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Rebuilding Enrollment: What are Families Looking for in Child Care?

Jul 22, 2021    |   Child Care Business Tools

As life moves forward from the pandemic, many parents are starting to return to work and are looking for high-quality child care, making this a good time to start thinking about rebuilding your center’s enrollment. Understanding what families are looking for will help you to effectively market open spaces in your program and to successfully rebuild your center’s enrollment. Let families know about all of the wonderful things that you and your program have to offer!

What are Families Looking for?


The first things that parents will want to understand about your center are all of the logistical details that will determine whether or not your program will meet their needs. They’ll want to know…

  • Where you are located

  • What hours you are open

  • What ages of children you serve (and which you currently have openings for)

  • How much your program costs

  • Your program’s licensing information

Sharing this basic information on your website, flyers, or any other materials that you develop will help you connect with local families that are most likely to be interested in your center.

Health & Safety

Many families will have questions about your program’s health and safety practices. You can reassure families that their little ones will be cared for and kept safe, by having the following information ready to share:

  • Safe sleep practices

  • Caregiver to child ratios

  • Group sizes

  • Background checks for staff

  • Staff training requirements

  • Emergency preparedness plans

The COVID 19 experience has made health a top priority, and parents will also likely want to get some more information about your center’s practices related to sanitation and cleanliness. They might inquire about your program’s:

  • Food preparation and serving

  • Health, cold, and flu policies

  • Cleaning and sanitation

  • Masks and social distancing

What Makes Your Program Unique?

Once parents have determined that your center meets their basic needs, they will likely want to know about your center’s specific philosophies, beliefs, and practices. Ensure that you are prepared to answer a variety of different questions from parents regarding your personal and program-wide approach to care and education.

Organizing and communicating this information might feel intimidating, but it is also your opportunity to  “toot your own horn” and share all of the wonderful things that are happening in your program. Let families know what makes your program stand out! Some things you might want to be prepared to discuss include…

What is your program’s approach/philosophy for curriculum development?   When prospective parents visit your center or classroom, they will be eager to learn about you and your program’s approach to teaching. Do you believe in a play-based or emergent curriculum? Is your curriculum a blend of different subjects or philosophies? How does your approach compare with other possible approaches?

To think more about this question, you might want to visit an article from the Good2Know Network archives, Honing & Articulating Your Teaching Style, which includes a list of some of the most popular early childhood learning theories. This list offers very brief introductions to each of the approaches, with opportunities for further reading to help you find an approach that best aligns with your program’s beliefs and practices.

What are some of the core values of your program?  What kinds of skills and attitudes does your program value (examples might be independence, confidence, empathy, empowerment, discovery, creativity), and how are those values integrated into your curriculum? What are some of the most important things that you want children to learn and that you want families to experience as part of your program (examples might include inclusion, warmth, community, love of learning)?

How do you create an inclusive and equitable environment?  Parents will want to know that their children and families will be welcomed, valued members of the community and that their children’s unique needs, abilities, and cultural values will be honored and represented in the classroom. Talk to parents about how you approach inclusion, cultural celebrations, and different needs and strengths, and communicate your commitment to ensuring each child’s sense of belonging in the classroom.

How do you support children in preparing for kindergarten? Helping children prepare for and transition into elementary school is one of the most important aspects of our work as ECE educators. Parents will be eager to know how you and your program help to set children up for success when they transition into elementary school. Share with parents how you support children’s learning through developmentally appropriate literacy, STEM, motor skill, and other foundational activities.

How do you support the developing social-emotional skills of the children in your care? Just as important as academics, parents will want to know about how your program is teaching their children to develop relationships and a sense of self. When you talk to parents about your program, be sure to discuss how you and the educators that you work with value their children’s social-emotional development, and how you support children in learning important relationship-building skills.

What is your approach to discipline; or when responding to challenging behavior? Many parents have specific thoughts about discipline and how they manage challenging behavior. To ensure that you are on the same page, it will be important to discuss your program’s specific approach to discipline before their child enrolls in your program. Talk to parents about how you manage biting, nap time challenges, aggressive behavior, temper tantrums, and other behaviors that might feel challenging. What is your response to these behaviors and how do you communicate with parents when these events occur?

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