New Program Builds Business and Leadership Acumen for Early Childhood Educators

March 16, 2023

Approximately 2,000 early childhood administrators will soon have training and coaching to help them improve the quality of early learning programs in Missouri.

As a part of the Association of University Centers for Disabilities and the University Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities for the state of Missouri, the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s Institute for Human Development (UMKC-IHD) along with the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE) are launching a training and coaching program over a two-year period starting in 2023. The project aims to enhance the efficacy of early childhood education by building the leadership and business skills of early childhood education administrators across family child care businesses, smaller independent early learning centers and large early learning organizations across Missouri.

“This program will drive a higher level of professionalism among these child care administrators and lead to an overall higher quality in delivery of their services,” said Mike Abel, UMKC-IHD Associate Director, who directs the Early Childhood Innovation Center. “High quality of early learning programs are more likely to identify and address developmental delays and learning disabilities at an early age, which may increase the probability for the child’s success in life.”

In support of UMKC-IHD, other project partners include the UMKC Midwest Center for Nonprofit Leadership, the University of Missouri-St. Louis Community Innovation and Action Center, University of Missouri Extension, the Missouri Small Business Development Centers, and Child Care Aware® of Missouri.

The Challenge
Family child care business owners may feel isolated in their daily struggles to manage a business, nurture children and support families. These businesses require sound financial planning and management to survive and thrive. Unfortunately, many owners do not have business degrees or backgrounds in finances and operations. Fiscally sound, well-run quality child care programs are an economic engine and a core component of healthy communities for future generations.

Similarly, administrators of small, independent learning centers are responsible for multiple functions associated with operating a center and must make decisions about nearly every aspect of leadership and management. Often, the internal support staff is limited in these programs. Many directors of small, independent centers do not have a management background and may have been promoted from a teaching role.

The MO-SECA Program
The Missouri Supporting Early Childhood Administrators (MO-SECA) program will address these challenges through a four-step process, which includes:

  • Assessment (program assessment of administrative practice and administrator self-assessment)
  • Training (both leadership and business management training)
  • Coaching (on-site and virtual)
  • Tools and materials

Training will occur across seven regions of Missouri with more than 226 sessions offered to 1000 participants in the first year alone. In total, nearly 650 hours of training will be delivered to large and small care center and family child care administrators in the program’s first year.

All participants will have training in:

  • Whole Leadership
  • Organizational Sustainability
  • Leading change

Image of six women in a semi circle conversing in a classroom

Large center administrators will receive training in supervision and human resources, strategic financial management and strategic communications strategies, while small center administrator sessions will focus on writing a business plan, understanding financial statements and QuickBooks Online for child care businesses. Family child care providers will receive training in fiscal management and record keeping, financial and business risk management, general business practices and supports and group technical assistance.

All participants will receive four on-site coaching sessions and eight virtual coaching sessions with trained quality specialists over a one-year period.

“This training would not be possible without the help of our partner organizations,” said Abel. “They’re providing critical expertise and resources that will greatly enhance the training and coaching to administrators. It is only through their support that the program will ultimately elevate the quality of FINALof child care and enhance the lives of children across our state.”