The childcare sector has specific needs in relation to legal requirements over ratios, record-keeping and staffing. CAN has experience of working with starting-up, helping to grow and coming in to trouble-shoot for various childcare co-operatives.
From pre-school, to after-school, to holiday clubs, CAN has worked in the following areas with childcare organisations:
For an after-school club, one area that we have recently been involved with is linking a childcare-specific booking and invoicing system to a proprietary accounting package, enabling both ease of booking and full financial management control.
We have trained and provided ongoing support to a start-up nursery after it was passed over from ownership by the church where it is located. This work was to help the group set up their organisational structure (within the confines of the regulatory framework for childcare organisations), clarify how their multi-stakeholder co-op worked and establish a pattern of meetings that enabled democratic control while being able to run effectively as a business.
Our clients have included:
There are three basic structures that can be used to establish Child Care Co-operatives:
They are defined by their membership.
serve a defined community. Its members are anyone in that community who cares to join. It can provide facilities for that community including child care. It is very like a voluntary sector organisation in nature except that it operates according to co-operative principles.
are made up of the people who use the service. In this case it is the people who buy child care for their children.
are made up of the people who work in the business.
The most popular for all the above is an Industrial & Provident Society (IPS) with membership criteria established according to the form chosen.
It is recommended to register the Society first and build the business inside it. This means that everyone knows what they are joining, what their rights are and what their responsibilities are.
Those who take responsibility such as membership of a management committee should become directors. They should be provided with adequate training and recourse to professional advice to ensure that they do not operate fraudulently or wrongfully but maintain their limit of liability (normally to £1).
Normally, though not necessarily, co-operatives are common ownership organisations.
Common ownership means that the assets are held in common dedicated to the purpose for which the co-operative was established. There are no individual property rights over these assets and members cannot leave and insist that a share of the asset value is paid to them. This makes for long term security of operation and guards against internal or external take over and asset stripping.
Co‑operatives of any kind are best established where the objective is to bring to bear the enthusiasm and skills of a group of people and focus them on a common objective. A large part of that objective should be sustainability. This pre‑supposes providing an excellent and appropriate service to an identifiable market using adequate resources of people, facilities, cash and organisation.
There is no substitute for detailed planning and proper research. This takes time, patience and most of all, the assertiveness to ask for help.
Advice on all aspects of business planning, legal registration services and grant aid are available through our service.