When we look at who owns most of the child development centers or home-based child care in our region, we see the vast majority are small ‘mom and pop’ businesses. These centers are limited in space, which also limits the number of children they can support within specific age groups. These limitations also come with financial barriers to producing long-term stability.
Whether a business owner is serving a dozen children in a licensed program at home, or 40 children in an child care facility, they face the same ongoing battle with cash flow, ability to plan curriculum, and staff stability. Without a sound, strategic business model, many of these programs will not be around to serve children for the full five, consistent years they need leading up to kindergarten—much less create a high-quality educational experience.
Let’s look at two major must-haves for any successful industry: financial stability and talent
And of course, these two issues are highly interrelated. A recent article from The Opportunity Exchange, "Viewing Compensation through a Shared Services Lens," explains that increases in compensation for directors and other caregivers should focus on increased wages as well as benefits, and improved working conditions (based on a June 2021 NAEYC brief, "Compensation Matters Most").
Unfortunately, most early childhood programs just cannot afford to offer more than they already have. What keeps these child care directors and owners up at night (and throughout the weekend!) is trying to handle paperwork and finances. Fear of closure is a constant companion. After all, most people who open a child care program are either educators or simply someone with a big heart for children. They typically lack a business background, and even if they do have business experience or educaiton, they have limited time to focus on working conditions, hiring practices, or teacher innovation.
Shaping early childhood education as a viable and sustainable industry requires a change in how all stakeholders think about impact and strategies as a global community initiative.
For years, many industries and large corporations have successfully implemented what is known as shared services. Imagine the possibilities when you can scale administrative and other operational tasks so more dollars can be used for teacher wages. What would it mean to have technology that generates business analytics and a myriad of data and collection processes? While the average small child care center could never afford these, shared services can make them a reality.
If you are a child care owner or director, consider how your business would change by joining a shared services alliance with leaders in finance, staffing, training and development. You and your “business partners” would increase your revenue, boost retention, and produce a high-quality education program.
It can be done. How? We need consistent vision between all stakeholders. HRSSA (Hampton Roads Shared Services Alliance) provides the business services that early child care programs need. This means bringing together everyone, including:
Hampton Roads employers
Workforce development entities
Child care centers themselves
The entire community can provide the advocacy and financial support, while HRSSA builds the business model. The recipients of our efforts—the child care centers and the families they serve—will give back to us a priceless return on investment: a stronger workforce and children who start school ready to learn and succeed in life.
Please learn more about the impact of shared services on this industry by visiting Opportunities Exchange (link to https://www.oppex.org/) or viewing our additional blogs and resources on our HRSSA website.