San Francisco nonprofit helps home-based child daycare operators

Childcare advocates say there can be no economic recovery without adequate child care, because parents won't be able to enter the workforce without a place for their children.

A San Francisco non-profit is working to help smaller home based day care operators take their business to the next level, creating economic opportunity.

As San Francisco begins to return to work after months of a city-wide shutdown, families are beginning to look at their options for childcare.

Children's Council San Francisco says the importance of childcare at this time cannot be overstated. "First of all," said Gina Fromer from Children's Council San Francisco. "There is no road to recovery without childcare."

The Children's Council says there was already a lack of affordable childcare in the city before the pandemic. Of the more than 1,000 providers about 700 of them were friends, family and neighbor operations working out of individual home.

The Children's Council is offering the tools to help professionalize those operations. "They get their business model, they learn how to keep records they get nutrition programs, SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) programs where they're feeding the kids health food," said Fromer. "It's begging to evolve into this business that we know is truly at the heart of these communities."

Children's Council says the program benefits small business owners in often overlooked corners of the economy. "It becomes a viable business for that family," said Fromer. "Particularly women of color."

Winifred Zhou started Wisely Childcare in San Francisco's Miraloma neighborhood last year, and says children's council helped her with licensing. "I put in the paperwork," said Zhou. "But some of the paperwork I needed help modifying. So they were very helpful in doing that."

Children's Council has shifted its focus a bit during the pandemic, tailoring the training to meet current needs. "Since COVID hit we're doing a lot of health and safety training for just the family friends an neighbors that they wouldn't get because they're not a license per se center," said Fromer.

Zhou saying that safety training has been critical. "Especially when I operate inside my house, it's not just my workspace. My family are here too. So, having someone who's really a guidance, giving you all the resources Children's council has been amazing for me."

Cultivating those businesses, the children's council says, has an even broader impact than the one childcare business by providing a way for parents to get back to work. "Our goal is to uplift community and help build the incubators in communities that don't have many," said Fromer. "But, also get the community to understand how important they are to the viability of those communities economically, socially as well."

Hundreds of child care operations shut down permanently during the pandemic as the number of families needing childcare plummeted.

The Children's Council says they are ready to train up those looking to start new businesses. 

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