Suzanne is an Executive Director in Child Care

Suzanne has been Executive Director of Dartmouth Daycare Centre for 10 years and thinks the future looks bright for graduates who want to pursue a career in childcare management. For not-for-profit childcare programs, the executive director is advised and supported at arm’s length by a Board of Directors comprised of people from the community in various professions or those with knowledge of early childhood care issues.

“With the increased number of childcare facilities opening in the last five years, both private and not-for-profit centres will be looking for trained directors to run quality programs,” says Suzanne.

After graduating with her BA in Child and Youth Study, Suzanne worked in toddler and infant development and taught childhood development courses at an institute in Newfoundland before she came to Dartmouth Daycare Centre. Before becoming executive director, she worked on the floor with preschoolers and grew from there to understanding every aspect within the organization. She credits the Child and Youth degree program with giving her a holistic perspective and an idea of the psychology of childcare as well as the social, community and administrative perspective.

Along with a degree and experience working with children in a daycare setting, Suzanne feels the most important skills for a childcare manager are good communication, a leadership style that is appropriate for the organization, as well as a sense of the personality and work styles of staff.

The childcare program operates in a downtown facility and another in a suburban area. The program serves a diverse clientele of professional families, working or non- working parents, single mothers and some families in distress who need child care. Suzanne shares her time between locations and works closely with a head teacher at each centre. Along with management and administration of the centres, she makes time in the afternoon to see the children and play with them in the classrooms. The Board of Directors meet once monthly to discuss pertinent issues and Suzanne presents a monthly report that includes a financial overview, programs, staffing concerns and capacity.

For childcare managers, recruitment and retention of staff is a challenge, so Suzanne stresses the importance of making sure prospective employees fit the needs of the daycare. Another challenge is making decisions while trying to balance financial accountability and quality of care.

From recruitment and retention of staff to balancing the financial accountability and quality care of the centre, Suzanne faces professional challenges daily. “Expertise in accounting is important and we need to run the centre as a business, but it is a balancing act,” she says. “At times you can become focused on the business and not enough on the program. So there’s always an ethically driven decision that enlightens your perspective when you consider how many children should be in our centre for quality of care.”

“It’s all about passion,” Suzanne advises students. “If you’re driven by passion, you will be excited to wake up and go to work in the morning. It may not be the highest paid profession, but it pays so much in a truly wonderful life experience.”