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Considering a Home-based Child Care Business—Good Parenting

Dear Dr. Debbie,

I will have both my children in elementary school next fall, so with the yet unanswered question as to if and how school hours will shift for Anne Arundel County Public Schools, I’m considering transitioning back to work by becoming a family childcare provider.

My job before children was challenging and paid well, but came with a long commute. It hardly seems worth it to add the stress of trying to find and afford childcare and fight traffic to go back to that long ago way of life. Staying at home to still be available to my daughters before and after school looks like a fine way to contribute financially to the family. I really enjoy children and a couple of neighbors are encouraging me in this direction so I can take care of their children.

Career Crossroads

Dear CC,

Family childcare is an excellent option for blending family and career roles. And the commute is a breeze.

Now is the time to see if this plan will work out for you, your home, and your family as your next career path.

Family childcare falls under the Maryland State Department of Education, Office of Child Care. MSDE recommends allowing six months for the process of becoming a registered family childcare provider. Take an online orientation  which will guide you through an overview of all the prerequisites and ongoing requirements, and provide you with the application itself. There are pre-service training requirements you will need to fulfill before you can open, so be sure to put these into your timeline including a 3-hour in-person orientation held at the North County Library in Glen Burnie. Along with the application, you will need to submit copies of certificates for the specific trainings including Adult and Pediatric First Aid/CPR/AED, for the age group(s) you plan to care for. The MSDE website will link you to in-person and online training resources. A fire and safety inspection will be scheduled for your home. You may need to secure permission from a homeowners’ group or a government agency depending on your location.

The Anne Arundel County Family Child Care Association holds monthly meetings so you can meet your professional peers as well as earn some of your training hours. (Other areas in Maryland also have member groups and are part of the statewide association.) The association helps you network with other providers – an important strategy when working in a job in which you can easily feel isolated from the company of adults.

If your family meets income eligibility limits (at or below $66,823 for a family of four), you can apply for a grant of up to $500 to cover certain expenses toward completing the registration process, including: safety supplies, small household repairs in your planned childcare space, continued training, and program supplies and equipment.

Once you are up and running, you should register to participate in the Maryland Excels program. Your participation supports your investment in yourself to provide a high quality program for children. Participation in Maryland Excels can also help families with the cost of childcare through MSDE’s Child Care Scholarship program. Families that meet income eligibility (ex: a family of four making less than $71,525) can get help with paying for childcare.

There are many benefits to becoming a family childcare provider. Foremost, a high quality program gives children experiences that support their physical, intellectual, social, and emotional development. You fill a needed role in the community so that your neighbors can pursue other occupations knowing their children are in a nurturing and stimulating environment. Your own children get Mom before and after their school day as well as on days school is closed. You are part of a challenging and rewarding professional field that has standards and resources to help you to succeed. And lastly, you get to build a career around your enjoyment of children.

Dr. Debbie

Click here for more parenting advice by Debbie Wood.

What do you think? Email your comments or questions to Dr. Debbie at editor[at]chesapeakefamily.com

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