First Steps Offers $2,500 Start-up Grants to New In-Home Childcare Providers

When Kim realized she was expecting her first child, she immediately began researching childcare options.


“We looked everywhere. We were on so many waiting lists and no one was calling us back, and the ones who did were way too expensive.” Kim explained, “it was truly depressing. We finally had to make a difficult choice: do I return to work, and end up paying $200/week for childcare, or stay home and watch our child?”


Kim decided to stay home and be a full-time mom. A few weeks after her son was born, she ran into a pair of neighbors with similar struggles.


“I thought, 'I am already staying at home to watch my son, why don’t I take care of these kids while I am home?' This was a win-win. I didn’t want to miss out on these early days with my son. I wanted to spend as much time as I could with him, and this has allowed me to work from home, get paid to take care of kids, which I love, and spend time with my son.”


Kim converted her carport into a bonus room and set up an in-home childcare center serving five kids between six months and five-years-old. Twenty years later, Kim is still running a profitable small business out of her home.


More than 40 registered home-based childcare providers in Greenville County, just like Kim, serve more than 200 children.


Greenville First Steps, a local non-profit that funds programs to help prepare children for school, secured funding from the Appalachian Regional Commission to establish 40 family home childcare providers through a unique small business incubator project. First Steps is partnering with the Kellie Rynn Academy, Greenville Chamber, and Palmetto Shared Services Alliance to launch the Kellie Rynn Family Childcare provider training collaborative.


“There is a huge demand for quality childcare in our community,” says Anne Lee Buck, Program Director for Greenville First Steps. “Everywhere you turn, there are providers with a waiting list. It is very frustrating for families. We realized there was an opportunity to help support entrepreneurs who want to provide care in their homes.”


The partnership provides new entrepreneurs with a $2,500 grant of cash and program materials to help set-up home-based childcare in Greenville County. The project also provides 20 hours of professional development, including business best practices, marketing, programming, and child safety coordinated by the Greenville Chamber and the Palmetto Shared Services Alliance.


The Greenville Chamber has made access to affordable childcare a top priority for 2020. "Affordable and high-quality childcare is a critically important economic driver, providing parents in our workforce with the childcare that they need to be able to pursue their careers. This cutting-edge program will not only create new jobs but will also provide valuable training to the providers who are caring for the talent and workforce of the future. We are grateful to Greenville First Steps, Kellie Rynn Academy and Palmetto Shared Services Alliance for their strategic partnership on this important initiative."


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