Mother's morning out programs offer occasional, part-time care for kids, so moms get a break to run errands or just have a little time alone. Kids also benefit from the socialization and developmentally appropriate activities. The programs are often incorporated into a church's ministry or into an organization's service options, but you can also start a business running a mother's morning out program. Before opening your doors, make sure you meet state requirements and have a well-planned program ready for kids.
Research the Local Requirements
Whether you're operating the program on a for-profit or nonprofit basis, you need to check the local and state requirements for daycare programs. Each state sets requirements for child care programs. You may need to license your mother's morning out program as a day care or child care service before you can start accepting kids.
Since each state sets its own requirements, it's important to start with your local or state licensing office. Requirements may include background checks, inspections, training, applications and other state-mandated documents. Some programs may be exempt from licensing, so check with your local licensing office early in the process to determine what you need to do.
Determine the Community Needs
Looking at the specific needs of the community helps you tailor your program to fill the gap. If most families have two working parents, a Saturday morning program may be the most beneficial. In a community with lots of stay-at-home moms, a weekday program may work better. Think about things like location, time, ages of kids and frequency when researching the needs.
Also, consider the other programs available in the area. If other mother's morning out programs exist, consider what sets your program apart. You might target a different age group or schedule your programs at different times than existing programs. An often underserved population is kids with special needs. Providing quality care for those kids gives parents a way to take a break from constant caregiving.
Sort Out the Logistics
A child care program requires a large, safe space to accommodate child-friendly activities. Churches and community centers often have the space to handle these programs. If you're creating your own program, you can operate on a small scale out of your home. The location influences the size of the program. If you secure a large space, you can enroll more kids, but you also need additional staff members.
Things to consider about the location include:
- Accessibility to outdoor space for additional play opportunities
- Security concerns to ensure kids are safe
- Space for changing diapers or restroom facilities for young kids
- Parking for parent drop-off and pick-up
- Fire safety and emergency exits
- Open stairwells, decks and other potential hazards
- Flow of the space
- Accessibility for people with disabilities
Create a Plan
Having a clear written plan helps guide the development of the program. Write a mission statement and goals for your program. Decide how to fund the program. If you're creating a church-based program, you might ask for donations from the congregation. Nonprofit programs may qualify for grants or special funding. Create a set of rules and procedures. If you plan to hire staff to help supervise the kids, write job descriptions to ensure you find staff who are a good fit.
Set Up Your Space
With the groundwork in place, you can begin setting up the space you plan to use. If you have a dedicated space for the program, set up shelves and storage units to hold toys, books and other entertainment. Add changing tables, portable cribs and other baby gear if you plan to serve families with babies.
If you set up the program temporarily in a shared space, look for portable storage options. Wheeled containers let you roll the supplies out to the area easily each time you host the program, for example.
Find Your Clients
No matter how great your program is, your program can't succeed without families. Spread the word in as many ways as possible. If you're starting a program in a church or community center, reach out to people within that community and ask them to help spread the word. Create flyers, business cards and other promotional materials to distribute. Having a social media presence can also help spread the word about your program.
Shelley Frost writes professionally on a full-time basis, specializing in lifestyle, family, parenting and relationship topics. She holds an education degree and has extensive experience working with kids and parents.