January is the time of year when we are wrapping up all our financials from the previous year. We review data, run reports, and issue slips of paper to parents that they will use to complete their taxes.
These slips of paper contain a number. With a dollar sign. And multiple digits. Like, four digits. And then a decimal. And then two more digits.
If you're keeping up, that would make that number in the thousands (like, many thousands). That's just for one kid. If you have two kids...well, let's just say it's a big number and stop there.
Giving out these slips of paper with the total amount paid for child care during the previous year is something I've gotten used to after five years. I remember the first year I gave them out, and I handed one of our Savvy Apple dads his total. His eyes scanned the paper, and he blurted out, "HOLY COW!". He quickly followed it up by saying, "I mean, it's totally worth it, but...wow!".
Child care is expensive. When we started sending our son to daycare, I definitely felt the sting of the price tag. Thinking about it one day, I did some quick mental math: __ number of kids X ___ dollars per week = a whole lot of money! It wasn't until I wrote up our business plan for The Savvy Apple that I really realized that there are very valid reasons for the cost of child care. Not only is it expensive for parents, but this industry is expensive for providers!
So, why is child care so darn expensive!?!
Let's break this down:
Paying staff is by far our greatest expense, and I'm sure any preschool or daycare would agree. It's super expensive. I could buy a really nice, brand new luxury car every couple months with the amount we spend on payroll. Teachers are an integral part of any child care program. Although I feel everyone in the educational field is underpaid and deserves much more, we try to pay our staff fairly. No minimum wage here! Quality employees are expensive but are certainly worth the investment for our children. And still, we wish we could pay them even more.
Small class sizes and low child to teacher ratios also influence staff costs and tuition prices. We really value the intimate environment and close, community-feeling we can provide by being a small school with small classes. Totally worth the cost!
On top of the general cost of paying employees, there are payroll taxes, payroll processing fees, etc. There are also staff-related costs like training, well-deserved treats (like a round of coffee from Pluff Mudd on a random day), and paid holidays (which we proudly offer to our staff - if you are paying tuition, our staff is getting paid, even when we're closed!).
Think about how much toilet paper you'd go through if you had 50 kids living in your house. Or hand soap. Or paper towels. Or tissues. Or wet wipes...oh the number wet wipes we use! There are so many various supplies that we use during the week, many that are consumable and cannot be reused. Paper, glue sticks, laminating sheets, tape - you name it, we use it! These supplies definitely add up to a large expense.
At The Savvy Apple, we try to use as many environmentally-friendly and natural options as we can. These things are, of course, more expensive. Our hand soap and all-purpose cleaner, for example, are from a company called Better Life (check them out here: www.cleanhappens.com). I knew we had to use them at our school when I saw the owner and creators of the company actually eat their cleaner. Weird, I know, but that's how safe it is. I ordered it to try it out at home to make sure it was effective as well. After that, I was hooked. The quality of these products and others like it are worth the cost if they are better for our children and the world they live in.
Okay, now imagine if you had to FEED 50 KIDS! Our grocery bill each week is astronomical, but this is one that is totally worth it. You know that food is a big deal to us. I mean, they don't say "you are what you eat" for nothin'. We serve homemade, mostly organic, deliciousness three times a day - two snack times and a lunch. When you give the ingredients the TLC that we do, cooking brussels sprouts is not just chopping up and cooking brussels sprouts. Its chopping them, lightly coating them with olive oil, minced garlic, salt, and pepper; spreading them on parchment paper and roasting them in the oven until their deliciously crisp. Magic like this isn't cheap, y'all! :D
4. Lease/Mortgage and Building-Related Costs
Monthly lease or mortgage payments are a large expense to most businesses AND families! I am sure this one is relatable. Under this category, I'm also including utilities. Our water bill and internet bill is expensive, but honestly, is not as expensive as I originally thought it would be. Now our electric bill, that's another story.
Also in this category, I'm including appliances. We wash all of our kids blankets and sheets every week. We love doing this so that our families don't have to worry about taking them home, washing them, and then returning them to school the next week. Our washer and dryer, though, get a whole lot of use. Maintenance and repairs on appliances are super important for the operation of our school. We can't function without these working properly!
5. All The Other Stuff
Furniture, liability insurance, materials, kitchen equipment and utensils (somehow we go through forks like crazy!?...and no, they're not disposable), Brightwheel app, and all the other odds and ends! There are so many recurring expenses that may not need to be paid each week or each month but do pop up yearly or here and there.
Well, now that we've covered that...
I know what you're thinking. I get that my weekly payment goes to many different expenses that benefit my child, but there's just one more thing I really, really want to know:
WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY YOU WHEN MY CHILD ISN'T EVEN THERE? OR WHEN YOU'RE NOT EVEN OPEN?
I just had to put this one in here. I mean, I know you wonder this all the time. I wondered this when I was on the parent end, too! Every school, whether your child is there or not, has set expenses that must be paid: rent/mortgage, electricity, water, internet, phone, insurance, etc. At our school, as I said above, we choose to pay our staff for these days as well. I like to use this example to put it in perspective: when you go out of town, does your internet company prorate those days because you were not at home using the internet? I hope this helps make sense of it!
So, in a short and sweet summary, child care is expensive. It's our ultimate goal, though, to make you feel that you are still getting a great value for your hard-earned money. You just can't put a price on good care for your child, and I think we can all agree on that one!