Staffing for Holiday Child Care

"I hope your holidays are wonderful......but I need you to work until 6:00 on Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve."  Ouch.  Unfortunately, since we have parents who sometimes have to work those hours, we sometimes need to as well.  The question becomes how to balance out the needs of the parents with the needs ( or desires) of staff.  

Hopefully, your contract with your parents already indicates the days and/or times that you will be closed, such as Christmas Day, Christmas Eve after 3:00, etc.  You may have contracted with parents to remain open until 6:00 on Christmas Eve, but if only 3 children will be in care from noon to 6:00, you certainly won't want to staff as if it were a regular day.  Determining which children will be in care at that time will enable you to staff appropriately. 

The simplest way  to figure out which parents will actually want to use your services during the typically slow times is to provide them with a survey.  Just ask which children will be in care during what times.  (Of course, if you don't already have that survey created, we have one for you!)  You then know how many employees you will need to have on-site during those times. For the record, I have never had a parent complain about the survey, as long as they understand that I am planning to provide care for my entire contracted time, as needed.

Ideally, your staff will have already turned in their time off requests, or somehow communicated with you if they would prefer to have the hours during the holidays or if they would prefer to have the time off work.  With a little luck, you can match up the needs with the parents with the needs and desires of staff and make as many people happy over the holidays as possible.

Of course, as during any time when a lot of parents are off for vacations, you will probably need to have that discussion about child care fees during vacations, but that is a discussion for  another time for me. 

Merry Christmas!

Misty