There is a tremendous demand for quality Early Childhood Development (ECD) centres in South Africa, but because of a lack of supply, thousands of young children still miss out on a solid foundation during the most important stage of their development.
This provides a great opportunity for entrepreneurial-minded people to establish ECD centres in their communities, but anyone interested in doing so should ensure that they not only get the right training and qualifications, but also that they are compliant with the rules and regulations governing ECD centres, an education expert says.
“Starting an ECD centre – whether it be a crèche, daycare centre, preschool, or aftercare facility – is a great way to own your own business, while contributing to your community in an exceptionally meaningful way,” says Nomawabo May, Team Leader: Student Advisor Department at Oxbridge Academy.
“But you have to go about it the right way, as not doing so can have severe consequences not only for yourself, but also for the young children in your care,” she says.
According to Stats SA, 46.9% of young children are not attending an educational institution, despite the fact that the first 1000 days of a child’s life are the most important to unlocking their life-long potential.
May says starting one’s own ECD centre isn’t as easy as opening your doors to a group of children and trying to keep them busy during the day, and there are a few steps one should go through before making the decision to do so.
“You have to ensure that you have a proper business plan in place, along with the financing to get started. It is worth keeping in mind that if you can show you are in line with regulations, have proper training, and are qualified to provide a supportive and enabling environment for the children under your care, you may be able to access government or private sector funding.”
May says that to register an ECD centre, you would need to be able to show at least the following:
- A weekly food menu for your centre
- A daily programme for your centre
- A building plan of the location (if appropriate)
- A copy of the constitution of your business
- A business plan for funding purposes
- Other documents that may be required for your specific situation
“After granting conditional or provisional registration, the relevant government departments will do assessments to ensure your centre complies with all standards and regulations in terms of infrastructure, health and safety, education curriculum, and HR management,” says May.
It is important to ensure you have what it takes to make a success of your business. You can do this by obtaining a good academic foundation in the field and making sure you understand its demands.
“There are many courses and qualifications relating to early childhood development, but it is important to choose one that will cover all the bases, including educational psychology, daycare management, child health, business management, and so forth,” says May.
“The need for good ECD centres is on the rise because of the rapid rise of dual-income households, where both parents work full-time, and the high rate of single-parent households. While there are almost 20 000 ECD centres nationwide, many of them are unregistered and do not meet the standards set out by the government.
“This means that there is great need for affordable, quality childcare services that tick all the boxes and can ensure that the next generation gets the best start in life possible.”
* For a free e-book on the A to Z of establishing your own ECD centre, visit here