Owner of The Growing Patch 24-Hour Children’s Academy
One of the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Enterprising Women of Color (EWOC) Business Center Certification Training Cohort 3A participants and is in the beginning stages of getting her business certified.
Domonica “Shay” Glenn, Founder and Owner of The Growing Patch 24-Hour Children’s Academy, was one of the women selected to participate in the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA) Enterprising Women of Color (EWOC) Business Center’s Certification Training Cohort 3A from May to June 2021. Shay identifies as an African American woman and holds a bachelor’s degree in Business from the University of Phoenix. She also served in the United States Navy. Although Shay’s background doesn’t lie directly in Early Childhood Education (ECE), she took her life experiences and worked her way up towards achieving her goals. After taking numerous courses and workshops to better understand the ECE community and taking PATCH training courses, she founded The Growing Patch 24-Hour Children’s Academy. In addition, Shay devotes time to non-profit organizations and has even started one of her very own, Growing `Ohana.
“Real-life experience is something that can make a significant difference in running a business. Becoming a business owner is one thing, but actually understanding the working parts of your company is another. When my staff needs assistance, I step in and work as if I were one of my staff members. These experiences are extremely vital to the business and one of the key things to have when striving to become a great business owner and leader. Additionally, with my passion for helping children and families, you may see us around the non-profit realm. The Growing Ohana allows us to help low-income families and children go to pre-school and get the education they need. To do so, we are currently coming up with a plan to provide transportations to the facilities. I also started my non-profit, Growing Ohana in 2020. We would love to take 3-5-year-old children specifically to prepare them for Kindergarten. I believe that all children should get the beginning and foundational pieces to their lives they deserve. No one can choose their parents nor their situations, but what we can do is provide them an environment where they can make their own decisions.” –Domonica “Shay” Glenn, Founder & Owner, The Growing Patch 24-Hour Children’s Academy
The Growing Patch 24-Hour Children’s Academy is a 24-hour childcare service for families from all parts of life. They accept children from 6-weeks to 9 years old and teach them the proper academic skills and social exposure needed. With a 42 children capacity, they have a total of 26 children currently enrolled: 12 between the ages of 6-weeks to 2 years old, and 14 2-5-year-olds. Shay’s inspiration behind starting her business derived from personal experience and witnessing the increase of childcare needs seen throughout various industries, especially in the Navy.
“I quickly realized the drastic need for a 24-hour childcare service for those parents who work in different industries; from the military to retail or to working in a hospital. As a child, I learned firsthand that not everyone can be qualified to become a caregiver of a child, then learned how to become a caregiver myself upon becoming a big sister and the babysitter for my family and neighborhood. Fast-forward to my time in the Navy, I knew a lot of sailors who had to leave because they weren’t able to get the support needed for their children and it was sad. Then when moving on to working in a private sector, it was the same thing. This realization derived from the understanding that if those people who are trying to make a difference and make a living from their families don’t have the support, how can growth occur? So, I finally decided to start my journey because it was time to provide that solution and assistance, and I wanted to change that…” –Domonica “Shay” Glenn
In 2017, she jumpstarted her business and officially opened for business in 2018. In August of 2021, she will start her 4th academic school year with hopes to increase her staff. Although the year has not officially begun, Shay mentions that a waitlist has already accumulated over the past few months after intentionally keeping enrollment numbers low during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We were so blessed to remain open, however, I struggled with the idea that I couldn’t operate at full capacity. The thought of all the families needing childcare was very hard for me, but I had to think of their parent’s profession, the safety of my business, and the 27 families that would be affected. What eased my mind was upon the state reopening and being able to discuss with new families to enroll their child for childcare for the new school year…”.
Shay is a bootstrap businesswoman who goes after her dreams and aspirations no matter what. She maximizes her functionality of both being a business owner and working in the childcare industry by always looking for new ways to grow and make the industry a better place. As a business within the CARES economy, Shay stresses that childcare services are the foundation pieces to allowing other industries to thrive as well.
“I believe that we are number one in the CARES industry because if other CARES workers such as doctors, nurses, firefighters, or teachers don’t have childcare, they cannot go to work. It’s something we see often. Childcare is a pliable industry! Many people can say that ‘family can take care of family’ or ‘parents are supposed to take care of their them’, but who is going to ensure that the child is getting exactly what they need and the reciprocated attention their parents may be giving to their patients or students? I’m not against any of this but it does depend on the educational level that child is receiving. If they are on their iPad or just watching tv all day, their brain isn’t getting the stimulation they need during that stage of life. I’m not speaking from a negative point of view but from reality. From personal experience, I know what it feels like…Because of this, I think we can be supported by not just being viewed as a babysitting service and start viewing us as an accredited childcare service! It’s one thing to talk about what we do, but it’s another with actually being hands-on and working with children one-on-one. I want someone k to come in and do what we do day in and day out, experience it, and then make a judgement on what qualifies us for grants or scholarships. It’s amazing to see how much people underestimate our business and services. I want to be able to provide my teachers, caregivers, and children with scholarships, grants, and a living wage so we can all grow together!” –Domonica “Shay” Glenn
There are many challenges she continues to face, but the main three she defined were the misconceptions of childcare services, finding qualified employees and being able to pay them accordingly, and being recognized as an industry in need of financial support and resources to grow her company.
“Finding qualified employees has become very difficult because there are different standards to be considered to work as a teacher or caregiver for children. Throughout the different states, there can be one state requiring several hours of training to qualify as a childcare employee but another state can require a degree as a qualification. I want to standardize these qualifications across the states to make it easier for people to get hired regardless of where they are. On that same note, childcare employees should get higher pay because of the number of things they deal with in a day. This industry doesn’t have the easiest time with being financially supported because of the misconceptions…” –Domonica “Shay” Glenn
All challenges aside, she expressed how rewarding it is to work in this industry because of the changes she can make within the children and her staff! Shay finds peace and joy with working because her dream was to be that support to families but to also be the change in the world. From watching her 1-year-old class jump up and down and be excited to be in school during the attendance song, to the Pre-K class starting to read and write their full names, she finds validation that she is in the right place and made the right decision! Her biggest rewarding feeling is when her staff starts to believe in themselves. “When my staff comes to me on their own and they believe in themselves that they are ready to take the next steps into their journey in getting their Child Development Associate Credential (CDA), I know I did my job…”.
Upon learning about this opportunity through an e-newsletter, she is curious and excited to learn more about the process. Shay was looking forward to this certification cohort because she wanted to be able to grow even more. When being selected for Certification Cohort 3A, she felt honored because she was able to share her story with others. “I first learned about the Business Center and was introduced to the idea of the certification process through Villa Business Consultant Inc. (VBC Inc.) when working with them to get my non-profit organization started. Fast-forward to hearing about the actual Certification Cohort and getting selected, I felt honored. I felt that way because I could use my experience and past to share with others who may be going through the same things I have. Knowing me, a woman from a “hood” in Detroit, to where I am today which is getting interviewed for a success story for the MBDA EWOC Business Center, is something I will eternally be grateful for! For me, this opportunity has allowed me to share what people can do and where they can go in life!”.
The Growing Patch 24-Hour Children’s Academy is currently in the beginning stages of getting certified and accredited. Although Shay does not yet have a certification, she was able to receive a total of 6 government contracts with the Military to provide her daycare services! With little to no training and experience with getting the paperwork, she was able to utilize her network and research how to get contracted!
Shay’s piece of advice for aspiring women small business owners:
“Obtain a goal that you are passionate about and write it down and look at it. Tell yourself that you are going to achieve it and always speak in the future or present tense! Stay in a positive and fluid mindset and find people that you want to be like and don’t be scared to be by yourself. That is one of the biggest things for me because I’ve always been by myself. It can be lonely and scary at the time, but when looking for those other people to do what you want to do, you’ll be okay. Lastly, don’t be afraid to use your voice and things will come to you!”