Mar 16

Ah, the beauty of Spring! Somehow, those warmer afternoons seem to renew our faith.  We eagerly anticipate the scent of fresh cut grass and that sweet scent of gardenias.  We all have those special things that we look forward to around this time of year.  Our little ones are surely feeling cabin fever by now, too.  While the time of the year is perfect, we do have those spring showers that threaten to keep us at bay during March.  That doesn’t mean there aren’t a lot of fun things to do.  Your child care center doubles as an artist’s retreat year round – and this time of year is nothing short of inspirational, courtesy of Mother Nature.  So set the logistics of running your child care business aside for an afternoon and lead the way for sunshine, fresh air and all the creative talent your little ones are capable of!

While many child care centers opt to not participate in religion-specific holidays due to the different faiths of their families, there are still themes that kids relate to this time of year.  Arts and crafts projects that are colorful and incorporate a myriad of supplies with different textures are a great way to help those left in your charge to use all their senses – touch, scent, taste, etc.   Feathers, cotton and even paper towel tubes make perfect supplies for the little ones to really stretch their creative senses.  They’re great for those rainy days and are a perfect distraction.

For those days when the weather is cooperating, turn the outdoors play area into a shopping mecca.  Hide “groceries” around the playground and encourage the little ones to use their imaginations while “grocery shopping”.  The winner gets to “stock” the grocery store next time.  This is a great way to include all your age groups.

If you began a project of planting bulbs or seeds in the past few months, they may be springing out of the soil.  Kids love to see the results of their work.  Ask Mom and Dad to bring a change of clothes and then dig in – allow children to dig their own special place in a flower bed to transplant their bulbs from the small planter to the bed itself.  Teach them how to nurture their plants and how to water and feed it throughout the season.

Before long, those summer months will be here and then once again, we’ll be waiting for Old Man Winter to make his appearance yet again.  For now, all here at Alpha Cares look forward to you making the best of this incredible time of year.

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Feb 01

You chose child care for a reason: you sincerely love children and have a lot to offer them.  You might have been blessed with the art of patience (and for many of us who lack that graceful ability – we envy you), you have an ability to educate and you work fiercely to protect children.  It’s those new stories in recent weeks of child abuse, neglect and even murder that has your skin crawling and your heart breaking.  Odds are, parents are more than a bit concerned over these horrific displays of human nature and evil.  So how do you reassure them that your child care center is safe and your employees are just as dedicated to protecting children in their care as you?  It’s a tough dilemma, to be sure.  There is a graceful way, however, of approaching the subject that while awkward, can put many of your parents at ease as they leave their most precious in your charge.

Often, it’s not what you say, but what you do.  In fact, it’s those non-verbal cues that parents are looking for.  It’s your responsibility to ensure the bases are covered in your child care business.  If your business hasn’t adopted a mission statement, you might want to consider that.  A mission statement guides the actions of the business and defines the purpose of that business.  In the case of a day care center, that purpose is to provide a safe and nurturing environment for those children trusted to your care. It might also include assurances of your vigilance to hire only those most qualified with no criminal background and ideally, an educational background in child development.  Mission statements are prominently displayed in a company’s reception area or near the entrance and always in plain sight.

Reiterate your position on unannounced visits during the day.  A transparent approach is crucial in a child care center and parents should know you welcome these visits.  It puts their minds at ease and reiterates your dedication and commitment.

Believe it or not, a too-stringent approach might send off red flags.  Any child care center that has rules that are too difficult or too strict is alarming in many ways.  Parents respect structure; however, when a child who was only moments earlier chatting away and singing while in the vehicle with Mom arrives and immediately “falls in” to the rules and becomes silent due to the regulations of the child care center is a bit disturbing.  There is a balance between little ones who come in and put their coats on the hook and those children who come in and prepare for a rigorous structure.  It’s not natural or healthy.

Anytime injuries or death, such as those cases out of Chicago and Kansas in recent weeks, are in the news, we all shudder.  A healthy line of communications between you and the parents who trust you will go a long way in alleviating their fears and concerns.  You know your intentions are good and when parents of those left in your care know it too, it’s a win-win for the children whose well being is the priority of you and their parents.

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Dec 29

As any small business owner can tell you, the availability of grants can sometimes mean the difference between a successful business and one that fades away before it even has the chance to get off the ground.  For child care providers, it’s important to stay current in the latest technology and other advances to ensure you remain competitive in the daycare business sector.  You might be surprised to learn there are grants available that can play a significant role in your child care business.

Obtaining financial assistance doesn’t have to be a difficult process that keeps you from the day to day operations.  Knowing where to look is key.  The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services is a great place to start.  With information on everything from an all-inclusive fundraising director to tutorials designed to help you write an effective grant proposal, this site has it all.  And the best part?  It doesn’t cost you a dime to explore the possibilities.  It even offers publications available for downloading or .pdf versions you can access online without having to download a copy.  Keep reading for some of the best information Alpha Cares found.

The Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance, or CFDA, is a one stop source for all things related to small business owners.  You’re provided information on agencies that stand ready to help smaller daycare centers, including those that operate in a home.

The government’s grants website is another source that’s chock full of information about grants and other funding opportunities many are simply not aware of.  An especially helpful frequently asked questions section sheds even more light on obtaining federal grants.

Looking for ideas for after-school programs?  Visit for information on grants to tips for making your time count with those children you may not see every day until after school.

Finally, if you’ve not yet opened a child care center but are considering it, you owe it to yourself to check out the Starting a Child Care Center e-book.  It is geared towards those interested in opening a child care program in rural areas, but it’s useful for anyone who’s considering an in-home daycare setting.

These are just a few of the many resources available to those in the child care industry.  Check back often as we add to our list of helpful sites and information on grants and other financial sources.

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