The COVID-19 Childcare Dilemma: Encouraging Parents to Send Their Kids Back to Daycare

Babies and toddlers often find social distancing an overwhelming experience. They may cry excessively or display regressive behavior if forced to stay apart from their playmates. This has prompted the CDC to release guidance on coping with the stress of social distancing. In that light, how can you encourage parents to send their kids back to daycare?

It may be easier than you think. In Q1 2020, millions of workers transitioned to remote workspaces. And, parents suddenly found themselves juggling work and domestic responsibilities in close quarters. In addition, they also became full-time tutors to their children. An Osmo study shows that 80% of parents now have a newfound respect for teachers.

However, the experience of adjusting to new remote work arrangements has taken a toll on parents: 75% are experiencing difficulty balancing their work-life and children’s educational needs. Meanwhile, 68% worry about running out of ideas to keep their child engaged in learning. And, the elephant in the room: 85% of parents are concerned about their child’s screen time usage — which has surged by 500% as a result of prevailing stay-at-home orders.

As a childcare center, you’re in a perfect position to alleviate these pain points. Chances are, with the economy lagging, your admission numbers are dwindling. And, you’ve been making sensible cutbacks by leveraging technology to gain new revenue streams. However, the rising friction between domestic and work responsibilities is a fantastic opportunity for your facility.

Focus on Safety

During (and after) pandemics, safety is top-of-mind for everyone — especially parents. In light of COVID-19, two in three parents are concerned about their child’s mental wellbeing. At the same time, 42% of parents are worried about their child’s education.

Finally, the socio-economic impact of COVID-19 has been tremendous. Unemployment currently sits at 13.3%, albeit a decrease from 14.7% at the height of the crisis. According to a study, a four-week school closure in New York City would result in an economic cost of $1.1bn. Meanwhile, a nationwide closure of 12 weeks would cost 1% of GDP. So, there are obvious frictions between safety, financial, and educational considerations in the current ecosystem.

If you’re thinking of reopening, the CDC has guidelines on how to create a safe environment for children. And, we recently outlined several steps childcare centers can take to reassure parents that their facilities are safe. Obviously, there are costs associated with these changes. Maintaining smaller child-to-staff ratios while implementing hygiene-based improvements will exert a downward pressure on profits. So, be sure to highlight the investments you’re making to keep children safe.

In addition, safety should be a key component of your marketing campaigns and social media updates. Sure, parents are facing challenges on multiple fronts.

But, you still have to convince parents to entrust their children to your care and to see your facility as the solution to their work-at-home challenges. Below are some marketing ideas to highlight the steps your facility is taking to keep children safe.

  • Use social media to remind parents that you’re following CDC guidelines on social distancing and hygiene practices.
  • Assure parents that their children’s safety is your top priority.
  • Put the words “health” and “safety” in your advertisements.
  • Post social media updates every time your facility is sanitized.
  • Send out notices (either via an app notification or email) that you have implemented the right safety protocols.

Branch Out From Full-Time Enrollment to Encourage Parents to Send Their Kids Back to Daycare

We know that many of you are struggling financially. The National Association of Young Children surveyed childcare providers in March at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis. It found that 42% of providers wouldn’t survive two weeks without federal assistance. In response, the CARES Act has helped soften the impact of financial hardship.

And, in keeping with the continuing needs of small business owners, Congress passed the Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, which was signed into law on June 5, 2020. Now, companies can delay payroll tax payments even though they took out a PPP loan, and they can also obtain full loan forgiveness in two specific circumstances. Still, chances are high that you could use some incoming revenue.

But, instead of focusing all your efforts on increasing day-to-day enrollment, consider setting up a process to attract parents who aren’t necessarily looking for full-time assistance. Since many parents now work from home, they may be looking for ad-hoc childcare assistance — not full-time care. For example, childcare centers are a great solution when parents attend interviews, run errands, and attend conferences. You can take in children for a day (or even a few hours) while the parents are busy.

Think of this as a new line of business, since it may involve setting up new procedures. However, it can help you bring in some much-needed income. In addition, many of these parents may become full-time customers once they see the benefits your daycare offers.

Unemployed Parents Still Need Daycare Services (and Can Pay For It)

As childcare centers struggle to stay afloat, it’s important to refrain from ignoring unemployed parents. The truth is, work isn’t the only demand parents face. They may also be responsible for the care of aged parents. In addition, they must navigate a competitive hiring landscape and an increasingly crowded gig economy. Still, being unemployed shouldn’t be equated with being “unable to pay for childcare.”

Unfortunately, many childcare centers leave unemployed parents out of their marketing campaigns. They avoid creating programs for unemployed parents and even revolve their social media messages solely around working parents. If you’re doing this, you may be missing out on potential leads. Between childcare subsidies, extended unemployment benefits, and the provisions of the new Paycheck Protection Program Flexibility Act, many unemployed parents still have the financial means to pay for childcare. And, they may need these services more than ever.

Providing Critical Services to Encourage Parents to Send Their Kids Back to Daycare

The challenges are real. Parents must navigate new remote work schedules or hunt for new jobs in an increasingly competitive job market. Meanwhile, the continued closure of camps means that children must forego many traditional summertime activities. As a childcare center, you’re in a perfect position to offer solutions to these pain points.

By focusing on hourly care as a new revenue stream, you can pad shrinking profit margins. Be sure to include both employed and unemployed parents in your overall messaging and marketing campaigns. Times may be tough. But, childcare centers aren’t going away anytime soon. Parents will always need a helping hand — and your facility can step in to fill the void.

Do you need help navigating the aftermath of COVID-19? At Prime Child Care Software, we’ve built COVID-19-centric features directly into our center management software — including temperature checks. We’re dedicated to bringing you the latest, cutting-edge solutions to help you survive during and after the crisis. So, let us be your post-crisis bounce-back solution. Contact us to begin your path to a successful reopening today.

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