By John Silveira

Issue #117 • May/June, 2009

Sabrina Anderson, the wife of Dave Anderson (see Dave Anderson: Fishing guide on page 56 of this issue), has found her own way to create a paying job in a small town. She runs a child care service out of her home.

Sabrina got into child care because the woman who was taking care of her two children was moving away and she asked Sabrina if she’d like to take over the business.

Dave and Sabrina Anderson with king salmon
Dave and Sabrina Anderson
with a king salmon

Sabrina thought it would be a great thing to do until her kids, who were two and four-years-old at the time, were in school full-time. She says, “I liked it right away. It allowed me to stay home with my own children, and make some extra money at the same time.” Nearly 15 years later, her business is still ongoing.

For those who would like to get into the business, she points out that child care is not a get-rich-quick career. It’s hard work both physically (keeping up with the kids, being the cook, the maid, the diaper changer, the shoulder they cry on, the lap they sit in, and the one who totes them around) and mentally (you have to deal with different child behaviors). And since she and her husband are both self-employed, they must provide for their own retirements and health insurance. Also, to take time off, she must find a substitute who has the same qualifications as she.

But if you love children and want to have a positive role in helping to raise them and participate in helping them reach their full potentials, child care is a very rewarding career. She also likes that she and Dave can make their own schedules. She adds, “A single mother could survive on the income I make, but I’m fortunate in that both me and my husband have our own businesses.”

“Before you start,” she adds, “look into the requirements where you live. They’ll vary from state to state.”

Here in Oregon there are three levels of child care:

Exempt is if you have three or fewer children in your care. You can do it without registering with the state.

Registered is when you have from four to ten children in your care. There are fees, biannual home inspections with follow-up visits in the in-between years, criminal background checks for anyone 18 or older living in the home who will have contact with the children, square-footage requirements per child both indoors and outdoors, activities you must provide for the kids, and safety, nutrition, and cleanliness requirements. You must also complete eight hours of training every two years.

Certified is up to 16 children. (Sabrina is certified to care for 15 children.) In Oregon you must meet all registered requirements, plus have annual inspections and a sanitation inspection similar to a restaurant’s. You must also know basic CPR and first-aid, have a food handlers’s card, and have taken two hours of child abuse and neglect training. You also must complete 15 hours of other training per year.

There are grants available for child care providers to buy equipment, though the grants are not always easy to find, especially in small towns. The source of the grants can be the state, the county, the town you’re in, or even philanthropic foundations. In some areas, there are even startup grants to help you get established. You have to look for them. To be eligible for some grants, Sabrina must carry a one million dollar liability insurance policy that costs her $700 a year to cover injuries to the children, plus another $30 to cover herself.

Getting business is another matter. Most of hers comes by way of word-of-mouth, but she does do a little advertising in the local newspaper and with fliers at the supermarkets and the grade school. “Reputation is a big factor in this business, especially in a small town,” she says. “A large number of the children in my care stay with me an average of 3-5 years, which says a lot.” She was open only five days a week, but recently added weekends to her schedule since no one else in town offered weekend child care.

Sabrina also has hobbies that occasionally provide a little income. She works as a DJ and singer for karaoke night at a local bar and grill and occasionally DJs weddings.

She is also an actress (unpaid) in the local theater and has performed in 10 plays in the last three years.

Contact Sabrina Anderson: david-sabrina[at]


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