Springfield, MO

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Over the past decade, Little Sunshine’s Enterprises Inc. has grown from one school in 2007 to 20 early childhood centers.
Photo provided by Little Sunshine’s Enterprises Inc.
Over the past decade, Little Sunshine’s Enterprises Inc. has grown from one school in 2007 to 20 early childhood centers.

2018 Economic Impact Awards 16-29 Years in Operation Winner: Little Sunshine’s Enterprises Inc.

The Business of Education

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Little Sunshine’s Enterprises Inc. has its finger on the pulse of the education industry.

The operator of private early childhood education centers last year recorded $28.6 million in revenue companywide, a 67 percent increase from 2016. In the past decade, Little Sunshine’s has experienced astronomical growth, moving up in revenue by 3,475 percent from $800,000 in 2007, when the company had one school. Now, the company’s early childhood education centers total 20 in multiple states.

“With another 10 schools currently in construction or development across the country, we expect revenue to sustain growth at this rate for some time to come,” says Rochette Dahler, CEO of Little Sunshine’s.

Sustaining that kind of growth, especially when it comes to children, requires Little Sunshine’s to earn and keep the trust of parents.

Because of that, Dahler says Little Sunshine’s keeps its reputation front of mind.

“Our reputation is one of our most valuable and enduring assets,” she says. “Our families are the most discerning in the industry. They are highly involved in every decision that impacts their children, and we have evolved significantly beyond the industry in embracing parental transparency, involvement, accountability and communication via technology and innovation.”

For the children, Little Sunshine’s educators work to create an environment where “love, safety, play, creativity, encouragement and learning” are central tenets, Dahler says.

Utilizing the Reggio Emilia approach, Little Sunshine’s has a child-centered model that addresses needs that have largely been unchanged throughout the years.

“We serve our students best when we are an extension to their family and value their thoughts and feelings, giving them some control over their own academic decisions,” Dahler says. “Thriving socially and academically is best achieved when a child’s emotional needs are met and they are made to feel loved and secure among friends and family.

“This creates the best environment for a student to feel comfortable in both individual failures and successes, and to grow into kindhearted and well-prepared individuals as they progress beyond LSP.”

True to those ideals, Little Sunshine’s is moving away from a franchise model. The company recently purchased back the majority of its franchise units, Dahler says.

“We have a few remaining in operation that are family and close friends. All of our new and developing locations are owned by us,” she says.

Extending into its communities, Little Sunshine’s also acts to work philanthropically as a model for its students.

The company formed the nonprofit Pediatric Brain Foundation to support families impacted by pediatric neurological disorders, injuries and diseases.

“We are very proud of our investment and leadership in this foundation,” Dahler says. “There are few things in this world more fulfilling than meeting the immediate needs of a suffering child.”


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