A $500,000 grant from the Sam’s Club Giving Program will help fund an innovative program to provide technical assistance to small child care operators in low income communities.
Sam’s Club gave a $500,000 grant to First Children’s Finance (FCF) to provide finance and management assistance to child care businesses in low income communities. The grant will allow FCF to pilot a technical assistance program aiming to improve overall business operations for child care business owners. Almost 90% FCF clients are child care businesses operated by women, which aligns with a key Sam’s Club corporate responsibility goal to support women-owned small businesses.
“When Sam’s Club opened in 1983, the very first member to sign up, Kathy Cronemiller of Midwest City, OK, owned a day care business. Like Kathy, most child care owners come to the industry out of a passion to help children, and then find themselves leading a highly regulated and complex business with razor thin profit margins of 3% to 5%,” said Susan Koehler, senior manager of community involvement with Sam’s. “Sam’s Club is pleased to support First Children’s Finance to give business owners like Kathy the resources, tools and confidence to streamline their operations and provide the best possible child care to their communities.”
The $500,000 grant will enable FCF to help children, families and communities thrive by increasing the availability, affordability and quality of early care and education, according to Sam’s. The grant will help launch four programs in communities across Minnesota and Iowa to help improve business knowledge and skills and improve operations at 24 programs by providing education, technical assistance and resource development. In addition, a total of $250,000 in loans ranging from $14,000 to $25,000 each will be made to 12 child care businesses for compliance and quality improvements which could include hiring workers with early childhood expertise.
“The lack of access to capital and management assistance continues to be a challenge for these women-owned businesses,” said Jerry Cutts, CEO at First Children’s Finance. “We hope to help businesses overcome these challenges by making operations more efficient and integrated, placing a higher focus on measurable business results, and developing a framework that can be easily replicated by other communities.”
The long-term results of the pilot programs will shape strategy for the eventual establishment of the FCF National Child Care Technical Assistance Center, a national program to help states and communities expand and sustain quality child care.