I love to give high-fives to people. Anyone, anytime. Fortunately, I work with children. About 85% of my cohorts are 5 or under so that usually translates to between 50 and 100 high-fives a day*. For the adults at our nonprofit childcare center, I have to be much more judicious with these positive and motivational hand gestures. These mini celebrations are saved for special occasions such as birthdays, professional accomplishments, and so on, otherwise if overdone they become less meaningful. A low-five. But this small act always reminds me of the sheer joy of childhood. It never gets old, and I feel very fortunate to be employed in a place where the age bracket is so skewed.
As we get older the childhood joys we were so used to experiencing are tempered with responsibility, sacrifice, and taxes. I don’t mean to say that these things are unpleasant. Being a responsible adult that contributes to society certainly has its own satisfaction. Working in a nonprofit organization puts those contributions and sacrifices from our communities into practice.
Our childcare center has been open since 1943. Since then, we have been providing care predominately for families that could either only afford low-cost childcare or would have to do without, somehow. Organizations such as the Iowa Woman’s Foundation have believed in us enough to help fund scholarships for those families most in need (insert high-five). Like many nonprofits, we rely on this community support to provide our services.
In order to provide our service, parents need and deserve to have a place for their children that they could trust. It became obvious that to gain the trust of parents, having trained teachers and providing a safe environment was not enough. When my own family was looking for childcare there were a few places we turned down that just did not feel right. The families we serve do not have those options. For this reason, it is critical to our mission to provide a place where parents can drop off their children and be able to fully concentrate on their work or school without worrying if their child is safe. Trust is a must.
Our staff has been concentrating on trust a lot lately, especially the question of “How do we earn it?” and “how do we keep it?” I think I have a deceptively simple answer. Always ask yourself, what is the right thing to do? It sounds corny and trite, but I seem to always come back to this when faced with difficult choices. We need to be open with parents about the limitations of the services we provide, be understanding about the areas where we can improve, and actually follow through with those changes (high-five!).
Here at Grin & Grow Child Care we have concentrated on our specific mission and came away with some impressive results. Last year we served 170 children. 78 of these children were from single-parent households. 64 families were at 100% of the federal poverty level and 30 families were over 150% poverty level. Through generous grants, scholarships, and donations over 95% of families receive greatly reduced cost or free childcare. 92% of these families are employed and were able to continue working because of reliable childcare. I am so proud of our dedicated staff and all of those who have supported us, especially during this difficult time.
*Please note that high-fives were always followed with hand sanitizer for safety.