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Marissa Schneggenburger

A Complete Guide to Staff Management in Early Childhood Education for Childcare Centers, Daycares, and Preschools 

  • March 13, 2024

Introduction 

What is staff management? 

Staff Management is the process of recruiting, onboarding, retaining, and guiding staff. This includes processing payroll, reviewing time-off requests, building schedules, monitoring ratios, focusing on professional development, and more.  

The importance of effective staff management 

Effective staff management is critical in childcare to ensure team members are providing quality care, schools are compliant, and your operation is running smoothly.  

Challenges with staff management 

Childcare centers, daycares, and preschools are struggling with staff management, specifically hiring and retention. This is due to a range of factors, many outside of their control. By honing in on staff management, refining processes, and focusing on strong leadership, schools can begin to overcome these challenges. 

Recruitment and Hiring Process 

Your school’s recruitment and hiring process is the first experience potential team members will have with your center. Make sure this process is efficient and effective to find the highest quality candidates and improve your school.  

Identifying Staffing Needs 

When starting the recruitment process, first identify the number and types of staff members your school needs. With Kangarootime’s Schedule Optimization tool, it’s easy to see how many staff members are needed per classroom based on ratios and past attendance trends. 

Job Descriptions for Childcare Staff 

Create job descriptions based on the specific responsibilities for each role. These should be specific and outline daily tasks, benefits, and anything special your center offers. For a full guide on where to post job listings, what to include in job descriptions, and specific examples, click here. 

Recruitment Strategies 

When hiring childcare staff, these different techniques can help widen your candidate pool. Write accurate job descriptions. Clearly outline your expectations and daily responsibilities. Follow up with candidates on a set cadence. Reach out to previous employees for feedback. Host open group interviews. Send reminders before interviews. Get current employees and families involved in the hiring process. Post listings on job sites, local Facebook groups, your website, and in your newsletter. Ask for referrals. Make it easy for candidates to apply. Having multiple applications and lead forms on your website. Minimize your required fields on your applications. Lower job requirements (this could be removing the requirement of a 2 or 4-year degree or number of CDA credits). 

Interviewing Techniques for Childcare Staff 

Hiring the right people for your childcare center involves a strong interview process. When interviewing candidates at your center, it’s crucial to ask the right questions. These interview questions help you gauge their teaching style, how they handle conflict, if they’re a good fit for your center, and more. 

Ask the right questions during the interview process, take potential candidates on a tour, introduce them to current staff, and have them shadow other educators. 

Deciding to Hire 

After completing interviews, decide whether to hire staff members based on their availability, attitude, and experience. It’s also important that team members align with your core values. Hiring a staff member with good character can be a strong asset to your overall team culture.        

Onboarding and Training 

A strong onboarding process can make a huge difference in the performance and retention of new staff members. 

Building an Orientation Program for New Staff 

Digitizing your orientation program is easy to simplify training and ensure new team members have all the information they need. This guide outlines how to create a digital training program. By providing great training, you’re ensuring your new staff members understand expectations and will reflect your center’s values. Throughout the onboarding process, make new hires feel special by providing small gifts and swag, introducing them to each staff member, hosting a luncheon, etc. Assigning a mentor can also be extremely helpful for new hires as they have someone to turn to for advice throughout the onboarding process. 

Onboarding Checklist for Childcare Staff 

When onboarding new staff members, it’s crucial to stay organized. An onboarding checklist can help make sure you’re effectively onboarding your staff, leading to better performance and increased retention rates. To help make this process simple, we’ve created a free, downloadable childcare staff onboarding checklist. Keep reading to learn more about improving your onboarding process and download the checklist. 

Training Childcare Staff in Customer Service 

Training childcare staff in customer service is important for building a reputable childcare center. Create a welcoming environment for children and families by teaching your staff how to appropriately communicate with parents and guardians. Simple customer service skills can go a long way when interacting with parents and handling difficult situations. Preparing your staff to manage situations calmly and appropriately can help improve relationships at your center and create a better environment for educators, parents, and children. In this article, we will outline the importance of good customer service, how it can improve your center, and what to teach your staff during their training.  

Professional Development Opportunities for Childcare Providers 

In any profession, continued education is crucial to keep up with industry standards, improve job performance, and increase career progression. With licensing and compliance requirements, training is necessary for childcare providers however, finding timely and relevant resources can be a challenge. Through online and in-person experiences, ECE leaders can expand their knowledge and collect continued education credits. Read this article for accessible and quality training tools for childcare providers looking to improve professionally. 

Building a Positive Work Culture 

Team culture plays a huge role in productivity, retention, and family perception. A great team culture brings you higher staff retention, increased quality of care, better communication, and more. 

Team Building Activities 

Team building activities for childcare staff can be both fun and beneficial for fostering a supportive and collaborative work environment. Professional development workshops, retreats, and volunteering can all bring your team together. 

Recognition and Rewards for Staff 

Show appreciation to staff by recognizing their hard work. This can be done through contests, gift cards, events, free food, etc. For more ideas on celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week click here. 

Resolving Conflict in the Workplace 

Resolving conflict in the workplace is crucial for maintaining a positive and productive work environment. To resolve conflict effectively, be sure to address the issue early, actively listen, encourage open communication, identify underlying issues, seek mediation, brainstorm solutions, and follow up after resolution. 

Measuring the Success of Your Culture 

There are metrics and behaviors you can track to better understand your team’s culture and how it’s affecting your school. Retention rates, happiness interviews, team feedback, referrals and reviews, and eNPS, are all ways to measure culture. Learn more here. 

Performance Management 

Set Goals and Expectations 

Set clear expectations by defining roles and responsibilities, providing training, and setting performance goals. This will help your staff understand what they need to do and how they can contribute to your school. 

Scorecards 

Scorecards are the best way to measure staff performance and identify areas for improvement. 1Place Childcare has examples of scorecards and can offer additional resources for managing staff. 

Stay Interviews 

Stay interviews are a proactive approach to employee retention and engagement. Unlike exit interviews, which are conducted when an employee is leaving, stay interviews are conducted with current employees to understand what motivates them to stay with the organization and what might cause them to leave. 

Promoting Work-life Balance 

Creating an environment that prioritizes work-life balance results in a higher-quality center and better workplace culture. 

Work-life Balance Initiatives 

To establish work-life balance, follow these steps: establish boundaries, take time off, delegate tasks, train staff, improve organization, be intentional with breaks, challenge the guilt, and resist the need for perfection.  

Professional Development Opportunities 

Professional development opportunities are crucial for continuous improvement when it comes to your educators.  

Online Webinars 

Webinars are the easiest way to learn about relevant topics quickly and easily. Many childcare companies host webinars regularly with industry experts. To get started watching, check out Kangarootime. Be sure to join our mailing list to be notified of upcoming webinars.  

Connect with Local Organizations  

Chances are, there are local childcare organizations or groups you can join to connect to your community and learn together. Your local organization might host in-person meetups, conferences, and additional networking opportunities to expand your network and professional knowledge.  

Online or In-person Courses 

A class is a comprehensive way to dive deeper into specific topics. If you’re looking to improve as a childcare provider, classes are a great way to relevant and in-depth knowledge about any topics you might be interested in. These could include CPR and First Aid, nutrition, water safety, emergency preparedness, etc. Check your local childcare regulatory agencies for more information on available, required, and accepted courses.  

Conferences  

Although they are a larger investment when it comes to time and money, conferences are exceptional professional development opportunities. At a conference, you’ll meet like-minded individuals, learn from industry experts, capture early education credits, connect with new services, and more. The in-person experience of a childcare conference is far beyond what you’ll get with a webinar or local event.  

Technology and Staff Management 

Utilizing Technology for Administrative Tasks 

Tools like Kangarootime can help your staff request time-off, check-in, monitor timelogs, and perform their jobs easier. For more information on Kangarootime’s staff management tools, click here. 

Software and Tools for Communication and Collaboration 

Kangarootime allows childcare staff to communicate with each other as well as families. There is easy, consistent, and visible communication accessible right within the app. 

Conclusion 

Effective staff management is crucial for childcare software to operate smoothly and provide high-quality care. By utilizing features such as scheduling, communication tools, and staff performance tracking, childcare providers can streamline operations, improve staff morale, and enhance the overall quality of care. Investing in a comprehensive childcare software solution that includes robust staff management features is key to achieving these benefits and ensuring the success of your childcare center. 

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