There is a myth Janet Butcher would like to debunk. “Child care is not babysitting!” she says emphatically. Janet and her husband, Darrell Butcher, are the owners and directors of Tender Heart Child Care in Johnson County, Kentucky. “We work really hard to teach the children and make sure they are getting nutritious meals and snacks. We provide an important community service.”
Janet started providing high-quality child care in her home years ago, when her own children were infants. She had always wanted to open a child care center, even before she started her home-based business. When the Butchers found themselves empty nesters with greatly reduced demands from home, they decided the timing was right to take the plunge.
At about the same time, Janet saw an advertisement in the newspaper for MACED’s FastTrac New Ventures class and enrolled. Says Janet, “It was extremely helpful because I really had no clue what it took to open a business. I got help with estimating what we would need to bring in each month to survive, which helped me decide on the rates I would need to charge. I also got help with other things I hadn’t considered, like how to pick a name and design the business. Opening the child care center definitely would have been much more difficult without FastTrac.”
The Butchers where thrilled when a building came up for sale in downtown Paintsville, providing the ideal location for their child care center. Explains Janet, “I thought it would be easy to finance. It wasn’t.” Janet did not have a good experience when she approached a bank for financing. She summarizes: “It was very discouraging.”
Undaunted, she approached MACED for financing. “What a different experience that was!” Janet says. “Regina (Becknell, Loan Officer) was so laid-back and was willing to help me out in any way I needed, giving me pointers and shooting me in the right direction for answers. I was done with the loan application in no time, and it was not a difficult process at all.”
The Butchers received a $109,000 commercial real estate loan from MACED in 2008 to purchase the building in downtown Paintsville. After seven months remodeling the building, Tender Heart Child Care opened its doors in October 2008. It was soon running at full capacity of 40 children, with a waiting list two pages long. “We have three on the waiting list right now that aren’t even born yet!” marvels Janet.
Janet was so impressed with the FastTrac class that all of her seven employees and Darrell recently attended MACED’s first FastTrac course targeted specifically for child care. Says Janet,“I wanted them to know where I was coming from and to understand what you have to put into a business to make it work. It was really helpful.”
The Butchers have now set their sights on opening additional child care centers. “There is a big need for high-quality child care in the area,” says Janet. “Someday soon we hope to open a child care center in another county that needs it.”
“High quality childcare in Appalachian Kentucky is absolutely integral to efforts to create economic opportunity in the area,” says Becknell. “Parents are seeking childcare that provides not only a safe environment, but one focused on learning, as well. Tender Heart Child Care’s efforts are building a better future in Johnson County by providing a strong foundation now for its future leaders.”