If this title caught your eye, it is probably because your daycare center needs a little extra help. And the most cost-efficient way to get it is by hiring volunteers.
Nonetheless, finding the right candidates for your childcare center can be a long and overwhelming process. So, to make your life easier, we have come up with five easy steps you can follow.
To get childcare volunteers for your daycare, you must:
- Conduct a needs’ assessment
- Draft a recruitment message
- Advertise the position
- Schedule interviews and arrange a ‘trial day’
- Conduct screenings
If you follow all these steps, you will have the volunteers you are looking for in no time!
Below we will go over each of these steps for better understanding:
Conduct a needs’ assessment
Start by asking yourself: why you are looking for volunteers. Define the goal of your volunteer program by describing the position, its responsibilities, and specific objectives you plan to accomplish.
Now that you have a clear picture of what your volunteers’ job entails, you can write down the ‘must-haves’ — a list of skills, experience, and traits that anyone applying for the position must meet.
Draft a recruitment message
Your recruitment message should be inviting and prompt people to want to be part of your program. Draft a recruitment message tailored to the type of volunteers you are looking for (e.g., students, professionals, neighborhood residents, daycare parents). Make sure your message covers the following:
- The specific needs the position will fill
- A list of responsibilities
- Schedule, work conditions, and pay (if any)
- How the volunteer will benefit from this position (e.g., gain valuable experience, school credits, community service)
Keep it concise, friendly, and above all, make it inviting. Remember, unpaid positions require you to add a little extra motivation!
Advertise the position
There are many techniques available for recruiting volunteers, and most of them are very cost-effective. For instance, you can:
- Hand out flyers or leave them at strategic locations such as colleges, universities, country clubs, churches, or community centers.
- Enroll in an existing program with a local agency, organization, or union halls such as United Way or YMCA.
- Write a public service announcement and send it to local print and broadcast media.
- Attend volunteer fairs or recruitment fairs.
- Advertise the job through your daycare’s social media profiles.
- Ask parents and community members to help you spread the word.
- Print out a banner and hang it outside your daycare center.
- Post and ad on educational websites or career websites.
- Including the job description on your daycare’s monthly newsletter.
- And more.
We suggest you select at least two or three of the tactics mentioned above to expedite the process and have a greater pool of applicants.
Schedule interviews and arrange a ‘trial day’
You should schedule a private interview with each of your volunteer candidates. Here, you can make sure the person meets all your profile’s requirements and save valuable time by rejecting those who don’t seem like the right fit for the position.
Remember to plan your interview carefully. Refer back to your need’s assessment and volunteer profile. Ask open-ended questions that give you more than a simple “yes” or “no” answer, and make sure to take notes.
After the interview, if you feel like someone could be apt for the post, arrange a ‘trial day.’ Here, the candidate could shadow a current teacher or staff member for a day before you officially offer the position. Trial days allow you to test a person’s skills and observe their behavior before committing to a long-term relationship.
Lastly, make sure you thoroughly screen potential volunteers. Unfit employees could harm children, damage your reputation, and ultimately crush your business.
As a daycare owner looking to cut down on expenses, you might think this step is excessive or unnecessary. However, know that by omitting it, you might be putting dozens of children at risk.
Consequently, you mustn’t conduct background checks on your own. We recommend you set apart a chunk of your “hiring” budget to hire a professional. Consider that, depending on how much detail you need, you can be looking at $50-$200 per candidate.
What to Look Out For When Hiring Daycare Volunteers
Taking care of children is a huge responsibility. Hence, you need to be careful as to whom you welcome to your team. Like with any other job, candidates who want to be daycare volunteers must meet certain requirements and possess a specific set of skills and qualities. Below a list of some of the most important factors to consider when hiring daycare volunteers:
- Soft Skills
Your team’s caregivers should be empathetic, patient, and responsible individuals with a passion for education. They also should check all of these boxes:
– Great communications and interpersonal skills
– Good judgment and problem-solving strategies
– Implacable work ethic
– Excellent instructional skills
– Mature and positive personality
– Professional appearance
– Physical stamina
Furthermore, competent caregivers are sensitive and accepting of different cultures, races, beliefs, and religions. They are also team players and have impeccable manners.
Even if you are hiring volunteers for simple posts or a few hours a day, you must always ask for references — either personal or professional references. We cannot stress this enough! It is a common practice within the education industry. You should not feel uncomfortable when asking for them as part of your screening process.
Additional insight into who the person is can help you make an educated guess about what to expect from him/her as a caregiver. Thus, when contacting references, ask about their habits, attitude, and personality. Be in the lookout for any red flags. Remember, childcare hiring decisions is one of the most important decisions you’ll make when running a daycare center.
- Legal Status
Make sure your candidates are allowed to work with the U.S. before hiring them. Even if they are not getting paid, labor laws and regulations are very strict. Therefore, you wouldn’t want to commit a violation. As a rule of thumb, a person is legally authorized to work in the U.S. if they are a U.S. citizen, U.S. permanent resident, or if they have a worker’s visa.
Disadvantages of Hiring Daycare Volunteers
Throughout this article, we have talked about how you can find childcare volunteers for your daycare. We have also signaled red flags and what to look out for to ensure the children’s and staff’s safety. But, we haven’t yet talked about if hiring volunteers is, in fact, a good idea.
It is no secret that volunteers come with the significant advantage of free help. And that including the right volunteers to your staff can be an effective way to complete tasks and achieve goals that you may not otherwise have the capacity or resources to accomplish.
However, a volunteer program also comes with a series of disadvantages, such as:
Looking for the right candidates, screening them, and providing them with adequate training and resources can be more time-consuming than what you initially planned.
- Low Retention
Given that volunteers are not actual employers, they can leave without warning or after a very short period. Although this can also happen with an employee, it is less likely to be a risk when payments, contracts, and other regulations are in place.
- Need Additional Motivation
Volunteers can work at your daycare center for various reasons. However, more often than not, volunteers require extra motivation to keep them satisfied. Thus, make sure your volunteers feel like part of your team, partake in meaningful tasks, and are shown appreciation.
- Flexible Schedules
Volunteers usually can’t commit to working full-time — either because of time constraints or because they are pre-occupied with other responsibilities (e.g., work, school.)Therefore, when hiring volunteers, you need to be very flexible when scheduling shifts and tasks.
- Legal Issues
Having people work at your daycare center without pay can open the door to possible legal problems. Hence, make sure you comply with all state, city, and county regulations. If you are unsure whether you can hire volunteers, it is always best to seek a specialist’s opinion.
- What are the duties and responsibilities of a daycare volunteer?
Being a volunteer at a daycare center can be a lot of work. Still, it is also gratifying and an excellent way to give back to your community.
Depending on where you plan to volunteer, duties and responsibilities vary. However, in general, most posts require you to assist the daycare supervisor, teachers, or primary caretakers with everyday tasks ranging from basic childcare and activities to cleaning, administrative, and clerical work.
- Should you pay a daycare volunteer?
This is a frequently asked question, and the truth is there is no definitive answer. It all depends on a series of factors, including your location, the hours the person is “working,” what the volunteer receives in return (e.g., college credits), under what figure you hire them, and more.
Nonetheless, most daycare volunteers are unpaid, as these jobs are usually a way for recent graduates of people from different areas to gain real-life experience within the educational industry.
Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.
Now you have volunteers it is time to start your startup course to learn all you need to become the best Daycare business owner.