Private Equity in Corporate Daycare Franchises, Versus Holistic, Community-based Early Childhood Education Experiences to Support Whole-Person Thriving

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Image of men in ties and suits starting at reports | Treehouse Learning Early Childhood Education Daycare Boulder Louisville Lafayette East Boulder County
What happens to children and families when shareholder and profits drive the early childhood industry?

What Does a Thriving Community Look Like?

Treehouse Learning exists to help humans thrive and co-create the kind of world we wish for our descendants to inherit. We are actively and deeply invested in shaping the future. No one on the planet has as much of an opportunity and duty to positively lead towards a kinder, gentler future than those who engage in the lives of young children. In fact, the early childcare industry (which encompasses franchised-based corporate daycares, independent quality early childhood education programs, and school-district-based preschool programs) is somewhat of a reflection of a future vision we hope to embody. Intention and impact matter!

In early childhood education, we believe that a stronger, brighter future for all begins with the adults in the room. We are the decision-makers, future shapers, pattern-breakers, change-makers, and brave leaders. We’re the parents. We’re the teachers. The early childhood educators. We’re the community partners, librarians, coaches, and caregivers. As adults, we’re the humans most directly impacting children, each with an accumulation of life experiences, wounds, and memories that shape our own adult brains. We are also the adults who facilitate the experiences that shape the brain development of each child we interact with. Early childhood experiences literally and figuratively shape the future.

A Whole-Business Approach to Whole-People and Whole-Communities

At Treehouse Learning, we take a holistic approach to childcare to a new level! Our business model is oriented to well-being and helping humans thrive, with the underlying belief that a healthy, collaborative, interdependent ecosystem thrives when all of the various parts of it thrive. We see ourselves as an abundant, flourishing community ecosystem that is mutually beneficial and empowering, a community of belonging where what is good for children is also good for adults, our larger community around us, and the health of Treehouse Learning as a business.

This concept of a business as a community-based ecosystem emerged by way of Indigenous knowledge and teachings. As part of their mission, named  Well For Culture, Indigenous authors Chelsey Luger and Thosh Collins outline a holistic model of community-thriving for whole-person well-being that incorporates movement, land, community, ceremony, sacred spaces, sleep, and food. Their Indigenous perspective for living well in modern times supports positive outcomes for all. We use this framework as a model for understanding holistic well-being. These components are embodied in our curriculum at Treehouse Learning, via our focus on purposeful and joyful movement, our food program and mealtime experiences, our Big Circle community ritual to begin each day our community singing experiences, our focus on creative arts, our community engagements, our focus on outdoor/ nature play, our engagement with the land-based systems around us, and our “whole person” focus on balanced integration between mind/body/heart through Brain Gym, social-emotional learning and more!

Treehouse Learning, which resides on the ancestral homelands of the Arapaho, Cheyenne, and Ute people, simultaneously operates as a family-owned, independent local business within complex economic systems and structures. We’re also situated located within the Boulder County housing market, Boulder Valley School District, and are impacted by all sorts of additional cultural and historical factors. While we do operate within the context of existing structures and systems around us, we simultaneously also embrace a holistically beneficial business model that puts people over profits. 

Private Equity sees massive profit potential in the market of Early Childcare industry

Parents who depend on accessible childcare in order to work are pretty captive audiences as a customer segment. Supply and demand impact choice! Market factors dictate that privatized childcare corporations, or daycare centers, can charge as much as the market can bear. Demand is inelastic, supply is low, and childcare corporations are designed to maximize profit.

Private Equity has been rapidly expanding into the private early childhood education sector. In other words, the economically-driven demand for privately-provided daycare is an extractive opportunity for the powerful Private Equity sector to maximize corporate profits, with children, families, and the workforce reduced to inputs within a larger economic model. The primary business objective, under a Private Equity-owned model of corporation-based, de-centralized franchise businesses, is increasing shareholder equity. Profit. 

At Treehouse Learning, we are for People. While Treehouse Learning is technically also a for-profit business, we thrive as a business when we’ve supported the strengthening of our community, on a holistic and whole-person level. We’re fully integrated into our own community, and personally and politically invested in positive outcomes for our community. We seek balance between our duties, roles, and responsibilities in order to run a healthy business that remains in integrity with our vision of making the world a better place. 

We are building community, creating a family, and strengthening relationships. We’re shaping the brains of the adults these children will soon become. We empower them to use their voice today and seek to empower them with skills, resources, and motivation to solve some of the challenges we face as a world tomorrow. We’re creating and supporting the brave, vulnerable, empathetic, and compassionate leadership we believe the world needs.

Image of Frederick Douglass | Treehouse Learning Early Childhood Education Daycare Boulder Louisville Lafayette East Boulder County
In the words of Frederick Douglass, “It is far easier to build strong children than repair broken men.”

Children thrive when the adults and systems around children thrive. As a business, our investment is into the systems, experiences, and knowledge to support thriving all around. Children do better when the staff is doing better. Children do better when their parents do better. Staff, parents, and adults, in general, do better when we’re experiencing holistic well-being. In this journey, we focus on adult-level opportunities to empower self-awareness, self-leadership, and self-competency and support the development of our own sense of Self. We focus on adult-centered opportunities to integrate, organize, and optimize our own brains, increase our emotional intelligence, and build better resilience, coping skills, and empathy. Self-regulated and integrated children thrive around self-regulated and integrated adults. We thrive so that we can model and invite all humans we encounter and engage with to also thrive. 

Treehouse Learning helps humans thrive. When humans are thriving, our communities move towards thriving, and the impact and influence of well-being expand outward, with massive positive ripple effects of the right relationships across all permeable layers of a complex community ecosystem. This is an interconnected web of I-we-world, or concentric layers between Self, family, community, culture, nation, world, planet, etc. Who do we believe to be the ultimate beneficiary of this model? Children, and our future. 

Treehouse Learning: A Holistic Model for Thriving:

  • Family-owned and operated since 1997
  • Owner and Executive Leader’s children are all former or current Treehouse Learning students- this is personal!
  • Local business operates and invests in our own community in eastern Boulder County, on the border between Louisville and Lafayette
  • Exists to support positive outcomes for children, families, staff, community, culture, the world, and the planet
  • Benefits from strengthening families, partnerships, individuals, and communities
  • Independence, sovereignty, and autonomy to offer intentional, responsive, and respectful learning opportunities through our independent curriculum
  • Commitment to move towards a Boulder County liveable wage for 100% of our staff, increasing benefits, and advocating on behalf of the early childhood education workforce
  • Curriculum embeds Brain Gym, a system of intentional movements to activate and integrate all parts of the brain, our Whole-Brain approach
  • Phase I of implementing RULER, a social-emotional framework created by Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence with a mission to use the power of emotions to create a healthier, more equitable, innovative, and compassionate society
  • Curriculum, rooted in playful learning experiences embeds music, creative arts, music, the outdoors, culture, arts, and is inclusive of all learners- each child’s unique brain, body, and heart
  • Investment in relationships within our local community: partnerships with Lafayette Public Library, Mountain Kids Gymnastic and Dance, etc
  • Building community through Waneka Lake Family Picnics, Park Playdates and Parent Meetups
  • Member of Louisville Green Business Program, Lafayette Chamber of Commerce, Louisville Chamber of Commerce– we are in our community
  • Parenting resource opportunities to support strong skills, tools, and resources, as well as build effective communication and relationships at the adult level

Private Equity Owned Franchise-based Daycare Models

  • De-centralized, designed for profit, not strengthen local communities
  • Highly profitable, for Private Equity investors
  • Run as a corporation or franchise, with standardization across individual locations
  • Financial incentive to maximize profits by increasing income (tuition for an extremely sticky customer segment) and reducing costs (quality care is extremely labor-intensive)
  • Lobbying power at the governmental level, with political implications
  • Conflict of interest in system-wide investments in infrastructure of childcare resources due to profit motive
  • Conflict of interest with ensuring staff are paid a liveable wage
  • Financial incentive to operate at minimum levels of quality standards or staff ratios
  • Business model elevates profit/ increasing shareholder equity over best-interest and needs of children, families, staff, and community

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