BEDC Day Care Matters Seminar attendees and presenters. *Photo supplied
BEDC Day Care Matters Seminar attendees and presenters. *Photo supplied

The Bermuda Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) hosted a seminar targeted to existing and new entrepreneurs interested in starting a Day Care on Thursday, 20th of February.

Over forty people attended the Day Care Matters Seminar, held at the Bermuda Industrial Union from 5:30pm – 7:30pm. The seminar covered the requirements for Starting and Operating a Successful Day Care and Identifying the Right Facility.

The seminar opened with a welcome by BEDC Chairman, Mr. Nick Kempe who highlighted the fact that parents were being more selective when identifying a day care facility. Mr. Kempe stated that “[the goal of the BEDC] is to provide you with the information and tools necessary to establish a facility that will not only meet the demands of parents today, but will also be compliant with Government regulations.”

The first half of the seminar focused on starting and operating the day care with moving testimonials from Elicia Hollis, owner of Sweet Pea Nursery and Judith Welch, owner of The Onion Patch Academy. In addition, Norma Jean Daniels, a student in the PACE Certificate in Childcare Programme, shared her experience taking the programme. Ms. Hollis stated that she left a financially lucrative career as VP of a Hedge Fund to pursue her dream of owning her own Day Care. She cautioned attendees that “operating a Day Care has to be something that you love because it is not the most lucrative business venture.” Mrs. Welch provided attendees with a step by step guide of what was required when she started her business. She identified six main areas that attendees needed to focus on: 1) Planting seeds – building your business plan, 2) Finding the right location, 3) Getting the word out about your day care facility, 4) Staffing - Identifying the right people, 5) Show me the money! – knowing how much will be needed to get started and 6) Overcoming challenges/setbacks – perseverance. Both Ms. Hollis and Mrs. Welch stressed the importance of identifying the right people to represent the company brand. They both act as teachers/assistant teachers in their respective day care. Ms. Hollis offered that she obtained her Certificate in Childcare from the PACE programme at the Bermuda College and stated that the courses were invaluable. Ms. Daniels, a current student in the Certificate in Daycare Programme shared details on the types of courses that she was taking, noting that she found the course on health & safety most informative. As part of the Certificate programme, students engage in a two week internship at an existing Day Care Facility and Ms. Daniels offered that she was currently volunteering at The Onion Patch Academy.

The second half of the seminar helped attendees understand what is required to identify the right facility and the regulatory requirements associated with operating a Day Care. Ms. Susan Hill Davidson Senior Environmental Health Officer at Environmental Health reviewed The Children Act 1998 and the Day Care Centre Regulations Act 1999. She highlighted the main areas of focus in order to obtain a license which included: programmes, personnel, premises and equipment. Ms. Hill Davidson also provided attendees with an easy to read flow chart which clearly identified the steps necessary to obtain a license.

Mr. Larry Williams, Assistant Director of Development and Management and Gordon Ness, Building Control Officer offered insight on the requirements from the Department of Planning. Mr. Williams referenced the presentation from Ms. Hill Davidson, stating that the Environmental Health Department

should be the first stop prior to making application to the Department of Planning. He advised that Day Care Centre owners would apply for planning permission under the Social Development policy which meets a local need for educational, health or welfare related activities. Thus it is possible to establish a Day Care Centre in Residential 1 and 2 zones. Mr. Williams advised that the approval for operation of the facility is at the discretion of the Board provided that they are satisfied that the proposal complies with development standards. Mr. Ness added that his role as Building Control Officer is to issue the occupancy certificate once all planning approvals have been met.

The final presenter of the evening was Lee Simmons, Vice President Corporate Banking of Butterfield Bank. Mr. Simmons advised attendees to thoroughly assess their financial needs before seeking assistance. He indicated that the Bank wants to partner with its clients to help them reach their financial goals, but it is important for each business owner to understand their business and how the finances relate to their request for funding. Mr. Simmons suggested compiling a business plan complete with financial projections are one of the ways to help to achieve this objective.

Lucrecia Ming, BEDC Small Business Director and seminar organiser stated "It was important for the BEDC to host this seminar, because it was an opportunity for us to connect those that may be unemployed or underemployed with potential employers as well as provide them with the information necessary to create their own jobs." Mr. Kempe closed the seminar thanking attendees and the presenters for their informative presentations. He stated, “Today’s seminar was an opportunity for you to take the next step toward entrepreneurship. Never give up, continue to pursue your passion and know the BEDC is here to assist you achieve your goals.”

About BEDC

Bermuda Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) is Bermuda’s premier source of free confidential business advice for entrepreneurs. The mission is to serve Bermuda’s local business community with the highest degree of professionalism by providing, authoritative business advice; counsel and loan guarantee support. For more information visit www.bedc.bm