Having worked in a managerial position as Head of Operations at Ecobank, Jeanne Dignité Musabimana realised the struggles that she, and other women, went through to balance work and family. So she quit her job and started ‘Kids Land Day Care Centre’ this year to provide parental assistance to children while their mothers can comfortably go about their duties. Women Today’s Sharon Kantengwa had a chat with her on how day care centres are assisting today’s working mothers.
How were you inspired to leave your job to start a day care centre?
I have always loved children. When I was young, I would invite them to our home to teach them different things, including the Bible. I was also a Sunday school teacher and worked with children for ten years before I had my own. When I had my first child, while in The United Kingdom, I realised that they had things like play grounds and children’s festivals that we didn’t have at home. When I came back home to work for the bank, it hit hard that we had very few facilities for children and that’s when I thought of making a playground for the children.
Being in a managerial position, I could also see what mothers at my workplace would go through and yet they still had to deliver. They often complained of high costs at the day care centre and it also required an ongoing commitment. I talked to some of my friends to help not only me, but also target middle class working mothers. We streamlined our vision and that’s how this day care was born. We had a big project in mind but we decided to start small.
As a child care entrepreneur, how do you get parents to trust you with their children?
As a child care entrepreneur and a parent myself, I know what parents are looking for when choosing a daycare place; a safe and clean place, a loving environment where children are happy and feel loved, good activities that will help them develop and, qualified staff. That is what we offer at Kids Land. We also keep a feedback system that enables us to continuously meet parents’ expectations.
Childcare can be hectic. How do you keep it together?
By having a plan for every month, week and day. When you have organised the day and know which activities to do at a specific time, everyone is happy. Another thing is to have a routine and stick to it. Children thrive well under an organised routine.
What do people need to know about starting a daycare centre?
Well, I think people starting daycare should know that it requires consistent commitment and passion for children. When you love kids and are committed to their learning and growing you can succeed. They also need knowledge about Early Child Development.
Are you all required to be skilled in First Aid and other health issues that may arise, or do you have a nurse on standby?
We train our staff in basic First Aid. We also have a medical emergency policy that we follow in collaboration with parents.
What was your most hectic day like?
I don’t think I have ever had a day that is out of the norm. There are times children are not interested in the planned activities. But once you identify the reason and do the needful, like a change of activities, it makes the day a lot better.
What would you recommend parents to consider when choosing a daycare centre?
The safety and cleanliness of the place/centre and the environment, to see if it is loving and child-friendly. They should also check on the programmes offered by the centre.
Are there various packages offered or does every parent choose a specific programme?
We have different products that can suit every parent’s needs and budget. We do three monthly packages where we have full day, half day and also part time, where parents choose few days a week, and they can also bring their child during emergency periods when they don’t have to book for service. They can choose half or full day depending on their needs. I believe this gives parents a peace of mind so that, if anything is wrong with your children’s caretakers, you can have someone to take care of them on short notice.
We also have after school clubs where we do coaching and help children with their homework. We also have a playground where parents can bring their children to play during the weekend.
What are the most important qualifications required to work at a daycare centre?
The most important qualification is communication skills because the kids need a caretaker that will talk and engage them. Also, this job is tiring and demanding and therefore, requires someone who loves children and is patient with them because their minds are blank, which means they do not want to be shouted at. Also, they need to have clean records for the safety of the children.
Why do you think so many people are choosing daycare centres over maids?
Through my interaction with parents, maids tend to be so busy that they hardly have enough time for the children. They are also limited in their knowledge regarding what they are required to do for the kids. Children’s brains are blank and they therefore need to be engaged through interactions so that they can learn fast. They need a simulated environment to build up their communication skills.
What are your plans for the future?
I intend to expand the daycare facilities with enough play materials for the children and expand this business, although this will take time as it requires a lot of investment.