In my last blog post, “Relationship Building 101,” I focused on how to build relationships with parents and families in your child care center. Today I would like to focus on the other key player: the child care center staff. The staff makes all the difference in a child care center. The job of a childcare provider is hard and usually underappreciated. Teachers work long, stressful days with low pay, and do this job because they love it, not because it is easy.
As a Director, I tried to fill in and show appreciation where possible. I know that one of the main components to retaining staff in child care is job satisfaction. I know that the best way to make child care center staff feel satisfied in their job is recognition. I had a “Kudos Board” in the lobby of my child care center and recognized all the little things that would normally go unnoticed. I also verbally recognized my staff on a continuous basis. I let my staff know that I was there for them and that I truly cared. I spent a big portion of my day in the rooms helping them and offering assistance where needed.
At my child care center, we also had a “love box” in the office. The is where staff could recognize each other. This is unique as it is coming from their peers and makes the “staff” start to feel more like “family”.
Every day and in every thing we did, we tried to make it feel like a family. I helped others and knew that they would be willing to help me. This philosophy always trickles down and staff helping each other builds trust and lets each staff member know they have each other’s back. This is built with mutual respect and friendship always in mind.
I have even had several employees visibly distressed when putting in their resignation because they did not want to leave our “family". One specific situation I encountered was when I had a single mother working for me for three years. We had become really close and the child care center environment felt like her home. One day she came to me in tears. She was letting me know that she had accepted a job making a substantially higher income. She was upset because she didn’t want to leave. I assured her it was the best decision for her and her family and she could still come visit whenever she would like. She kept her daughter enrolled at the center and still felt like part of the family.
Building relationships with staff not only improves staff retention, it also helps them understand their roles better. They begin to feel confident, and in return, build stronger relationships with parents in the child care center. It is a trickle down effect resulting in happier children and more satisfied and loyal families.
- Child Care Center Director in Utah