1. What is the hardest part of sponsoring unaffiliated centers?
- Keeping staff. It can be difficult to find that right people who can handle the pressure. The person must be determined not to let the responsibility and learning curve get them down. They must be tactful and gracious at the same time.
- The numbers. It is no harder than being a sponsor of family child care homes…just on a larger scale. Be sure that you understand how much food needs to be prepared and purchased by the center, the numbers can get overwhelming.
- Center Staff Turnover. There is a lot of staff turnover and often the sponsor is unaware when this happens. Staying on top of that and ensuring that new staff are trained is a challenge.
- Night and Weekend Monitoring. Large centers that provide care 7 days a week (including suppers) are a challenge to monitor because it requires monitoring visits on weekends and at night. These monitoring visits can take hours.
2. What do you wish you’d known before beginning to sponsor centers?
- To focus efforts on serving centers with large capacities in low income areas. These centers and families need the CACFP most, and the reimbursement will be large enough to cover more of the associated sponsoring costs.
- Make sure you understand your state agency’s expectations regarding cost allocation, budgeting, and whether or not the serious deficiency process applies for centers.
- Start off your centers with a thorough understanding of what is required and what actions will be taken if they are out of compliance with the regulations. Let them know there is no wiggle room in this program.
3. Ask yourself the following questions before applying to your state agency to begin sponsoring unaffiliated centers:
- Do I have the start-up capital needed to pay for the costs involved with sponsoring centers?
- Is my state agency prepared to help me?
- Do I acknowledge that, to stay in business, sponsoring agencies must start working with centers, shelters, adult care facilities, etc., because the number of family child care providers continues to dwindle?
- Am I willing to work as hard or harder than I did when I started sponsoring family child care providers?
- Am I ready to succeed even when everyone thinks I am crazy?
- Do I have access to unrestricted funds?
- If I do not have access to unrestricted funds, can I document that I am not using funds from my home sponsorship?
- Can I send emails in the evening?
- Can I do it without asking staff to help with center start-up?
- Do I know and understand the requirements of the state and federal agencies?
- Am I willing to go to the state agency training for new independent centers to find out what the state expects from them?
- Am I willing to provide centers with additional value if they choose to contract with my organization over the state agency?
As you can see beginning to sponsor unaffiliated centers takes time and effort; however, the determined sponsors who’ve succeeded tell us that it was worth it!