Marketing and Advertising your Family Child Care Business

Beyond Flyers

Today's topic on advertising is going to be a little different.  Although I will give some examples of advertising materials, I'm not going to go too deep into them.  The focus of this article is going to be about what you can do as a business owner to improve your business so that you can market your business better and be more appealing to potential clients. 

What is Family Child Care Marketing?

Marketing is defining your services.  How is your program meeting the needs of children and parents?  Are your services in demand?  Do you provide something special that sets you apart from other family child care businesses in your area?  Setting yourself apart from other family daycare businesses is important because you want to stand out but you also want to make sure that you provide services that you are comfortable and agree with.  If you are not a morning person you wouldn't want to provide early morning care and open at 4am for example and if spending time with your own family is important to you wouldn't want to offer evening/weekend services.  Doing so may attract more business but it may create feelings of resentment or burn-out.  Provide a balance of both services that parents are looking for and that you are willing to provide.
  • Early morning care
  • Evening care
  • Weekend care
  • Overnight care
  • Drop-in care
  • Before/after school care
  • Homework help
  • Organic/healthy meals
  • Outdoor program
  • Play-based curriculum
  • Preschool program
  • Infant only care
  • High quality care
  • Transportation to/from school
  • Special classes/instruction (dance, art, Spanish, Sign Language etc.)
  • Focus on specific age ranges (infants only, 0-5 years only, preschool only)
Marketing is also how you are pricing your services.  How much is your time worth to you?  Find out what other providers in your area are charging and what services they are offering and compare that with your rates.  The last thing you want to do is undercharge for your time if other family child care businesses that are run similarly to yours are charging more.  If you provide services that are in demand that are difficult to find in your area you charge a little more.  Lowering your rates to attract clients is never a good idea because business wise it's not savvy.  Remember, this is a business and the point is to make money ... not give money away.  Your rates should cover the cost of expenses such as utilities, materials, food and other bills and you should have some extra.  Price your rates competitively but never underpay yourself. 
Promoting your business can be about how you tell others about your program but in this business it's largely about word of mouth.  The opinion that other people have about your business can hugely hinder or help you because referrals are a large part of how we get clients.  Providing a quality program will appeal more to parents and attract more clients.


Quality of Child Care

A high quality family child care programs means that the children are regularly offered child-centered activities, healthy meals, individual care, and a safe comfortable and clean environment run by a trained child care provider.  When you hold interviews it's not only a time for parents to ask questions but also a time for you to educate them about what quality child care means and how your program meets those standards.  Let them know the benefits of your program.
Your work environment also has a lot to do with the quality of child care and I'm not just talking about the play materials and toys.  Work environment has a lot to do with your income, paid vacations, sick days, holidays, your contract etc.  Having a contract that covers all of these topics creates a better work environment for you.  Decide what you want to offer and what perks you believe you are entitled to and create clear policies for you and your clients to follow.  This way the expectations are clear for both sides, just remember to enforce your policies after you create them.

Promoting the Benefits of your Program

A feature describes what the provider offers and focuses on the provider (example: I am licensed, I am on the food program, I am open from 7am-6pm etc.).  A benefit tells parents how the children and parents will have their needs met and focuses on the client. 
Feature - I am licensed
Benefit - My program meets a variety of health and safety standards that will ensure the safety of your child.
Feature - I'm on the food program
Benefit - I serve home-made nutritious meals made with fresh fruits and vegetables and made from ingredients versus commercially made food.  My meals meet quality standards that will help your child grow. 
See the difference?  Many times parents know to look for a licensed facility or a facility that participates in the food program but they don't know why it's important.  When you tell parents about the good things about your daycare make sure to focus on how your daycare benefits them and their child.

Marketing to prospective clients

The three most important contact times you have with a potential client are:
  • When they first call you on the phone
  • When they first see your home
  • When they first enter your home for an interview
Sometimes ... okay many times ... when you get a phone call you are busy doing something with the children, it's a fact of child care.  Most times we're so busy during the day that we can't answer the phone but we don't want to miss out on that potential client.  Have a recorded message ready to greet potential clients so that they know they have called the right place.  Make sure that your greeting leaves a positive, professional impression on the caller.  Make sure that you sound clear, positive and energetic.  Smile when you are recording your message and this will help make you sound more friendly and cheerful.  When you are done ask a friend or family member to listen to your greeting and give you feedback.  Here's an example:
"Hello and thank you for calling [daycare name].  I am unable to answer your call at the moment but if you leave your name, your phone number and your child care needs I'll be more than happy to return your call as soon as possible.  Thank you and have a wonderful day!"

How to Handle Phone Calls from Prospective Clients

When you first get that initial call make sure to answer your phone in a business like manner "Hello, [daycare name].  This is [your name]." or "This is [your name], [daycare name].  How can I help you?"  Answering in a professional manner will help set the tone for how you conduct your business.  Smile during the conversation and you will sound more cheerful and upbeat.  It works! Try it!
The first thing you will want to do is to determine the needs of the caller to see if you can meet their child care needs.  Find out the specifics of both the parent and child.  Ask for the child's age and schedule of care that is needed and also the number of children.  Ask about the parent's work/school schedule and make a mental note of whether their schedule matches exactly to that of the child's schedule.  Many times parents don't think about it and will give you their work schedule hours when you ask for the child's child care hours needed so make sure that you are clear about what their needs are.  For example if the parent works Monday through Friday from 8:00 am to 5:00 pm those will not be the hours of care that they will need, they will probably need care from 7:30 am to 5:30 pm and your quote can then reflect those hours.
Once you have determined the caller's child care needs you should describe the benefits of your program briefly and invite the caller to visit your program.  The trick to this is to assume that they are already coming.  "So that's a little bit about my program.  I'd really like to have you come by for a tour and for more information.  I'm free all this week after 5:30 pm.  What day works best for you?"  I found that this approach gets me more scheduled interviews than when I don't use it. 
Phone Tips:
  • Answer the phone with a business, not a personal, greeting.
  • If other people in your home answer the phone discuss with them how you would like for them to answer the phone.
  • Smile!  You will sound friendlier.
  • If you tell the caller that you will call them back give them a realistic time and stick to it.  Not calling back when you say you will makes you seem unreliable.

Marketing Ideas

Here are some other things you can do/make to help market your daycare:
  • Child care flyers
  • Photo album/scrapbook to show to potential clients
  • Enrollment packet
  • Improve your education in early childhood and display your credentials (get a degree in child development, take workshops/training and display your certificates of completion on a wall or in a binder etc.)
  • Get a business name.
  • Create newsletters.  Include projects and craft ideas with photos of completed projects and mail/email them to friends, family and potential clients that have children.
  • Birthday and holiday cards
  • Write notes to the parents about their child's progress regularly
  • Review and update your contract and policies
  • Take video of activities or events at your program and send it to clients or post on website/Facebook (with permission of course).
  • Give yearly evaluations forms to your clients to complete
  • Make door hangers and distribute them in your neighborhood
  • Have keepsakes made and pass them out (fridge magnets, key chains, pens, calendars)
  • Have large car magnets made with your business information
  • Have a welcome mat made with your business logo or name
  • Create t-shirts for yourself and the children with your daycare name, tag line, logo and telephone number on them.  Use them when you go to the park and other field trips.
Low-cost promotions:
  • Business Cards
  • Create a letterhead using a word processing program and use the letterhead any time that you send out notices or letters.
  • Choose a tag line for your business and use it when you advertise (Little Tree Daycare - Growing Healthy Children).
  • Create a business logo
  • Add a signature with your business information to your emails.
  • Create a website.
  • Offer inventive coupons for new sign-ups and referrals.

Surface Washing Procedures


To remove dirt, dust and general grossness from surfaces (tables, highchairs, counters etc.) spray the surface with a soap-water solution and then wipe it dry with a disposable paper towel.  If you decide to use a cloth instead make sure it's used only once then washed before you use it again, this prevents contamination and the spread of germs.


To sanitize eating and food preparation surfaces, follow the steps above then follow it with spraying the surface with a bleach/water solution.  Wait at least 2 minutes before wiping dry with a disposable towel or allow it to air dry.  The solution needs to stay on the surface for at least 2 minutes in order to kill the germs.  Do not spray it and immediately wipe it dry. 
Make a fresh batch of bleach solution every day. 
  • 1 tablespoon of bleach in 1 quart of water -OR-
  • 1/4 cup of bleach in 1 gallon of water


  • DO NOT mix bleach with any other cleaner as it could be extremely toxic.  For example, combining the bleach in the bleach/water solution and the ammonia in a glass cleaner can create a toxic yet undetectable gas which is poisonous.
  • Sponges shouldn't be used for cleaning because they absorb germs deep into itself which makes it extremely difficult to get rid of them.  Using a sponge on another surface then spreads these germs.  It is more hygienic to use one-time-use materials like paper towels.
  • If cloths are used then a separate cloth is required for each table, tray, surface etc. and washed before using them again.  They cannot simply be soaked in a bleach/water solution before being used again.
  • Food should not be placed directly onto a surface because the food has a larger chance of being contaminated versus placing it onto a reusable or disposable plate.
  • If food is placed onto highchair trays directly without using a plate then the trays must be washed and sanitized after each use just as you would a plate or food utensil.
  • Sanitizing solution must not be used while children are present and can come in contact with the solution.

Handwashing Procedure

In my last post I mentioned proper hand washing procedure but I didn't think to delve to deep into it.  This time I'm going to go through each step of how to properly wash your hands.
Step 1
Turn on the water and moisten your hands with water and get some liquid soap.
Step 2
Rub your hands together for 20 seconds.
Step 3
Rinse your hands while rubbing your hands together until all of the soap has been washed off.
Step 4
Dry your hands with a clean, disposable paper towel or air dry them with a blower (if cloth towels are used they are only good for one use and must be washed after each use).
Step 5
Turn the faucet off using a clean paper towel and throw the paper towel into a hands-free trash can.
*Turning the faucet on and leaving the water running throughout the entire hand washing procedure is a recommendation of "Caring for our Children: The national Safety Performance Standards for Out-of-Home-Care", American Academy of Pediatrics, American Public Health Association, National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Childcare and the Family Child Care Environment Rating Scale.  The reasoning behind this is for contamination prevention.  I however do not leave the water running for environmental reasons.

Diapering Procedure

I've never worked at a center based daycare so I'm not very sure about what the official diapering procedure is when it came to child care.  I do daycare in my home so I don't have a Director or other staff member to assist with this so I asked a fellow family child care college of mine and she gave me the proper steps of the diapering procedure based on the Family Child Care Environment rating Scale standards.  So here we have it, the "quality" way of diapering.
Step 1
The first thing you do before starting the diaper procedure is to wash your hands using proper hand washing.
Step 2
Next get organized.  This will minimize the chances of contamination.  Get all of the diapering supplies you will need to change the child's diaper and place them near the diapering surface.
  • Wipes.  Take enough out and have enough set aside to wipe the child's bum and to wipe the child's and your hands.  Wet diapers will need 3-4 wipes total, soiled diapers will need more. (wipes must be taken out of the container).
  • A clean diaper.
  • A dab of diaper cream on a paper towel/wax paper if using any.
Other things you can use to further prevent contamination:
  • Extra clothes if the clothes that the child is wearing are soiled.
  • Plastic bag for soiled clothing if you anticipate needing one.
  • Non-porous gloves.
  • Changing table paper to cover the surface from the child's shoulders to feet.
(Except for the changing table paper, place these items near the diapering surface but not directly on it.  For example, if you are using a changing table with a pad on it the items should be placed on the changing table and not directly onto the changing pad.)
Step 3
Put the gloves on and place the child on the diapering surface and remove the child's clothing to have access to the diaper.  If the clothes is soiled place them into the plastic bag.
Remove the diaper and throw it away into a lined, lidded, hands-free trash bin.  Using the wipes clean the child's diaper area from front to back (one wipe per swipe).  You can also simply open the diaper and leave it under the child during the wiping process then, once finished, the wipes can be put inside the soiled diaper and rolled up inside before throwing away.  If wearing gloves you can make a "diaper bomb" by holding the tightly rolled soiled diaper in one hand and with the other gloved hand taking the outside cuff of the first glove and pulling it down and over the diaper.  Then take the soiled diaper in your other hand and pull your other hand completely out of the glove.  With your ungloved hand take the cuff of your gloved hand and pull down and over the diaper in the same way.  You are now holding an encased diaper and can throw that away. 
Step 4
Take a wipe and wipe your hands and throw that wipe away.  Take another wipe and wipe the child's hands and throw that wipe away as well.  Put a clean diaper on and apply diaper cream if needed, throw the paper towel/wax paper away.  Dress the child.
Wash the child's hands in the sink using proper hand washing procedures and then release the child to continue play.
Roll/fold up the changing table paper with the side that the child laid on in the inside and throw it away. 
Step 5
Spray the diaper changing area with a soapy water solution and dry it with a paper towel. 
Disinfect the diaper changing area by spraying the surface with an approved disinfectant.  Let the solution sit for 2 minutes then wipe dry (or allow to air dry).
Wash your hands using proper hand washing procedures.

Probing Questions to Support Concept Development


I took a workshop on supporting children with intentional teaching.  It was a wonderful class and I came away with a lot of useful information.  The focus of the workshop was to give ideas on how to encourage children’s scientific inquiry skills by allowing them to observe, question, seek their own answers to problems, evaluate, develop mental relationships, having conversations about discoveries, developing theories and documentation.

At first it seems like it’s easier said than done but a lot of this can be done through conversation and open ended questions.  Open ended questions have no right or wrong answer.  This way of asking questions stimulates language use, teaches that there are more ways than one way to solve a problem, affirms children's ideas and encourages creative thinking.  Here is a list of open ended questions and responses that will help you support children's concept development.
  • Tell me your idea.
  • What does it look like?
  • Tell me how you did that.
  • What does it feel like?
  • What do you wish would happen?
  • What can you do next time?
  • What is happening?
  • What can you tell me about it?
  • What's another way you might .....?
  • Which one do you have more of?
  • How do you think you can find out?
  • Is one larger or smaller than another?  Or is it the same?
  • What would it look like if .....?
  • What do you call the things that you are using?
  • What else can you do or use?
  • How are you going to do that?
  • When did you do that before?
  • What will you do next after you finish that?
  • What did you see?
  • How do you know?
  • Why did you decide to use ..... instead of .....?
  • What is it made of?
  • What do you think the problem is?
  • Show me what you could do with it.
  • How did you conclude that?
  • Can you think of another way you can do this?
  • What is the connection between ..... and .....?
  • What do you think you could do next?
  • What is the problem?
  • Why is it a problem?
  • I see that you .....
  • What does this make you think of?
  • I noticed that ..... happened.
  • In what ways are these different?
  • In what ways are they the same?
  • What would happen if .... ?
  • What materials did you use?
  • What do you notice about .....?
  • What might you try instead?
  • How are you going to do that?
  • Tell me about your .....
  • What can you do to fix it?
These open-ended questions can be written on sentence strips and placed high up on a wall or the complete list can be placed on a clipboard and hung somewhere that is easily seen and referenced.  Doing this helped me get used to the questions and gave me ideas to use when working with the children. 

Promoting Your Website

Get The Word Out

So you made a website, great!  And now you're done right?  Not exactly.  You see people aren't going to see your website unless you promote it.  Now that doesn't have to be a hard thing to do, in fact some things you can do are pretty easy.  Here are a few things you can do to promote your website and get it seen by potential clients.  

Business Cards

Always carry your business cards with you and always include your website on your business cards.  You can only put so much information on your business cards and by adding your website address you give people a way to learn more about your daycare.  I always carry a ton of cards with me and here's a little trick that I do.  When I'm anywhere talking to anyone about anything and they ask me for something that I could write down like a recipe, an address, someone else's phone number, you name it, I write it on the back of my card. 
I can be talking to a stranger at the supermarket and they can ask me about where I got my son's awesome mustache pacifier (really, it happened) and they will get my card with ...
"Mustache pacifier


 ... written on the back of it.  Hand your cards to EVERYONE.  


I know a lot of providers that shy away from using Craigslist for one reason or another.  For me Craigslist has been the best source for traffic to my website and calls from potential clients so I advocate it.  Yes it has its' issues but if you create an ad that looks well, stands out and is interesting you can lead a lot of interest to your website which can translate to new clients.

I order to maximize your Craigslist make sure to create an ad under the appropriate area which is the Community Section in Childcare.  I suggest against placing ads in other areas such as the For Sale area for Baby & Kid and Toys & Games.  I understand the logic the providers have when they do this - parents with children are looking at these ads - but I can't tell you enough how annoyed people get when they see ads that aren't categorized correctly, you'll probably get your add flagged.  

Your ad itself should be brief with enough information about your daycare to get parents to want to look at your website.  State your general area (such as the part of town), the openings you're hoping to fill as well as the age of the child(ren) that the opening is for.  Invite parents to call or respond to the ad if they want more information or to schedule an interview and close with a very brief description of your program.  Then add a link that directs parents to your website.  CA providers, don't forget to add your license number. 

Also I add a map showing my closest cross street.  Parents often base their chose on convenience and are looking for child care in a specific area so if you can give them an idea as to where your daycare home is you have a better chance of attracting those clients. 

I personally create a flyer (I used Photoshop but other programs work also) and use HTML to add it to my add.  My flyer is organized, colorful and gives quick bursts of information (I apologize in advance for the lousy screen shot).

Lastly I add photos.  ALWAYS ADD PHOTOS!  I cannot begin to tell you how boring ads are without them and you need to set yourself apart from the other ads.  If you don't feel comfortable using photos of the daycare children you can always use photos where their faces don't show or use photos of your space.  It really helps.

E-mail Signature

What is an e-mail signature?  A signature is a block of text that automatically gets added to the bottom of an e-mail message.  It can be your name, a quote etc.  By creating a signature in your emails you are giving everyone that you communicate through e-mail with a link that takes them right to your website.  

Your signature should have your name, your title, your daycare name, a link to your website, email address and license number (CA FCC is required to add the license number to all advertising).  You can also add your telephone number and address if you wish.  Here's an example:

Marina Valenzuela
Child Care Provider
Helping Hands Childcare, Licensed Family Child Care Home
(805) 555-6860
License #:566123456

The actual process of creating a signature in your e-mail depends on your e-mail provider.  A quick Google search for "how do I add a signature in [AOL, GMAIL, etc.] will direct you with step by step instructions.

Start a Blog

If you've been at this daycare thing for a while then you've probably picked up a good trick here and there so why not share it with other like-minded people and add a link to your website.  Write about your daily life as a family child care provider, if you have awesome administrative skills write about creating contracts and documents, if you have an amazing preschool curriculum share activities with parents and clients alike.  

The traffic from these blogs can create more traffic to your website. 


Some providers create paper newsletters for their clients with updates and other information so why not e-mail them newsletters as well.  E-mailed newsletters have a chance of having a parent forward them to someone else especially if they want to show off what an awesome provider they have. Include recipes or instructions for activities that you did at daycare for parents to try at home and include color photos of the children while they are being done and you're golden.  If the parents have friends or family with children around the same age they may share the newsletters with them. (pictures don't have to include the children's faces and can be of the neck down or of their hands making the activity).  

I use Target Hero which is free and easy to use.  

Submit Your Site to Search Engines

Although most times when you create a website it is automatically added to search listings it can sometimes take months and your ranking in the search results may be very low.  You can manually add your website to search engines which can be a lot faster than waiting for search engines to automatically add you however it can still take as long as four weeks even if you manually add your website.  By manually adding your website and updating it often you can increase your chances of people seeing it in search results.

Google - Google Webmaster Tools for submitting your website manually.  Just copy and paste your website address and type it in the URL box, type the words that appear in the Captcha and hit Submit Request.  

Yahoo!/Bing - Bing Toolbox to submit your site.  Yahoo search is powered by Bing so if you submit your website to Bing's search engine it will automatically add it to Yahoo!'s as well.  Just like Google's, type in your website URL, fill out the Captcha box and hit Submit. 

Remember, no one thing will in itself get you amazing results but combining many strategies together and consistency will.  

How To Advertise Your Daycare


(Editor's Note: I am a member of the Forum and in one thread the topic of marketing your daycare came up. The following was my response to that thread which I decided to post here as well.  The owner of asked if I would allow my response to be used as an article on his site, I of course agreed.  You can find that article here.)
The best way to promote your business is to understand there is not one way that is going to work. You have to use several different means. I network with a lot of child care providers that always ask me how I do so well when the odds are stacked against me. I live in a condo, I have a small patio, I don't have a lot of indoor or outdoor [daycare] space, I don't have as much experience in providing child care in my home as other providers, I have even less experience in licensed child care, I don't have a degree in child development (which many child care provider's in my area now do), I'm young and look even younger so people don't always take me seriously etc. but I have as many clients as I want and still get calls even when I'm not advertising or looking for new clients. The key is to get your name out there as much as you possibly can. Sooner or later the work will be done for you.
Flyers and printed materials are great if you post them in businesses that are somehow related to children (pediatricians, children hairstylists, child dentists etc.) so you can ask them if you can leave your flyer or business cards in their office.  Return the favor and take back some of their business cards and printed material to pass out to the parents. For dentists it works if they give you "goody bags" with toothbrushes that have the dentist's name on them and a business card in the bag. My families love it when I pass the bags out. Gas stations, parks and schools are also great places to post flyers but make sure you check your city ordinances and always make sure to get permission to post them first. Here are more ideas for advertising your daycare.
1) Create ads EVERYWHERE (online) with your contact info and a link to your [website]. There's tons of places online that help you create at least a basic ad for free. Craigslist, eBay classifieds, Sales   Spider, Angie's List,, Yahoo! Classifieds, Yellow Pages, Google Local, iNetGiant, and of course
2) Talk to EVERYBODY about your daycare ALL OF THE TIME. Shamelessly plug your daycare in everyday conversations no matter who you're talking to or where your are. Example: Grocery store and the woman at the check stand comments about something you are purchasing, you say "Oh yeah, I HAD to get that. My daycare kids love it". I've commented about my daycare to the checkers at my grocery store so much that other employees now will walk by me and say "Hi ____, shopping for good stuff for the daycare again I see" and then other people in the aisle now know that I do daycare. Happens all of the time at the dentist, at my doctor's office, at a restaurant, you name it. Even my friends and ex-coworkers regularly promote my daycare and send me referrals (just make sure that you at least send a thank you note to show your appreciation when someone sends you a referral). And be EXCITED and PASSIONATE when talking about your business. Make people feel about your daycare how you feel about it.
3) Post Your Location. I know a lot of [other family child care providers] don't like to post their addresses on their advertising however I just don't think it's business-wise. I added my daycare on Google Maps so that when people Googled "child care" in this area I'd pop up. This generation of parents are younger and use the internet to find businesses in their area including child care so take advantage of that. I had a woman call me last week and I offered to refer her to other providers that I knew that had openings. I gave her names and general areas of the other providers (all within a mile of me) and she said that she had seen them in her   Google search but called me because she immediately knew that my location would work for her. She actually told me that she wished that other [family] daycares would do that because it would make it a lot easier to find a daycare in the area that she needed. And don't stop at Google, add your daycare to Yahoo!   Business listings and other major search engine directories. A basic listing is free but you have to list your address (no PO boxes). If you have a website you can link [your site] to your directory listing too.
4) Have a website. If you don't have one yet, get one. You don't have to get all fancy but make it look organized and clean. You can create one easily and for free if you use sites like or Put a lot of useful information on it like your hours, contact information, information about you, your program and your equipment/toys etc. Whatever the people ask you about most during interviews should be on the website. Put your contract and policies on it so that parents can read them in advance. Update your website frequently. Updating it pushes you up higher in search engine searches, if you don't update it regularly search engines like Google will put you lower in search listings because they want people to find websites with the most relevant and up to date information as possible. Make the information stuff that people want to read. You can even make a section for parents only where they can view photos, see a calendar etc. The more people that view your website the higher the listing you get in search engines.

5) Submit your website URL to Google, Yahoo!, Bing, Ucanto, Self Promote, Addpro, Free Site Submission, Quick Register etc. Otherwise it can take FOREVER for your website to be added to the search listings or you can be placed really low on the list.
6) Offer incentives to your current clients. Give them $50-$100 off of a weeks' tuition if they refer someone that signs up and stays for at least 4 weeks. Give your clients a reason to want to refer you to others that will benefit them.
7) Meet and network with other [family child care] providers near you and stay in touch about what openings they have. Offer to refer clients to them if you get a call for a child that you can't take and vice versa. For example if you have an opening for an infant but don't offer SA care and another provider doesn't do infant care but offers SA care you could refer clients to each other.

All in all this is just some of the things that you can do to promote your business, there are tons of other ways to do it but like I said, it's a combination of things that really works and not just one thing alone!