A group of people from Dr. Day Care posing for a picture in a room.

Business Beat: Dr. Day Care and Mary Ann Shallcross Smith receive national SBA award

Dr. Day Care was one of 68 companies recognized across the US with this award. Dr. Mary Ann Shallcross Smith, owner and founder of Dr. Day Care, received the SBA 70th Anniversary Legacy Recognition Award. The presentation took place at Dr. Day Care Smithfield on August 30th.

In nominating Dr. Day Care and its owner, Mary Ann Shallcross Smith, its President/Founder, it was noted that the group was formed in 2005 and today has 205 employees. In 2022 the company received the Rhode Island and New England Women Owned Business of the Year.  Executive Staff have been part of the initial SBA emerging leaders’ program. The group also has been active with the SBA loan program.

Why they are nominated:

Mary Ann Shallcross Smith, the Founder of the “Dr. Day Care” organization is headquartered in Smithfield, with learning center locations around the state. Shallcrosss Smith has nearly 50 years of experience in early childhood, as well as a doctoral degree in Education, Leadership, and Human Development Studies. She had Rhode Island’s first licensed home-based day care, offering early childhood care since 1972. In 2005, Dr. Day Care Learning Center was founded, providing care and education for children 6 weeks through 12 years old, 52 weeks of the year.

Today there are 171 employees in nine nationally accredited Cen­ters located in Cumberland, Foster, North Providence, Pawtucket, Providence (2), Smithfield, South County, and West Warwick, and there are plans to open a 10th Center in East Greenwich soon. The Centers serve nutritious meals and offers a special needs program curriculum aligned to state standards and assessment.

Shallcrosss Smith was named a “Master Leader” in 2015 by Childcare Exchange. She manages a professional team that leads the Cen­ters and consults with other struggling childcares to assist with prof­itability and regulatory compliance. Most recently, she has been writing children’s books – such as “Edgar Gradu­ates,” an early childhood book that enhances a child’s vocab­ulary and the options available for continuing education.

The business has benefitted over the years from the US Small Business Administration’s (SBA) different programs and services: from SBA-backed loans, the COO completed the SBA’s Emerging Leaders Initiative, an intensive executive-level series designed to accelerate the growth of high-potential small businesses in America’s underserved cities; and members of the management team have completed numerous trainings/workshops hosted by SBA grantees SCORE Rhode Island and the Center for Women & Enterprise (the Women’s Business Center).

Pandemic Challenges

Like so many other small businesses, in 2020 the pandemic presented one of the most difficult financial chal­lenges for the business. In March 2020 it had to close all the Centers for three months, leaving the business with limited income and forcing the layoff of most of the employees. Management reacted quickly, and the busi­ness was able to take advantage of COVID relief programs, including the SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program. Since reopening in June 2020, the business has rehired employees, increased enrollment, and increased income almost to pre-pandemic levels.

Believing the importance for children to have close links with their community, the busi­ness supports community businesses and gives back to community programs that benefit children of all ages. Dr. Day Care financially supports many local nonprofits, includ­ing the Boys & Girls Club, Foster Forward, Goodwill Inspir­ing Minds, local little league/soccer teams, and Pawtucket and Woonsocket Adopt-A-Family. Also, in 1987, Mary Ann founded Kids Klub, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit school-age pro­gram that offers before and after school care in three local elementary school districts and currently operates seven programs; Kids Klub sites are nationally accredited by The Council On Accreditation.

More on Shallcross Smith

During her business career, she attended the Community College of Rhode Island, University of Rhode Island and Rhode Island College, receiving her doctorate degree in Education, Leadership and Human Development Studies in 1995 from Nova Southeastern University. She is the leader of over 200 qualified, dedicated teachers and staff.

In addition to serving on numerous nonprofit boards, including as Chair of the Executive Board of the Northern RI Chamber of Commerce, Shallcross Smith gives back time and resources to women in the workforce, hosting a free local TV show “Women’s Business” so women can network and share stories. As an early childhood business consultant, she offers small businesses free insight and guidance about the business of running a childcare center.

Photo, left:

  • US Senator Jack Reed
  • Lt. Governor Sabina Matos
  • Speaker Joseph Shekarchi
  • Secretary of State Gregg Amore
  • Leader Christopher Blazejewski
  • Katherine Kazarian, State Representative, District 63, House Majority Whip
  • Representative Julie Casimiro
  • Jeffrey Cascione, Navigant

Speaking at the awards presentation, in addition to Mary Ann Shallcross Smith, were:

  • Mark Hayward, SBA
  • US Senator Jack Reed
  • Secretary of State Gregg Amore
  • Jeffrey Cascione, Navigant

For more information on Dr. Day Care, go to:

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