Depending on where you live in the country, you’re likely at least a few weeks into government mandated changes to day-to-day behavior in response to COVID-19. Regardless of whether you’re living under a stay-at-home order or social distancing advice, if you’re finding it challenging to maximize student enrollment, here are some ideas to help.
Be Proactive With Your Parents
First and foremost, proactively address how your center is minimizing the risk of infection. Parents are worried their children could get sick. So, by acknowledging what you’re doing, you’re giving current and prospective parents peace of mind in a very unsettled time.
Publish what you’re doing front and center on your website. An example would be, “At Smartcare School we are committed to keeping your children and our staff healthy. We are following the advice of public health experts, by requiring these policies:
- Temperature checks at drop-off. No child with a fever can attend that day.
- Regular hand washing, especially any time a staff member or child enters the center or moves from one room to another.
- Disinfecting staff and children belongings upon arrival.
- Staff and children must always wear masks.
- Children are kept separate as much as is possible.”
Look Out for Potential Enrollment Opportunities
The first place to start is providing care for essential workers. Many essential workers are working more and longer shifts, and many have had their normal childcare options disrupted. Many more might not know that your center is able to provide care. Not only would you help an essential worker who needs childcare, but you would be contributing meaningfully to your community’s efforts to address the pandemic. Here’s what we recommend:
First, reach out to employers of essential workers in your community such as hospitals, police departments, fire departments, grocery stores, and distribution centers.
It might take some effort but starting with a call or email to the general number and asking to speak with the organization’s HR department is the best place to start. Once you’re in contact with the HR department, ask if they provide a list of childcare providers to their staff, and if they do, ask to be on the list, and if they do not, ask that their staff be made aware of your offerings.
Next, think about extending your service hours.
Most essential workers are not working normal “9 to 5” shifts, but they still need childcare. Under normal circumstances, it might not have made sense to offer care outside of normal business hours, or it may have been difficult to find teachers willing to do so. But we aren’t living under normal circumstances. Offering longer service hours will allow you to care for more children.
Once you’ve contacted employers of essential workers and expanded your service hours to care for their children when they’re working, the next thing you should do is focus on local search.
Many parents, even those who aren’t essential workers, are looking for new childcare options. Most of those parents use one or more of the following services to find care. At a minimum, you should make sure you’re signed up for and have a complete profile with each service, which is normally free. The list below includes links to sign-up if you aren’t already:
We hope this helps your center maximize enrollment in challenging times. Most importantly, thank you for continuing to provide childcare to workers in all occupations. Your efforts are the reason many people can continue to work today, and your efforts will be the foundation which will allows many more people to get back to work in what we hope is the not too distant future.