a fireside chat with new program assistant, richard!
Our summer campfire crackled, spitting embers into the air as if to highlight her points while my sister described the difficulties in finding after-school care for her children. Her sons played catch just out of earshot as she described the lack of programs providing after-school care for them, the long waitlists of the programs that do offer after-school care, and the difficulties of getting a child to a program and returning to work in time to still be useful.
Across the same campfire, my mother’s face glowed in the dynamic light as she described how little money she made as a child care provider. From the time I was born to after I graduated and moved out, my mother provided in-home care for infants to school-aged kids, first in Kalispell, then in Helena. While the light and shadows danced across her face, she talked about the struggle of deciding whether to charge more and provide a better life for her own family, or charge less and improve the quality of life for the children and families she cared for. This conversation showed me how problems can be reconsidered; they can inform one another and even offer solutions. Imagine if a provider could offer standard child care, but also offer after-school care specifically. If regulations allowed a provider to consider the care differently, maybe it could be cheaper to provide. Afterall, you don’t have to feed a school aged child breakfast or lunch, you may not need as stringent of insurance coverage, and older kids require less attention than their younger peers. If providers offered a unique rate for after-school care that differed from all-day care, they may attract more clients than they would otherwise. At the same time, more care would be offered to families without them paying for a whole day’s slot, but rather for just the time they need. Perhaps they don’t have to make a s’more when all they need is a marshmallow.
Addressing the need for after-school care could not only increase the availability of care for families, but it could also present an opportunity for providers to diversify their revenue streams and embrace a financially healthier business. That is why Zero to Five Montana has been working with partners on changing the regulations around classification of care. We work with partners such as the Montana After School Alliance to bolster care across the state, including after-school care.
Not all providers offer after-school care. If you’re one of them and are also trying to increase revenue without raising rates, it might be a legitimate option.
For more ideas about diversifying revenue, check out this great tool from MCCBC. Take a look at our Tiny Training series for trainings focused on increasing your profits, and utilize this great financial planning tool to keep your new revenue streams organized.
– Richard Heitstuman, Program Assistant