Directing your own family child care business can (and should) be a viable income.
Still, you might wonder if you can make strong earnings regardless of what neighborhood you live in. We know the answer is YES. But good business tools and coaching will help you earn more in less time.
Use Wonderschool’s Child Care Calculator to see what kind of income you can make when you open your own in-home child care.
Our online calculator factors in key financial assumptions for anyone looking to understand basic costs and earning potential.
If you’re ready to start running a financially successful child care business, we can help.
Sign up for our Wonderschool’s Startup Child Care Program – you will have access to our experts who can assist you with licensing, business planning, and a community of new providers to share best practices for child care programs.
How The Online Child Care Calculator Works
Tuition, enrollments, and costs determine how much a family child care director will earn as a take-home income while covering their direct expenses. With differences in cost of living in each city and child care licensing requirements in every state, it might feel hard to estimate how much you can earn.
To help, the Wonderschool team has organized these assumptions.
1. Program Revenue
Your revenue is your tuition multiplied by the number of enrolled students. The more children you enroll the more revenue you make. However, your state licensing requirements will determine the maximum number of children you can enroll.
In many states, you can apply for a license for a small program that allows for 4-8 children or you can apply for a license for a large program that allows for 8-12 children.
When looking at how many children can be in your program, it is important to factor in child-provider ratios. The number of children that one provider can attend to is different in each state.
A small program usually requires only one provider. A larger program will likely require that you hire an assistant.
Start by entering our suggested average pricing for tuition and the number of children that you anticipate enrolling in your program. After that, play around with the tuition rate and enrollments (but do not exceed state limits) to see how your revenue changes.
Typical tuition and enrollment capacity by city:
When you join Wonderschool, our team can help you understand the precise ratio requirements in each state and how to maximize earnings.
a) Gross Business Revenue
Your gross business revenue is how much your business will make before taxes and cost deductions. Before estimating how much gross pay you can earn as a Child Care Director, you will need to deduct expenses related to running your child care program first.
2. Program Expenses
a) Variable Costs
Your variable costs change depending on the number of children in your program. If you choose to serve meals, you may be eligible for food subsidies. This will significantly reduce out-of-pocket expenses for feeding students in your program.
But for now, let’s be conservative and factor in full variable prices for food and learning materials. Below are the typical cost of meals, toys, and learning materials by sample cities.
b) Semi-Variable Costs
Your semi-variable costs are fixed for a set number of children in your program but will increase above the threshold level. For example, if you want or need to add more caregivers as your program grows. If that’s the case, you must adjust costs accordingly.
Below is the average hourly salary a child care teaching assistant earns in sample cities.
Important Notes About Child Care Capacity And Regulations By State
Each state has specific rules and regulations. If you need further help in understanding licensing requirements, consider joining our Wonderschool Start A Child Care Program.
Some general rules of thumb:
- Licensed programs must be approved by each state licensing, fire marshall, and zoning department.
- Some states have small and large licensed programs which can change the capacity maximum and ratio requirements.
- Some states allow a certain number of school-age children (children over 6+ who attend a regular elementary school program) in addition to your current capacity.
- Young children of family child care directors who are at home during operating hours are often counted in the ratio.
- Infant ages vary from state to state. Some consider infants under 18 mos and others under 24 mos.
- Ratios are often higher for infants, so providers may need to charge more to adjust.
C) Fixed Costs
Your fixed costs stay the same regardless of the number of children in your program.
Rent for home-based child care programs is sometimes factored in as a full or partial fixed cost. Typically, we recommend adding ⅓ of rent costs to see your tax deduction.
You can also leave rent blank to find out how much you would earn running your own program compared to other jobs that involve working with children outside of your home.
Wonderschool Business Services
Wonderschool helps new child care providers prepare to open their child care programs.
While we do not charge any upfront fees for our comprehensive 12-week training curriculum, we charge a 10% tuition share fee for the first two years of your program opening.
The fee covers all the administrative support you need to save time and grow your child care business.
3. Your Gross Director Salary
Finally, director gross salary tells you how much your pre-tax earnings as the director or owner of your program can be after all program costs are deducted.
“I used the Wonderschool calculator. It is really a time saver! Before I used it took me so much time to calculate my business expenses and adjust the prices to meet my needs. It is a great tool, and Wonderschool is a great business partner!”
– Nini Diouf, Program Director of Nini’s Jolie Jarden Wonderschool
Get Started with Wonderschool
Are you surprised by how much you can earn by running your own child care business?
To learn more about how Wonderschool helps individuals open their child care business visit and sign up at Wonderschool’s Startup Child Care Program!