If you’re a childcare director who has staff members, one of the most important parts of managing your business is employee scheduling. The team schedule determines whether or not you have enough staff members to provide childcare every day. It also enables you to comply with licensing requirements and to uphold an orderly, caring learning environment.
As a childcare business owner, it takes a special balance to avoid both overstaffing and overworking your employees. It also takes a lot of planning and preparation to ensure ideal child-to-teacher ratios. This way, children get the attention they need to thrive while employees feel fulfilled at work.
To help you better manage your staff in your business, here are some tips for childcare employee scheduling.
Childcare Employee Scheduling: Key Considerations
To improve how you manage staff while staying on track with scheduling, you first need to know all the moving parts that go into it. Keep these aspects of your business in mind when creating your staff schedule.
- Operation and Enrollment: Audit how busy your childcare center is, and what may need to happen when you’re growing the business. This informs you of how many staff members to hire and retain.
- Time Off, Vacations, and Sick Pay: Every employee needs time off. Whether it be sick days, vacation time, or paid time off, you need to track all the details in the schedule— and adjust accordingly.
- Payroll Accuracy: Schedule accuracy coincides with payroll accuracy. When you pay attention and manage the schedule correctly, you make sure your employees earn the right amount of money for hours worked. This prevents worker disputes from arising.
- Teacher-to-Child Ratios: Every day, your childcare operation must follow teacher-to-child ratios. This is required by law, and it also relieves your staff from becoming overworked or burnt out.
- Staff Roles: Different employee roles demand specific duties and privileges. For example, there might be an assistant director, teacher, teacher’s assistant, and support staff. The schedule accounts for all required staff at all times.
- Activity Calendars: Certain activities require more or fewer staff to be on the clock. When planning events and activities, think ahead about the staffing schedule to save everyone from last-minute changes.
How do you put all these considerations into the schedule? It takes lots of organization, planning, and good communication.
How to Manage Childcare Employee Scheduling
Here are some practices you can adopt to manage your childcare staff schedule more effectively.
Know Your Employees
Childcare is a business that prioritizes human connection. Your employees are an integral part of this business, so developing positive relationships with them is key.
Get to know your employees. Treat them as valuable individuals, not just people whose names are on the payroll. Learn their interests, priorities, and needs—both on and off the clock. When an employee feels like an appreciated, important member of the team, they’re motivated to stay at their job.
Pay Attention to Detail
The larger your childcare center, the more classrooms you have to manage. This means there are more children, families, employees, and bills to keep track of.
Your level of attention to detail can make or break the employee schedule. From knowing employees’ names and roles to organizing (and remembering) everyone’s time off, every detail matters. It also shows you care.
That said, if you need help being more detail-oriented with the schedule, consider hiring an assistant or using a digital scheduling platform.
Update the Schedule in Advance
One sure way to stress out your employees: post the schedule last minute. This takes a toll on your staff and your overall childcare business.
To avoid this, plan to organize the schedule in advance. Many successful childcare centers have a consistent timeline for scheduling. For example, set a goal to release the upcoming staff schedule every two weeks for the following two weeks. This way, employees know when to show up for a shift, and can request coverage or schedule changes ahead of time.
Be Flexible to Accommodate Employee Needs
While consistency and organization produce effective schedules, employees still need room to voice their needs when necessary. Life happens. Employees get sick, loved ones pass away, and unexpected emergencies arise. Adopt resources and protocols that allow your employees to feel accommodated when the time calls for it.
This may look like:
- Allowing staff members to trade shifts when agreed upon
- Assigning higher-level staff to fill in when a team member can’t show up for a shift
- Understanding quarterly schedule changes for staff attending college
- Partnering with other local childcare centers to arrange staff substitute programs
Although schedule changes can cause inconveniences, it’s a natural part of management. As a childcare director, your job is to make sure there’s enough room for flexibility while maintaining enough boundaries to hold staff accountable.
Use Childcare Staff Management Software
It takes a lot of brain power to keep track of the childcare staff every day, week, month, and so on. Fortunately, with the right technology, childcare providers can automate certain aspects of scheduling to make the process easier.
Many childcare owners use some type of management software or employee scheduling app to help with this. Typically, you can input staff members’ names, job details, and availability to get a full view of how they fit into the schedule. This is helpful because it offers a 360-degree view of what you’re working with, so you can optimize who works when.
Proactive Staff Scheduling Tools for Childcare Centers
The best way to manage your childcare staff is to remain thoughtful and proactive. Using employee scheduling software can keep you and your staff members on track, no matter what stage of the business you’re in.
The employee scheduling feature from Daily Connect supports childcare management at all levels. You can assign staff roles, keep track of employee documentation, add private notes to reference during scheduling, and manage schedules in-app.
Additional Daily Connect features include parent billing, child attendance tracking, learning and assessment reports, and secure parent-teacher communication. To improve your staff scheduling, communication, and overall childcare management, download Daily Connect for a free trial.