should include a section on receiving your early childhood education or daycare license in Missouri, behavior and guidance policies, benefits and pay scale, job descriptions, evaluation procedures, and hiring and firing procedures.

Hiring Qualified Staff

Hiring qualified staff is one of the most important aspects of starting a daycare in Missouri.

In Missouri, all daycare center employees must be at least 18 years of age and have a high school diploma or equivalent.

Additionally, all employees must undergo a background check and complete 16 hours of child development training within their first year of employment.

1. Define Your Needs

Before you start the hiring process, it is important to take some time to define your needs. What type of staff do you need? What qualifications should they have? Do you prefer they have a daycare license in Missouri? What hours will they need to work? Answering these questions will help you create a job posting that attracts suitable candidates.

2. Create a Job Posting

Once you know what type of staff you need, you can create a job posting. Include all relevant information, such as the job title, job description, qualifications, and hours. Be sure to list where the candidates can apply and how to contact you with any questions.

3. Review Applications

Once you start receiving applications, take some time to review them.  Look for candidates who meet the qualifications that you have set forth.  You may also want to consider candidates who have experience working with children, have taken early childhood education classes, or have a daycare license in Missouri.

4. Interview Candidates

After reviewing the applications, narrow down your list of candidates and set up interviews.  The interview process is an opportunity for you to get to know the candidates and for them to ask any questions they may have about the position.  It is also an excellent opportunity to assess their qualifications and see if they would be a good fit for your daycare center.

5. Conduct Background Checks

Before making any offers, be sure to conduct background checks on all interviewed candidates.  Performing a background check will help you ensure that they are qualified for the position and have no criminal history that could pose a danger to the children in your care.

6. Make Your Offers

Once you have conducted the necessary background checks, you can make your offers to the candidates you would like to hire.  Go over the position details with them, so there are no surprises later on down the road.

7. Welcome Them to The Team!

After all the paperwork has been signed, and everything is final, it’s time to welcome your new employees to the team officially!  Be sure to introduce them so that everyone knows who they are and their role at the daycare center.  Congratulate them on their new position and let them know that you’re looking forward to working with them!

Creating a Safe and Stimulating Environment

The final task when starting a daycare is creating a safe and stimulating environment for the children.

This includes designing age-appropriate activities for the children and ensuring that the classroom is safe and child-friendly.

It is important to make sure that the classroom is fun and engaging so that the children will enjoy spending time there.

In Conclusion

Receiving your daycare license in Missouri can be a challenging but rewarding experience.

There are many things to consider when starting a daycare in Missouri, such as the licensing process, finding a location, securing funding, and hiring qualified staff.

It is important to do your research and make sure that you meet all the requirements to avoid any potential problems, but also to remember that Child Care Aware of Missouri and your local CCR&R agency are with you every step of the way.

With hard work and a bit of planning, you can attain your goals of starting a successful daycare center in Missouri.