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  1. #1

    Opinions wanted: Private or Agency?

    I am an Alberta day home provider. I have been with my agency for just over 10 years now, but I am considering going private. I am wondering about other providers who run private homes - how they run their business, troubles they have encountered, rules they follow, etc. Thank you for your input. I look forward to hearing from you!

  2. #2
    Euphoric ! Inspired by Reggio's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    946 Times in 686 Posts
    I am not in Alberta so not sure if my advice is 'relevant' so take it with a grain of salt

    I started out with an agency in my province ... while they do have pros such as resources the challenge with agency care is that it costs fee paying parents at least $10 or more a day in fees than 'private' arrangements and as a result the majority of clients who USE agency care are those who are not paying fees - aka government subsidized clientele which is fine if there IS SUBSIDY. In my region the waiting list for subsidy is very LONG and therefore referrals through an 'agency' are hard to get ... I was with my agency for just over two years and in that time they were not able to successfully refer me one client - I filled up with private clients who had no interest of contracting care through them due to the 'higher fee' associated with it and knowing that it would result in a 'lower payment' for me as well ... it just made sense to contract through me directly as they were getting the SAME SERVICE regardless.

    I eventually gave up my contract with the agency because it was a waste of both their and my time filling out paper and sending someone out for 'inspections' when they had no clients with me and I was consistently able to fill my spots privately before they could get through the red time of referring clients to me.

    I run my business almost exactly the same way ... my program practices did not change, I still engage in health and safety checklists on my 'own' without having an agency support 'shadow' me through it, my business practices did not change or anything like that ... the only 'leeway' I have with being private is that the 5 children in my program can be whatever age mix I feel confident and comfortable managing ... so for me I still follow the no more than two children under the age of 2 .... however my other three children as long as they are over 2 I am cool with that and able to manage just fine where with an agency you can only have three children under 3 years ... so at least two of your children always have to be 3 years of age or older and well 4 and 5 year olds are getting harder and harder to find now that more and more provinces have 'full day everyday junior and senior kindergarten.

    I have not run into any trouble being private - in my province our Day Nursery Act inadvertently promoting private home childcare as the 'desirable business model' ... because the rules allow you to have 5 children plus your own and whatever age groups you want and to charge whatever the market will bare ... so with no middle man taking a portion of the clients fees to cover their 'business costs' of operating the agency it allows private providers to charge LESS than agency care while making MORE income for themselves .... it is just the more viable business model because the resources, toy lending library, professional development that agency offer are also available within the community to 'private home childcare owners' who are interested ... so win win!
    Children construct their own intelligence. The adult must provide activities and context, but most of all must be able to listen. Children need proof that adults believe in them. Their three great desires are to be listened to, to understand, and to demonstrate that they are exactly what we expect."
    Loris Malaguzzi

  3. #3
    Thank you for your feedback. Our agency went through the accreditation process and passed, but when we came up for review this past month accreditation was denied. I am just finding that the hassle and stress of meeting their demands (which some, to me, seem so ridiculous), is getting to be too much. I completely agree with safety regulations, but some of the ways they expect you us to interact with the children is just not something I am on board with. I would love to hear from some Alberta providers who have been through this.

  4. #4
    Euphoric ! Sandbox Sally's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2011
    292 Times in 225 Posts
    I am in Ontario, but I would never go with an agency. They take a cut of your pay, and offer little in return. I also wouldn't be comfortable with someone breathing down my neck, doing inspections, etc. I think if you have a reasonable business sense, and are willing to wait a little bit for your spaces to fill, going private is the only way to fly.

    Good luck!

  5. #5
    Euphoric !
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    949 Times in 781 Posts
    I have to agree with Alpha. I can't imagine wanting to have someone looking over my shoulder all the time and love being self-employed.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2011
    37 Times in 30 Posts
    I'm in Alberta, Calgary and I'm private. I don't need an agency as I have the experience, qualifications and I can fill my spots easily. There is nothing! agencies can give me so why should I share my hard earned money with them to tell me how to run my business? No thanks.

    I'm sure you will be fine especially, you are not new to this profession.

    Good luck(not that you need it)

  7. #7
    Euphoric !
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    239 Times in 191 Posts
    I am a little north of Calgary. I looked into linking up with the local family services agency, and frankly, I did not see a lot of benefits to it.

    Pros: they set the fees, charge the fees, collect the money, find your clients, you are able to take in subsidized kids (probably the biggest benefit in my mind), there are a number of resources available (courses/classes, toy lending libraries, playgroups, etc), and some parents only want to go with a "licensed" dayhome

    Cons: they set the fees, find your clients, determine how holidays/sick days work, there are greater restrictions on the age/number of children you can care for, I have not heard good things about some of the folks responsible for the "regulation" and doing the drop-in visits

    My number one concern was that I felt, essentially, like I was an employee of the agency. I didn't want that, as I wanted to be my own boss. Call me a control freak, hahaha! I am certainly not saying that there is no reason to be licensed/accredited/work with an agency. I just don't believe that it's for me.

  8. #8
    Starting to feel at home...
    Join Date
    Sep 2011
    4 Times in 3 Posts
    I am in Calgary orginally was with an agency and just didn't find it worth it. I like being private. You could also look into switching agencies if you like the security of being with them. Most of the ones in Calgary that I know of you set your own fees and just remember to add money to cover the agency fee. The other thing is depending what level of ECE(or whatever its called) you get money from the gov't if you are with an agency which you don't get being private. Also is your insurance with the agency if so you would have to get private insurance

  9. #9
    Thank you for all your input. I am still looking at going private. I like that I don't have to collect fees from the families. Also my agency was accredited but unfortunately just lost that, although they are reapplying. So you do get extra money for that from the government. Its a big step for me to leave them!

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