Patrice Blountt’s Journey of Love and Necessity Led Her to Special Needs Children
As the founder, owner and operator of Our Loving Arms daycare, many women and some men have asked me questions ranging from “how did I get started” to “can you help me?”
My story of how I got started in child care and most specifically caring for children with special needs, is a personal journey that is rooted in love and necessity.
In 1999, I was a newly married mother of 2 beautiful children working in Phlebotomy with dreams of becoming an X-ray Technician. I soon became pregnant with twin boys who were both born with special needs and my healthcare dreams took a back seat as I started my in-home daycare. The need to give my children the attention and the support they needed, in addition to the extreme cost of daycare for my new boys was the basis of why and how I started my business.
Between the years of 1999 and 2011, I worked my in-home business of caring for about 12 children with the help of 2 assistants. An opportunity for me to move my business outside the home presented itself in early 2011. I used the equity from my home and leased space from a sweet elderly lady in Chicago Heights, a suburb that is just south of Chicago, Illinois. At this point, I was still operating both sites (in-home and center), with a great fear of growth and many exhausting days.
In 2012, I stepped out on faith and closed my in-home business and focused on the center. Within 1 month, we were at a full capacity of 51 children, including a waiting list and a staff of approximately 12 professionals. This was a great learning and adjusting experience, as I had no formal training or experience in business or supervising. It was strictly ‘trial by fire!’
The waiting list that begins to grow, pushed us to look to open a 2nd location in Chicago Heights, so we were blessed to rent space from a local church. The blessings kept coming, as, within 3-4 months of opening, we were at full capacity of 41 kids and an additional staff of another 10-12 professionals.
Diligently working both locations, fast forward to around 2015; yet another opportunity presented for Our Loving Arms to enter into the school district as a daycare for children with special needs. Our program was an evening program that operated from 2pm – 7pm and provides care and additional attention to children with special needs whose parents worked later hours or for children that families wanted the specialized care.
During this time, the lease of our 1st original site was coming to an end and we sought to purchase. However, the owner was emotionally attached to the property as were we and refused to sell. We were then forced to seek proper elsewhere and was blessed to purchase our 1st piece of real estate with cash in 2016.
New challenges of construction and project management to prepare the new building arose, but we persevered and prepared to move our 1st location into the newly purchased and rehabbed 5th location. We soon learned moving business is not the same as moving home and we needed professional guidance. I reached out to our Licensing Representative, as I had no idea where to turn. She was awesome in instructing us on how to move and protect our licenses and business.
With the stress of moving and sadness of the loss of our beloved 1st location, what kept me is remembering God’s voice telling me, I would have multiple locations in multiple cities. Shortly after, a call from the elderly lady who owned our 1st location revealed she has been unable to lease/rent to anyone and was indeed willing to sell. We purchased in cash that year, bringing Our Loving Arms the owner of 2 pieces of real estate within 2 years.
We eventually closed the school site and left the church location, allowing us to focus on the growth of our 3 remaining locations. Areas we have targeted for growth were; marketing, mentoring and staff development. “This is not a niche, this is my life.”
McDonald is an international speaker and author with a focus on children’s special needs. McDonald is widely known throughout the Chicago community for her passion to uplift and care for special needs children through her childcare business, Our Loving Arms Childcare. McDonald has created a safe environment for young children to develop skills that promote physical, emotional, social and intellectual growth. McDonald currently owns two childcare locations and is preparing to open a third location in the city of Chicago. To learn more about her childcare services visit Chicago Heights Childcare.