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Daycare Center and Family Home Forum>Your Thoughts About 3 Former Director's Remarks
Mike Lassiter 05:16 AM 06-24-2011
Frances and I completed orientation yesterday on our endeavor to start a new center in our local area in the country.
We were referred to ***X for some additional help / information. When we met 3 ladies there and began talking; come to find out all 3 were ex directors of child care centers. None of them expressed any interest in EVER going back to that. We ended up getting about 2-1/2 hours with first 3 then 2 with 1 staying from beginning till we left. Second lady came back and talked some more as we were finishing with the one who was very honest with us. She expressed about long hours and her daughter being at the center with her. 12+ hours being common. She remarked that her child had those same long days too. Pressure to make ratios work, constant problems with turn over with care givers, contant problems with parents wanting nanny care from a center. We had a very good talk. Very frank and honest answers and remarks. I ask they all if any of the 3 would work for us after explaining what our vision was. Not unless that's the only way I can support my family!
One was with church ran center, one with a large charitable organization and one a corporate center. What does it mean when the pressure of making increasingly harder job is running those out of the profession? These women knew there stuff. I talked with 2 enough to know one of them was exactly right for me, the other I think would have been equally good fit, but she was somewhat more reserved or cautious in speaking. I think at first they both felt I was going to think badly of them for being honest with us. I thanked them several times for being so honest and sharing their concerns and experiences. How can we hope to find people like them with experience, damn good judgement and common sense who want to work for a start up. I want someone that is exactly like the one woman. She burnt out I think will the long hours and job pressures and the job stealing her family life away for those who worked for her and those they served.
Please share your thoughts and experience!
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Kaddidle Care 05:42 AM 06-24-2011
OK thinking out loud here...

I would suggest you hire 2 directors and have them split the hours. It will be tricky to get 2 that will work together well but it just might get you that one gal that you would like so badly.

I am confused about your post though - were these interviews?
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MyAngels 05:46 AM 06-24-2011
I have not worked in a center in over a quarter century , but those were the same problems faced even then. Reading these boards will tell you the basic problems of child care management have not really changed.

It will be your job to come up with a plan to help manage and alleviate those problems, and then to convince a director to have faith in your plan.
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Mike Lassiter 05:49 AM 06-24-2011
Originally Posted by Kaddidle Care:
OK thinking out loud here...

I would suggest you hire 2 directors and have them split the hours. It will be tricky to get 2 that will work together well but it just might get you that one gal that you would like so badly.

I am confused about your post though - were these interviews?
Gathering information regarding opening a center. We left last day of orientation to where these ladies were gathering information. They told us they all 3 were previous directors. No, we are miles away from opening anything. Looking at buying land and building where we are interested in being located as there is nothing around the area besides in home care by individuals. One school close with over 600 and another with about 400 elementary and pre k and kindergarten kids.
This was just a very good oppurtunity to pick the brains of 3 at once.
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Cat Herder 07:04 AM 06-24-2011
What they told you pretty much sums up what I experienced as well.

I am glad they told you the truth so you know what you are really getting into and maybe be able to avoid a few pit falls.
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Mike Lassiter 07:13 AM 06-24-2011
Originally Posted by Catherder:
What they told you pretty much sums up what I experienced as well.

I am glad they told you the truth so you know what you are really getting into and maybe be able to avoid a few pit falls.
Yea, we may avoid pursuing this any further all together. Having a vision doesn't mean you can make something work like you want if it cannot be financially viable.
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Cat Herder 07:35 AM 06-24-2011
Originally Posted by Mike Lassiter:
Yea, we may avoid pursuing this any further all together. Having a vision doesn't mean you can make something work like you want if it cannot be financially viable.

I truly believe it can be. I have seen it.

IMHO, the difference between being a miserable director of a childcare center and being one who loves it is having the owners onsite everyday. Even better if the owner IS the director.

Something changes in the dynamic of a program when the decision makers see the children's and providers faces every day.

It is much easier to make the right decisions when you have all the information at hand. I hope that makes sense?

Also, when parents feel a kinship with the owner, they have less need for all the expensive "window dressing" that many large centers seem to "need".

Who cares if you have monster trucks and hot air balloons out front if the kids can't have seconds at lunch when they are hungry? YKWIM?
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Country Kids 09:34 AM 06-24-2011
I think its awesome that these ladies were sooooo honest with you and that you took what they said to heart. Have you and your wife talked to any other owners of child care centers and heard what they have to say about it and also are they the directors of the centers? Also, the one director was talking about her child being at the center for all those hours, do you have children and are they going to be tied down to the center also? I think as an owner/director it would be so hard to do that and have a family. You are basically on call all the time and I can see the need to even be available for questions while on vacations. I think it is wonderful you and your wife have this vision but please make sure you are on the same page about everything with it. There was another post this week about a husband and wife having a disagreement on taking July 4th off. Believe you me, these are real arguments with daycare couples. My husband and I have had more disagreements over the childcare than probably any other thing in our marriage. So maybe talk to others in the center business and see what their true feelings are and then see if it is something you and your wife still want to do!
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cheerfuldom 09:50 AM 06-24-2011
I think if you are serious about keeping high quality staff then you need to be able to take care of these people. That means paying them a great wage with benefits if at all possible, sticking by hours required (meaning they are not stuck there all day when a parent doesn't show up or whatever), backing them up in disputes with parents and kids (don't get sucked into tolerated every behavior because you want to keep the income coming), providing ongoing training and lots of communications. Help your staff get attached to the you and to their job and coworkers. All that takes a lot of work and sadly, many directors and owners would rather replace staff and do what it takes to maintain experienced teachers. I heard that the average daycare staff makes it 6 months in a center before leaving. That means with a kid that is there until kinder, they go through about 10 providers. WAY too much turmoil for the kids as well as the other staff and of course the parents too.
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Sugar Magnolia 11:41 AM 06-24-2011
Mike, I haven't read the other replies, but I am a current director and would love to share my experience. My husband and I own and operate a SMALL center, we only have 15 kids maximum. We are here 100 percent of the time. We have a PT staffer also. Please consider the advantages of such an operation. You don't need a huge expensive property, you need very little additional staff, parents LOVE our small group size, and best of all, its our business. We gross $120k a year and net around $85k. It worked VERY well for us. Yes, we are here 50 a week, and some weekends too. We work our butts off, but honestly, couldn't be happier. PM me if you want specifics or more info on how we made it happen.
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Sugar Magnolia 11:46 AM 06-24-2011
Oh and I think Mike deserves HUGE PROPS for being a man and involved in child care! C'mon ladies, show him so love! Way to go MIKE!!!
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Mike Lassiter 07:21 PM 06-24-2011
Originally Posted by Sugar Magnolia:
Oh and I think Mike deserves HUGE PROPS for being a man and involved in child care! C'mon ladies, show him so love! Way to go MIKE!!!
Thank You - but don't brag on me too much just yet.
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Mike Lassiter 08:34 PM 06-24-2011
Originally Posted by cheerfuldom:
I think if you are serious about keeping high quality staff then you need to be able to take care of these people. That means paying them a great wage with benefits if at all possible, sticking by hours required (meaning they are not stuck there all day when a parent doesn't show up or whatever), backing them up in disputes with parents and kids (don't get sucked into tolerated every behavior because you want to keep the income coming), providing ongoing training and lots of communications. Help your staff get attached to the you and to their job and coworkers. All that takes a lot of work and sadly, many directors and owners would rather replace staff and do what it takes to maintain experienced teachers. I heard that the average daycare staff makes it 6 months in a center before leaving. That means with a kid that is there until kinder, they go through about 10 providers. WAY too much turmoil for the kids as well as the other staff and of course the parents too.
Now I can see what I am typing

I will share some of my thoughts and vision for what we have looked into doing with you all. Most of you are already in the trenches doing what we are looking into. Now, I nor Frances can be the director at least for a while. Frances has been at her job I think 33 years, and says she would like to stay another 7 years - (till she is 60). I on the other hand resigned from Waste Management as the Maintenance Supervisor 2/4/11 having been there since 2/23/2003 and being the Supervisor for just over 4 years. My job typically was 10 to 16 hours everyday. I worked on salary, so the bosses didn't mind working me like a mule. I had men working until 2:30 AM and 1 man starting every morning at 4:30 AM, so there was typically only 2 hours in 24 hours there wasn't a mechanic working in the shop. Guess who was the first contact for EVERYTHING?
The power goes out and the alarm system goes off - guess who gets called all hours of the night by the alarm company? Problem with a truck that HAS to run early in the morning - guess who gets called at 12:30 - 2:30 AM at least once every week, sometimes multiple times every night? My boss turned his phone "off" so he couldn't be called on Nextel radio (part of phone) and if you call him you get to leave a voice message. Hey - he's got ole Lassiter fielding all the calls so everything should filter through me first right?
I was expected to be AVAILABLE 24 hours everyday. Week days or weekends didn't make any difference. Work 16 hours and go home and get into bed about 1:30 AM and JUST get to sleep only to get radio call from shop "Hey, Mikie - you awake?"

I was damn good at my job. It took me 3 months to find ANY JOB after quitting, and it took them about that long to replace me. I understand the first man that replaced me worked about 7 hours and quit. I have shared all of that so you can understand something about my feelings about how employees ought to be treated. Good employees are hard to find and a true asset to be treasured. I know this because my ex boss told me one day; "our employees are our greatest asset. We need to be patient and diligent with them." The way I was treated it seems this did not apply to me.

Here's my thoughts on what I would like to do, and some background information gathered.

1. 1 licensed family provider about 2 miles from my home. Nobody else around for miles. We have the largest elementary school in the county with over 600 kids (pre k, K and 1-8 grades) and the school my grandkids attend that is the same as previous with about 400 kids attending. Both school are within a few miles of where we would like to locate, on the main highway. We are in the country with most of the child care available located in town or out other directions from us.
2. My oldest daughter has 4 kids of her own and keeps little sisters 3 year old daughter. Oldest is approaching 30 and tells me many of her classmates in the area are just now starting families or still having more kids. She says she can't even go to the toilet without "someone stuck up my butt". Has to take all the kids to DR., shopping or whatever. Her husband is over the road truck driver so she is pretty much single parent 24/7. I got to thinking about the child care and talked to her about it, this could be good for her and us too, and maybe her trying to be the director. She worked in High School for woman that has the largest center in our county, and awhile after graduating school. I ask her if she would try to talk to her about opening a daycare, and as yet she hasn't She seemed to be eager to be involved in this initially, but seems indifferent now. I have pressed on without her, not sure if she will be apart of whatever unfolds or not.
3. My last job needed me, yet everybody seemed to take pleasure in trying to make me feel like I never did enough. Many, many times I fixed trucks that NO ONE else could. How do I know this? Because you walk into the shop at 7:30 AM and there one sits in the shop and the manager says, "I need you to see what you can figure out on unit so & so". The lone mechanic on duty is sweeping the floor because he don't know where to start. But he will come and watch me work on it. I take great pride in what I do, and want my best efforts to show. I am extremely picky and require MY best, and expect the same of others. This was why I became supervisor in 4 years over people who had been there up to 20 years already. With these things noted, I would like very much to be able to find those exceptional people and not work them till they burn out and quit. I know how I felt (and still do) about being treated as disposable.
4. I'd like to try to have a center and hope it could support 100 kids, maybe more. Frances draws up when I talk about this. We spoke to a young lady at orientation yesterday who is assistant director at a center in the next largest city from us that can have 99 kids with 80 attending. Her brother is director at another one they operate that has 200 kids attending.
I'd like to look about being open for a 2nd shift possibly a 3rd. The young lady yesterday says her brother's center does this till midnight, and "full up" on 2nd shift with 30 kids there till midnight. Local factory makes everyone rotate shifts, so you have to work a week on each shift in turn. I realize other people work 2nd - 3rd shifts so thinking there could be need here to be met.
5. I also ask about "sick care" when at first day of orientation. Registered Nurse required among other things. Possibly someone(s) who is retired that would still like to work some to stay active would be interested if this would be worth the cost and trouble. I know there are more issues regarding this, but wouldn't a parent consider paying a bit extra to have their child be able to stay in infirmary and they can stay at work?
6. Would like to offer a room that parents could have outgrown clothing and other baby needs placed for consignment sale to other parents that use the center. Like a gift shop in the hospital, but possible it could be of interest and profitable if a %10-%20 sell fee could be collected for someone to oversee the items.
7. would like to have a room like a corporate training room or conference room where classes could be offered by qualified people for new parents maybe, or different things related to child care or issues. This I think could be a good resource for all parents, and I think it would set us apart from other providers.
8. I would like to have a covered roof extend behind the building that would make a covered area for kids to play when it was raining, or very hot and sunny that would give them a area out of the sun or rain and mud they could play that otherwise they would be stuck inside.
9. Would like to have a extended area in the front like hotels have where parents could drive up and get kids loaded/unloaded that would allow them to be out of the rain, sun, snow. I personally think many of the women would like this very much if it kept them from getting drenched in the rain trying to get kids in/out of vehicle.
10. would like to hire exceptional employees and provide them with better pay and benefits than they could get else where. We would be a family and everyone would take their jobs as important and meaningful and appreciated. This is beginning to look difficult with the rates that I have had mentioned for the area.

OK, I will stop here because there is more, but getting too long and hope you don't loss interest in reading this and nobody responds. All of these thing will cost money, that parents will have to pay for in child care fees.

Do people really want quality care, or cheap care? I get they want cheap quality care. I am not sure how much of what I think above would be valued enough that people would support us by paying more to have more.
I don't want to be another childcare place, I want to be "the place" the one that would set the standard of excellence with a quality of people and offerings that no others could match.

Thats the vision.....
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Unregistered 08:48 PM 06-24-2011
Now add a science based curriculum (see sid the science kid's school), drop in and a dinner club for date night...recognize that you need space for a garden and save a few trees on your building site. Look into the Reggio curriculum. Consider web cams. Hook up with the local early childhood programs for staff. You'll need three directors for 100 kids, I think, plus on site owners at least 1/2 time.

I'll come work for you.
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Country Kids 11:21 PM 06-24-2011
That all sounds great but seriously how realilistic would it be? I think you would have to charge so much that it would turn people off becasue it would be unaffordable or you would get the very rich and they would be probably very difficult to work with (very picky is what comes to mind). We have really one center in our town besides the YMCA and they charge for full time infants $700.00 a month. There is another gal who charges for full time care $650 a month and then drop in care is $7.00 an hour with a thirty dollar minimum. Our minimum wage is $8.00 an hour so both places are unrealistic and we have the highest unemployment in our state in our county. I think people want good quality care for their child but it comes down to money. You have to be realistic in that part of it-what are people in your area seriously able to pay.

I'm no spring chicken myself but does your wife really want to tackle a big project like this after working at another job for her entire career life especially when those are the retirement age. Do both of you want to be tied down to another job-your last one sounded like you lived there. Is that what you really want even if you are the boss?

Your entire family would have to be seriously on board because alot of people would be depending on the center. I think maybe talking to people in the commmunity, different companies, etc. and see what is really needed for child care and what people would be able to pay would be an excellent place to start. Then you could see if it would be worth going forward with your plans.

Good luck in this endeavor. My husbands company that he worked for for 17 years shut down this year. I know that its not easy having to start over.
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Mike Lassiter 04:23 AM 06-25-2011
I stopped before finishing my wish list however cameras in ever room was one of them. Land we are looking at is about 8 acres I think and yes there are trees and PLENTY of room for gardens and such.
"How realistic would it be?"
I think the question is how much can be done to start and plan to have it all at some time in the future. Not 10 years down the road but much sooner, maybe 3-5 years. Everybody crawls before they walk. As to rates I have heard $120 week in town at center. Ads in local paper from unlicensed home provider for $65 week in the same general area.
We aren't exactly looking at this as something to be tied to 10+ hours a day ourselfs. I have many thoughts but much is unproven or speculation on my part.
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kidkair 11:43 AM 06-25-2011
One step in your plan should be to find another owner for this place. Maybe write up a bit of an explanation of your dream and send it to all the home care providers in the area. One of them may be willing to help you follow your dream. It'll give you an extra person to solidify your dream with. Also contact a building company and draw up some building plans. You'll need lots of space for 100+ kids. You'll also need workers and you may get a feel for that by sending out info to all the providers. Definitely look into what kind of set up and curriculum you want to run. Someone mentioned Reggio but you should also look into Montessori and Waldorf which are on the same line but have differences. You'll not only need the building, garden, and play yard set up but all the rooms set up too. You need to decide how many kids will be in each room and what ages will be dedicated to how many rooms. It would be nice to have a year's worth of material and curriculum outlined before opening so that those you hire have a plan day by day rather than just jumping in and having to try and figure out what to do with 10 kids they've never met before. I would also suggest that when getting new kids that could go in say 3 different classrooms talk to the providers in those rooms to help decided the best fit. There are lots and lots you need to think through and have written out in a plan. Good luck. What you have so far sounds a lot like my original plan before I decided it would be too much work and opened my little daycare instead.
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mrsking14 02:34 PM 06-25-2011
I've worked for many childcare centers in my area over the last 6 years. Although I've never been a director, I have filled in for them and helped in the office many times. I worked for one center who really had it together where as my latest center I was at for 4 years was terrible. They really did work people to death and were so incredibly unorganized. I agree with what's said above about having 2 directors (you really do need 2 for a large center) and having them split hours. The center Im referring to would have their directors share schedules every other day. One would come in at 6 and one would come in at 9. The 9am would close the center. They took turns with this and still got their hours without being overworked! I thought it was great. Being a director is TONS of work. Yes you have to be good at scheduling, and crunching numbers for ratios, and figuring out what to do when a staff member doesn't come to work, ect. But that's a given in childcare. Period. I plan to some day open my own large center (many years from now), so I can imagine its a scary thing to walk into with tons of uncertainty. Find someone with lots of experience in large centers. Then maybe hire an assistant director who doesn't but qualifies, and let her be trained under the the other director so they can be on the same page and work well together. That makes a ton of difference. Good luck!!!!
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tulip1969 06:01 AM 06-26-2011
I am a former director of a daycare center and I will tell you EVERYTHING these ladies say is true. The overhead is crazy and the owner of my center made NOTHING for herself until 4 years after opening. Her husband had a good job himself so she was able to make ends meet. We had workers constantly calling in sick and our ratios were off because of it. If you get inspected during one of those days it is a HUGE violation. It turned out to be a low paying stressful job and I will never do it again and never own a center. I now run a home daycare with 5 kids, make my own hours, and make $1000.00 per week. I write off everything I buy, part of my mortgage, electric, water, and heat and have never been happier. If you plan on opening a center know what you are getting into.
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Mike Lassiter 08:38 AM 06-27-2011
The vision is fading. We were talking yesterday and for every thought or idea I offered there is an argument and why it won't work or what new problem(s) that will create.
Finally, I told Frances it's easy to find something to criticize about someone elses ideas when you don't offer any ideas yourself. No solutions, just more problems or reasons it will not work. I finally told her she could think about what she wanted to do and come up with ideas of her own. I was done getting everything I said picked apart.
It's one thing to not agree, it's another to offer NO ideas and fault everyone someone else presents.
I expect we are done with this. We'll see.
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Pammie 08:46 AM 06-27-2011
Just a thought -

If you're considering that a large number of the families that you hope to serve work at the factory on rotating shifts, have you thought about approaching the factory to open a daycare facility there? You would still be an independent business owner, and you could take clients that didn't work there. The factory would be able to offer an amazing benefit to their employees of on-site daycare, and it might be easier logistically than building a free-standing facility?

Again, just a thought.
Good luck in whatever you decide to do.
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Sugar Magnolia 04:59 PM 06-27-2011
I like Pammie's idea...if the factory has otherwise unused space...its a win/win situation for them, great benefit and they would have added income for charging you rent.

Or go small. Like we did
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Cat Herder 05:20 PM 06-27-2011
Originally Posted by Mike Lassiter:
The vision is fading. We were talking yesterday and for every thought or idea I offered there is an argument and why it won't work or what new problem(s) that will create.
Finally, I told Frances it's easy to find something to criticize about someone elses ideas when you don't offer any ideas yourself. No solutions, just more problems or reasons it will not work. I finally told her she could think about what she wanted to do and come up with ideas of her own. I was done getting everything I said picked apart.
It's one thing to not agree, it's another to offer NO ideas and fault everyone someone else presents.
I expect we are done with this. We'll see.
Oh, Mike, I am sorry to hear that. I know it can be overwhelming and cause you to snap at one another out of frustration.

Have you guys tried putting down the things that are "Most Important" to each of you on paper, independant of one another. Then each make another list of things you would "Like" to have?

Maybe with each others lists in hand and a little give and take you guys can find something that works???

That is how my DH and I started looking to buy a house. If he had his way the groceries would have to be airlifted in . My vision included a neighborhood park, sidewalks and tennis courts . We did a lot of compromising and came out with the perfect setup for our family.

I bet you guys can do it, too, for your business..
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Unregistered 06:10 PM 06-27-2011
Look for investors, a great set of directors, and do a national job search to see who is willing to relocate. Offer a housing benefit for the right leader. Look at the business plan for kids r kids.

Also - decide this - do you want to be a part of the happy childhood of the young members of your community in your retirement or go play golf?

I am thinking plus land, you are looking at a very large investment. There may well be a good national market for such a facility in fact, should you ever decide to move on.
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Tags:niche market, open a daycare, provider - burnout risk, subsidy
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