For 2.5 years I was a licensed home daycare provider. This was the hardest job I have ever had. Long hours, lots of germs, kid fights etc. There were good aspects to it(being my own boss, being with my kid, setting up fun environments for the kids, burning calories etc.) which is probably why I stuck with it longer than any of my other jobs.
There is so much that goes into being a home daycare provider. Parents often think that all you are doing is playing with the kids and that it is an easy job. It is not. We as daycare providers are getting the little ones ready for the world. That is not an easy task. We (the good providers) make sure that they are developing in all areas which includes social, cognitive, emotional and physical. This is done by planning developmentally appropriate activities and promoting/modeling good interactions.
There is also the business aspect of having a home daycare that providers have to keep up on. This includes keeping track of payments, updating the parent handbook if need be, making sure family files stay updated, making sure you are keeping up with licensing requirements and more. It is just like running any other type of small business.
The amount you make depends upon the number of children you are caring for and what you charge per child. Where I live you can have up to 12 kids with 10 of those being under 5. This is not true for other states however. The average rates per child vary by location as well. If you estimate the amount of income you make by multiplying the rate by the number of children you can or want to have in your care, you might end up with what looks like a large number. You have to realize though that the number is before you subtract all of the business related expenses. So in other words, you might not be left with that much.
So being a home daycare provider is hard work. If you are a parent with a child or children in a daycare make sure to appreciate all that the provider does for them!