CEO and executive director Natalie Standridge is turning to franchising to expand her brand of Spanish-immersion child-care centers.
Casa de Corazón, which Standridge founded in 2002, offers care for infants, toddlers and preschoolers through prekindergarten at locations in Minneapolis, Edina and Maple Grove.
The centers feature Spanish-immersion curriculum for full-day care, organic and locally sourced food made daily from scratch and cloth diapers, Standridge said.
With the three existing centers at capacity at an average of 122 children each, offering franchises is the best way to meet growing demand in the Twin Cities and beyond, she said.
“This is an industry where the owner needs to be very involved, very attentive,” Standridge said. “It’s a relationship-based industry. That’s a piece that is lost if you own too many owner-operated locations.”
The first franchised Casa de Corazón center will open in early 2018 in Edina. The owners are Roberto and Dora Palma, a child-care consultant and parent coach at Hennepin County Medical Center, respectively.
Standridge believes demand in the Twin Cities metro area could support two to three more locations. Rochester, Madison and Milwaukee are among other possible Casa de Corazón franchise sites.
Casa de Corazón has earned accreditation from the National Association for the Education of Young Children, which also has approved its curriculum, which includes teaching cultural learning and social responsibility in addition to Spanish immersion.
Standridge has a degree in family studies from the University of Minnesota, with a minor in Spanish.
Q: What has driven the growth of Casa de Corazón?
A: The warmth and the healthy environment, the social and cognitive environment and the growth opportunities that we’re providing to the children. When parents said, “Thank you, this environment is better than what I could provide for my child if I were to stay at home,” that’s when I feel like I have my goal in my career.
Q: Would a franchise owner have to be bilingual or have a background in early childhood education?
A: If they are not bilingual they will need to hire a center administrator who is to carry out the Spanish immersion curriculum. We are looking for people who have experience in early childhood education or have experience in business. But this is definitely a field that can be learned and we’re here to teach people.
Q: What are the financial requirements for a potential franchisee?
A: I’m happy to share that one-on-one with interested parties.