As you know, we are a home based childcare program. Allan and I have been working together from home for the last almost 16 years. We are a licensed group home caring for up to 12 children at any given time. We consider ourselves a play based, child centered program and we are always learning, always questioning, always growing. We have built up a pretty solid reputation. We have clients who have been with us for over a decade, and we take great pride in our business and the long term relationships we hold with our families. We are not a center, we are not a school, and we do not strive to be. We provide care in our home, but we are child care professionals. We do our best to make our space a space for the children, a place where they know they belong, a place they know that they can come to and drive their own learning, curiosity, and whims. A place where it is okay to just be whatever, whoever... A place that supports children's development and recognizes the needs of the whole child.
I still get really frustrated when people think that just because a childcare program is in a home, it isn't a "real" job or a quality program. If you haven't figured it out yet, This is our REAL job, and some days being with children is more real than any experience out there. Just because we choose to operate out of our home does not mean that our program is just "babysitting" or that we don't run a "real" business.
Last week or the week before, Mr Allan took a call from a potential new client. To be honest with you the past month has been a blur so it may have even been a bit longer ago. Part of that conversation still runs through my head, and I'm sure the dad on the other end was not intentionally sending this message, but I want to share part of it with you.
"You have a website?, Aren't you in a home?" Yes. We are in a home, but we are a business and we do have a website. I know his intentions were good, but the utter sense of shock in his voice that we would have a website was discouraging. Yes, we have a website. We have a contract, we have policies and procedures. We are intentional about what we do. Most licensed home providers are. Not everyone has a website, but the majority of licensed providers I know are childcare professionals. It takes a special kind of person, family to open up their home to strangers who become family and to work with children and families over the long haul. Those people, people like us, find their calling in this profession. We often work very long hours and for low profit margins, but we love what we do. We continue to strive to be better than we were before and to do the very best we can for children.
I know it may seem petty on my end to be hung up on a comment as minor as "You have a website??", but these kinds of minor comments stick with you over time. I can't tell you, because I have lost count, how many times people have asked me what my plan is after the daycare, what I plan to do for my "real job." I haven't heard it as much in more recent years, but for anyone wondering or thinking of asking, childcare is my real job. Additionally, our program isnt "just a home, or surprisingly a home based program" We are a home based childcare. We've never been "just" or "only" anything.
The other piece I want to share with you is, "yes, we put our competitors on our website." I know this may seem shocking to some, as it was to the potential new client the other week, but we don't see fellow childcare providers as our competition. We know that there is a childcare crisis. We know that not every family is going to feel that the climate and culture of our program is the best fit for them. We truly believe as Bev Bos said, "Together We're Better." So if we can't help your family meet your needs, I know that someone out there might be able to. Parenting is hard, finding the right fit for your child and family is important. If we aren't that fit or aren't able to help you, I'm happy to add a simple link on our website to help you find someone who will.