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250   Learning Together with Young Children DOUBLE TAB TO ZOOM ON PHONE OR TABLET Child Care Business Structure—A New Model Sound Child Care Solutions— A Consortium of Centers, Better Together www.soundchildcare.org or www.seattleconsortium.org Running a child care center requires two completely different skill sets: It is a business, and has to keep the doors open, but it’s also an intimate partner in the important work of educating children. It’s often difficult for a child care center to be excellent in both arenas. Imagine an organization where these two functions are smoothly interwoven and of equal priority. Imagine a community of teacher-learners where children come first, their families are important, and children from all economic backgrounds have an opportunity to participate in a wonderful learning environment. Imagine a non- profit where the use of technology and cutting-edge business tools frees funds to continue improving the quality of early learning. Sound Child Care Solutions (SCCS) creates a structure whereby strong child care centers can join together, sharing office or administrative functions to streamline and strengthen business practice, but retaining their community and family identity. We see an opportunity to make a generational leap in service delivery. Usually centers are small businesses, unable to gain advantages of economies of scale, but comfortable for families with their accessible size. By uniting across centers and combining the most cutting-edge tools to support early childhood education and small business, we free resources to improve teacher and director practice and serve more low income children. The goal of Sound Child Care Solutions is to create a consortium structure whereby centers can gain: • The economic strength of being a part of a larger organization, enabling the merged centers greater opportunity to weather economic and enrollment ebbs and flows • Financial discounts that come from economies of scale in business functions like payroll, benefits management, banking, janitorial, food services, and purchasing • Higher quality early childhood education (ECE) that comes with a more stable financial and organizational structure and a comprehensive approach to professional development • Technology tools to streamline business and help teachers individualize teaching Centers joining the consortium have a commitment to high quality ECE, culturally relevant antibias practices, and some stable source of funding in addition to tuition, such as employer subsidies, public funding, or free or reduced rent. Centers choose to join us, retaining their name, their unique community identity, and their board. Center staff become SCCS employees, center boards become center advisory boards, and center directors become SCCS corporate officers. Each center director leads education at his or her center while sharing in the consortium’s major operational and financial decisions. All funds are pooled and managed as one entity. Staff and center directors work together to strengthen all centers in SCCS administratively and programmatically. Ongoing professional development, career pathways, and supports like a substitute pool strengthen centers, ensuring stability and consistency for children and families, and a respectful, healthy work environment for teachers and directors. Effective use of technology improves quality and helps teachers best individualize teaching. COPYRIGHTED MATERIAL