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How to Start a Church-Related Preschool

by Kathryn Rateliff Barr

Your church can use a preschool as a community outreach and as a way to minister to the needs of congregant families. Church preschools must adhere to the same state and municipal regulations as secular preschools, according to the Church Law and Tax website, although some churches will offer discounted fees or scholarships to church members. Your child could enjoy attending preschool in the same location where she attends Sunday school and church. The curriculum in church-related preschools often includes a biblical focus and inclusion of prayer, as well as a weekly chapel service. If you are a parent looking to organize a church-related preschool, there are state and local regulations you must adhere to.

Contact your state agency that regulates day cares and preschools for a complete list of the state regulations your preschool must comply with. Make a list of the licenses and paperwork that must be filed to operate a legal facility. Verify your ability to comply with all of the regulations listed, such as the ratio of teachers to students, safety equipment on hand, training and certification regulations, and continuing education requirements.

Contact the city and county offices that regulate child care facilities and verify your church facility can also meet the local operational requirements.

Fill out and file the necessary paperwork required by state and local governments. Contact the offices if you have questions about any of the requirements so your facility is ready when it comes time for an inspection.

Advertise for teachers, aides, administrative support and leadership staff. You could begin your search within your congregation, especially for the facilities director and other staff that will work closely with your church staff. Require all staff to pass background checks and ask applicants to pay for the background check if necessary.

Work with the church custodial and maintenance staffs to make any facilities modifications necessary for the preschool, such as making your church accessible to disabled individuals and having your church kitchen meet local health and safety standards if you plan to serve meals. Complete the modification several months prior to the opening of your preschool so you have time to make any changes identified by the local inspector.

Accept applications after your regulatory paperwork from the state and municipal governments has been approved. Set the fees high enough to cover your overhead, even if the church will assist financially with scholarships and discounts for some students.

Choose a curriculum and begin training your staff. Allow the teachers sufficient time to prepare for the school year. Specify how teachers can decorate the classroom without disrupting bulletin boards and room decorations for Sunday school and other children’s ministry.

Hold an open house and invite congregants and local residents to come and meet the teachers, pick up applications and ask questions. Print materials such as your preschool handbook outlining dress code, behaviors and discipline guidelines prior to the open house so parents can peruse the information. Accept applications and checks for fees at the open house.

Set your preschool calendar and have everything ready and up to code at least a week before classes start so your teachers can prepare classrooms for students. Schedule a final training class and ensure your teachers are ready to teach.

Items you will need
  • State regulatory paperwork
  • County and city regulatory paperwork
  • Advertising brochures
  • Safety equipment
  • Curriculum
  • Classroom decorations

About the Author

Rev. Kathryn Rateliff Barr has taught birth, parenting, vaccinations and alternative medicine classes since 1994. She is a pastoral family counselor and has parented birth, step, adopted and foster children. She holds bachelor's degrees in English and history from Centenary College of Louisiana. Studies include midwifery, naturopathy and other alternative therapies.

Photo Credits

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