Posted in ECE Information

Child Care Business Lab with CEI: Applications Now Available

This post is sharing information received from MRTQ on a new opportunity for those interested in establishing a family child care program.

Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI) has announced the launch of their Child Care Business Lab, a five-year program designed to grow new child care enterprises in underserved areas of Maine.

From Coastal Enterprises, Inc. (CEI):

The Child Care Business Lab is an intensive cohort-based program that will give entrepreneurs the tools to start a successful small business, provide industry-specific knowledge about child care/early childhood education and help participants build networks and relationships with business advisors and mentors. Designed as an experiential leadership lab, the Child Care Business Lab will provide participants interested in starting a non-profit, for-profit, co-op or shared model child care enterprise with a blueprint for a financially-viable child care business plan.

“Access to quality child care is a key piece of building an economy that works for everyone,” said Cynthia Murphy, Senior Program Director for Workforce Solutions at CEI. “Since the 1970s, CEI has provided financing and/or advice to over 150 child care businesses and nonprofits in Maine. We’ve used that experience to design the Child Care Business Lab, giving prospective child care providers the tools and networks needed to successfully launch and sustain a child care enterprise.”

Applications are now being accepted for the inaugural cohort to start the end of Feb ’20.

For the first year of the initiative, CEI’s goal is to help launch five quality child care enterprises, prioritizing 40 percent of the newly created child care spots to families with low incomes.

The Child Care Business Lab will consist of 4 in-person weekend sessions in Waterville, online learning sessions, 1:1 in-person or telephone meetings with a business advisor located near where you live and individualized in-person or video coaching sessions with a child care mentor. Participants will also be eligible to apply for special start-up child care business loans.

There is no charge for the in-person and online learning sessions, the meetings with the business advisors and mentors or the networking events. In addition, a $500 travel and hotel stipend will be awarded.

CEI recognizes that “child care providers contribute to a healthy economy in three ways: they deliver education and enrichment to Maine’s future workforce, eliminate a barrier many parents face when they want to work, and provide job opportunities to child care workers.” However, data continues to show that there are significant “child care deserts” across Maine.

CEI’s Child Care Business Lab is designed to give entrepreneurs the tools to start a sustainable operation, with industry-specific knowledge about child care and early childhood education. The curriculum has four core areas of focus:

– Specialized Child Care Business Knowledge – Understanding the Maine rules for licensing, teacher qualifications and staff-to-child ratios is just the beginning of what child care business owners and directors need to know to comply with state laws. From employee criminal background checks, space and equipment minimums, to lunch nutritional requirements, individuals operating child care centers must know and establish the policies and procedures required by law.

Access to Capital – Many homes and buildings require renovation to meet local zoning ordinances and/or Maine child care quality standards. Other upfront costs include furniture, education supplies, games and playground equipment.

Increased Business Acumen – The curriculum addresses the economics of a child care operation, considering headcount, wages and state regulated child-to-staff ratios. Frequently, the ability of parents to pay doesn’t match the cost of providing quality child care. In an effort to charge more affordable rates, many business owners pay their staff low wages, giving rise to employee turnover and increased costs.

Achieving and Maintaining Financial Stability – New child care entrepreneurs face many of the same challenges and risks that other small business owners encounter, with the added complexity of operating in a highly regulated environment. Entrepreneurs will learn how to identify potential challenges and resources in the planning stages to help them increase financial stability in the long term.

More information is available here.


FCCAM works to unify, promote and strengthen quality professional family child care in Maine. We understand the critical role of child care providers in the lives of children and families. Through collaboration with other organizations we work to increase awareness of our profession and the value of a strong child care system to Maine's diverse communities.