Child Care Hiring Guide: Assembling the Best Staff

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Hiring an amazing team of child care providers can have a huge impact on the long-term success of any child care center or after school program, but identifying quality candidates and turning them into high-performing staff members is one of the biggest challenges for any child care administrator.

Here’s why:

Child care administrators spend most of their time on daily administrative tasks and relatively little time on recruitment. Typically this only changes when there is a job vacancy, at which time recruitment becomes an emergency. When child care administrators are under pressure to hire someone quickly, they may tend toward hiring the first qualified candidate rather than the best one – and while this sometimes works out, it is often a mistake.

To make better hiring decisions, child care administrators should take a proactive approach to recruitment, focusing less on qualifications and more on professional values like caring, dedication, dependability, honesty and responsiveness. These attitudes help child care providers improve learning outcomes for kids while building relationships with parents that drive parent engagement, satisfaction and retention.

Assembling the best staff means hiring passionate child care providers whose core values are aligned with those of your child care center and who are motivated to excel in their roles. To help you get started, we’ve created this Child Care Hiring Guide based on three key insights about child care hiring:

  • Key Insight #1: The most effective child care providers aren’t necessarily the ones with the most qualifications or experience, but the ones with the right values for engaging and building relationships with families.
  • Key Insight #2: Child care leaders can train people on behaviors and processes, but training people on values is much more difficult and time-consuming.
  • Key Insight #3: Child care leaders should adapt their hiring strategies and processes to help identify applicants with the right values to succeed in the current child care environment.

Keep reading to discover our five recommendations for staffing your child care center with the best people.

Procare is here to help.

We know the business of child care. For more than 30 years we’ve been guiding child care professionals just like you to help stay connected and in control.

2020 Child Care Hiring Guide: Assembling the Best Staff

Step One: Defining Your Organizational Values & Hiring Philosophy

Child care administrators should prepare for hiring by defining clear organizational values that will inform the hiring process. Before you can attract and recruit the best candidate for your center, it is crucial to answer the following questions:

  • What are the most important cultural values at our child care center?
  • What personality traits do we value in our child care providers?
  • How do we expect our child care providers to engage with kids and their parents?
  • How do we expect our child care providers to interact with their colleagues and leadership?

By investigating and answering these questions, child care administrators can create their own hiring philosophy, re-orienting the hiring process to focus on the factors they consider most important for success. 

This exercise encourages child care administrators to look past checkbox items on a resume (whether the candidate completed a diploma, whether they can pass a background check, etc.) and deeper into the individual personalities, character traits, values and attitudes of new hires. 

Child care administrators can inject their own knowledge and experiences into the new hiring philosophy by prioritizing the specific traits and attitudes they believe bring the most value to the organization.

Step Two: Start Your Child Care Recruitment Engine

When child care administrators take a proactive approach to recruiting new staff members, they get more time to review applications, conduct interviews in a thoughtful way and identify the best candidates. 

A proactive approach to recruitment means that child care administrators are posting jobs before they become available, regularly reviewing employment applications, and screening and qualifying potential hires over the phone. Think about the mantra, “Always Be Hiring” (ABH) or “Always Be Recruiting” (ABR) to remind you that you should always be working on building a network or “bench” of qualified candidates who you can pull from when job vacancies become available. 

When a job vacancy appears, child care admins who have done this preparation are way ahead of the game. Instead of creating a job posting from scratch, these admins already have a list of individuals who are qualified for the role, have passed a basic phone screen interview, and have shown interest in working at the center. As a result, it becomes easier, faster and more efficient to schedule interviews, identify the best candidate and hire them. 

Centers can get their recruitment efforts started and reach thousands of potential hires through online job boards like Indeed, Monster and Workopolis. Job postings should outline the essential qualifications, education and experience required to work at your center, with child care administrators using phone screenings and the interview process to assess the values of potential hires.

Proactive recruitment is the best solution for child care administrators who need to rapidly fill job vacancies without compromising on the quality or values of their new hires. Administrators struggling to find high-quality candidates online should consider changing up their job postings and headlines to attract attention from different users.

Step Three: Conducting the Interview Process

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Child care administrators should use the interview process to identify candidates whose attitudes, values, and personality traits are aligned with their organizational culture. This can be a challenge all on its own, but with the right interviewing techniques, it is possible to gain deeper insight into the underlying values of potential hires. 

We recommend using behavioral interview questions as a part of your process to learn more about how your candidates think and act in a professional setting.

The foundation for behavioral interview questions is that past behavior is the best predictor of future behavior. To learn how someone will behave in the future, we ask them to tell a story about how they behaved in the past. Three of our favorite behavioral interview questions for child care providers are:

  1. Describe a time where you had to deal with an unhappy parent. How did you resolve the situation?
  2. Describe a time where you reported a safety issue at work. How did you notice the issue and what did you do to fix it and keep everyone safe?
  3. Describe a time where you had to communicate with someone who couldn’t understand your language. What did you do to get the message across?

In the interview process, child care administrators need to ask these questions, listen carefully to responses from candidates, then dig even further to reveal the underlying values, attitudes and motivations that drive candidate behaviors. 

Simple follow-up questions like “How did you feel when that happened?” or “What made you feel/react that way?” can reveal about how a candidate will interpret and react to real situations in the child care environment.

Step Four: Choosing the Right Candidate

After completing the interview process, child care administrators are left with the sometimes difficult decision of choosing which candidate should become their newest team member. 

The hiring decision should take into consideration all meaningful factors, including the individual qualifications of candidates, their education levels, additional certifications, relevant job experience, and the values that guide their personal and professional lives. It’s important to make sure the person fits with your team and complements team members’ strengths – while also helping team members turn any weaknesses into opportunities for growth. 

When administrators thoroughly investigate these factors, they can successfully identify and hire child care providers who will become valuable organizational assets.

Step Five: Setting Team Members Up for Success

The final piece of advice in our child care hiring guide is about setting your new team members up for success.

Hiring the right person doesn’t mean they’re going to start performing their best right away. Child care leaders need to create a structured onboarding process to help familiarize their new hires with organizational culture and the associated working methods and expectations. 

The best new hires should be aligned on values with your organization and able to meet these expectations with minimal friction. In other cases, a 90-day probationary period at the start of employment can allow sufficient time for new hires to adapt to company culture and for child care admins to evaluate their performance, collect feedback and make sure they’re representing the center in a positive way through every customer interaction.

Manage and Schedule Your Child Care Staff with Procare Solutions

Thanks for checking out our child care hiring guide! Are you too busy with routine administrative tasks to focus on proactive recruitment for your child care center? Don’t worry – Procare is here to help.

Our child care management platform helps streamline and automate routine administrative tasks like attendance tracking, tuition billing and payment processing. You’ll save hours of time each week, more than enough to revamp your hiring process and start recruiting all-star child care providers to join your team.

Ready to find out how Procare Solutions can help your center run more efficiently than ever before? 

Request a Demo

Michelle Burrows

About The Author

Michelle Burrows

Michelle Burrows serves as Chief Marketing Officer at Procare, providing integrated software, products and solutions for child-centered businesses. In her role as CMO, Michelle drives strategy, brand awareness, demand generation and delivering outstanding customer experiences.

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