Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Daily Child Care Schedule

We’ve talked for the past couple of weeks about making parents happy.  We do that, primarily, through providing safe, high-quality care for their children and by encouraging open communication.  Something as simple as having a posted Daily Schedule can help with both of these tasks.  

Children thrive on routine; rather than finding it boring, they find great comfort in consistency.  A Daily Schedule will help both staff and children maintain consistency.  Of course, in the schedule, there will be room for a bit of flexibility; I’m not talking about a schedule that is written in stone.  Some things like meal time and, when sharing a playground, outdoor time, may have to be pretty static, but other schedule items can be a bit more flexible.  If the children are really enjoying a particular activity and digging deeply into something, it’s great to be able to just let them keep digging.

Parents love to know what their children are doing throughout the day.  They also tend to frequently have the perception that their children do nothing but “play” all day; especially when they ask their children what they did that day and they reply “nothing”.  Posting a Daily Schedule is one more way to show parents that you have a plan in place for their child every day and they are not just spending their days in disorganized free play.  

If you don’t already have a Daily Schedule posted in each classroom, check ours out here.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Parent Satisfaction in Child Care

We all work on fostering parent satisfaction every day.  First and foremost, we provide high-quality care for their children.  In addition, we greet them and their children at the door by name, with a smile; give them a quick run-down of the day when they pick up their children; post menus and lesson plans so that they understand what is happening in the program.  Frequent and open communication is one of the most powerful tools we have in keeping parents satisfied.

Even though we have regular communication with the parents, we also need to have formal procedures in place to measure their satisfaction with our program.  We have an annual Parent Satisfaction Survey that we use to solicit input from, ideally, every parent in our program.  We start with the basics such as which classroom each of their children attends and how long they have been in that classroom.  Then we get to the nitty-gritty like:

  • Overall satisfaction
  • Health and safety
  • Child satisfaction
  • Staff qualifications and performance
  • Staffing levels
  • Program hours
  • Classroom activities and supplies
  • Opportunities for parent involvement
  • Communication
  • Affordability

Some parents are very open in their regular communication with us, but others are not so open.  Surveying parents regularly gives us an opportunity to reach out in a very non-threatening way to those parents who are a bit quieter with their thoughts and opinions.  If you don’t already have a Parent Satisfaction Survey, check ours out here.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Customer Service in Child Care

Just like with retaining employees, it is much easier and more cost-effective to retain your current customers than to have to seek new ones.  And, similarly, word-of-mouth is the best way to gain (or lose) customers.  

Obviously, we need to provide high-quality child care.  But, other than taking excellent care of their children, what else can we do to make parents happy? 

  • We must have an established Customer Relations Policy and make sure that each of our staff members is trained in it prior to service and periodically throughout their tenure with us.
  • We must provide service as quickly and effectively as possible, providing friendly, equal treatment to all patrons. 
  • We must demonstrate solid listening skills and be adept at both verbal and nonverbal communication.
  • We must use appropriate courtesy regardless of whether the parent is on the phone or standing in front of us.
  • We must focus on solutions rather than problems and attempt to identify win-win situations.
  • We must retain full control of our own emotions and know when we need to refer a difficult situation to a supervisor or another individual.

Next week we’ll talk about how to assess parent satisfaction with our program.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Child Care Licensing Regulations

I don’t know about any of you, but in my local area there are some big discussions going on in the public forums in regard to child care licensing bureaucracies and their ever-reaching regulatory rules and interpretation of rules.  I may open a bigger can of worms than I want to, but I thought this topic was worth some thought and discussion.

  • How does a child care provider best work with their licensing representative?
  • How does a child care provider follow all of the rules and stay in compliance with all regulations without going crazy?
  • What are different states doing in the name of child safety?  What types of new regulations or new interpretations of regulations are coming your way, in your area?

Sometimes we all feel overwhelmed with rules and regulations.  Even I feel overwhelmed just trying to write a blog article on the subject.  Between Misty and myself, we have 30+ years of experience in child care, 20+ years of experience with working with child care providers, families, children and communities in regard to families involved in some sort of social system (foster care, juvenile probation, mental health institutions, etc.).  We continuously try to develop sound, solid, practical and high quality policies and procedures that will enhance our programs and make them as safe as humanly possible for children.  Yet, we cannot seem to keep up with the never-ending bureaucratic list of “new” regulations.

We would love to hear from you!  What are you in need of in your area?  New licensing regulations that require new forms, new policies, research that you don’t have time to do?  Let us know and we’ll see what we can develop to help the whole of our child care community.