To ensure the childcare setting succeeds, you have to know your market and decide what strategy to adopt with regards to price, promotion, place and ideas to beat your competitors. Here are useful tips to help you get started: (1) Is there a demand for a childcare setting? Know the area you intend to start and consider conducting a survey. You could do a quick face-to-face survey with a clipboard at the school gates, or hand out leaflets as parents pick up the children from school. Do your research beforehand as it will pay off in the long run. (2) Finding the right premises This is one of the most difficult aspects of starting a childcare business. The premises you choose will have to meet the welfare requirements set out in the Statutory Framework for the Early Years Foundation Stage (2014). The premises should be warm and welcoming and accessible for children, staff as well as the parents. The environment should be safe and secure, with space organised to promote children’s development. It is essential that you choose your premises well, as Ofsted will inspect your premises as part of the registration process. Renting or buying? This will be determined by your access to finance. Have you got the capital? Are you going to access a bank loan? But if you want to rent, make sure that you have a reasonable lease on the property. (3) Funding Check whether you are eligible for help. Some local authorities still keep some money available for startup grants, but the situation varies greatly around the country. Contact the Early Years and Childcare department at your local council to check whether they still offer any startup funding for childcare settings. You could also use your savings, equity or borrow from the bank.
(4) Ofsted registration Before you begin the registration process, you need to complete two initial stages – a DBS check and a health declaration booklet. The registration process looks at the ability of the childcare facility to provide care which conforms to the standards for childcare settings. The national standards are a baseline of quality that you, the staff and the premises must abide by. During the registration process, you will need to demonstrate to Ofsted that you comply with the standards. For comprehensive guidance on who needs to register with Ofsted, download the Ofsted publications from the government’s website.(5) Operations – staffing, equipment and paperwork Staff must be suitable to look after children, which means making sure they have had the DBS checks, and no unvetted person is left alone with the children. The manager of the childcare setting must also have at least two years’ experience as a qualified childcare provider. All staff must meet the necessary training requirements. At least half of all staff must have appropriate qualification. The premises must be safe and secure, and any furniture and equipment must be well maintained and conform to safety standards. All paper work, policies and procedures must also conform to Ofsted standards. Most people start childcare businesses for the right reasons – because they love children, and are committed to providing a safe, warm environment. Being aware of the above will help you to make a smooth transition.
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