EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION START-UP OR EXPANSION GRANTS

Early Childhood Education Start-up or
Expansion Grants

For the start up or expansion of licensed home-based, nonprofit group home or childcare centers

To assist communities to start or expand quality nonprofit early education centers or group homes in Northwest Kansas.  In certain situations, the Hansen Foundation can also work through governmental or qualified non-profit entities to assist in the start-up or sustainability of licensed childcare homes.

Criteria for Hansen Foundation assistance

The Foundation recognizes that it cannot solve this complex issue alone and is willing to partner with communities to explore solutions to this issue if the communities meet the following criteria:

Communities need data on the number of slots available by age for child-care and pre-school children. Information on whether pre-school is offered through the school system. Number of home providers, centers, or group homes, etc.

General data is available from sources such as Childcare Aware, however local residents must be able to independently confirm or ascertain accurate, up-to-date number

Childcare is not immune to the current issues with available labor. Communities should have an idea of the availability of providers/teacher to fill slots if new centers or home daycares are opened.

Local businesses, nonprofit organizations and individual community members must all be part of the conversation and the solution. The Foundation recommends a committee form that includes representation from:

  • Businesses – Businesses cannot operate without employees and employees with young families cannot work without access to early childhood caregivers. 
  • Parents – In order to enter the workforce, parents need options for early childhood education for their children –  options that are reliable, safe, affordable, and operated professionally. 
  • School districts – School districts may stand to benefit the most from the availability of quality early childhood education for its future students. Science has confirmed that age 0-3 are the most critical years for brain development. Children who have had a quality early childhood education enter pre-school or kindergarten ready to learn and require fewer resources such as special or remedial courses once they enter elementary school. School districts also directly benefit from a community that offers a large number of childcare slots because these children are the pipeline that feeds enrollment in that district. Often, the availability of teachers is also directly dependent on the availability of local childcare.
  • Community leaders – Representatives from a variety of community leadership organizations should recognize the value of having quality early childhood education available for both economic and human reasons. Representation from health care, chamber of commerce, city/county government, churches, community foundations and other funders, and civic organizations should all be onboard to discuss solutions to this issue.  Communities simply cannot grow if there are insufficient childcare slots for new and existing families.

Children are the future and our most precious resource. The Foundation believes an important part of solving the early childhood education issues includes paying the teachers and staff that care for and teach these children a livable wage. As such, the Foundation recommends:

  • A major employer – school system, college or tech school, city or county government, hospital, or corporation be willing to put early childhood education workers on their payroll, so that they have access to better wages and benefits such as health insurance and retirement funds. Funding to offset this cost could come from a variety of sources including grants and donations.
  • A commitment to hire qualified staff and to provide support for training.

 

Location and licensing

To start or expand a childcare center or group home requires multiple regulations be considered and met. Communities must be willing to do the necessary legwork, such as:

  • Identifying possible and preferred locations either for construction, renovation, or installation of temporary mobile unit(s);
  • Appointing a committee or individual assigned to spearhead licensing requirements for the potential facility or expansion plan – including working with KDHE and the State Fire Marshall.

 

Local financial support 

Childcare is not a business that can easily cash-flow without assistance. Parents often cannot pay the full cost of providing care at a quality center or group home. The volume of children required for a self-supporting childcare center, with staff earning a living wage, is not possible in many of our smaller rural communities.

The Hansen Foundation is prepared to assist communities solve childcare issues, but financial support must also come from local government, community businesses, foundations, and individuals, if quality childcare is going to be sustainable.

To start or expand a childcare center or group home requires multiple regulations be considered and met. Communities must be willing to do the necessary legwork, such as:

  • Identifying possible and preferred locations either for construction, renovation, or installation of temporary mobile unit(s);
  • Appointing a committee or individual assigned to spearhead licensing requirements for the potential facility or expansion plan – including working with KDHE and the State Fire Marshall.

Childcare is not a business that can easily cash-flow without assistance. Parents often cannot pay the full cost of providing care at a quality center or group home. The volume of children required for a self-supporting childcare center, with staff earning a living wage, is not possible in many of our smaller rural communities.

The Hansen Foundation is prepared to assist communities solve childcare issues, but financial support must also come from local government, community businesses, foundations, and individuals, if quality childcare is going to be sustainable.

Remodeling existing facilities

If a community has an existing facility that is suitable for a childcare center or group home, a grant can be submitted to assist with the cost of remodeling.

Addressing the shortage of suitable facilities

However, the Hansen Foundation recognizes that many of our communities have few, if any, suitable houses or commercial spaces that can be purchased and renovated to provide childcare. Often the facilities that might be available may not pass inspection from the State Fire Marshal or would require such extensive repairs that it becomes an unfeasible option.

In an effort to provide an additional option for such communities, the Foundation recently contracted with McDonald Enterprises, Inc., a local homebuilder in Logan, Kansas, to build four single-family homes. These homes are three-bedroom, two-bath homes, designed to perfectly fit the need for a licensed group home.   

The 1,500 square feet homes being built are designed to be moved to a community that is in need of one or more licensed group homes, and already has a suitable location to place the home. The total cost of each home is approximately $112,000, and it is expected that the cost of moving, constructing a foundation, and providing water, sewer and electrical hookups, will add an additional cost of approximately $28,000.

For communities applying for one of these homes, priority will be given to applicants that can offer the best combination of local cost-share and plan of action as to the ownership, location and sustainable operation of the group home. Priority would be given to a community that could find at least 50% of the total cost through local donations or local financing, such as lease-purchase agreements from local banks to a local school district, city or county government.

Quickly filling the need

The Hansen Foundation can provide assistance for innovative programs to help keep existing home daycare providers open or encourage the opening of new home daycares. Foundation funds would be offered to a partner entity in the community such as a school district or city/county government, who would then manage the grant process. To ensure no private inurement issues arise, the Foundation would not be notified of individual providers by name, but only the number of providers deemed eligible by the partner organization.

Given the very long and expensive process of getting a childcare center licensed, some communities are in the process of creating multiple licensed group homes that can be operated by one provider (such as a school district). The licensing process for a group home is likewise easier and faster, and with multiple group homes being operated by one employer, fewer issues arise when a provider leaves or wants to retire because the facility is already licensed, and it is only a matter of finding another qualified provider.

Many times, there are licensed home providers who would prefer to work outside their own home, and would prefer to care for children in an offsite group home. 

While the Hansen Foundation still believes that licensed childcare centers are the best long-term solution for larger communities, the long list of regulations, stricter ration requirements, cash flow issues and other compliance costs make a center harder to open and operate.  Licensed homes and group homes are the quickest and easiest solution for most small communities. They are generally far more sustainable given that they qualify for better food program reimbursement and have far few regulatory burdens.

Download the Childcare Startup or Expansion Budget Sheet

Download the Sample Group Home Content Budget