Tiffany Ford is a dynamic visionary, entrepreneur, consultant, and child development expert who has earned the name “The Childcare Guru ” for her extraordinary work to assist families in urban communities to guide their children towards social and academic success. A native of Philadelphia, Tiffany has worked passionately in the fields of childcare and education for more than 15 years.
She is the owner of Little Leaders Learning Academy, co-owner of Stages Community School, and the founder of Leaders and Legends Performing Arts Academy, which teaches Jazz, Modern Dance, Ballet, Tap, Drama, Karate and vocal classes in southwest Philadelphia. Her curriculums have been proven to improve self-expression, regulation skills, confidence, and academic performance for children and young adults.
As a consultant, Tiffany focuses on training aspiring entrepreneurs in the childcare and youth education fields to start and scale their schools and youth centers. Recognizing the importance of the arts and creativity to the learning process of youth, she plans to grow her programs across the nation, including expanding her performing arts academy.
We had the unique opportunity to sit down with “The Childcare Guru” herself to discuss her inspiration and start into the industry.
What inspired your start in the Childcare industry?
I started developing the desire to provide quality child care in the inner city. It was important to me to ensure that quality was at the forefront. There is a difference between quality childcare and daycare. Also, it was really important for me to develop a way to connect with our people and provide them with the necessary resources. My passion is education, so I wanted to provide that service since it is my passion.
You are known as the “Childcare Guru”, can you share 3 components that form a well-rounded child care facility?
I would say communication is number 1. In regards to the parents, your staff in your program, and your children – it is important that everyone understands your business and what you stand for.
Next is compassion. The staff, the administration, and the parents have to show compassion for one another when working together in such a close, intimate way. We must share passion all around, from all perspectives.
The third is leadership. Your child care facility must consist of leadership that supports the staff. At the same time, you must have staff that cares about the growth that you want for your company. As long as they understand the goal and their role in the company, that will translate over to the parents and to the students as well.
How has the pandemic affected the way child care centers run?
The pandemic has affected things from an enrollment standpoint, and it has changed the business approach. I believe that it is challenging for parents to trust other people with the care of their children during a pandemic. As a result, we have to make sure that the safety measures are top-notch. The way I do business now has changed. I was spread very thin due to covid, but because of technology, my business was able to grow in a way I didn’t think was possible.
What message do you hope families take away from your brand?
That parent involvement is the key with anything you do with daycare, childcare, or extracurricular activities. We promote communication between both parties. Anything the parents want from us they can get, as long as they are willing to communicate their needs and the requests are reasonable. We are more than willing to address them.
What is on the horizon for “The Childcare Guru”?
As I progress, my goal is to now develop other entrepreneurs, especially in childcare. I like to develop people…Develop entrepreneurs to create businesses that are long-lasting and will stand the test of time. I plan on speaking to larger audiences of women and entrepreneurs and motivating them to not give up and to be innovative. Also, I plan on expanding my dance studio.
How can one get started in the childcare world?
It is really important to find a mentor. When you are even considering starting a childcare business, you have to make sure that you understand how a daycare runs. Once you get that info, the next step would be to sit down and start creating your business plan. After you properly establish your business and you have your tax paperwork set up, you have to get licensed with the city, the state, and the health department.
What advice do you have for the next generation of childcare workers?
It is really key to understand that nothing starts big. It is okay to start small. Sometimes we jump the gun and we want huge success right away and we don’t want to be patient. Expect to make mistakes. When I first started out, I felt that I had something to prove to the people that said I could not do it. I was doing too much and skipping the small details. I had to learn that sometimes less is more in business and you have to be patient and go through the process the right way. When you do, the customers will appreciate it and you will ultimately see it reflected in your finances.
What is your definition of a Pretty Woman who Hustles?
Somebody who is not afraid to go after their dreams. They are willing to make the sacrifices that are necessary to be successful. My rule is “each one, teach one.” When you get into a successful position, you have to be willing to teach others and show them the way.