What is Shared Services?
Shared Services is a framework that supports multiple early care and education sites as they seek to pool needs and share resources. While the design of any particular Shared Services Alliance is unique to its participants, all share the goal of strengthening business and pedagogical leadership across participating sites by creating structures that enable sharing of staff, information and resources. Shared Service Alliances improve outcomes for children by building organizational capacity, improving job quality, strengthening community partnerships and promoting long-term sustainability.
A Shared Services framework lets programs be big where big matters and small where small matters. For example, it can help:
- A group of independent (non-profit or tax-paying) centers share staff and tasks, saving time, money and energy
- A multi-site ECE organization think strategically about centralizing and streamlining the tasks and roles needed in all sites
- A network of family child care homes boost both revenues and quality
What is a Shared Services Alliance?
- A Shared Services Alliance is a membership organization, or a multi-site ECE organization, through which Shared Services are provided.
- Alliance members are center and/or home-based ECE providers who receive Shared Services through their membership, or as part of a multi-site ECE organization.
- An Alliance Hub is an entity that provides one or more Shared Services to the Alliance members; the hub could be a large center, another type of organization such as a Resource and Referral agency, or a central administrative office.
- Alliance Hubs generally charge a fee and/or receive grant support for providing these services.
What do Alliance Hubs do?
Alliance Hubs offer a range of services and purchasing options to their members, such as:
- Bookkeeping, Billing and Fee Collection
- Marketing and Enrollment Management
- Shared In-person Professional Development
- Shared Administrative Staff
- Shared Quality Support Staff — mentor teachers, QRIS supports, etc.
- Fundraising and Fund Development
- Staff Recruitment and Substitute Pool
- Janitorial and Maintenance Services
- Joint Purchasing
The process of starting a Shared Services Alliance can seem daunting. Potential Alliances often ask: What should I do first? How long does it take? Who should get involved? While every group and every market is different, the work to develop an Alliance usually involves the following steps:
- Research to determine which services potential Alliance members (centers and homes) would find most compelling, which providers would be most likely to join the Alliance, and which tasks could most appropriately be shared
- Identification of one or more potential Hub organizations, including organizations outside the ECE community
- Clarification of membership criteria and Alliance mission
- Identification of an appropriate legal and governance structure for the Alliance
- Identification of funders to support Alliance startup and ongoing costs
- Development of an Alliance business plan and financial projections
Learn more about the work involved in each of these steps with the Shared Services Startup Kit.
Take a look at profiles of different Alliances at work across the country by going to Alliances in Action: On the Ground.
Discover the variety of tools and resources available to help you explore and form an Alliance at Shared Services Central.