Our past several posts have explored church design elements for children’s spaces that are used only for church activities. Many churches, however, want to offer preschool and daycare in their church building as well. There are some different considerations when adding these options that church leaders should know about. First, here’s how space and business requirements should factor into the church design for daycare and preschool spaces.

Childcare/Daycare vs. Preschool

How do these options differ? Childcare, or daycare, is designed to accommodate children of all ages and usually operates year-round. In contrast, preschools typically focus on early educational programs for children during the school year. In either case, these programs will have different or additional space requirements and regulations than simple church activity spaces.

Space Regulations

The requirements for childcare and preschool facilities will vary by state, so be sure to check your local laws. Generally, states mandate between 30 to 35 square feet per child, which is more than what is typically required for general church activities. There will also be standards for how many children can be supervised by each teacher. For instance, certain states may require one teacher for every five infants aged 0 to 12 months, while for older children, such as those in kindergarten through 11 years old, the ratio might be one teacher for every 18 children. Other ratios will apply to additional age groups, and all will play an important role in the church design, as well as in the business plan for the daycare or preschool facility.

Importance of a Business Plan

A well-thought-out business plan will account for these space and teacher ratio calculations to ensure that the program maximizes revenue. If, for example, there’s only room for 16 children in a classroom, but regulations allow up to 18 children per teacher, as the last example outlines, the income from those two extra kids won’t be realized. Not only won’t the program earn at its maximum potential, but it also may not be able to offer competitive salaries to teachers and staff that other area churches and daycare providers that maximize their space can. The result could be a failing program over the long run.

Additional Considerations: Playgrounds and Restrooms

Another element of church design for daycare and preschool is the need for outdoor playgrounds. These should obviously be safe, preferably fenced, and provide at least 50 to 60 square feet per child depending on local regulations. Additionally, adequate restroom facilities will be required, typically one fixture per ten children, to meet health and safety standards.

In our next post, we will delve into building codes and other regulatory considerations that further distinguish daycare and preschool spaces from regular church areas. Meanwhile, to learn more about the church building process, we invite you to attend our free i3 webinars. Each one covers a different church design topic. A complete list and sign-up are available on our website.