Nationally Accredited School-Age Program Achieves Perfect Space!
Our Space is a licensed and accredited child care program designed to meet the needs of school-age children. Established in 2007 by co-owners Tosca and Jim Grimm, this faith based program offers families a unique choice for their children’s out-of-school time experiences.
Tosca is the director of the center and has a Master’s in Education from Concordia University, St. Paul. She has been in the early care and education field since 1994 and serves on the Board of Directors of MnAEYC-MnSACA. Jim Grimm is the co-director/teacher and develops the faith-based curriculum used at the Center. He has over 18 years of youth and family ministry experience. Together they manage a unique business model with strong family involvement that includes a college-age son (when home for vacation).
Two years ago Tosca and Jim began talking more concretely about the future of their program. With a five-year lease coming to an end they needed to decide if they were in the right space for their program’s future or whether there was something better out there, a place where they could concentrate on the important part of their job, nurturing and teaching the children.
Thinking about relocating a business is not for the faint of heart. Tosca and Jim knew they had to do their research on multiple levels. They started the process by making a list of requirements for a new space. The important things that would motivate them to take this big step:
•Affordability: child care directors know that facilities expense is one of their biggest costs. As a family-owned and operated center it is one of the most important pieces of Our Space’s business model, one they needed to concentrate on.
•Accreditation: Our Space was the only privately-owned, faith-based program to go through the accreditation pilot with MnSACA three years ago. They felt it was important to maintain accreditation, in order to provide credibility for their business, and proof of best practice in school-age care.
•Large motor space: the current space had no designated large motor indoor space for inclement weather. Although not required, both Tosca and Jim felt it was important for the quality of their program.
•Transition space: when children arrive or leave, having designated space to transition helps the remaining children continue their work, and gives parents that space for reconnection with their children as they transition from the center
•Accessible outdoor space with a more natural environment.
•Maintain location within the same school district.
With this list in hand Tosca and Jim pounded the pavement , connecting with their network to find the space that would meet their programmatic and financial goals. Their planning process included conversations with their banker (First Children’s Finance, see First Children’s Loan Program ), CPA, and personal financial planner . Once their preferred space was identified they increased the circle of informers to include their student teacher, the new Landlord’s building manager and the DHS child care center licensor (since they moved across city boundaries they were assigned a new licensor).
Nine months later Tosca and Jim find themselves in their new space that not only fits all of their requirements but came with a natural environment that they are thankful for every day. As Tosca says “we are all products of our environment” and she sees a marked difference in the children’s attitudes and excitement about the new space. For Tosca and Jim the new space has “made it 2000% easier” to do their jobs. The physical layout for supervision, aesthetics and support of the landlord all give them more time to deliver services and nurture relationships with the children and their families. Our Space lost no enrollment during the move to the new location and presents the professional yet cozy atmosphere envisioned when the journey began.
When asked about their experience with First Children’s Finance Tosca provided the following input: “We worked with First Children’s throughout the process. FCF was a great source of support, providing encouragement and resources. It was important to us that our banker at FCF was kept informed of the move and could share dialogue regarding the potential move. FCF helped facilitate the move financially from the previous site to the new site, helping ensure all lease requirements were met. We consider First Children’s Finance to be a main source of support toward the success of Our Space, from the center’s inception and into the future.”
Visit Our Space website: www.ourspacehopkins.com
For more information about First Children’s Finance Loan Program follow the link below:
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