Many child care center owners wish they could look into the minds of the parents to see what they really think about the care they provide. While putting out parent satisfaction surveys to families seems like a good way to find out how your center is doing, it is important to design the survey in the right way. If you don't, you might be wasting people’s time and not getting the right information.
With any survey, it’s natural to question whether the data you are collecting is valid. Are parents seriously considering the question or are they simply circling their answers based on overall satisfaction with your center? Is the survey anonymous or is there a way that parents can be identified? For instance, if parents are required to turn the surveys in directly to the office, they might be hesitant to give a low score even if that’s how they really feel. The best way to get reliable data is to make the survey anonymous by doing it online or by having a drop-off box in the hallway.
Even if you do collect surveys anonymously, you have to ask yourself whether the information you’re getting is actually useful. While it might be able to give you a general idea about whether parents are satisfied or not, it can be difficult to tell how parents truly feel. On a scale of one to five, for example, one parent’s “four” might be another parent’s “five”. Additionally, any data you collect refers only to your own child care center. It doesn’t help you compare whether or not your center is competitive with other local centers.
Better Questions = Better Information
Rather than asking parents to rate their experience, ask questions that are open-ended and require real answers. It is not as easy to compile this type of data, but it will give you more to work with. Some questions you might ask are:
- What do you like best about our child care center?
- What additional offerings would you like to see?
- Is your child’s teacher a good fit? Why or why not?
- How can we improve your experience?
Surveys help you understand the experience of the parents, but you have to word questions in a way that will give you the information you need. For more information about designing parent surveys, click here.