Apr 30

According to the Centers for Disease Control, childhood obesity has more than tripled since 1970.  In fact, the prevalence for children between the ages of 6 and 11 has gone from 6.5% to 19.6% in 2008.  Those statistics are startling and provide a somber look at just how much we’ve come to rely upon refined sugars and convenience foods.

But there’s more to it than just a few extra pounds our children are carrying.  The physical and psychological tolls can be devastating and affect a child into his adulthood.  Everything from cardiovascular disease to diabetes to sleep apnea has been associated with childhood obesity.  So what can you, as a child care provider, do to offset these potential problems?  While it may seem as though any efforts on your part, in your capacity as a provider, would be offset by a child’s unhealthy lifestyle, you might be surprised to learn that those little things will actually stick with a child as he grows older.  This is one reason it’s so important to encourage physical activity and to stress the benefits of choosing an apple over a cookie.  Often, many children don’t have access at home to healthier food choices, such as fruit and veggies.  And too, kids will often dismiss fresh veggies not because they’ve tried them and really don’t like them, but because it’s just their first reaction.  Making it fun is key.

One way of doing this is by encouraging a child to participate in age appropriate ways.  Many child care centers are allowing little ones to plant small gardens.  Even if it’s just a few strawberry plants and even tomato plants or cucumbers, it gives them a sense of pride in knowing they’re responsible for those yummy strawberries they’re now washing and getting ready to share.  It’s fantastic for everyone, but most importantly, it allows these kids to take the knowledge with them into their adulthood when they’re not only making food decisions for themselves, but for their children too.

You might not be able to eradicate childhood obesity on your own, but you can certainly influence those children who are fortunate enough to have you as their child care providers.  A few small changes is all it takes for potential major changes later on.

Be sure to visit our site, too for more information on how to make your child care center more efficient.

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Apr 26

Adapted from Small Business Articles – by Arthur Chong and Donna McGill – Apr 17, 2010

So your daycare business is finally on stable ground; the foundation is in place and things are running smoothly.  Now what?  It’s not quite time to take a step back and allow it to continue with its own momentum; in fact, a successful small daycare business means you’re constantly updating and tweaking your operations to ensure it remains competitive and that it meets the needs of your community.  Even if you opt to remain small and are quite comfortable in the “peaceful equilibrium”,  you still must define a strategy that allows for consistent improvement.  This will help ensure your business never stagnates, or worse, that you don’t lose customers.  After all, they want only the best daycare options for their children that their money can provide.

Continuous improvement is not a new concept; and in fact, it’s a model small businesses follow to keep them competitive and vibrant, even in down economic times.  The basic idea is to improve your customer’s experience through an ongoing process that encourages change and adaptation as the industry itself moves forward and changes.  Not only that, but your customer profile will likely shift along the way too, and you want to be in the best position to makes those shifts right along with your clientele’s needs.

As a small daycare business, continuous improvement and growth strategies can be approached  in a variety of ways. The key is selecting an approach that complements your strengths and even your weaknesses as a business owner. The strategies listed here focus on simple ways you can improve customer experience, and are “tried and true” approaches to small businesses in general.

Establish Best Practices

-          Consider what the praises (and complaints) parents heap on your services – remember to keep an open mind.

-          Mentally walk through your established procedures and write them down so these can be explained to others (see next suggestion)

Increase customers with existing resources

-          Compliment all-day care with after-school care, or even morning-only care customers

-          Hire a high-school intern who can follow your best practices – it’s a win-win for you, the intern, and the children.

-          Deploy automation to eliminate repetitive tasks (utilize task helpers such as Alpha Cares “auto-invoices” – which eliminate the need to generate weekly invoices manually, or by hand.

Remodel Your Services

-          Package your hours into flexible choices (include modest concessions with higher services, and higher prices)

-          Keep an open mind in your efforts and don’t be afraid to try new methods.

These are just a few best-practice methods that are easy to incorporate but when instituted properly, can mean not only a better position for your small daycare center, but a healthier bottom line, too.

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