6 Ways to Boost Enrollment During COVID-19

Many of the childcare centers around the world are experiencing the same thing: low enrollment.

If your center was at capacity in the beginning of March, you likely have vacancies right now, which is not the new normal you want to submit to! Knowing all centers are in the same boat can be helpful, but it’s even better to be proactive, think outside of the box, and move forward with momentum.

Here are some ideas for boosting enrollment during these difficult times.

1. Incentive Program

During times when we have open spots in certain classrooms, I use an incentive program with the families already enrolled. I offer $100 off tuition to any family who refers a new enrollment. 

The best part of this from my perspective is that it costs $0 to do because I charge a $100 registration fee for a new family. So, that $100 just gets shifted to the family who referred, and everyone wins! 🙂 

I also extend this offer to my staff. If anyone on my staff refers a new family to enroll, they get a $100 bonus. (That part is not free, but it’s worth it!) 

2. Offer Free Registration

Run a promotion during the month of August, for example, and offer new enrolled families free registration if they enroll during a certain time frame that you choose from. Who doesn’t love “free?” In order to get the word out, get some yard signs made and put them out near the road where traffic will see.

3. Paid Ads

Yes, this costs money, but it’s worth the investment. You can spend a minimum amount of money using Facebook or Instagram ads, Yelp, and Google ads.  You get to create the budget and decide who you’d like to target as your audience. (Hint: usually, we target females between the ages of 24-45, but during this pandemic, I’m noticing that targeting males of that same age has worked because dads are seeming to be a little more ready to send their kids back to school.) 😉 

4. Local Parent Social Network Pages

Be on the lookout for local parent pages on social networks like Facebook.  Many of them have rules where you cannot promote your business, but you can give recommendations when someone asks. So, when you see someone asking about a local daycare, be sure to comment and put your contact information there. I have gotten more enrollments this way lately, so this works well! (and it’s free!)

5. Virtual Open Houses

Consider holding an open house for potential families to do Facetime tours and ask questions. Offer free registration as well as plan to mail them some “swag” that you would usually give out at an in-person open house.

6. Virtual Support Center/Extended Summer Camp

If you have the space at your center as well as professional people to hire, consider opening a classroom to host students who are in elementary school who have to go virtually for the first semester but parents need to work.  Decide how many students you can accept where 6 or more feet of distance is available for each student. Hire teachers who will be there to facilitate the students, make sure they can get logged on for their synchronous and asynchronous learning, and then supplement their time with lunch, recess, brain breaks, and other activities to make a full day. This is a big need in every community, so if you can successfully do this, it will help make up for some of the lost tuition money with low enrollment.

We are all figuring this out as we go, but these are some great ways to boost up enrollment during these times. Word of mouth continues to be the best type of advertisement, so encourage your enrolled families to spread the word, and your enrollment will climb. It may not go up as fast as it usually does during August, but as parents get more comfortable, it will get there. As always, hang in there and show yourself grace! 

What are some other ideas you can share that will help boost enrollment?  Are you doing anything that wasn’t listed above? Share in the comments below, and let’s all share our ideas. We’re in this together!

Missy Knechel

Missy is a professor in the early childhood department at Eastern University and director of Victory Early Learning Academy, a childcare center that she started ten years ago. Prior to that, she taught Kindergarten and second grade for a total of 10 years. She has been married to her best friend, Jason, for 18 years, and together they have four beautiful children ages 8, 9, 12 and 13 in the suburbs of Philadelphia, PA. In her spare time, Missy loves to bake, read historical fiction, sing karaoke and travel to Central America on short term missions.

One comment

  • Linda Parris says:

    Hello. Reading your hints on getting the enrollment up in your centers. I have tried all of the hints of increasing my enrollment and as of today I am still brainstorming with my Assistant on our next steps. It’s getting hard and this is our main way of living. Thanks for your advice