Why does Hillcrest need to raise funds on top of tuition?
Hillcrest is a non-profit child development center run by a parent volunteer board. The Board updates the strategic plan and budget to present at the annual State of Hillcrest meeting held each spring to gain families’ feedback. Currently, we are in year two of a five-year plan to complete all necessary building upgrades by 2023. Additional goals in the strategic plan centers on increasing staff compensation to a livable wage and further participation in Learn and Grow (Alaska’s quality recognition and improvement system).
Currently, tuition and resource fees cover 95% of the cost to run the center each year, not including building maintenance and necessary upgrades. The rest of the funds to continue the operation of Hillcrest comes from grants and donations. The Development Committee creates a fundraising plan to support the continued success of Hillcrest through the Annual Campaign and grants.
The annual budget is broken down and explained at the State of Hillcrest held in May. Enrollment at Hillcrest is limited by licensing, with set income and costs associated with each child. Hillcrest recognizes that a consistent, secure relationship between caregiver and child is the foundation of a quality childcare situation, which is why Hillcrest has a unique staffing and classroom continuity program. Our current tuition rates alone cannot cover staff salaries and the food program, which require supplemental funding. The food program is a support for working families, and is a cornerstone of our program. The annual budget is broken down and explained at the State of Hillcrest each May, and Christina will be happy to meet with anyone who has additional questions about it.
How are the Annual Campaign funds used?
The Development Committee, with guidance from the Board, sets the campaign goal each year. The 2019 campaign goal of $25,000 is focusing on the essential support of our skilled staff through staff appreciation bonuses, completing the Preschool bathroom remodel, and seeding the continued facility upgrades.
The relationship between caregiver and child is the foundation of Hillcrest’s ability to provide quality care. In appreciation for that care, Hillcrest families and alumni have a long history of contributing to an annual appreciation fund each holiday season. The reality of early childhood is that staff subsidize each child’s tuition through their low wages. As explained above, and during the State of Hillcrest meetings, staff salaries are the biggest budget item that we control.
Hillcrest has many long-term caregivers who have made caring and educating young children their career and deserve compensation to be a livable wage. While we have made progress in the past few years, we are still short an average $4.27/hour to pay a livable wage for our current staff and $.52/hour below the average hourly pay to childcare staff in Anchorage.* Hillcrest families, both current and alumni, show their appreciation for the care provided to their children through participation in the Annual Campaign, which funds staff appreciation: appreciation funds are used to provide a holiday gift based on longevity to ensure equitable distribution. Additional appreciation funds are used to provide appropriate outdoor gear for the teachers and small items of appreciation during the year, such as a pair of movie tickets for their birthday.
The past two years have seen the kitchen remodeled to commercial standards, new water piping and flooring through the infant-toddler section of the building, new boiler and heating registers in the downstairs toddler and preschool building, and a connection from the sewer line to the preschool classroom. This year’s campaign funds will ensure the bathroom in preschool is complete with new flooring, heating registers, and cubby area. We have served children in preschool for 51 years with no restrooms or water in the classroom. The teachers are SO excited for the ease to come during the children’s day with toilets, several sinks, a drinking fountain/water bottle filling station, and a new cubby area in the back of the classroom. This upgrade to the preschool classroom will open up another adult bathroom and storage as we transition the current preschool bathroom into a staff bathroom.
The upcoming large projects that will round out the Board’s goal of completing all facility upgrades by 2023, are to replace the original roof on the infant/toddler building, perform some enticing play yard upgrades, and to update the fire alarm system (at least one of our alumni will be very excited about that!). Talk to Ms. Christina for further information about capital projects.
*Figures for Livable Wage calculations came from https://livingwage.mit.edu/counties/02020. Figures for average childcare wages in Anchorage came from http://live.laborstats.alaska.gov/occ/occ.cfm?o=399011.
What is a Sustaining Family?
Hillcrest Children’s Center provides quality care for every child in an environment focused on developing a foundation for a lifelong love of learning and respect for self and others. As discussed above, tuition does not cover the costs to meet our mission. By making a monthly donation, you help ensure Hillcrest’s ability to continue providing services for Alaskan children for the next generation.