It Takes a Village to Raise a Child (Care Business)
Mother of three, Ivonne Gutierrez (far right) couldn’t imagine leaving her baby daughter in day care with just anyone. So she didn’t. Instead, she started a business.
At first, Ivonne wasn’t aiming to an entrepreneur. She just wanted to be a better parent. Like many parents across the metro, she tapped into the resources of Parents as Teachers, a free early childhood education program that matches parents with in-home care providers who teach parents how to engage, inspire and challenge their young children with developmentally appropriate activities.
The more Ivonne learned about childhood development and how to teach her own daughter, the more she wanted to share with her community. She met Isabel Gutierrez-Flores (center), a supporting home care provider educator for PAT through the Olathe School District. Fluent in English and Spanish, Isabel guided Ivonne in her first steps toward opening her own at-home day care.
From Mom to Entrepreneur
“In the beginning, I just wanted to earn a little money and keep my daughter at home for a little while longer,” says Ivonne.
But what she once thought of as temporary business—a doting mother’s unwillingness to let go of her baby girl—quickly turned into a bigger dream.
“Now she sees it as a future and a business,” says Isabel. “The more she sees people taking care of children and not preparing them for their own futures, the more she wants to make a difference. She wants to do more.”
With the support of her mother (pictured, left), husband and two teenage children and funding from the extra cash she made refurbishing furniture, she turned the master bedroom into a playroom, she bought cots from a recently closed day care center and she planned curriculum, naptimes and snack schedules. Later, when she questioned the quality of snacks the children were bringing into her home, she signed up for a food safety and preparation course so she could prepare healthy meals at home.
Her first sign that this dream could be a reality: when all the children took their naps—at the same time.
Raising a Business
Training to be a successful day care provider and running a successful—and legal—day care business require different sets of tools.
Ivonne started taking business classes at the Francis Institute for Child and Youth Development, a KCSourceLink Resource Partner that offers Developing Your Family Child Care Business™.
While Ivonne is fluent in English, it isn’t her first language—and she started to worry that she was missing something in the English-only training. These were other people’s children, and she wanted to make sure she was doing it right.
Ivonne approached Isabel with her concerns. Isabel marched her concerns up to Nancy Keel, executive director of the Kansas Parents as Teachers Association. With Ivonne’s inspiration, meetings with the school districts and funders, and a plan, they had a Spanish translated curriculum approved by the Kansas Department of Health and Environment within a year.
With an introduction from Isabel, Ivonne started working with the Hispanic Economic Development Corporation to get help navigating the city and county requirements for opening, owing and operating a day care business.
“She trained to make sure she could help her kids be successful. HEDC helped make sure her business was successful,” says Isabel. After helping with licensing and registration, HEDC also helped Ivonne hone her business tools with QuickBooks, computer training and a grant of $1,400 to help her set up her home office.
Her daughter is now seven years old, and Ivonne’s business is growing. In the near future, she hopes to open a day care center.
“The most challenging part of starting a business is overcoming your own fear—fear of failure, fear of not being able to do it right,” says Ivonne. With the help of Isabel and her family, Ivonne conqueored her fear, and now she’s on a path to empower others.