Aug 27, 2018

This month Colodny Fass was pleased to organize an important roundtable discussion with the Business & Leadership Institute for Early Learning (BLI), U.S. Representative Lois Frankel (FL-21), childcare providers and community stakeholders.  The topic of discussion was twofold, first to discuss the opening of the BLI’s 5th regional institute to be located in Palm Beach County and second, to explain and share the challenges and socio-economic impact of the child care industry with Congresswoman Frankel.

The first regional Business and Leadership Institute was opened at Nova Southeastern University’s main campus in Davie in 2012.  The Palm Beach BLI, the fifth regional institute, will open in early 2019. 

The BLI and Colodny Fass invited local child care providers, childcare centers and home-based business owners to describe the financial struggles they face in the child care industry with Congresswoman Frankel.  The participants shared their personal stories of how individual childcare centers and home-based businesses were not making a profit and were mostly run and completely staffed by women, who earn not much more than minimum wage for an entire career. 

However, learning the extent to which individual childcare owners were contributing financially to the early childcare and education system was astounding equaling millions of dollars annually by keeping children enrolled with uncollectible fees and undercharging for services due to the inability to establish fees that parents in their district could afford to pay.  Essentially the providers, serving mostly low-income and children in underserved communities, were subsidizing government subsidies!   They were also the first source of support for those parents who were most recently out of work, just coming off poverty tax rolls, or low wage workers who are not eligible for government assistance but cannot possibly cover the cost of childcare out of their pay checks. 

Of equal concern was overarching theme which suggested early childcare centers were not generating enough revenue to allow many owners, even though this is their primary business activity, to take a salary for themselves.  Not drawing a salary for all their years of hard work, they would not be able to contribute towards their Social Security, unemployment benefits or, provide health insurance benefits for themselves or for their employees.  Whether this was due to poor fiscal management, inability to collect fees, low enrollments, inadequate use of real estate, unfavorable lease negotiations or other business challenges, it is indicative of an industry in which the business of being a small business is almost never discussed.

Additionally, the participants expressed the need to get more children into quality educational programs at a younger age, so our state will see a long term measurable benefit.

The direct correlation between quality early learning programs and higher graduation rates is well established,” said Robyn Perlman, CEO of the BLI. “These achievements lead to a well-educated and sustainable workforce. It is imperative that we can remain competitive in the global marketplace. To accomplish this goal, we must recognize the significance of this industry and support it with increased funding and responsible oversight.”

Congresswoman Frankel pledged her commitment to the industry of early learning childcare center and home-based businesses.

“As a working mother, I remember the struggles of finding the proper child care and making sure my son was safe and healthy,” said Rep. Frankel. “Giving our children quality early education is so important, which is why I’ll continue fighting for more federal resources for child care facilities that will help workers, business owners, and of course – the kids.”

Congresswoman Frankel has continually advocated for affordable, quality child care and the need to value caregiving professions through higher wages and better benefits. In Congress, she co-sponsors the Child Care for Working Families Act, which would expand access and improve the quality of care. Nearly 34,000 children are on Florida’s waiting list for child care assistance.

The BLI is a “CEO School” for early learning childcare center and home-based business owners, operators and educators to explore the business of the childcare industry and its ability to provide quality early learning given the current industry climate, the struggle for profitability within socio-economic realities and the independent center and home-based owners’ business acumen.

With the continued support of our representatives like U.S. Congresswoman Frankel, business leaders and stakeholders, the Business and Leadership Institute for Early Learning can make a difference in the lives of our children and our economy.