(Blooming Prairie, MN August , 2022) :
THE BUSINESS OF CHILDCARE
The opening of the Leo Augusta Children’s Academy has been a journey and it’s not over yet. It took leadership 1 year and 3 months to get the doors open. We are excited that we made it and we can now share our facility with you! We also thought it was important to share what we have learned during this journey.
In April of 2022 the State of Minnesota established the Minnesota Business Vitality Council. The group was established to identify opportunities to support the creation and sustainability of childcare businesses through connections with resources in training, navigation, technical assistance and other supports. This group was charged with finding potential recommendations, including consideration of support for community level business partnership along with governance and funding opportunities to support and sustain the childcare business. I can safely make the statement as a working mother myself that while I knew there was a lack of childcare the system is worse than I thought. We have a broken childcare system and we are seeing the realities of it within our communities. Today in Minnesota there are 35,000 children needing adequate childcare so their working parents can do just that, go to work. Within Blooming Prairie and an additional 20-mile radius there are 884 children in need of childcare.
Individuals in our community and surrounding area that are over that stage of life of finding care for their children may find themselves asking, why should I care? It’s a good question but I think there are better arguments to suggest why you should.
The market failures in childcare affect the ability of employers in other industries to recruit workers. Current studies indicate there is a clear linkage between lack of access to childcare and challenges with recruiting and retaining employees. Research by the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis shows a gendered element to this trend. While male and female workers left the workforce in similar proportions at the start of the pandemic, by November 2020 male workers were more likely to have returned to near pre-pandemic employment rates while female workers with children under 18 were much less likely to have returned to work. We’ve all seen it in our own jobs. How many times have you had to fill in for somebody at work or pick up their job and yours because they had to stay home because they didn’t have childcare that day?
Have you heard of the phrase the Great Resignation? This phrase was coined in 2021 when 20.2 million workers left their employers from May through September. No wonder we are all working and then some to fill in the gap. Imagine if we could bring some of those working mothers back into the workforce by providing them and their family childcare options. A national survey of 2,500 working parents found 20% of working parents had to leave work or reduce work solely due to the lack of childcare. Only 30% of working parents had a form of childcare back up. Another fun fact – on average parents lose 5% of their work week to childcare problems.
A recent report from Wells Fargo estimates of mothers with young children to match that of a women with school-age children would mean approximately one million additional participants in the workforce. As part of the working class we are all stakeholders in ensuring our co-workers and neighbors have adequate childcare so we can bring some of those folks back to work to help us cover the workload.
Amy Hinzmann, Board Chair of Leo Augusta Children’s Academy
WHAT’S HAPPENING AT LEO AUGUSTA CHILDREN’S ACADEMY
It used to be that being different wasn’t necessarily the best thing or held in the highest regard. At times, being different could even be perceived as negative. At the Leo Augusta Children’s Academy, we hope to change that idea. At the Academy, we are different, and we are excited about what different looks like here. Webster’s dictionary defines different as “not the same as another or each other; unlike in nature, form, or quality; distinct, or separate.” In this message, I will briefly share with you how the Academy is different as it relates to our childcare-education center.
Care and Programming-Quality care for children is the norm at the Academy. At Leo Augusta, we focus on small classes and group sizes that allow us to meet the individual needs of each child. We expect positive teacher and child interactions and have trained our staff on what that looks like. Our children experience warm and responsive interactions with our team members. At the Academy, we promote a language-rich environment and age-appropriate curricula, and stimulating programming in a safe, physical environment. Our curriculum is the leader in early childhood education and our teachers have received training on its implementation and use. For the children at the Academy, they feel accepted for who they are, while engaging in fun, interesting, and stimulating educational activities. The physical setting at the Academy is engaging and developmentally appropriate with materials and activities that promote independence and exploration. The toys, games, activities, books, and resources all support learning and children at different stages of their development.
Professional, Educated, and Experienced Team Members-The workforce is one of the most critical components of quality in an early childhood program. All staff needs to have a foundational knowledge of child development and be able to create and lead those activities that promote learning at various ages and stages. At the Academy, our teachers have formal education and training, and experience in early childhood education. We have trained our staff on the items required for licensure and will continue to provide professional development as it relates to early childhood education. Currently, all staff is part of a cohort focusing on Managing Challenging Behaviors in Early Childhood Education provided by the Center for Early Education and Development at the University of Minnesota. At Leo Augusta, we value our staff and their education and experience, and the compensation provided to them reflects the importance of their work and the expertise necessary to care for and educate our greatest resource, our children.
Experienced Leadership-At the Leo Augusta Children’s Academy, our Board members provide a wide range of experience and expertise in childcare but also provide business management, human resource, and solid budgetary practices to our non-profit organization. Their input regarding enrollment, financial, and personnel policies is greatly valued. The personal experiences that each member brings to their position allow each of them to focus on providing the best care and education to our children. At Leo Augusta, our leadership is skilled in organizational management and relationship building in addition to fostering relationships with our families and our community. Each of these attributes will create an atmosphere where we will minimize teacher turnover, increase our program efficiency, and allow our staff to focus on our children. At the Leo Augusta Children’s Academy, we are different! We are not like other childcare centers. We are “distinct and separate” in the care and education that we can provide to children. Come visit us and celebrate our differentness with us!
Doug Anderson, Director, Leo Augusta Children’s Academy
Please contact the Team Leaders below if you have any questions!
Doug Anderson, Director: firstname.lastname@example.org
Daysha Zilm, Assistant Director: email@example.com