In these turbulent times we must provide every resource for our childcare centers to help root them in strong business practices, quality of care practices and resources that aspires all of us, and practical resources and cost savings opportunities that are transformational and sustainable.
Percentage turnover for Private-pay centers, 0-5
Often small businesses, childcare providers face the same operating needs as other organizations but are frequently struggling to find the resources to put towards basic business functions. They are juggling recruiting and enrolling children, bookkeeping, building maintenance, human resources, and IT while meeting quality standards for education and care. Childcare providers are not singularly affected, with reverberations of a childcare system being spread too thin, felt by children, families, and the community at large.
During the COVID-19 outbreak in 2020, childcare centers in New Jersey not “solely” serving essential workers impacted by the pandemic, were forced to shut their doors due to a statewide executive order. Many centers did not have the staff to remain open and therefore, shut their doors. More than ever, the struggle for staff in childcare centers during the pandemic are an ongoing hurdle. Childcare centers that remained open during the executive order facilitated the function for New Jersey’s healthcare workers, law enforcement personnel, and other essential businesses to remain open.
When providers in Morris County, New Jersey, were facing operating challenges, Child & Family Resources (CFR) realized there was a solution to meet the needs of their childcare community. They knew a collaborative opportunity was needed, uniting key stakeholders, including childcare providers, business leaders and employers, in an effort to revive their struggling childcare system. CFR began offering their website and social media channels to childcare centers in need of staff, to post job available openings. CFR also began offering the Child Development Associate (CDA) program virtually during the pandemic. Earning the CDA Credential has many advantages, including motivating caregivers toward continuing education and providing a platform for professional and career opportunities.
Through these efforts, and in partnership with New Jersey Department of Human Services’ (DHS) Division of Family Development (DFD), the Morris County Early Childhood Educators Shared Services Alliance was solidified, allowing providers to pool resources to support a community of practice for support in business management. Increasing the quality offered in childcare centers is essential for the development of quality programs. Grow NJ Kids is a state-sponsored initiative created to raise the quality of childcare and early learning throughout New Jersey, which CFR has integrated into every facet of their business.
Child & Family Resources
Morris County Chamber of Commerce
New Jersey Department of Human Services’ (DHS)
Division of Family Development (DFD)
Strengthening Families Initiative
Nonprofit and Community Based Organizations
Quality Assurance Providers
Workgroup Collaborations and Committees
Meaningful and substantive changes take time and flexibility. During transformational changes, such as adjusting to automatic billing, Childcare Centers are facing unknown territory. Thus, it’s crucial to navigate Shared Services Alliance initiatives with flexibility, assessing the structure of projects routinely, and adjusting as needed.
CFR has created and supported an organic support network for the Shared Service Alliance members through facilitation and collaboration, as well as professional development provided for specific identified needs. As each community has their own challenges, varying demographics, and identified needs, so do the childcare facilities that operate within these communities.
Raising awareness for programs needed within the community or programs currently operating within the community is part of the consumer education CFR provides. Connecting childcare centers through programs like the Strengthening Families Initiative is one specific example.
Partnering with the New Jersey Department of Human Services’ (DHS) Division of Family Development (DFD), Strengthening Families (SF) works closely with Child Care Resource and Referral (CCR&R) Agencies to conduct trainings that build on the SF approach in childcare centers and family childcare providers, throughout the state.
Turnover for Childcare Providers Serving Kids Ages 3-5
Average hourly wage for childcare centers with high turnover
Percentage of Black educators working in low-wage centers
Is This a Repeatable Model?
It has already been repeated. Across the country, communities have created Shared Services Alliances to strengthen their early childhood education programs and support their local workforce. Childcare providers, many of whom are small business owners, are able to offset the financial burden of numerous administrative tasks through centralizing operations in collaboration with other centers.
Business leaders in communities with Shared Services Alliances are afforded a distinct opportunity to lend
a helping hand to childcare providers. They can play a critical role by:
Investing in the Development of Shared Services Alliances
Providing or Funding a Space to Establish Alliance Operations
Contributing Time, Office Supplies, Furniture, Services, or Expertise
Connecting with Business Allies and Informing Them About the Importance of Supporting Childcare
What Are the Program Results?
For childcare providers in Morris County, access to the Alliance has been instrumental in providing high-quality childcare. By implementing childcare management software programs, providers are seeing an increase in both time and cost savings, valuable resources that are re-invested into their businesses. This outcome is especially valuable for childcare centers operating in low-income neighborhoods, where increased revenues allow for business growth once unattainable.
Additionally, through the support and resources provided the Alliance, childcare facilities in Morris County are able to provide high-quality services and gain recognition by Grow NJ Kids, New Jersey’s quality rating improvement system designed to assess childcare programs.