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Strategic Management 101 for Childcare Centers: Part I, Internal and External Situations

People working together

By Hamid Akbari, Director of SYTCC ECEC Workforce Servant Leader Teachers Academy

To truly succeed as a childcare center and maintain a strong workforce, directors must possess strategic planning and management skills. In this 3-part series summary article, we review the definition and a few essentials of strategic management.

In simple words, strategic management answers three key questions for a childcare center:

  1. What are the center’s internal strengths, weaknesses and external opportunities and threats?
  2. What makes your childcare center unique and distinguishes it from other centers?
  3. How do you keep or further develop your uniqueness and sustain it?

In this article, we will review the answer to part I.

Center’s Internal Situation: Strengths and Weaknesses

To determine a center’s internal situation, directors and their team should identify center’s strengths and weaknesses by a thorough review and analysis of internal resources and capabilities. This includes:

  • Teaching and staff qualifications and competencies
  • Enrollment trends
  • History and culture
  • Location and physical setting
  • Curriculum, care, and educational method, materials, and equipment
  • Internal communications with staff, parents, and other stakeholders
  • General operational procedure
  • Financial position
  • Marketing practices

Internal review should yield a clear understanding of the center’s internal strengths and weaknesses. For example, the internal review may show the following:


  • Central location in the community
  • Updated curriculum
  • Effective operating system


  • High teaching and staff turnover
  • Declining financial resources
  • Lack of marketing practices

Center’s External Situation: Opportunities and Threats

Directors and their team should undertake an external analysis in order to determine the opportunities and threats to which the Center is exposed to. This analysis requires a thorough review of the external factors, including:

  • General and specific demographic realities and its trends
  • Governmental (federal, state, local) agencies, laws, policies and regulations
  • Economic factors
  • Competitors
  • Workforce realities and trends
  • Technological and digital changes and trends, including social media
  • Physical environment factors
  • Non-governmental and community organizations
  • Community safety and well-being

External review should yield a clear identification of a Center’s external opportunities and threats. For example, external review may identify the following:


  • Increasing national and local birthrates along with a higher number of working parents
  • Favorable governmental funding for families with young children
  • Supportive community


  • Declining workforce in early childhood education
  • Increased risk of reputational damage from obscure social media ratings
  • Increased competition

In part II of Strategic Management 101, we will show how the combined results of internal and external analyses of the center will show whether and in what ways is your center unique and is equipped to tap into the external opportunities while wither the threats.

We can help you to conduct a strategic plan session. Please contact the director at for details.

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