Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Job Descriptions for Child Care Programs

For the past couple of weeks, we’ve talked about Employee Evaluations.  In these posts, I’ve talked about the importance of making sure that each evaluation is based upon that employee’s Job Description.  This is how you ensure that your employees all clearly understand your expectations for their performance.
While a Job Description provides a framework as to what it will take for your employee to be successful in the position, writing Job Descriptions is a careful balancing act.  They need to be specific enough to inform each employee exactly what you expect them to do without bogging everyone down in unnecessary details. 
I shudder to think of how many modifications we have made to our Job Descriptions over the years.  While the core layout has remained the same, we've learned that a few things just really need to be spelled out more clearly.  For example, we just kind of assumed that if we hired a program manager with a recent Bachelor's degree in Early Childhood Education, that person would know how to use email, Word, and Excel.  We were mistaken.  We also assumed that if we hired a teacher, that person would have thought ahead enough to realize that they needed a reliable way to get to work.  Again, we were mistaken.  Those components are now part of our Job Descriptions.
Making sure that our staff members know these basic requirements right up front (we explain the Job Description as part of the interview process), helps us to hire the correct person and provides them with the tools they need to be successful in their position.  They also understand from the beginning that the Job Description will provide the framework for evaluations.  

If you don't already have comprehensive Job Descriptions for your employees, check ours out at: http://daycaretools.com/DaycareProducts.aspx#Personnel

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Employee Evaluation in Child Care

Last week we talked about Employee Self-Evaluation.  This is our prerequisite to our formal evaluation.  While the evaluator should have detailed observations of the employee’s work throughout the evaluation period, we like to see the employee’s own evaluation of strengths and weaknesses.

Each new employee is given a 90-day probationary period (although employment is not guaranteed for the full 90 days).  The probationary period gives both the employee and the employer an opportunity to see if the program is a good fit for them and if they are a good fit for the program. Your Employee Evaluation will help you make your side of this decision. 

Following the probationary period, your employees should be formally appraised of their performance on an annual basis.  A note on this:  Some programs schedule all evaluations at the same time every year.  For example, March is evaluation month.  While this makes it easy to remember when each evaluation needs to be done, it makes that particular month a nightmare for the evaluator(s) and makes it much more difficult to conduct a thorough evaluation for each employee.  We recommend conducting annual evaluations on the employee’s anniversary, whether it be the anniversary of hire or the anniversary of the probationary evaluation.

Your actual Employee Evaluation form should be, primarily, a reformatted version of your Job Description.  If you are requiring that your teacher plan and implement a developmentally appropriate program, you need to evaluate on their ability to do just that.  We go section-by-section through our Job Descriptions to write our evaluations.  Do not include anything on the evaluation that is not included in the Job Description; that's simply not fair to your employees.  

In addition to a rating system to evaluate the employee's performance, your Employee Evaluation form should also contain space to explain why each area was rated as it was, with examples of the employee's performance.  It should also contain space to detail any goals that you, as the manager, have for the employee for the upcoming year and any personal goals that the employee has.  This will be your opportunity to designate any necessary coaching or training for an employee that is having difficulty or additional training and/or responsibility for an employee that is showing great promise.  

If you don't already have an Employee Evaluation form, check ours out at: http://daycaretools.com/DaycareProducts.aspx#Personnel  


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Child Care Employee Self-Evaluation

Each of our employees receives an annual Employee Evaluation.  The evaluation process forces us take the time to thoroughly assess how each of our employees is performing.  It also allows each employee to understand what they are doing well and where they have room for improvement.  Without having a specific evaluation policy in place, it’s easy to overlook this critical piece of staff development.

The first step in our evaluation process is a self-evaluation.  Through regular observation of that person’s performance, I think I have a pretty good idea of how they are doing, but I want to know their impression as well.  Knowing how an employee feels about his or her own performance is a critical piece of completing an evaluation.

As we can’t fairly evaluate someone’s performance on unfamiliar criteria, we use the employee’s Job Description as the basis of the evaluation.  They have that Job Description on the day on which they accept their position and know from that moment on that their performance will be evaluated based upon how well they meet the requirements detailed in it.  So, we simply ask them how well they are meeting each of those criteria. 

Along with the specifics of the Job Description, I also want to know how the employee feels that they have contributed to the program over the past year, what types of struggles they have encountered, and what goals they have for the upcoming year. 

The other thing that we learn from a self-evaluation is how well the employee can objectively assess a situation.  If the self-evaluation indicates that the employee absolutely walks on water, we have an opportunity to talk about objectivity in observations; a critical skill for people who work with young children.

Next week we’ll talk about the actual evaluation.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Child Care Holiday Schedule

As the holidays approach, I’m starting to make plans, including what I’m hosting and when I’m traveling.  My staff is working on those same type of plans, as are the families we serve.  My challenge is to merge all of these schedules, to the best of my ability, to most effectively meet everyone’s needs.

My staff members are starting to turn in their requests for time off in the next couple of months.  While I have a thorough understanding of how I need to staff my program, and how many employees can be gone at any given time and allow us to still meet ratios and provide quality care, what I don’t know is which children will be in care on which days and for how long.  I don’t want to be the person to tell one of my staff members that they cannot go away for Thanksgiving only to have that person twiddling their thumbs in a nearly empty classroom and being sent home early that afternoon because there are so few children in care.

We use a Holiday Attendance Survey to help us make these kinds of decisions, as well as providing a subtle way to remind parents which days we will be closed.  On our Survey, we remind parents of our closure days, but also ask them about their child’s anticipated attendance on the days around the closure.  For example, how many days between Christmas and New Year’s will your child be in our care?  Will your child be there all day on those days or just part of the day? 

Once I have this information, I can go to my staff time-off requests and approve as many as possible.  If you don’t already have a Holiday Attendance Survey, you can find ours here.