Bexley-Based BungalowBranch First to Franchise In-Home Child Care

All new parents face a lot of tough choices. Many new moms are torn between staying at home with their child or heading back to work. Working parents often must make the choice between the largely unregulated world of in-home care or daycare centers.

BungalowBranch offers a solution that addresses both. Kelley Lewis founded and is now franchising the in-home child care concept that gives moms the option of building their own business that handily incorporates caring for their own children, while also providing regulations and quality control to home-based care. (In-home child care in Ohio is largely unregulated. The only real stipulation is no more than six children under the age of six, of which only three can be under the age of two.)

“We finalized our franchising documentation at the end of 2014, and now we’re proud to say we’re the only in-home child care franchise in the country,” Lewis says. 

In 2008, Lewis wanted to leave her job to stay at home with her son, but was facing becoming a single parent with a single income. Through her job she heard of a customer who was a child care provider, and found a neighbor who was doing the same.

“What can I do to do this myself?” she asked. Taking her experience as a nanny in high school and college, along with a degree in social work, Lewis quit her job and started offering in-home child care. Within a few months she was at capacity.

Instead of referring families to other providers that she didn’t know well or to sometimes institutional-feeling daycare centers, she thought “What if I could train somebody to operate an at-home child care program similarly to how I was running mine?”

That’s when she decided to franchise.bungalowbranchlogo

“That was the most assured way we could maintain quality and safety measures within our program,” Lewis says. “Making sure that quality and safety is always in-tact is always number one.”

BungalowBranch brings the best of both worlds. The franchise means the quality and professionalism that’s expected of daycare centers, with the personal attention and community feel of an at-home provider. Lewis finds families prefer in-home care because of the more one-on-one attention and opportunity to build relationships. But, checks, balances and regulations give parents peace of mind their child is in a safe environment.

BungalowBranch has already expanded to three locations within Bexley, and “Right now our big push is to find more providers just to meet our demand,” Lewis says. “We are definitely targeting the suburbs and neighborhoods of Columbus.” She’d like to see BungalowBranches in areas like German Village, Grandivew, Clintonville, Reynoldsburg and New Albany.

First it’s the rest of Columbus, then the rest of Ohio, then the nation.

“My big goal is to make this a national brand,” Lewis says. 

She’s focusing on education and outreach to grow the brand locally, starting with an informational event on Thursday, May 21 from 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. at Piccadilly Play Café.

“Because we are a new program and a new concept, there’s a lot of questions, and there should be,” Lewis says. People are trying to figure out just what the concept is all about.

To be a BungalowBranch franchise owner, an individual must be at least 23 years old and own or rent a freestanding house. Each care provider goes through stringent background and reference checks as well. Lewis also studies the demographics of a potential location to make sure there is a population that could support the care provider.

Once approved, eight to 10 weeks of training prepare the home and the child care provider. During this time Lewis will help them prepare their home and pick out supplies, and go over some basics of child development and how to communicate with families. That’s also when the marketing starts.

“The goal is it have a provider open their doors to a full class,” Lewis says. Once up and running, BungalowBranch takes care of much of the administrative work – customer service, billing, marketing – so providers can focus on care.

Through the business, Lewis wants to give moms the opportunity to feel like a provider and a successful mother. When many moms feel pressure to do it all, “Just to know there is that option,” Lewis says, “I can do both and not feel guilty.”

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