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Chapter Eight

How to Start A Christian Daycare

Rev. Ellsworth E. McIntyre

Founder of Grace Community Schools & Early Childhood Education Pioneer

Chapter Eight

What About Government Regulations?

It is the responsibility of the potential school owner to get a copy of the specific regulations that apply in his state. In several states, as in Florida, the Christian schools have pressured their state legislatures into certain concessions. Be on guard concerning the reluctance of your state bureaucrats to volunteer the existence of exceptions in your state.

When I started in Florida, I was told point-blank lies by the state employee about the exceptions for Christian schools. As providence kindly ordained, however, I signed up for the state-mandated training course early. Usually, the candidate to operate a daycare takes the course after it is in operation. During the course, the state supervisor warned us to have our state permit number printed on all of our advertising. One of the students asked why a private school in our town did not display their number. She replied, “Oh, they belong to a private association that is given recognition in Tallahassee [Florida’s state capital].” I was startled, to say the least. This same state supervisor had told me twice that there were no exceptions! The following day, after a few long-distance phone calls, I discovered that I had been deceived. Thus, do not take every government official’s word at face value. Phone other schools and discover from your future colleagues the true governmental climate.

I seldom talk about starting a Christian school by using a daycare as a base that someone doesn’t challenge me from the floor or after the presentation with skeptical questions, prefaced by, “Don’t you know that the government...?” Apparently, I fail to convince some listeners that I am aware of government sins or that I fail to warn sufficiently about governmental potential for harassment. I am well aware from both study and painful personal experience of government prejudice and opposition to any Christian work. I have been jailed twice for open-air preaching. I have been unsuccessfully recommended for prosecution in the state of Maryland. Despite these experiences, I have learned that the government cannot prevent our entrance into the marketplace, nor can they drive us away, provided we are brave enough to try intelligently. Handwringing about governmental abuse, although very real, does a disservice to the Christian school movement. We play into the hands of our enemy if we paint our enemy as so strong that it seems useless to resist. When I talk with people in non-Christian daycare, I am amused at the similarity of their complaints to ours. Bureaucrats are petty and vicious to everyone, Christian and non-Christian alike. We must be wiser and more rational than those without faith. In fact, there is a very positive benefit to governmental persecution that you may not have considered.

The bureaucrat bars entry and drives weak competitors from the market. If you are strong, they are helping you! Don’t despair! Let the faint of heart be driven off; that just makes room for more serious Christians to have more students to teach. The so-called “survival of the fittest” assists Christians. We have found that bureaucrats are well aware of public opinion. Offset their suspicion by being friendly and cooperative. Offer some refreshments. Ask about their families, their church, their hobbies, etc. Most people are disarmed by such questions. Nothing demonstrates friendliness better than listening with interest to the answers to such questions. Ask for advice. Say, “I am sorry, I wasn’t aware of that regulation. If you were me, how would you solve this problem?” For example, I was angrily told by a government worker in New Hampshire that I had to take down a school sign advertising our Open House. I replied, “Oh, this is terrible. We have thousands of dollars in direct mail asking people to come here this weekend. What would you do in this situation?”

She looked at me thoughtfully and seeing that I was not antagonistic but genuinely interested, she replied, “Well, Reverend, I would get a sandwich board sign painted and set that up at the intersection. Someone will no doubt complain, but by the time I hear about it, you could already have it down.” I thanked her sweetly. We used that sandwich sign with great effectiveness again and again. Be friendly. Satan has trouble with his help just as the church does.