Learners Crew-House Development Center, Shaunree Day
The main success was finding a location for my childcare center. I had been looking at locations in my neighborhood. The first was too expensive. The second one was vacant but condemned. It was located next to an elementary school so I went into the school and asked the principal about the building next door. It was the principal who raised the idea that we locate the daycare center inside the school because the school-age children also needed after-school care. The school had an empty classroom that had just wrapped up its use as the "COVID room." The classroom - which was my own pre-K classroom -- had its own entrance and bathroom. It was perfect. A private grant from a Maryland-based singer helped pay the rent as well as purchase uniforms, toys, and Procare software. Most people told me that it would take me two years to open the business, especially since I didn't have the money to start, but I kept emailing and calling people to keep things moving along. And our doors opened in February 2023, just over a year from the time I started the process.
I provide quality child care (including breakfast, lunch, and snacks) for children ages 2+ inside Rosemont Elementary School in West Baltimore. My business is licensed for 20 children, but, with the current staffing, we can only care for 10 children. We have a waitlist and hope to be in a position to hire teachers and aides allowing us to provide care to more children.
I started in childcare as an assistant teacher in 2013 when I was pregnant with my son and worked my way up to assistant director. In opening my own childcare business, my focus was to provide safe and nurturing childcare for children in less fortunate areas, such as West Baltimore, where there's a lot of crime. These kids witness stuff that they shouldn't. So we're providing a safe house of sorts where children are free to learn and grow.
Our childcare center is located in an elementary school. The children are mostly younger siblings of children who attend the school. The elementary school children model appropriate behaviors for them, helping to give the children in daycare that "school feeling" and preparing them for future school. Also, in providing after-school care for the older siblings, our center allows these kids to participate in extracurricular activities and sports that they would otherwise miss because they were going straight home to babysit.
In 2022, I went to the SBA seeking a grant and learned that they only do start-up loans which I was not ready for. The SBA recommended that I reach out to SCORE. I did and was assigned Thom Shipley as my mentor.
Thom helped me with everything from the basic like what type of bank account to open to the more complicated like creating a business plan and everything in between.
Thom had so much faith in me. He would congratulate me on the smallest accomplishments; it just made me feel good. He was always there for me, ready to answer a question. He taught me that there is never a "no;" there's always a way. Thom was more than a mentor; he was a great role model, advisor, and an overall good person. It was nice to have someone like him in my corner.
Never stop. Never quit. Keep going.
Work with SCORE. They will give you the tools to find the answers you need.