Our community is facing a critical childcare shortage. As local businesses flourish and expand, the availability of childcare slots is rapidly diminishing. It is a stark reality: childcare is not just a family necessity but a cornerstone of economic growth and workforce quality.
In Lake County, with Madison at its heart, the current childcare provisions fall short for its 11,000 residents—6,000 of whom live in Madison alone. The dwindling number of home-based providers, a trend seen across the state, is stunting the growth of industries that operate beyond the typical nine-to-five. Many of these providers, who have dedicated three decades to our community, are now looking towards retirement.
Madison is on the cusp of significant growth, with several businesses poised to create 100 to 200 new jobs soon. A recent survey of major employers revealed a striking consensus: 80% are in favor of establishing a new childcare center to support their employees and their families.
In response to this need, the Lake Area Improvement Corporation (LAIC), in cooperation with Child Care Biz Help (CCBH), have undertaken a comprehensive target modeling and feasibility study. This study evaluates the demand for childcare by estimating the number of potential customers, their specific needs, and preferences, such as the desired proximity to homes or workplaces and the types of services they require.
The study also provides a competitive market analysis, identifying both current and forthcoming childcare centers. This insight is crucial in pinpointing market gaps and understanding the competitive environment. It further contributes to risk management by pinpointing potential hurdles and formulating strategies to overcome them. This strategic approach empowers future childcare operators to make informed decisions about location and other vital business considerations, improving the prospects for the success and longevity of new childcare centers.
A key component of the study is the decision matrix scorecard, which sets benchmarks to identify the optimal scenario for introducing additional childcare partners. The findings of the scorecard show that there is a significant underserved segment of preschool-aged children, with 4.4% of the population, or 352 children under the age of five, not currently accommodated by existing providers.
There is a pressing need to find solutions that will bridge the identified childcare gaps. The proposed actions are:
- Assessing Priorities: Determine which areas and populations are in dire need of childcare services.
- Engaging Stakeholders: Collaborate with community members, local authorities, service providers, and other stakeholders to explore identified gaps and potential solutions.
- Enhancing Capacity: Increase the capacity of existing service providers in high-demand areas, ensuring efficient allocation of additional resources.
- Developing New Services: If required, create new facilities or services in areas lacking sufficient childcare to fill the identified gaps.
The economic challenges presented by childcare are twofold. Firstly, the inflated costs can be a heavy burden for families, particularly those with lower incomes. The expense associated with childcare often prevents parents from fully participating in the workforce or pursuing further education, impacting their earning potential and financial stability.
Secondly, the lack of affordable and accessible childcare is a barrier to workforce participation, especially affecting mothers. The varying quality of childcare services, with higher-quality care often being more costly, can have long-term effects on children's development and future earning potential.
Moreover, insufficient public investment in childcare services can stifle economic growth. Employers need workers, but potential employees may be constrained by the lack of childcare options or affordability, limiting business expansion.
Investing in quality childcare can lead to substantial returns in terms of children’s future educational achievements and earnings, benefiting society at large. Quality early learning programs are crucial for economic development, yet our communities face a childcare crisis.
A childcare center with staff available for various work shifts is essential for the growth of industries like manufacturing, education, healthcare, and entertainment.
Leading the Initiative
The Lake Area Improvement Corporation (LAIC), a non-profit economic development corporation serving Madison and Lake County, acknowledges that childcare is integral to economic development and supports the local workforce by addressing the childcare crisis.
LAIC has taken a targeted approach over the past 24 months, focusing on expanding childcare options one step at a time and recognizing the unique needs of each community. Their first task was to find a suitable location for a licensed childcare center, a complex task due to stringent requirements and the need for operational efficiency. Despite 19 unsuccessful attempts within a year, LAIC is committed to supporting a sustainable business model for childcare.
LAIC's mission is to enhance the quality of life for Lake County residents and support the creation of sustainable jobs. They have developed an innovative solution to the childcare infrastructure challenge by offering a favorable facility lease for a new, efficient childcare center and collaborating with operators during the construction phase.
- Defined the Need: Child Care Biz Help (CCBH) worked with LAIC to survey local businesses which confirmed the community's need for an Early Learning Center (ELC).
- Location: LAIC is finalizing land acquisition for the ELC with local authorities and national services. CCBH substantiated alongside the LAIC that the location was suitable for a thriving ELC.
- Committed Team: Through a request for proposal, spearheaded by CCBH, we were able to secure critical team members that will ensure a successful project (i.e., architect, builder, childcare partner.)
- Local TIF Secured: The City of Madison has approved a Tax Increment Financing District to support the childcare facility.
- Capital Campaign Launch: LAIC is initiating a capital campaign to fund the ELC's construction. CCBH designed the "Building Bright Futures" capital campaign and marketing strategy which includes presentation materials, flyers, donation levels, sponsorship opportunities, city presentations, and the campaign website.
LAIC has formed a childcare committee comprising local business representatives and the Chamber of Commerce, focusing on marketing, finance, and building aspects of the campaign.
Caroline Jens, who co-founded Child Care Biz Help, brings twenty years of expertise as a childcare consultant. She is renowned for her expertise in business development, leadership, web development, internet marketing, and building raving fan cultures. Her goals are in harmony with those of the LAIC, focusing on delivering high-quality childcare solutions that support the needs of the workforce.
EmBe, the Early Learning Center (ELC) operator, is a non-profit organization committed to empowering women and families, with a history of providing quality childcare and family services.
Mills Construction and Arise Design Studio are contributing their expertise in construction and design to support the development of the ELC, reflecting their commitment to enhancing small community living.
LAIC's public-private partnership is a testament to collaborative efforts to improve the community's quality of life. This partnership invites state involvement to support a shared vision for a thriving community.
The City of Madison's support through the TIF District and Lake County's grant of ARPA funds exemplify the commitment to investing in community initiatives that enhance residents' quality of life.
The business community's involvement in the capital campaign and scholarship provision demonstrates their dedication to investing in the community's future and the importance of accessible childcare for a thriving workforce.
LAIC's innovative approach provides EmBe with a state-of-the-art facility, free of charge, shifting traditional operational burdens and fostering a sustainable community development model.
EmBe Partnership: Bringing the Vision to Life
EmBe's partnership has been pivotal, bringing expertise in childcare and education to the ELC project. Their involvement in the design and planning phases ensures the center will be a safe, engaging, and educational environment.
With EmBe's partnership, LAIC is confident that the ELC will set new standards for excellence in the community, impacting the workforce positively for generations to come.
The partnership between LAIC and Child Care Biz Help is more than a collaboration; it is a commitment to future generations. As we break ground on the ELC, we are planting the seeds for a stronger, more resilient community. Join us as we turn this vision into a vibrant reality.
Stay tuned for updates on our progress and learn how you can support this vital project. Together, we can bridge the childcare gap and build a brighter future for all.
Want to Work with Child Care Biz Help?
Are you an educator dreaming of your own childcare center?
A director yearning for autonomy?
Or an entrepreneur sensing the profound opportunity in early childhood education?
The journey to launching a successful childcare center is filled with potential and promise—and it begins with a single, decisive step forward.
Child Care Biz Help is your partner in this transformative venture. We specialize in turning aspirations into realities, guiding passionate professionals like you through every phase of creating a thriving childcare business. From foundational business practices to innovative solutions and leadership development, we provide the tools and expertise to build a legacy that impacts communities and shapes futures.
Do not let another day pass wondering "what if?" Reach out to Child Care Biz Help today and let us embark on this rewarding path together. Your vision for a childcare center that nurtures, educates, and supports families is within reach.
Contact us today to start crafting your legacy in the childcare industry.