Industry Focus: Child Care

Quality child care in the earliest years of life is critical to improving long-term education outcomes and breaking the cycle of poverty. Yet, many child care businesses – both home- and center-based – are financially insecure and unable to pay livable wages, including to the business owners themselves. Through rigorous business consulting, access to capital, and cooperative ownership models, The ICA Group is building a better child care industry for child care business owners and workers. ICA’s approach to industry transformation is the result of five years of research on industry trends. Our research confirmed the potential of cooperative ownership models to strengthen the financial viability of child care businesses and improve the quality of care and the quality of child care jobs. With local and national partners, we are now implementing this vision in states across the U.S.

Though our business development and consulting work, we strive to ensure:

To learn more about how ICA can support your child care business, contact Anne McSweeney at amcsweeney@ica-group.org

Equitable AccessAddress the specific needs of child care businesses in low-income communities
Quality JobsIncrease earnings for center owners, workers and family child care providers, increase agency and meaningful leadership opportunities
Quality CareFree up time and money to invest in quality improvement
Effective Advocacy Elevate the voice of workers, connect and unite a fragmented industry

What We Offer

  • Business Training and Coaching

    ICA’s training model is focused on practical business management and improvement strategies. Grounded in the “Iron Triangle of ECE Finance” approach, we help business owners track and interpret the key metrics of their business, understand how their businesses compare to industry averages, and identify opportunities and financial red flags. We provide a framework for thinking about the cost of quality and how centers can work toward quality improvement while maintaining financial sustainability. We introduce the concept of shared services and the models available.

  • Consulting

    Partnering closely with center owners, ICA offers personalized financial review and analysis for center owners operating in low-income, underserved communities. Using a custom model, ICA business consultants walk owners through their business’s health, trends, risks, and opportunities. This analysis is tailored to meet center owners’ business and personal goals around business sustainability, growth, and ownership transition.

  • Worker-Owned Child Care Centers

    We partner with existing owners and local entrepreneurs to implement a rigorously tested conversion process to transition child care businesses to cooperatives. Through worker-ownership, child care centers can:

    • continue to serve their community through ownership transitions
    • improve job quality and build wealth for workers
    • retain their workforce and create new opportunities for growth and leadership
  • Shared Service Purchasing Cooperatives

    We partner with local organizations and businesses to create purchasing cooperatives that meet the needs of child care businesses in their communities. We use a co-development process to help these partners with market research and needs assessment, business plan development, and business launch. By sharing services and resources through cooperatives, community child care centers and family child care businesses can maintain independence while lowering operating costs and raising profits.

Notes from Our Clients

I just wanted to thank you and your team for all your “number crunching” and business expertise! The financial model report you generated for us was extremely insightful and it helped us to think about the sustainability of our business through a more focused and informed lens.

Claudia Herrera-Morales
Claudia Herrera-MoralesLittle Scholars Club

I can see clearly that ICA understands our values and mission here in Illinois to serve families in at-risk communities.

Shanetha Pollnitz
Shanetha Pollnitz Alpha and Omega Early Learning Center

Stepping Stones was incredibly lucky to be connected to Jonathan Ward at ICA Group. We received up to $5,000 in business consultant services and it was invaluable to our future growth as a business.

Victoria HiltonStepping Stones Nursery School