Due to COVID-19 safety precautions and mandates requiring children attend virtual schools remotely, millions of children across the country are now at home during the day. More working parents are looking for childcare options for older students. To meet the growing need, childcare administrators might consider adding a school-aged program to an existing childhood education center. Here are a few tips on how you can safely add a school-aged program to your childcare center, plus bonus ideas for promoting your new program.
Follow Licensing Guidelines
Do your research to familiarize yourself with applicable state licensing requirements and current CDC guidelines for safety precautions. Since scientific understanding of the virus and public health recommendations continue to evolve, be sure you keep up-to-date with both national recommendations and regional requirements. When in doubt, contact your state agency or licensing officer, who can education and support you through the transition.
Assess the Physical Environment
Where will you hold your school-aged program? Will you have a mix of younger and older children in the same room? While you generally are permitted to have a mix of younger and older children, you must always consider ratios. Will you have enough space to physically distance children and staff, according to your facility’s COVID-19 protocols?
Will you provide computers with Internet access for children to remotely access their classrooms?
You should think about arranging the outdoor play schedule so that the age groups are not mixing in the playground. One way to accomplish physical separation is to plan outdoor walks and experiences with the school-aged kids.
Separate Activities and Equipment
Keep in mind that school-aged appropriate items are not necessarily appropriate for the younger children, so be sure that toys and materials are stored separately to prevent accidental discovery. Of course, activities will need to be separate.
Consider Staffing and Logistical Issues
Do you have staff who are qualified to teach the school-aged program? Consult the licensing regulations to ensure all staff are appropriately qualified and screened. You’ll also need to consider the staffing ratios to make sure the number meets regulations as well as safety standards.
What will the schedule look like? What will be your hours of operation? Will you offer care before and after school? Will you provide access to remote school classrooms? Will you be able to provide full daycare during school closures?
Promote Your School-Aged Program
Adding a school-aged program to your childcare center requires children to enroll, of course. Don’t neglect a crucial element to your program’s success: promotion and marketing.
Make sure your school-aged program reflects the same quality and care as your existing childcare center programs. Be consistent in your messaging.
Network, network, network! Let people in the community know what your facility is planning. Start with notifying your existing clients to give them the first chance at enrollment for siblings and relatives. Notify local businesses, as well as your local Childcare Resource and Referral.
When used appropriately, social media can be an amazingly effective tool. Use social media to let people know about your new program. If you have not already done so, set up social media accounts specifically for your childcare center. Remember to always respect confidentiality, and always obtain consent for use of any images with children or families.
Update Your Website
Keep your webpage up-to-date with current information and timely updates, as well as contact details. Announce your new school-aged program prominently on the home page.
Change Your Voicemail
Use every opportunity to get the word out, including your childcare center’s own outgoing voicemail message.
Adding a school-aged program can benefit your community, your clients’ families, and your childcare center, but can bring uncertainties and questions. For accounting guidance on adding a school-aged program to your offerings and the impact on your financial operations, turn to the experts at Honest Buck Accounting.