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The Business of Early Care and Education: Supporting Scale & Sustainability Through Shared Services

In partnership with the Penfield Children’s Center, CED hosted a luncheon in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on the topic of The Business of Early Care and Education: Supporting Scale and Sustainability through Shared Services. The forum explored the national shared services movement in the area of early childhood education and was led by John Weiser, executive director of Opportunities Exchange, a leader in the early childhood shared services movement.

Shared Services is a community-based strategy that enables early care and education (ECE) businesses to share costs and deliver services in a more streamlined and efficient way – making it possible to deliver higher quality programming for Milwaukee’s young children. By participating in a Shared Services Alliance, ECE businesses become stronger, more accountable, more financially sound and efficient, and better equipped to offer affordable, high-quality services. 

The goals of the forum were to:

  • Increase knowledge of the shared services approach and how it is being used to strengthen early care and education programs across the country;
  • Increase awareness of local shared services;
  • Discuss opportunities to enhance early care and education business practices; and
  • Build community engagement for shared services in early childhood education.

More than 50 business, philanthropic and early childhood leaders participated in the program. In addition to John Weiser, speakers included Tim Sheehy, President of the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce; Rob Henken, executive director of the Public Policy Forum; and David Linsmeier, President of the Mary Linsmeier Schools, among others.

The response to the meeting was extremely positive and follow-up work has already begun in the community to consider the potential to organize child care providers to take advantage of shared services. The concept of shared services resonated with business leader Tim Sheehy, who said, “Charter schools are a good example of shared services. They’re engaged in this for the very same reasons that child care needs to do it. As a small business, you don’t have enough volume to justify not doing it.” He later said, “Help me by outlining what kind of alliance you want with the business community. I’m with you on getting this done the right way."