With all the questions Jurellene Rigsby has received over the years on how to start a child care business, Rigsby, director of the child development laboratory at Malcolm X College and president of Childcare Initiative, decided to hold a seminar aimed at answering some of those questions.
“The class is merely meant to be an overview of some of the legal, financial and educational considerations those interested in starting a business in child care will encounter,” said Rigsby, who hosted the class Saturday at US Bank, 5201 W. Madison.
US Bank sponsor of the Childcare Initiative, a child care training organization started in 1998. Along with being a sponsor, the bank was chosen as a location for the class of the due to limited space available for it at the college.
“The intention is to scratch the surface so that participants can decide if they want to pursue it further,” said Rigsby of becoming a child care provider. “If they decide they do, I can provide them with the literature necessary to pursue a license.”
There are different standards for starting a child care business from home and opening a child care center, she said.
“The director of a center must have a master’s degree in child care and must be licensed by the state, unlike home-based where you must only be licensed and have a high school diploma,” Rigsby said. “The center must pass several guidelines to become licensed by the city, including meeting state fire, health and safety regulations. This is true with home daycare as well, but it’s not nearly as stringent.”
The ratio of children that can be taken in depends on the amount of space available, said Rigsby. Ideally, the state requires that you grant 35 square feet per child and 20 more feet if the child is an infant because of the crib. Typically, the ratio of caretaker per child should be 1/8 unless they are infants where it should be 1/3 (one for each arm and one in a strap on satchel).
Rigsby said she has seen cases where home child care providers have gotten greedy and attempted to take in more children than they could legally accept.
“I once heard of a woman who took in 48 children in her home child care business. This is something that cannot happen,” Rigsby warned. “I don’t care how much room you think you have, you should never take in more than the state mandates. It is bad business, a safety risk and flagrantly illegal. Don’t do it.”
Rigsby actually encourages those who do child care from home to treat it as a business, not just a trip to the babysitter.
“You must always remember that this is a business and you are a professional, therefore, you must act as such,” she said. “When parents drop their children off, don’t come to the door wiping your eyes, with curlers in your hair, sauntering around in flip-flops. This is a job. Be dressed, prepared and ready to work when they arrive like any other job.”
But once a licensed is obtained for a home day care, the owner, Rigsby said, forfeits his/her right to work at a job afterward.
“I’ve seen many child care providers get in serious legal trouble by working after they become licensed. The state will not allow it.”
The two-hour long seminar drew about 20 people, many saying they would be interested in pursuing degrees in child care.
“I enjoyed the class and am certainly going to obtain my licensing in child care after learning the stipulations attached to it,” said Arvelia Prayer, who is opening a shelter, Heaven’s Hand, for recently released female inmates soon and took the class to learn how she would open a daycare within the facility. “At Heaven’s Hand’s, we want to provide women with a plethora of services, from job placement to child care. The seminar gets me started on my next phase of the center.”