Jun 30, 2020 7 min read

How to Staff Your Daycare in Today’s Environment

Procare By: Procare

The coronavirus pandemic has created numerous challenges for child care administrators and the owners of child care centers across America. With widespread uncertainty about the spread of the virus, nearly all 50 states mandated complete or partial closures of child care centers, leaving child care providers furloughed and forcing parents to work from home with kids or seek alternative child care arrangements. 

Now that state legislators and public health officials are moving to reopen the economy, child care centers are facing new barriers when it comes to providing effective services for families and the community. With parents returning to work, child care programs are scrambling to organize staffing requirements to meet the demand for child care. 

Centers need to bring back furloughed workers, hire and train new staff members, bring everyone up to speed with new infection prevention policies, enforce compliance and accountability, and create a network of replacement or substitute staff in case of an illness. 

Hiring & Staffing Your Daycare Amidst COVID-19

In this guide, we identify some of the most important changes that are impacting hiring and staffing for child care centers and how you can take action to make sure your center is prepared.

Influx of Child Care Workers Seeking Employment

The coronavirus pandemic caused a rapid, short-term increase in unemployment across America, with unemployment rates jumping from 3.5 percent  in February 2020 to 14.7 percent in April 2020. Child care workers were among the most heavily affected, as nearly all states mandated complete or partial closures of child care centers.

Many child care workers have found themselves furloughed – temporarily laid off and without a stable source of income. For some of these workers, the center where they were employed may still be closed or may have ceased operations altogether. As the economy reopens, we’re expecting to see a sizable influx of child care workers seeking employment.

What This Means for You
If you are hiring staff to help reopen your child care center, you may notice a high volume of applications as child care workers attempt to re-enter the workforce in this new environment.

While receiving more applications than normal could mean that you spend more time interviewing and screening applicants, you may be able to recruit child care providers with valuable skills and experience into your business. 

Workers from other industries may be attempting to shift careers and move into essential businesses like yours that are currently hiring. If you choose to interview these people, assess how their skills can be transferred from their previous role to a role as a child care provider.

Increased Child Care Dependence

As state governments move to relax shutdown orders and get more Americans back into the workforce, it is becoming clear that our society depends a great deal on the availability of child care. If child care centers are unable to open, many families find themselves unable to secure alternative arrangements that would allow them to go to work. The re-opening of child care centers across the country is an essential step toward getting Americans back to work.

As parents head back to work in various states, they may find themselves relying heavily on child care centers as they work extra hours to cover costs associated with short-term bank loans, deferred mortgage payments, and other expenses brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

What This Means for You
As you organize hiring and staffing in the new reality, it is important to engage with parents to assess the demand for child care slots in your center. You will need to ensure that you hire enough staff members to maintain staffing ratios in your center. You will also need back-up staff members or on-call staff to help cover for absences or illness.

Increased Cost of Child Care

Child care costs may increase for both parents and providers as daycare centers reopen in the coming months.

Child care centers may have to take on new expenses to comply with the latest guidelines and recommendations for operating during coronavirus. These include:

  • Purchasing personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff members, including face masks/coverings, protective gloves, barriers and gowns
  • Additional cleaning supplies or cleaning services to regularly clean and disinfect common areas and classrooms
  • Individualized storage areas for children’s bedding, clothing, supplies and other personal items
  • Soap, hand sanitizer and additional supplies to support healthy hand hygiene

In addition, the anticipated high demand for child care services may result in some child care centers raising their prices and offering greater compensation for child care providers.

What This Means for You
Child care administrators should review state guidelines for reopening amidst coronavirus to determine what policies and procedures are mandated and evaluate the cost of implementing those policies. Any resulting changes to child care tuition rates at the center should be communicated to parents in a transparent and timely fashion.

From a staffing perspective, centers that wish to attract the best staff members should avoid cutting salaries as a cost-saving measure when reopening. Low wages negatively impact employee retention and create excessive turnover as workers are lured away to opportunities with better pay. 

Child care administrators will have to find a happy medium where tuition is affordable for parents, staff members earn a competitive wage, and the center makes a healthy profit.

Employee Accountability

Many child care workers are conscientious by nature, choosing to do the right thing by their own account without the need for constant supervision. However, every group has its rebels and rule-breakers, and there are always individuals who question the rules and follow them closely only when strictly supervised.

In today’s world, employee accountability is critical to providing a safe and healthy child care environment. 

To comply with CDC guidelines for child care centers during this pandemic, child care providers need to practice healthy hygiene, model healthy hygiene habits for kids, and practice infection prevention all the time – not just when a child care administrator is paying close attention.

What This Means for You
When interviewing applicants for staff roles at your child care center, the number one thing you want to focus on is accountability. You might consider asking behavior response questions like:

  • Have you ever witnessed a colleague breaking a rule or ignoring a policy at work? How did you respond? What was the outcome?
  • Can you think of a time where you made a mistake at work? How did you deal with the situation?

Great interviewers know that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. By questioning applicants on how they behaved under similar circumstances in the past, you may be able to identify potential hires that are more likely to follow the rules and keep everyone safe.

Heightened Uncertainty

One of the biggest factors affecting child care centers and providers in the job market today is heightened uncertainty. 

For child care centers trying to reopen, there is no guarantee that conditions at work will return to how they were before the pandemic started. A new wave of infections could result in another round of state-wide child care closures. New coronavirus cases in your community could lead to local closures or suspended child care services in your area. 

What This Means for You
Child care centers will need to establish clear lines of communication with new staff members to effectively manage expectations and deliver timely updates and notifications.

Manage Child Care Staffing with Procare

Procare is your competitive advantage when it comes to hiring and staffing your child care center in this new environment. 

With Procare, child care centers can easily keep track of staff information, including availability/scheduling, immunization records, background checks and additional details of employment. 

This makes it easy to build a network of qualified child care providers that can be accessed to fill full-time roles, or to substitute for a full-time staff member who is sick or absent. Procare also helps streamline staff management activities, such as time cards, payroll and calculating benefit hours.

Child care administrators can use the Procare Connect child care app to communicate directly with staff members about scheduling changes, new policies and procedures, or initiatives to improve operations and safety at the center.

Want to learn more about how Procare can help your child care center manage hiring and staffing in these changing times?

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