30 Years and 500 Schools: How Fulfilling a Demand for High-Quality Childcare Started a Preschool Franchise’s Legacy

Growing and maintaining a successful business for three decades is not easy. As The Goddard School celebrates its 30th anniversary, the Goddard franchise system is looking back on the values that have helped the franchise succeed and grow. The system began as an opportunity to provide high-quality, play-based early childhood education, and after 30 years of dedication to offering the highest-quality childcare and to growing steadily and responsibly, it has nearly 500 locations nationwide. The foundation laid by the hardworking team that founded The Goddard School and the commitment they made to providing a quality service to families has allowed the system to grow and adapt to changes without straying from the core principles that have made us successful.

Fulfill a Demand

Goddard’s founder and my mentor, Tony Martino, who also founded the AAMCO and MAACO franchise systems, knew a smart business concept when he saw one. In the late 1980s, he believed a growing number of dual-income families would lead to increasing demand for childcare and high-quality early childhood education. He understood the value of a good education, and he recognized that when families set their monthly budgets, many prioritized childcare that met their educational expectations.

In 1988, the concept of sending children to preschool to get a head start on their education wasn’t as well-known as it is today; many facilities operated only as daycare centers, tending to and caring for children, but not teaching them. Families had few educational childcare options, so The Goddard School was established to meet the demand. By 1990, The Goddard School had two franchised locations, and by 1998, after 10 years in business, the system had 53 Schools. By 2008, there were 320 schools and in 2018, the 500th school will open. Despite increased competition, Goddard is still opening new Schools and filling classrooms because parents know Goddard’s reputation for high-quality education and want the best for their children.

Prioritize quality over quantity

Tony recognized that the childcare industry offered steady, long-term growth that would translate well into a franchise opportunity. He built The Goddard School’s franchise system from the ground up, which has allowed us to maintain steady, responsible growth over the years. We identify the best opportunities for new franchisees and prioritize the quality of opportunities over the quantity. The system’s track record for stability attracts franchisees with diverse backgrounds who all share a passion for play-based early childhood education.

Do well by doing good together

A franchise system is only as good as its franchisees. A common thread throughout our 30-year history has been the hard work and dedication of Goddard franchisees, education directors and faculty members across the country. Every School is co-led by an on-site franchisee and an education director who work together to make sure every family enjoys a warm, positive experience. While the franchisee runs the day-to-day business and is available for the children, their families and the faculty every day, the education director is responsible for the curriculum, programming and teacher development.

We trust our franchisees to understand what’s important to families and their local communities. We meet the individual development needs of children and align to the education standards of the state and local school districts.

Think beyond 30 years

This milestone anniversary provides us with an opportunity to reflect on what has made The Goddard School successful over the last 30 years and what will help us continue creating this legacy.

As of 2017, 8.6 million children in the U.S. come from families with working parents (Child Care Aware of America, 2017). This number will continue to grow as more people have children, and those children will need the kind of high-quality early childhood education The Goddard School provides. We evaluate new and growing communities to see where childcare is needed most. Our goal is to add 500 more Schools in the next 15 years.

Goddard’s F.L.EX.® Learning Program (Fun Learning Experience) is grounded in research on how children learn best: children experience the deepest, most genuine learning when they’re having fun. Our educational framework is designed to help each child build emotional, academic, social, creative and physical skills for a well-rounded experience. By focusing on science, technology, engineering, arts and math (STEAM) in the classroom and introducing these concepts early, Goddard School teachers help children develop a strong foundation for their future education and a passion for STEAM learning. Integrating the arts into all the activities allows children to have fun while developing essential creativity and innovation skills and learning to collaborate, communicate and think critically. These skills help children become school ready, career ready and life ready. Additionally, schools offer a number of enrichment programs, such as language, chess or yoga, to each child at no additional charge.

The Goddard School Educational Advisory Board, comprising acknowledged experts in early childhood education, says providing fun, experiential learning that helps prepare children for success is a growing trend. We are and will continue to be on the cutting edge of this trend.

As we reflect on our anniversary and prepare to open our 500th School, recognizing what allowed us to grow from our first location to a major franchise system spanning 36 states is important. Goddard focuses on what is best for each child. Goddard’s distinctive structure ensures that children are known and appreciated for their individual talents and personalities, and the lesson plans are tailored to meet each child’s individual needs. This approach has driven Goddard’s continuing success. The strength and dedication of Goddard School franchisees, education directors and faculty inspires the high-quality childcare that thousands of families want for their children. We are staying focused on these critical elements to ensure we’re prepared for the next 30 years and beyond.



Child Care Aware of America. (2017). Child care in America: 2017 state fact sheets. Retrieved from http://usa.childcareaware.org/advocacy-public-policy/resources/reports-and-research/statefactsheets/

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