Staffing is a challenge for any business, but it can be especially challenging in the childcare industry. Childcare owners and directors are looking for qualified, responsible candidates who they can trust to represent their center and positively impact the lives of young children.
Without a doubt, the most important part of your programming is not the curriculum, the meal plan, or your facility–it’s the quality of the staff you employ. When most people think about staffing a childcare center, they naturally think of the educators that fill each classroom.
These individuals have dedicated their own education and careers to early childhood education and they’re the backbone of your classrooms.
However, there are also staffing needs in childcare centers that do not involve those who are formally trained in childcare or education. In order to thrive, most centers also rely on kitchen staff, cleaning staff, administrative staff, and classroom support or “float” staff. These individuals tend to have different backgrounds and skill sets compared to early childhood educators that can complement your educators’ efforts both in and out of the classroom.
Hiring childcare kitchen staff
If your childcare center provides food of any kind, chances are you need to hire staff members to prepare it for each classroom. Even though you might not be used to reading resumes for these positions, kitchen staff can be some of your easiest hires, since many people have food-handling experience and the prospect of not having to work nights and weekends is a huge draw for people in the food and beverage industry!
Although the skillsets are different, you can evaluate a candidate for a kitchen position in many of the same ways you’d evaluate a potential educator:
- Do they seem capable and professional?
- Do they share your perspective on work-related issues, such as allergies and nutrition?
- Do they seem like they would get along well with your other staff?
Be sure to lay out the job duties in detail in the job description so that applicants know what they are getting into before they are hired. The last thing you want is for someone to leave in their first few days or weeks because they did not know they were required to take out the garbage!
Hiring childcare cleaning staff
Another role in a childcare center that does not require a background in early education is ensuring that the center is clean and well-maintained. Depending on the size of your center, this could be something that is the job of the director and educators before and/or after their day in the classroom. However, for many centers, this role is a dedicated position that is often part-time work, delegated to an outsourced company, or an add-on to a float or kitchen staff role.
Regardless of how you assign custodial duties at your center, there are a couple of important things to keep in mind:
- Ensure your cleaning staff use cleaning products approved by licensing that are not harmful to young children.
- Be mindful of work schedules: expect most of the major cleaning to get done before or after the children are in attendance. As any educator or parent knows, it’s just about impossible to clean with lots of children around!
Delegating office tasks to administrative staff
Delegating can be harder than it looks! That’s because it often feels easier to do something yourself than to train someone else to do it. However, delegation is an integral part of leadership, and it’s essential to mitigating burnout. Everyone needs support. No one can do everything themselves. Once you get comfortable with delegating tasks, whether it’s to childcare software or a co-worker, it can be a game-changer.
Hiring an office support person or empowering an educator as an office assistant can be a great way to ensure that you are not drowning in admin tasks, and giving your other staff members the opportunity to learn more about childcare administration can help them grow in their careers, and feel like valued members of the team.
Leaning on classroom support and/or float staff
Depending on the size of your center, you may want to have additional support staff that serve as floaters. They can cover breaks, vacations, and sick days, help out in the kitchen on busier days, lend a hand with cleaning, and support in the classroom during events!
Ensuring you have enough staff to efficiently run your center is one of the biggest challenges in the childcare industry. It takes lots of time and effort and requires managers that can support their team and ensure a positive workplace environment. It’s also the director and owner’s responsibility to ensure a safe learning environment for the children, so don’t forget to have all employees go through background checks and obtain references before hiring them.
Hiring takes a lot of effort so you want to ensure that you can mitigate how often you have to go through those motions!