It is widely understood in the non-profit sector that there will always be a need to seek out new funding sources to support our work. The old adage, “no margin, no mission; no income, no impact” rings true for all of us each and every day, as we work to stretch and leverage every dollar we earn.
But what happens when our funding issues become bigger than our ability to plan and execute our programs and services? What happens when our funding prohibits us from paying our staff the wages they deserve and we can no longer recruit and retain the employees we need to bring our work to fruition?
The latest example of this comes in Holyoke, where, initially, we had planned to transition our Early Learning Center to a model serving all preschool-age children. We hoped this transition would allow us to meet the growing need for our high-quality preschool programming. Upon further evaluation, we determined that shifting to an all-preschool model would not be sustainable, due to the critical shortage of Early Education teachers. Simply put, we are unable to recruit and retain the staff we need.
According to a recent report by the Providers’ Council, we are not alone. “The ‘perfect economic storm’ of increasing demand for human services, fewer workers, and low wages is threatening the viability of a growing number of Massachusetts nonprofits that provide human services to one in 10 state residents,” with 75 percent of human service providers citing trouble filling job openings over the past three years. The report goes on to explain that conditions are expected to worsen between now and 2024.
Although these findings paint a troubling picture, we know we cannot abandon the hundreds of families in Holyoke who rely on Square One and benefit from our programs and services. Our community partners in Holyoke have expressed to us a great need for after-school care, as well as a desire to train and support more Family-based Child Care (FCC) providers for all children birth to age 12. Given our experience and expertise in both of these areas, Square One has been asked to help fill these service gaps in Holyoke.
In addition, Square One is proud to have been awarded grant funding to expand our Family Services programs in Holyoke. We have begun to implement our home-visitation program for new parents and other family support initiatives, all designed to provide young children with a healthy foundation.
Square One remains steadfastly committed to providing all children with the social, academic, physical and emotional support they need to be healthy and successful. With the support of our partners and through the generosity of our donors, we will continue to evolve as the needs of our community change and require us to do so.
Thank you for your continued commitment to the children and families of Square One.
President & CEO