6 Ways to Increase Attendance in Childcare Programs
You have worked hard all year to create a childcare program that is safe, welcoming, and encourages your children to learn and grow. Yet, your attendance numbers are still down!
Attendance in childcare programs can often seem just as important as having a quality program. Attendance increases funding and can give an overall representation of the value of your program.
With this in mind, why is your attendance staying the same when you feel you are doing everything right? Making a few small changes can turn your good program into a great program, and get your attendance back on the upward track.
#1 Spend less time on paperwork, and more on programming
Attendance tracking. Sign in-out sheets. Billing information. In the world of childcare it seems as if we are dealing with paperwork and reports constantly. While it is important to stay organized and on top of paperwork, you do not want it take away from the time spent on improving how the program runs daily.
Maintain a proper balance between reports and billing, and creating a quality program. Attendance, billing, and sign in-out software like Kinderlime can help alleviate the time spent on your piles of paperwork. The extra time spent on quality programming will show, and help increase attendance in your program.
#2 Keep parents happy
Parents often DO have a choice when it comes to childcare. This is why it is immensely important for you and your staff to maintain good communication and a welcoming environment for your parents. Do your best to find new ways to make your parents happy. Each program is different, but here are a couple of ways to maintain a healthy relationship with parents, and increase attendance numbers:
- Train staff to always greet parents immediately upon entering
- Create an environment of open communication with parents by making them feel welcome
- Keep parents informed through monthly newsletters
- Find new ways to keep parents updated (photos, e-mails, events etc.)
#3 Cater to your community
Each childcare program is a little different as each program is catering to a different community. What works for one program may not work for another. If you are having problems with attendance numbers, one of the first things you will want to evaluate is if you are providing a program that fits the needs of your community.
Through surveys, talking with your community, and creating open communication, you will be on your way to learning more about what your parents and participants hope to see from their childcare program.
#4 Stay ahead
The world of childcare is constantly changing. As a program director, it is important to stay on top of the ever changing trends of childcare. What does programming look like? What tools are being used for the Sign In-Out process? What training is provided for you staff? It is important to not only look at the needs of the community you are providing childcare for, but also looking at what other childcare programs in your community are providing to their clients.
A great way to stay ahead is actually talking to other childcare program directors, and even tour other childcare sites. Observe what other sites are doing differently, and bring your favorite ideas to your program.
Also try attending after school program conventions to see what tools, ideas and resources other programs are using to stay ahead. After attending conventions, and talking with other childcare leaders, write down and brainstorm what ideas could benefit your site the most. If you are unsure about changing certain aspects of your program, see if there is any way you can sample an idea, training or product. At Kinderlime you have the opportunity to schedule a demo, and find out more program specific information on how Kinderlime’s software could be beneficial for you.
Staying on top of the continual changes in childcare will help you stand out as a quality program to parents and your community, ensuring that your attendance will continue to grow.
#5 Hire Quality Staff AND Use Them
You could be the best childcare director on the planet or a multi-tasking king, but if you do not have a great childcare team then your program numbers are doomed to drop. Some childcare positions can have a very high turnover rate. If you find yourself desperately needing to hire a new staff, you may find yourself hiring the first decent person that walks in the door. While it is tempting to hire someone quickly, you will regret later not taking the time to hire a quality staff.
By taking the time to hire quality staff, you are not only making your job easier down the line, but also increasing the success and attendance of your program. However, hiring is not the only important element when it comes to staffing your childcare program.
Know how to use your staff. Find out what they can bring to the table. Try giving your staff a survey of their interests and hobbies. You may learn that you have hired not only childcare staff, but artist, dance instructors, or organization wizards.
It is important to give staff the training and resources they need, as well as show them support, encouragement, and appreciation. Investing a little extra time and energy into your staff will help create a program that participants will never want to leave. Great staff can literally make the difference from a good program to an incredible program, and increase attendance in no time.
#6 Don’t forget your biggest marketing tool… your participants!
While parents ultimately decide if their child will attend the program, your participants have a huge impact on this decision. If your children enjoy the program, then there parents will most likely keep them in the program.
But, what has an even greater impact is the influence your participants have on their friends. By creating a childcare program with quality staff, supportive parents, and well planned programming, you will create a program that your children look forward to everyday. Your attendees will then tell their friends about the program, helping to spread the word. By putting your efforts into creating a quality childcare program you are not only creating a place that your participants enjoy, but are also marketing your program and attracting more attendees.
Have you tried any of these attendance increasing tips? What tips and tricks have you tried to increase attendance in childcare programs?