Scheduling return dates for parents
Are you clear about reopening of your places?
As we slowly exit from lockdown parents continue to face uncertainty about their jobs, are not sure when businesses are re-opening or what’s happening with schools and childcare settings, all of which makes for a difficult environment to make decisions about returning to childcare.
Last week we looked at having a regular parent contact to try and clarify at least the situation regarding returning to childcare by sending parents weekly updates with key facts and an idea of what’s coming next.
One powerful piece of information you can add into your updates to parents is a ‘Weekly Schedule’ updated to reflect all the changes to available places as things gradually change and more places open up again!
What’s important about a schedule?
It is difficult to manage and plan for the rapidly changing information and guidelines from the Government, so giving clear and concise updates and facts to parents will support their decisions and give some clarity to the childcare aspects of their lives.
Setting out a formal schedule of when you are open, what times and how many places are opening up in the coming weeks, will benefit providers and parents alike. As childcare providers bring staff back from furlough and as restrictions begin to ease more places will be available and it’s possible to show these clearly in a simple schedule.
NOTE: If you are currently closed it is even more important to keep in touch with your parents’ intentions and schedule for returning, as they may be back to work before you reopen! So you may want to keep your reopening date under weekly review so that you can react when parents are returning rather than risk losing them to other providers who have remained open.
Helping parents plan return dates
Sharing a weekly updated schedule with parents and asking them to select a likely return date will help them to reflect on their plans and inform their decisions to return. A schedule will help them clearly see when places are opening and available for them. Once they commit to a return date you can manage your occupancy with more accuracy and consider what other marketing you might want to initiate to ensure you fill places again as soon as restrictions are lifted.
Many providers are proactively contacting parents and keeping them informed and have lists of return dates, which is ideal. However, a schedule may be helpful to encourage parents who may not have decided when to send their child back or who are waiting to hear about returning to work and could coordinate with places becoming available.
Here is a handy template layout that you can amend to your own preferences. If anyone wants this in Excel format please email us on firstname.lastname@example.org