The first of 10 children, NYCHA resident Kayereathea Boyd, 36, learned early in life how to feed, change, and burp toddlers. Those life skills proved useful when she participated in the 15-week NYCHA Childcare Business Pathways program (CBP), which helps residents establish licensed, home-based childcare businesses. The practical business skills she learned in the program allowed her to open her own small enterprise, Kaye’s Cubs Family Day Care, which can serve as many as six children who are 6 weeks to 12 years old.
Ms. Boyd, a resident of Sterling Place Rehabs in Brooklyn, started as most entrepreneurs do: by alerting family and friends that her new childcare center was open for business. Then she posted fliers on bulletin boards and gave away printed T-shirts. She also attended church services and parent-teacher association meetings, and stood vigilantly outside schools where parents waited for dismissal, and wherever else potential clients gathered, to pitch her services and pass out newly printed business cards.
Good customer service helps maintain client loyalty, she says. “On a child’s birthday, I bake a cake, yellow with white frosting and sprinkles. Like all parties there are gifts, cards, balloons, and hats. The cake is large enough for parents to take some home.”
What matters most on a daily basis, though, is setting a caring tone, especially when caring for children who have not yet learned how to talk: “Keep your voice low and positive.” She schedules feedings and diaper changes at the same time to establish the routine that helps children develop a sense of time. Making some minor changes to the space, such as adding safety guards at corners and installing a gate to separate the living room from the kitchen, ensures a safe environment where toddlers can crawl and explore as they wish.
Although CBP provided her essential business skills and helped her obtain necessary certification and licensing, what she found most valuable was the simple principle, “Don’t settle!” By that she means, “Know your value and don’t undersell your professional services.”
While income is what keeps her business going, what keeps her going is seeing the look on the faces of the children when their parents drop them off in the morning. For Kayereathea Boyd, that excitement and love at the start of each workday is the best compensation possible.
Fellow childcare business owner Alisha Robinson is also motivated by the children who love dropping by her apartment to play games or get help with homework, as well as the parents she is supporting. As a lifelong Carleton Manor resident, growing up at the Rockaways development made Ms. Robinson feel like her neighbors were family. She recalled fondly a neighbor who watched many young people, and believes that it’s now her turn to give back.
Ms. Robinson opened her home daycare, Hearts in Crisis, after graduating from CBP in 2017. Her mornings might include drawing and singing with 3-year-olds, while her afternoons are spent helping middle schoolers with homework questions or strategies for chess moves. She is trying to fill the social needs of the youth of her Queens neighborhood, so in addition to the children she cares for during the day, she also hosts building-wide events that include paint parties and Halloween and Christmas celebrations.
As she goes about her busy day, she takes inspiration from something tennis star Arthur Ashe famously said, and which she has taken as a personal motto: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
NYCHA’s Office of Resident Economic Empowerment & Sustainability (REES) is currently recruiting for its next cohort of Childcare Business Pathways. The 15-week business course is free. If you are a NYCHA public housing resident or NYCHA Section 8 voucher holder interested in opening your own home-based childcare business, please attend an upcoming information session. Information sessions will be held in the Bronx, Manhattan, Queens, and Brooklyn in November and December. Visit http://opportunitynycha.org/events/categories/childcare-business-pathways-program/ for more information.
Upcoming Childcare Business Info Sessions
Thursday, November 14, 2019 (Bronx) | 6:30pm to 8:30pm
Edenwald Community Center
1150 E. 229th Street Bronx, NY 10466
Directions: 5 train to Baychester Ave. or 2 train to E. 233 St. & Bx31 bus to E. 229th St. & E. 229th Dr S.
Tuesday, November 19, 2019 (Manhattan) | 5:30pm to 7:30pm
East Harlem Neighborhood Action Center
158 East 115th Street (bet. Lexington Ave. & 3rd Ave.)
New York, NY 10029
Directions: 6 train to 116th St.
Wednesday, November 20, 2019 (Queens) | 6:00pm to 8:00pm
Riis Settlement Queensbridge Community Center
10-25 41st Avenue (bet. 10th St. & 12th St.)
Long Island City, NY 11101
Directions: F train to 21st-Queensbridge
Wednesday, December 4, 2019 (Brooklyn) | 6:00pm to 8:00pm
NYCHA REES Office
787 Atlantic Avenue, 2nd Floor (bet. Clermont Ave. & Vanderbilt Ave.)
Brooklyn, NY 11238
Directions: C train to Clinton-Washington Ave. (use Clinton Ave. exit)
Wednesday, December 11, 2019 (Manhattan) | 6:00pm to 8:00pm
Sondra Thomas Apartments
102 West 91st St., Ground Floor (bet. Columbus Ave. & Amsterdam Ave.)
New York, NY 10024
Directions: 1, B, or C train to 86th St. OR 1, 2, 3, B, or C train to 96th St.