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Starting an Adult Day Care
What it Takes to Start an Adult Day Care Agency

Family members of aging and disabled relatives want to use adult day care centers to help them meet other obligations like, working a full-time job, enjoying respite, meeting other familial obligations, and caring for self.

Community-based solutions rapidly evolve as the nation's aging population seeks to find daytime care. Adult day care supports aging and disabled persons to have more independence and be safe.

Starting an Adult Day Care Center

These reasons and more make adult day services a growing industry in the U.S. The National Adult Day Services Association (NADSA) has identified 5,685 day programs operating in the United States in 2014. The growth trend continues from previous censuses of 4,601 in 2010 and 3,407 programs counted in the research by Partners in Caregiving (funded through the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation).

Adult Care in Day Centers
Adult Care in Day Centers

Key Findings in the MetLife Mature Market Study

Adult day service participants are diverse in terms of their age, abilities, and ethnicity. However, the results of the MetLife study suggest that typical adult day care participants are over 65 years old. Most are white females who suffer from hypertension, dementia, or some physical disability.

Due to these circumstances, they often need help with one or more activities of daily living (ADL) and assistance managing their medication regimen.

Other findings revealed during the study include:

  • Nearly 60% of adult day care participants are women
  • 29% of the facilities surveyed have waiting lists
  • 80% of the centers offer memory training
  • 90% of the centers offer participants cognitive stimulation
  • The average daily cost to attend an adult day care center is just under $62
  • There are more than 4,600 adult day services centers across the U.S. - a 35% increase since 2002
  • More than 260,000 participants and family caregivers served - an increase of over 100,000, or 63%, since 2002

Overall the study confirms experts' suspicions that adult day care centers are becoming a staple in many communities across the United States. Aging Americans, the disabled, and their adult family members and caregivers need day centers to stay afloat. They rely on them to manage a number of issues related to senior care.

If these numbers are any indication of what the future has in store, adult day care centers will likely see even greater increases in demand in the coming years.

Opening an Adult Day Care

Step by Step Checklist
Step by Step Checklist

Starting and maintaining an adult day center is not easy.

It's not easy but having a strong passion for the services delivered to impaired and aging adults, and their family caregivers, is what drives people to the business. For them, it's not about the money. It's about providing a safe, independent, and healthy environment for those unable to live alone during the day.

There over 5,000 owners of adult day care centers today, along with useful resources that can help the ones who also want to join the effort and start a day care for adults.

Step 1. Know your local community's need for adult day care

Dig into the latest U.S. Census Data to find out how many adults 65 years of age and older live in the your area. U.S. Census. If the data measures up right and shows many seniors living in the local area, you're sitting on a goal mine for a big need.

Speak with the local office of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging - it's their primary mission to help older persons and persons with disabilities live with dignity and have more choices in their homes and communities for as long as possible. They're connected to all community-based services for the aging and disabled.

Visit adult day centers in your area.

Step 2. Contact Your State Health and Human Services Agency

The Health and Human Services Operating Divisions make programs for all Americans. Whether it's providing millions of children, families, and seniors with access to high-quality health care. HHS Divisions.

Regional Offices that directly serve state and local organizations. The Secretary's Regional Directors ensure the Department maintains close contact with state, local and tribal partners and addresses the needs of communities and individuals served through HHS programs and policies.

Contact your State Association for Adult Day Care.

Step 3: Know the Rules and Regulations in Your State

State regulations for adult day care are different in each state so become familiar with your local and state icensing and certification requirements:

  • Zoning regulations
  • Safety codes

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has compiled a helpful document entitled Regulatory Review of Adult Day Services.

The data, prepared between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Office of Disability, Aging and Long-Term Care Policy (DALTCP) and the Research Triangle Institute, gives you full access to rules and regs, state regulatory profiles, and other key findings.

For more information about the data, contact: ASPE Project Officers, Gavin Kennedy and Emily Rosenoff, at HHS/ASPE/DALTCP, Room 424E, H.H. Humphrey Building, 200 Independence Avenue, S.W., Washington, D.C. 20201.

Contact the Project Officers through email at: Gavin.Kennedy@hhs.gov or Emily.Rosenoff@hhs.gov.

Step 4: Get State by State information on adult day centers, state licensing, regulations and funding.

State-By-State Information

Rules, regulations and resources vary by state. Become familiar with local and statewide licensing/certification requirements, zoning regulations and safety codes.

Step 5: Learn more about Adult Day Care

A good place to start is the National Association of Adult Day Care.

CDC's National Center for Health Statistics - Long-term care providers

Met Life Study.

CARF accreditation signals a service provider's commitment to continually improving services, encouraging feedback, and serving the community.

Community-based Adult Day Care

The need for community-based adult care services increase in each state.

For those interested in serving their community, an adult day care center is a perfect opportunity. Unlike child care, offering care to elderly or disabled adults may seem easier to manage. However, there are different obstacles for each type of service.

Depending on your state, adult day care can be delivered in the home. Every state and sometimes even cities, have different regulations regarding how many participants allowed in a private home at one time.

Follow the steps above for best guidance. Other considerations:

  • Write the business plan
  • Apply for a grant
  • Apply for a license, if the state requires one
  • Buy insurance
  • Hire staff
  • Train staff
  • Develop and plan activities
  • Obtain license for commercial vehicle, if you offer transportation

Networking is one of the most important factors in building a successfulbusiness. Make sure to canvas your area for networking groups and join a local adult day care association.

Contact local nursing homes, assisted living facilities, social services personnel and even local para transit companies to find out what your community's needs are so that you will be providing needed services.

Carol Marak
Carol Marak

After seven years of helping her aging parents, Carol Marak has become a dedicated senior care writer. Since 2007, she has been doing the research to find answers to common concerns: housing, aging and health, staying safe and independent, and planning long-term.