I would like to start a homeschool support or enrichment group. I have a large home on 1/2 acre that is perfectly suited for a co-op or school type gathering place for homeschoolers and unschoolers. I would like to offer all inclusive art, drama, stretching and balance, cooking, gardening classes and help with school work. Hours would be Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.to 5 p.m. with children able to come and leave at their own schedule.
I would like to offer part time or full time based on the families needs. I would like to charge a monthly fee of around $200/month per child and less for part time. Could you please tell me if this is legal and if there is a cap on the number of children I could have in my home? If my idea sound like it is covered in your book I would be happy to buy it, I am not sure if this is a co-op?
Would I need to file anything or get a license or could I just advertise and start. Any help you could give would be great because I can’t seem to find any info on my particular idea, and I would love to use your services if they could apply to my situation
Heather M in California
You have a pretty neat idea!
What you need to decide is if you’re going to run this as a business with you as owner (since you are using your property) or if you want it to set up a nonprofit organization (a homeschool co-op). No one “owns” the co-op; you may help lead it with others and you can offer (or rent) your space to the organization.
Your specific questions on the maximum number of children and licensing are California specific and I cannot answer them. And they probably apply more to for-profit school/daycare than a nonprofit association (i.e a gathering of moms and kids).
In my opinion, if the parents stay on the premises and help out, you have a co-op and fewer regulations because you are a gathering of moms and kids and not a “school.” And my book, Homeschool Co-ops: How to Start Them, Run Them and Not Burn Out would be extremely helpful.
My advice is to start small and learn as you go. For example, start with one or two classes, one day a week, but not Monday-Friday, 8 am-5 pm. Make the full time operation your goal after a year or two. After a year of running your program, you’ll know if you should get licensed, operate as nonprofit or for-profit business.
Carol Topp, CPA