In modern society, the need for early childhood education has grown steadily. With this need, there are many choices for early childhood education facilities for parents to send their children to. Parents are seeking organized centers where their children are safe and where they know their children will have equal opportunities to learn and play.
Janice Palmer, Early Childhood Administrator and Chief Executive Officer of The Little People Child Development Center, Inc., has been passionate about the early childhood education industry since her family started growing and she became a parent. Her passion is what led her to ultimately create her business. Since the initial opening of The Little People Child Development Center in Bear, Delaware, in 2007, the company has also opened two new locations in Christiana and New Castle, Delaware.
At the age of 20, Janice Palmer moved from Jamaica to America. She graduated from Southern New Hampshire University and took her post-graduate education at Union College. She graduated in 2001 with an MBA in Business Administration and Management.
After obtaining her education, Janice Palmer worked for several years in public service and then law enforcement. Her first position was in Albany, New York, with the public employee relations board through the budget examiner’s office. Following this role, she joined a management training program with Mohawk Community Bank. She was then offered a position with the federal government and performed compliance and auditing.
Following the birth of her fourth child, Janice Palmer ended up befriending the director of the childcare center one of her children attended. She was interested in learning about the facility and speaking with parents. She strongly felt that the industry could use her knowledge, strengths, and abilities and developed a passion. She created The Little People Child Development Center as a way to care for and educate children within her community.
1. Why did you decide to open The Little People Child Development Center?
I initially became inspired after speaking with the director of a childcare center. She shared some concerns she had about the center and I also spoke with some of the parents of children that attended. I was immediately inspired. I felt that with my personal knowledge and strengths, I could open my own childcare center. I opened my first location in Bear, Delaware.
2. What does a typical day look like for you?
Because most parents start dropping their children off before they head to work, my days start early. I have to make sure that by 5 a.m., I am going over my itinerary for the day. I need to review our programs and strategic planning. I have to ensure I have adequate staffing. I also plan our morning safety huddle.
During the day, I am very hands-on and help out where necessary. I observe staff performance and provide coaching and mentoring. In the afternoons, I meet with parents and staff members.
We then typically prepare for the after-school students to arrive. For older children in our care, we teach transitioning-to-home skills. My workday typically doesn’t end until around 10 p.m.
3. How do you maintain a good work-life balance?
The truth is that because I am running a multi-location business, a balance outside of work can be difficult to achieve. It takes hard word, time, and dedication to run a business. The good thing about my career is that it allows me to spend time with my children, as they frequently come to the facility while I’m working. After all, another reason I opened The Little People Child Development Center was to spend more time with my children.
4. What is the biggest life lesson you’ve learned?
Always talk with others to get ideas, seek feedback, and learn. If I wouldn’t have made friends with the director of a childcare center and if I wouldn’t have spoken with other parents, I wouldn’t have gotten the idea to open my own facility.
Because I believe in open communication, I made sure that we started a parent/teacher committee. Through this committee, the parents and teachers work collaboratively to come up with ideas to improve quality and implement them.
5. What new trends in your industry excite you?
Universal pre-k is a trend and movement that I strongly support and believe in. I think every child should have the right to the best quality of early education. I am hoping universal pre-k becomes a law from three years of age. As of right now, only a few states offer it for all children aged four. In several other states there are forms of voluntary universal pre-k, but most do not include all socio-economic classes.
6. How has The Little People Child Development Center grown from its early days to now?
We started out with the one location in Bear, Delaware. But the demand was there, and we were so busy. We were able to expand, and we now also have locations in Christiana and New Castle.
7. What keeps you motivated?
My children keep me motivated. I wanted to build the best life for them that I possibly could. With The Little People Child Development Center, I have been able to give them a good life and ensure the best possible opportunities for them. I think that for any parent, that is the ultimate motivation.
8. What suggestions do you have for someone starting out in your industry?
If you’re passionate about the industry, just go after it. If you truly enjoy it, it won’t seem like work. For me, that’s what has made all the difference. I absolutely love what I do, so while my days are long, it is all time well spent.
As well, always make sure you communicate with others for idea generation. Sometimes you don’t have all the answers and you need to lean on your team or others to solve problems.
With that being said, also be selective when choosing your team. Make sure that they share your goals and vision. If you’re all cohesive and trying to achieve the same thing, you will work better together and will be able to accomplish your goals.