Are you passionate about providing quality childcare services to families in Illinois? Starting a daycare can be a fulfilling and profitable business venture. However, it requires careful planning, research, and preparation. This article will guide you through the essential steps to start your dream daycare in Illinois today.

Start Your Dream Daycare in Illinois Today: Step-by-Step Guide

Step 1: Research and Planning

Before starting your daycare, you need to conduct thorough research and planning to ensure its success. Some of the crucial things to consider during this stage include:

  1. Market research: Identify your target market and assess the demand for daycare services in your area. Look for gaps in the market and competitive advantages that you can leverage to attract customers.

    • Conduct surveys, focus groups or interviews with potential customers to understand their needs, preferences, and expectations.
    • Analyze your competition, their pricing strategies, services, and marketing tactics.
  2. Legal and regulatory requirements: Understand the legal and regulatory requirements for starting and operating a daycare in Illinois.

    • Get familiar with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services’ licensing requirements, including staff qualifications, training, and facility standards.
    • Obtain necessary permits and licenses from local and state authorities.
  3. Business plan: Develop a comprehensive business plan that outlines your mission, goals, vision, target market, services, marketing and advertising strategies, pricing, and financial projections.

    • Seek advice and support from business development centers, mentors, or consultants.

Step 2: Financing Your Daycare

Starting a daycare can be capital intensive, and you need to have adequate funding to cover the start-up costs, operating expenses, and contingencies. Some of the financing options to consider include:

  1. Personal savings: Use your savings to fund the daycare. This option is ideal if you have enough money set aside for this purpose.

  2. Friends and family: Borrow money from friends or family members who believe in your business idea and are willing to invest in you.

  3. Bank loans: Approach banks or credit unions for a small business loan or line of credit. Ensure that you have a good credit score and a solid business plan to increase your chances of approval.

  4. Grants and subsidies: Consider applying for government grants, subsidies, or tax credits aimed at supporting small businesses.

Step 3: Choosing a Location and Facilities

The location and facilities of your daycare can significantly affect its success. Consider the following factors when selecting a site:

  1. Accessibility: Choose a location that is easily accessible to parents or caregivers. It should be close to schools, residential areas, workplaces, or public transportation.

  2. Zoning: Ensure that the property is zoned for daycare services and complies with the local zoning laws and regulations.

  3. Facilities: Consider the size and layout of the daycare, the number of rooms, safety features, and amenities such as play areas, bathrooms, kitchen, and storage space.

Step 4: Staffing and Training

The success of your daycare depends on the quality of your staff. Hire experienced and qualified caregivers who are passionate about working with children. Some of the things to consider during this stage include:

  1. Staff qualifications: Ensure that your staff meets the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services’ licensing requirements for education, training, and experience.

  2. Background checks: Conduct thorough background checks on all staff members to ensure that they have no criminal records.

  3. Training and development: Provide ongoing training and development programs for your staff to improve their skills, knowledge, and performance.

Step 5: Marketing and Advertising

Marketing and advertising are essential to attract and retain customers for your daycare. Consider the following strategies:

  1. Website: Create a professional and user-friendly website that showcases your services, facilities, testimonials, and contact information.

  2. Social media: Use social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to promote your daycare, engage with customers, and share updates and news.

  3. Print and online ads: Place ads in local newspapers, parenting magazines, and online directories to reach potential customers.

  4. Flyers and brochures: Create eye-catching flyers and brochures that highlight your services, pricing, and unique features. Distribute them in public places, schools, and community centers.


Starting a daycare in Illinois can be a rewarding and lucrative business opportunity. However, it requires careful planning, research, and preparation. By following these step-by-step guidelines, you can start your dream daycare and provide quality childcare services to families in your area. Remember to comply with the legal and regulatory requirements, hire qualified staff, and prioritize the safety and well-being of the children in your care.


Sure, here are three popular FAQs about starting a daycare in Illinois with their respective answers:

What are the licensing requirements for starting a daycare in Illinois?
To start a daycare in Illinois, you need to obtain a license from the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS). The licensing requirements include completing a background check, attending a pre-licensing orientation, and meeting specific health and safety standards. You will also need to have liability insurance, develop policies and procedures for your daycare, and have at least one staff member certified in CPR and First-Aid.

How much does it cost to start a daycare in Illinois?
The cost of starting a daycare in Illinois can vary depending on the size and location of your facility, as well as the services you plan to offer. Some of the expenses you may incur include rent, utilities, equipment, supplies, staff salaries, insurance, and licensing fees. In general, it’s recommended that you have at least six months of operating expenses saved before starting a daycare.

What are the staffing requirements for a daycare in Illinois?
Illinois has specific staffing requirements for daycares based on the age group of the children you serve. For example, for infants up to 15 months, there must be one staff member for every four children. For toddlers aged 15 months to 2 years, the ratio is one staff member for every five children. For children aged 2 to 3 years, the ratio is one staff member for every ten children. Finally, for children aged 3 to 10 years, the ratio is one staff member for every 15 children. Additionally, at least one staff member must be on-site and awake at all times.