While the COVID-19 pandemic has presented many challenges to childcare centers across the country, many providers are looking for ways to improve the quality of their care and facilities during this time. With limited enrollment and staff members, you may find that you have some additional time to dedicate to your center. Using this time can help you set solid plans to help your center grow, build stronger relationships with your families and/or manage your team better. Positioning this time as an opportunity to better your childcare center can help you get a competitive edge over other childcare centers in your area and position your center to thrive in the future.
1. Implement Health Protocols
Your state might have a specific set of protocols or rules your center needs to follow, but it’s a good idea to have your own measures in place to protect your staff and families. Having your teachers wear face masks can help mitigate the spread of the virus. You’ll also want to have staff and children wash their hands regularly and in between activities. Consider setting a timer to remind your staff to wash their hands every 90 minutes. During activities, keep materials easy to disinfect and individual so they are only touched by one child. You may also want to limit the number of toys in your center and keep those that are easy to disinfect, like hard plastic or wood toys. Encourage outdoor play if possible as this will help keep children safe and distanced.
2. Have a Financial Plan
Look closely at your budget and formulate a plan for short and long term financial success. You will also want to accommodate for incurred costs from PPE, hand sanitizer, cleaning products and other items to help keep your center safe and clean. To help you understand the financial impact of the pandemic on your business, Kangarootime has created a Scenario Modeling Tool to help you better forecast and plan financially for the coming months. Did you apply and receive funds from the Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP)? If your center has taken advantage of PPP loans, check out our PPP burndown tool to help budget your loan and loan forgiveness.
3. Communicate with Parents and Families
Along with a pandemic, the world is facing issues of race and inequality. Due to COVID-19 and the current protests, many parents have questions and concerns. It’s important to address your safety procedures in place so parents have peace of mind when it comes to their children’s health. Additionally, communicate with parents on what your center is doing to address the inequality issues seen today. How are you handling conversations with children and creating a positive and empowering environment? Reinforce your message with consistent communication in a variety of ways—email, messaging in your Parent App, Facebook, and other any way you communicate with your community. Looking for guidance on communicating your reopening with families? Download Kangarootime’s Guide here.
4. Let the Children Guide Learning
If you don’t have the answers or know the right direction to take, allow your children to guide the learning. They might be curious about subjects and ask unique questions that you can address in fun and interactive activities. For example, Shira Leibowitz, CEO of Discovery Village Childcare and Preschool, found that with all of the hand washing that was required in her center, children became more interested in water. This led them to learn about fish and the sea, how water can be used to grow plants, how clouds and the rain work, and eventually how rainbows are made. Find her webinar full of additional information for your center here.
5. Find a Mentor, Ask Questions, and Take Classes
During the pandemic and the post-pandemic period, your center can benefit from a mentor and external advice. Talking to other centers can be a great way to get new ideas and make sure your center is on the right track. There’s also a plethora of resources and classes for childcare centers that provide useful information from industry experts. Go a step further and find a mentor. A mentor will be able to advise you on your current operations and how you can improve them. They’re also a great connection to have when any additional questions or situations arise. A great resource to use to find a mentor is score.org.
This may be a confusing and challenging time for your childcare center. These steps can help you work through any issues you’re facing and improve your center for the future. If you want to connect with other childcare providers, join Kangarootime’s Facebook group, KT Childcare Connect. This Facebook group is open to everyone in the childcare industry.