Child Care Business Lab: FAQs

Have questions about the Child Care Business Lab or the application process? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions below:

WHAT IS THE CHILD CARE BUSINESS LAB?

The Child Care Business Lab is a group-based program designed to help people across Maine start child care businesses. Those who join the Child Care Business Lab will be members of a group of people with a similar passion for working with children. Many past participants have found that completing the program with others allows them to learn from each other and share problems and successes.

The program consists of evening workshops, in-person sessions, on-demand online learning sessions, one-on-one meetings with a business advisor and personalized coaching sessions with a child care mentor. Specific date and time requirements will be visible to you in the application and vary depending on your group.

Participants will also be eligible to apply for special start-up child care business loans and we will also keep you updated on grants that become available.

WHAT KIND OF CHILD CARE OPERATION IS THE CHILD CARE BUSINESS LAB DESIGNED TO HELP?

Our 2023 program is open for participants across the state of Maine. The 2023 program will consist of three groups:

  1. Individuals or Groups who are looking to start a child care in their homes. This is the Family Child Care group.
  2. Individuals or Groups looking to start a child care in a location outside of their homes. This is the Facility-Based Child Care group.
  3. Individuals or Groups who are Immigrants and who are actively learning English. We will always meet in person, and we will always talk slowly in English and use printed workbooks. We may have some material available in your language. This is the Lewiston Group.

As you complete the application, you will be automatically directed to a group depending on your answers. Send an email message to childcare@ceimaine.org if you feel the application is assigning you to the wrong group or if you are unsure which group would be the best fit for your child care start-up goals.

Why are there different groups or cohorts? How do I know which group I will be in?

The Child Care Business Lab focuses on a cohort, or group, model so participants can meet other entrepreneurs who can share in their successes and work together through challenges that arise in the process of opening and operating a new child care.

By offering different cohorts, the Child Care Business Lab tailors programming to the specific needs of participants. For example, there are different licensing requirements for opening a child care in a home setting compared to a facility based center. We respect the time of all participants and do not want them to sit through sessions that are not relevant to their businesses.

Additionally, some cohorts are designed for immigrants and/or individuals who are actively learning English. These groups will always meet in person and use printed materials.

If you are concerned about your group placement, please reach out to childcare@ceimaine.org

WHAT ARE THE CRITERIA FOR SELECTION INTO THE CHILD CARE BUSINESS LAB?

Most importantly, we are looking for people who demonstrate passion for and experience with children.

We are looking for people who want a child care business in their apartment or home and are ready to get started, with a preference for those who have achieved the following:

  • Worked in early childhood education or a child care business
  • Overcome obstacles to success and demonstrate a willingness to learn new things
  • Built a strong personal support network

We are also looking for people who have thought about what it takes to run a small business, including those who have one of the following experiences:

  • Establishing and adhering to a personal or household budget
  • Creating or managing a program or business process such as administrative work, customer service or homeschooling
  • Building relationships with diverse groups or populations such as youth-serving organizations, schools, or churches

We are looking for people who will be great employers and agree to the following:

  • Hire people who may not be working and people receiving public benefits
  • Provide quality jobs that pay a living wage and offer benefits, such as paid time off

Note: Background Checks are required by the Department of Health and Human Services for all child care workers.

WHAT IS THE COST FOR THE PROGRAM?

There is no charge to participants for the formal education workshops, the online training sessions or meetings with the business advisors and mentors.

Participants need a laptop or tablet computer plus an internet connection. If you do not have a laptop or tablet computer or an internet connection, please reach out to childcare@ceimaine.org

HOW DO I GET INTO THE PROGRAM?

  1. Click here to complete the application. Submit your application by March 4, 2023. Admissions is on a rolling basis.
  2. Review and sign a Memo of Understanding that you will receive upon acceptance by March 17, 2023.

WHEN IS THE FIRST SESSION AND WHAT CAN I EXPECT?

The first session for participants in the Facility-Based Child Care (outside your home) and Family Child Care (in your home) groups is Saturday, March 25, 2023 at University of Maine in Orono.  We will start our day at 10:00 am with introductions.  Then everyone will make a vision board – a collage of images, pictures and words that describe their child care dream. This will serve as the foundation for the rest of the program. You will learn about Licensing Requirements, Financial Wellness, and Market Research. Participants can expect the first session to end at 4:00 pm.

For participants in the Lewiston Group, the first session will be on Wednesday, March 22 from 4:00 pm – 6:30 pm. This first session will also begin with all participants making a vision board – a collage of images, pictures and words that describe their child care dream. This will serve as the foundation for the rest of the program.

WHAT HAPPENS AFTER THAT FIRST SESSION?

The Family Child Care group will meet every other Tuesday night through mid-June from 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm via Zoom.

The Facility-Based group will meet every other Thursday night through the end of June from 7:00 pm – 9:00 pm via Zoom.

The Lewiston group will meet in-person in Lewiston the first three Wednesdays of each month from 4:00 – 6:30 pm.

ARE THERE ANY OTHER IN-PERSON SESSIONS?

Yes, after the initial session on March 25th, the Family Child Care and Facility-Based Groups will have 2 additional in-person Saturday sessions 1 in the Bangor area and 1 in Lewiston.

On April 29th from 10:00 am until 4:00 pm, participants become certified in First Aid and CPR for both children and adults.  This is required to be licensed as a child care provider.

On May 20th from 10:00 am until 2:00 pm, participants become certified Child Abuse Mandated Reporters. This is required to be licensed as a child care provider.

All sessions for participants in the Lewiston Group will take place in-person.

HOW LONG IS THE PROGRAM?

The workshops are scheduled from the end of March through the end of June.  Many participants will work longer with their business advisors and child care mentors. The goal of the program for participants to open their new child care centers before the start of the school year at the end of August.

 

PARTICIPATING IN WORKSHOPS VIA VIDEO CALL WILL BE DIFFICULT FOR ME PERSONALLY.

Participating in the video and in-person sessions during the program is a requirement for our Family Child Care and Facility-Based groups. If you would prefer to attend all sessions in person, please reach out to childcare@ceimaine.org to determine if our Lewiston based in-person group would be a better fit.

Entrepreneurs starting a business often say they feel isolated, which is why the Child Care Business Lab will consist of groups or groups of ten to fifteen individuals learning how to start a child care business together. The members of the group will have similar goals and aspirations and may also share the same concerns or challenges. By joining the Child Care Business Lab, you will be part of an interactive, engaging community – establishing relationships that may last for decades.  The in-person start-up education and child care management training are what differentiates the Child Care Business Lab from other programs.

I already have plans during the in-person sessions. the scheduled zoom calls don’t work for my schedule. WILL THERE BE ANOTHER SESSION I CAN JOIN IN THE FUTURE?

Send an email message to childcare@ceimaine.org to be notified about future Child Care Business Lab programs.

I DON’T HAVE A LAPTOP OR TABLET. CAN I USE MY PHONE FOR THE WORKSHOPS?

A laptop is not required to participate in our Lewiston group.

Participating in the Family Child Care or Facility-Based Child Care groups will require the use of a laptop. We share detailed screens during the workshops that require a tablet or laptop size screen. In addition, you will be working in Word and Excel provided by the Child Care Business Lab to type your business plan and child care policies.  A laptop or tablet is required to participate in the Family Child Care and Facility-Based groups.

I WOULD LIKE TO FIND A LOW-COST LAPTOP WITH A CAMERA TO USE FOR THE CHILD CARE BUSINESS LAB AND FOR MY NEW BUSINESS. WHERE SHOULD I START?

Low-cost computers with a warranty are available from this Waterville-based nonprofit called give IT get IT to Shop Best Affordable Refurbished Computers / Desktop | give IT get IT

We do not want access to a laptop and/or internet to exclude individuals from participating. If you still need a laptop or tablet, please send an email message to childcare@ceimaine.org.

I AM AN EXISTING CHILD CARE OPERATOR. CAN I APPLY?

The Child Care Business Lab is designed for start-ups. If you are already open and operating a child care service, we would love to hear about what type of support you need. Please send an email message to childcare@ceimaine.org so we can provide guidance and connect you to other resources.

I HEARD THAT THE STATE HAS GRANTS AVAILABLE FOR CHILD CARE BUSINESSES.

Yes! This is a great time to start a child care business because there are several state grant programs available. We will talk about how to apply for grants and loans a few weeks into the program.

TELL ME MORE ABOUT THE SPECIAL CHILD CARE BUSINESS LOAN.  HOW MUCH MONEY CAN I BORROW?

It depends on your projected business income and how much money you need to start and run your business.

Through the Child Care Business Lab, we will help you establish a financially stable child care business, where the money you borrow enhances your opportunity for success and the monthly loan payments are affordable.

One important milestone for participants is the development of a business plan that will include a description of the service to be delivered; start-up costs to enhance, renovate or build a space and buy equipment/supplies; ongoing costs; and expected revenue.  During the Child Care Business Lab workshops, you will learn how to create a business plan, then you will work one-on-one with a business advisor to finetune your plan to meet your needs and the needs of your community. Through this process, you will be able to determine how much money you need to borrow and can afford.

Fee-based loans are available.

WHAT ARE THE ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR THE SPECIAL CHILD CARE BUSINESS LOAN?

Credit score is frequently one factor that is used to determine how much of a risk it will be to lend someone money. In advance of applying for a loan, you will work individually and confidentially with a certified financial counsellor who will help you review your credit report; offer advice on how to improve your credit score, if appropriate; create a budget and recommend ways to reduce debt.

Frequently, loans of less than $50,000 to buy equipment/supplies can be secured by a lien on business assets, such as playground equipment.

Larger loan requests, such as those for new construction of a center-based child care business, will undergo a traditional loan review process. As part of the Child Care Business Lab curriculum, you will learn how to access capital and a business advisor will help you navigate the process.

ARE THERE ANY RESOURCES FOR THOSE NOT SELECTED FOR THE CHILD CARE BUSINESS LAB?

Yes!  We will pair you with a business advisor to help you prepare for our next class and to help you start your business.

 The CEI Women’s Business Center has business advisors who can work with you individually.  (After clicking the  CEI Women’s Business Center link, select the blue Request Advising button – about half way down the page.

If you’d like to work individually with a child care mentor, click Meet the District Coordinators | Maine Roads to Quality Professional Development Network (mrtq.org) and then send an email to the person located in your county to set up a meeting.

CAN I SPEAK TO SOMEONE DIRECTLY ABOUT THE CHILD CARE BUSINESS LAB AND MY APPLICATION?

Yes, we’d be happy to talk with you! For our in-person group in Lewiston, please schedule a call with Azenaide Pedro. For our family child care or facility based groups, please schedule a call with Alexandra Forrester. You can also email childcare@ceimaine.org

If you can’t apply now, but want information about future cohorts, please share your email address below. 

Child Care Application Interest

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