July 5×5 Night
Voting Closes:

July 22, 2024 11:59 am

About this idea
The Aspen House combines coworking, childcare, and community all under one roof. The Aspen House fills a key gap in the childcare landscape by offering a space for the remote or hybrid, part-time or self employed parent to work on-site while accessing flexible, hourly based childcare rates and sustained through an affordable monthly membership. The majority of childcare options fall into three categories: At home care. Averages $20- $25/hr. Caregiver focused on only your children. Family daycare home. Averages $45 - $65/day. Caregiver focuses on a small group of children. Childcare Center. Averages $250 - $350/week. Prioritizes full time, enrollment, and tuition based care with several staff and children in each setting Except, most families childcare needs don‘t fall neatly into one of these categories. A combination of all three in addition to family and friend support and shifting work schedules is often needed to complete the childcare cycles of needs. The Aspen House‘s joyful, inclusive model bridges these categories through drop-in style childcare with coworking on-site in a flexible environment. This model invites more working parents into community driven coworking spaces and fulfills and unmet need for new parents: there is a fourth option in childcare. It's progressive and tech enabled to make booking childcare as easy as booking a hair appointment. And it’s available at The Aspen House.
I am a mother of a 2 and 4 year old. Becoming a parent during a global pandemic in a rural area profoundly shaped my experiences of young motherhood and the parenting journey. The Aspen House is how I envision reconciling this experience for the next generation of parents who choose to start and raise families in Northern West Michigan, a region seeing tremendous growth in young families, school attendance, and the development of single-family housing units. In the middle of one of several child care gaps I have faced in the past 4 years affecting both of my children, I began to envision what I would have needed to feel supported in the early parenting years. The Aspen House idea was born shortly after and for two years I have continued to hear the need for a drop in model of childcare, that allows parents to choose their dates and times of greatest need while having easy access to resources echoed by other parents in my community. Through informal conversations and queries, I believe that local families average $1,500 - $2,500 per month in childcare expenses, or over 30% of the median gross annual income for a family living in Leelanau County. This doesn’t account for a family’s actual net take home pay, their wraparound care for mornings, evenings, weekends, and center-based closures or additional care with a babysitter or nanny. ALICE (Asset Limited Income Restricted Employed) families such as mine carry a heavy burden in childcare expenses. Considered too well off to apply for financial aid, yet forced to make difficult economic decisions such as one parent leaving the workforce to care for children, putting off long term savings, working several jobs, and spending more than one third of a household income on childcare dwarfing at times housing costs. This is not a sustaining model for growing healthy families in our region, and providing a place for middle class families to thrive, not just survive until their children are old enough for enrollment in tuition free public education. There is currently not a center-based program in Northern West Michigan that focuses on ages 0 - 36 months. The Aspen House hopes to address this through the creation of a multi-generational, flexible childcare facility with pay per hour rates and an affordable monthly membership for the families we serve. With a focus on ages 0 - 3, The Aspen House will serve the whole family from preconception to the preschool years with on-site care, community spaces, coworking and independent work spaces, and practitioner care rooms. The whole family model will ensure that the growing number of families in Northern West Michigan will have an option that allows for flexibility, affordability, and most importantly - resiliency.
What I'll do with $5,000
The Aspen House needs a home. The $5,000 will support a leasehold for a space to open the center. Child Care Center licensing typically takes 3-6 months after an application is submitted.
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