Many churches are looking to expand their children’s ministry to include daycare and preschool programs. It may seem an easy leap to turn children church space into facilities for daycare and preschool, but different state requirements have to be considered. In this post, we want to clearly outline these differences so that, if you’re looking to include child care or preschool in your church remodel or new building project, you won’t find yourself limited by the decisions you’ve made.
Moving Beyond Code Requirements
All building codes must be met when childcare or preschool programs are offered. We’ve discussed aspects of building code requirements in a prior blog post. Be aware that these codes cover everything from the number of bathroom fixtures to whether you must have classroom doors that lead directly outside the building. So, if your church remodel plan includes turning an old basement into a child care space for children less than 3 years old, it is not a practical proposition.
Expanding Your Church Children’s Spaces to Accommodate Child Care
In addition to code requirements, states have specific ratios for how many children you can have for each adult caregiver. For example, with newborns from 0-12 months, some states say you must have one teacher for every five kids. As children grow, that number increases. So, for example, if you want to have a preschool program with children ages 30 months-3 years, the ratio is one teacher for every eight children. With 4-5-year-old children, you can have one teacher for every 14 kids.
These ratios are important when it comes to budgeting. Say you have an existing Sunday church children’s space that you want to use for 4-5-year-old daycare during the week. One teacher on Sunday might be able to handle18 kids, but the state regulations say you must add a second teacher if you’re going to have 18 kids for child care. This means you need to budget paying two teachers instead of one for the daycare in that room.
Room size is another factor. If you’re designing a new church building or wing from scratch, it’s easy to make sure the classrooms are sized correctly—either for 14 kids and one teacher, or more than 14 with two teachers. But if you’re planning a church remodel, you might find that you’re limited in the number of children you can have in your preschool or daycare program because of available classroom sizes.
Thinking Beyond the Classrooms Themselves
There are other spaces you will need to consider if you’re looking to run a daycare or preschool. Most states require 50-60 square feet of outdoor playground area for these programs. This doesn’t mean 50-60 square feet per child enrolled, but rather 50-60 square feet per child on the playground at the same time. Elementary schools stagger recess times for different classes, and you certainly can too!
Another thing to keep in mind is that child care and preschool programs are rated by the various special programs that they offer. If you want your program to receive a higher rating, consider adding a special art room or computer lab to your church children’s spaces in your church remodel or new building design.
As you can see, there’s a lot to consider if you’re looking to incorporate daycare and preschool programs into your church children’s spaces. The best way to learn more about these spaces and other types of church remodel or new building projects is through our free i3 webinar series. Sign up today.