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Combines Learning With Child Care
by Beverly Dykes
In 2012, Kiddie Academy was named one of the “Hottest 125 Franchises for 2012” by Opportunity World Magazine. It was a fitting tribute for this industry innovator that has been providing quality education-based child care to children between the ages of 6 weeks and 5 years, and before and after school programs for children ages 6 to 12 years, for more than two decades. The selection was all the more prestigious given that Kiddie Academy was the only child care franchise to be included on the list.
The first Kiddie Academy Child Care Learning Center was opened in October of 1981 in Baltimore County, Maryland. The aim was to combine learning with child care in order to truly make a difference in the lives of families seeking quality child care programs. The long term vision is that this will ultimately contribute to creating strong communities (involving connections among children, families and educators) that shape and inspire children for the future. The first version of the proprietary education-based curriculum was launched through the efforts of Co-founder Pauline Miller. In 1984, the son of Co-founders George and Pauline Miller, Michael Miller, joined the company. As of 1986, there were four Kiddie Academies in operation. The first freestanding Kiddie Academy prototype debuted in 1988. In 1992, under the direction of George Miller, Kiddie Academy began taking steps to become a franchisor, with the first franchise unit subsequently opened in Maryland in 1994. George and Pauline Miller retired from day-to-day operations as of 1996, at which time current Chairman/CEO Michael Miller took over the company leadership. In 2001, the growing chain’s proprietary curriculum was copyrighted. In 2007 the company relocated to new headquarters and launched the latest version of its prototype design. In 2009, the opening of its 100th franchised academy location was celebrated company wide. The company presently has over 130 academies operating throughout approximately 22 states in the U.S., and continues to increase its presence via dozens of new franchised units being developed in emerging markets each year.
Kiddie Academy employs a team of experts, with decades of experience in the fields of education, center design, construction, marketing and operations. Over the course of its years in business, this team has developed and honed its method and lesson plan for designing, establishing and maintaining superb quality child care centers. The foundation of the curriculum provides a sound “learning blueprint” for every child enrolled, while the balanced daily programs incorporate aspects of playing, learning, resting and nutritious meals.
Based upon decades of experience in and knowledge of the child care industry, Kiddie Academy has developed a comprehensive set of systems and methodologies regarding operating, business management and quality control procedures which are utilized to maintain uniform, high quality standards at all of its company-owned academies as well as throughout the Kiddie Academy franchise system. A key component for creating and maintaining top notch care centers is a strategic floor plan design and state-of-the-art safety features and equipment. The format presents a safe, clean, nurturing and enjoyable environment. The company takes advantage of the latest educational software and technology to make learning engaging and fun. The academies also provide nutritious meals and ample playground time for activities that promote physical health.
Another foundation element is the proprietary curriculum. Kiddie Academy has developed an education-based program for its centers that utilizes developmentally appropriate materials designed to stimulate and promote children’s intellectual, social, physical and emotional growth, via an assortment of activities which encourage learning and exploring. The Life Essentials curriculum prepares children for school and for life via a focus on social, emotional, physical and cognitive outcomes which are aligned with regulatory state standards based on achieved skills, knowledge and abilities. Its philosophy focuses on developmentally appropriate curriculum, health and fitness, character education and technology. That each Kiddie Academy is a component of a nationally networked franchise additionally ensures compliance with standards, and a consistent experience for the children. The academies incorporate a number of features, programs and techniques designed to promote and support the curriculum, while enabling the trained, attentive staff to assist children in developing the confidence and self-esteem necessary to meet the challenges of the future.
With its core business being caring for children while raising their awareness and understanding of the world around them, the company measures its success by the thousands of satisfied parents who continually entrust their children to the centers each day. The system also emphasizes continuous, open communication between teachers and parents concerning each child’s development. This is regarded as a critical aspect of maintaining high levels of parental confidence and satisfaction. The accomplishments of the children is an inherent reward, as they master the basic problem solving and social skills and acquire the strength of character that will foster their ongoing success.
The company’s success in locating sites is a result of an ability to adapt its designs to a variety of real estate settings. Kiddie Academy typically occupies single story freestanding buildings ranging in size from 7,500 to 9,000 sq. ft. (with a minimum of a 2,500 sq. ft. outdoor play area; 4,000+ sq. ft. is preferred) on a minimum of an acre of land. Trade area criteria include strong population growth, proximity to high growth residential markets, nearby local elementary schools, and convenience to major commuter routes and/or good daytime population. The site must be zoned for or subject to approval for child care, permitted by right or a conditional/special-use permit. Signage requirements include building and monument signage. Each academy is constructed in accordance with specific requirements and designed to comply with state licensing requirements and appropriate staff-to-child ratios.
An important aspect of its strategy for growth is the relationships the experienced corporate real estate team establishes with landlords, developers and franchisees. High quality, attractive facilities developed in locations that make good business sense are the goal. Among desired demographic benchmarks are a population of 100,000 residing within a 5.5 mile radius (with children under age five numbering approx. 8,000), and an average annual household income of $80,000. Ideal sites will feature easy access, convenience to commuter routes, and proximity to office, industrial, institutional, retail and other businesses, in addition to residential communities. The company is interested in new construction build-to-suit or existing space lease opportunities, or a purchase of land or building. The standard lease term commitment is a minimum 15 years, with three (3) five year options. The company projects opening 15 to 20 new facilities annually, through 2015.
In order to achieve its goals, Kiddie Academy provides a caring, nurturing and supportive environment that is ideal for promoting a developmentally appropriate curriculum that encompasses all facets of learning for a range of age groups. Parents benefit from the peace of mind in knowing their children are in a safe, secure, stable environment staffed by trained child care professionals who are passionate about educating children and sensitive to each families needs.
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