High-end child care seeks foothold in region

The Goddard School, a leading high-end child care franchise, is looking to move into the Norwich-New London market within the next two years, bringing as many as 25 jobs to the region.

Tony Padulo, vice president of franchise development for the Pennsylvania-based company, said Thursday that Goddard is searching for a franchise owner who would be willing to invest in building or leasing a school. The typical cost would be $700,000 for someone who wanted to lease a space to as much as $3 million to build from the ground up, he added. "It's not an inexpensive investment," Padulo said.

Goddard currently franchises 388 schools in the United States, and expects to have more than 400 by the end of the year. Three schools are already open in Connecticut - in Glastonbury, Orange and Brookfield - with 12 others on the way, including six in the Hartford area, three in the New Haven-Meriden region, two in Waterbury and one in southeastern Connecticut, Padula said.

The schools stress learning through play and contextual learning, he said, providing a nurturing environment with individualized attention.

The average school has 125 to 140 children. Schools, which are often located in relatively wealthy towns, typically employ 18 to 25 people.

"We insist that the owner also be the operator of the school," Padula said.

Padula added that Goddard actually prefers owners who lack a background in child care. It can take up to two years to build a school from the ground up, he said.

For more information, visit goddardschoolfranchise.com or call 1-800-272-4901.

l.howard@theday.com

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