Operating Tips On Caring For Kids - Part 5
Look at the "long-range" side:
- Does the facility have a difficult time meeting its budget?
- Have rates been raised to meet budget?
- Is the facility at less-than-capacity in each classroom?
- Does the marketing plan consist of costly advertising?
- Does the community fail to know the facility exists?
If your answer is "yes" to many of these questions, it's time to look at the practices of your center that may be stifling your business's growth.
On the "daily" list, staffing is probably your center's most difficult category to predict and monitor. The job of keeping talented caregivers and low turnover is important if any organization is to thrive. A key to minimizing resignations is to focus on who your good people are and make an effort to pay them good money.
Also, although it may be impressive to parents, hiring an employee with a four-year degree is also a certain way to increase turnover. Staff immediately out of college with a degree in elementary education are likely to use the job as a short-term step along the way. Rather, employ staff that are experienced, mature and qualified yet not degreed because sometimes they stay as long-term teachers, making years of positive, long-lasting impressions on children and parents.
Along with staffing comes the issue of staff morale. Keeping employees happy is one of the key components of staff retention, yet ironically, it often goes unchecked. Putting effort into birthday acknowledgements, staff dinners, bonuses, staff appreciation days and general personal support make a big difference in the team attitude. The key to a healthy workplace is having fun. If you haven't taken your staff out to dinner lately the time is now.
As for parent concerns, there is one guarantee complaints will occur from time to time. How often you receive complaints and the nature of them is the key. Again, having a good staff that you can trust will put a "fire" out before it turns into a disaster. Training your staff on policies can alleviate many problems with parents. Set aside a day to check if your policies are up-to-date by taking an inventory of how many policies are actually being followed at your center. Also, make sure staff understand why policies have been created.
It is also important to address the reason for your center's existence: the children. Children with an inability to handle a large group setting may exhibit behaviors such as biting, hitting, an inability to follow directions, and/or excessive crying. Have you looked around your center to see if there is a child or children who are exhibiting these behaviors? If you find or know that children like this are visiting your center every day, then take action.
It is important to remove the child when he or she is causing the other children, teachers or the program harm. This issue is closely tied to parent concerns and staff morale, as keeping disruptive children in your program can destroy it. It is not appropriate to keep a child/family in your facility that causes unhealthy circumstances. In the long run, the bad word-of-mouth caused by an unhappy group of parents will cost you far more than the removal of one child. This philosophy is called "addition by subtraction."