For the parents out there, you know finding affordable childcare is a challenge.
Early childhood education is a critical component in the lives of our youngest neighbors. But for so many, finding a quality educational provider at a rate parents can afford is a Herculean feat. That’s why Children’s Harbor in the Hampton Roads region has established a model that prioritizes quality of care, without the high-dollar price tag.
Children’s Harbor is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that operates five child development centers across the Hampton Roads region, including locations in Ghent, Chesapeake, Suffolk, Old Town and the Eastern Shore. The centers provide care and education to children ages six weeks to age 10 before and after school.
The organization operates with a mix of tuition, grant funding, subsidies and community donations. As a nonprofit, the organization can solicit unrestricted funds to go back into its general operations budget that can be used for a variety of things – like teacher incentives and supplies – while grant funding typically is connected to something specific. For example, Children’s Harbor participates in the USDA’s Child Care Food Program, which means it gets reimbursed for meals if it follows a set of defined standards.
“We have grants and subsidies, which makes our childcare more affordable than a lot of the other childcare agencies,” said April Hatfield, an HR generalist at Children’s Harbor. “It makes everything more affordable to families, but doesn’t change the quality of the care.”
Its 501(c)3 status also opens the doors to more funding opportunities that it would not have been eligible for without.
With its lower price tag and higher-than-average certification standards for its teachers, Children’s Harbor’s reputation precedes itself. As workforce issues have trickled down and impacted families who need childcare, demand has continued to increase.
“We have wait lists at all of our centers for children we can’t accept right now because we don’t have enough teachers,” Hatfield said. “Families call and they know our centers and our reputation. I can’t put them on the waitlist because there’s a waitlist for the waitlist.”
What can the community do to support the organization?
Children’s Harbor participates in Give Local 757, a dedicated giving period in the spring that helped bring in almost $10,000 last yearthe nonprofit. It also recently hosted a Paint and Sip fundraising event to help boost those unrestricted funds to go back to things like teacher salary, bonuses and recruitment.