The sheer amount of work and time required of family child care providers is overwhelming. The purpose of CoRise Cooperative is to allow child care providers to do what they love the most, care for children.
The sheer amount of work and time required of family child care providers is overwhelming. The purpose of CoRise Cooperative to allow child care providers to do what they love the most, care for children. To accomplish this, CoRise plans to offer products and services that ease providers’ administrative load and reduce other business-related burdens, lower their costs, and create access to new forms of revenue. The cooperative will initially launch with a set of products requested by providers, which have a meaningful impact on their financial and personal welfare.
These initial product choices are a result of surveys and in-person focus groups with providers in Illinois. In 2017, ICA conducted a visioning exercise with 49 providers using a design thinking process to group and prioritize needs and solutions. ICA also conducted three focus groups with FCCPs in different communities in Chicago. In the fall and winter of 2017, in partnership with SEIU Healthcare Illinois Indiana (HCII), ICA conducted an in-depth online survey of 79 providers further exploring the business needs of providers serving CCAP-enrolled families. The licensed providers surveyed had the following characteristics:
CARING FOR AN AVERAGE 7 SUBSIDIZED KIDS (n=45)
88.24% HAD PARTICIPATED IN CCAP IN THE LAST 6 MONTHS (n=34)
AVERAGE ESTIMATED STATE SUBSIDY REIMBURSEMENT WAS $2,130 A MONTH (n=23)
A financial product that creates predictable payments to stabilize cash low for providers
Predictable payments from the state’s Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP) quickly emerged as a core need of providers. With a large portion of their income coming from the state, inconsistent payments from CCAP created financial stress for providers and even lead to business closure. Eighty-five percent of all providers who cared for a subsidized child in the last six months indicated that guaranteed on time payment of state subsidy reimbursement was among their top three most immediate needs. And 98% of providers caring for a subsidized child in the last 6 months indicated this service would help them save time or money (n=48).
In interviews providers describe several distinct issues with CCAP reimbursements, including delayed payments, payments for less than the expected amount, and payment gaps while a family has their eligibility for subsidy determined or redetermined, which in Illinois occurred every six months until recently.
“Especially last year, the amounts were so off that it would hurt me severely financially.”
“[I am] financially unable to manage bills on slow payments or nonpayments.”
“I usually get my check within the first week of the month, but a couple months lately it’s been coming around the 22nd or 23rd. That’s a problem for a lot of providers, especially if you have a mortgage due mid-month.”
The most common ways providers cover payment gaps and irregularities: (n=42)
PULL FROM SAVINGS
RELY ON LOANS FROM FRIENDS OR FAMILY
RELY ON CREDIT CARDS
Technology that streamlines paperwork for state subsidy and quality requirements.
As Pam’s schedule demonstrates, providers work incredibly long hours, including an average 16 hours per week on business tasks when children are not present. As independent business owners in a highly regulated industry, providers must keep careful records to prove they meet health and safety standards, track business expenses, communicate with parents, manage their payroll, and more. The administrative burden falls even heavier on providers serving low-income communities who must also extensively document their services in order to receive subsidies from state and federal programs.
A marketing website offering services to families to help members achieve full enrollment.
For child care businesses, consistent enrollment is the surest path to business sustainability. An empty seat in a provider’s home represents $800-1,100 a month in lost revenue. Yet, 58% of providers in Illinois report struggling with vacancies. As one provider reported, "It is difficult to have a set budget when my enrollment is always changing.” For many providers, filling an empty seat requires more than just connecting with one of the many Illinois families in need of care, “working at McDonald's or the grocery store, [parents] don't have the money.” In order to secure their enrollment, many providers function as de facto caseworkers informing families in their community about available subsidy programs and helping them navigate a complex application process to be able to afford care.