Lots of churches use paid childcare workers in lots of different ways. Some use them on Sunday mornings to make sure the nursery is covered. Some use them on Wednesday and/or Sunday nights. Some cover special events or Bible studies. Regardless of how you use them, it can sometimes become quite the chore to manage that part of the ministry. Here are seven tips for effectively managing paid childcare workers.
1. Have specific job descriptions – make sure that everyone is on the same page by establishing clear, written expectations for childcare workers. These should include how early they are to arrive, what they are expected to do in the classroom, what they should do if they can’t come, and what they should do following the classtime.
2. Hire well – these positions are much more critical than they may seem at first. Childcare world can be made or broken based on the amount of drama that comes from workers. Don’t just hire warm bodies. Hire people who you feel will give excellent care to the children but will also be great contributors to the team.
3. Put someone in charge – If you could afford to hire someone to handle the scheduling and timesheets, that will take so much off of you. Even if it means just paying one worker a little more per hour, find someone who can be “in charge” so that you don’t have to be there every minute your paid childcare workers are.
4. Have very clear policies – Set very clear standards for when childcare can be used and for what purposes. Have a set procedure for how childcare is reserved. Determine how salaries will be paid. Determine how late childcare will be allowed to go (we say 9:00 pm for everyone’s sanity, sleepy children are not fun). Determine your minimum number of children required. What do you do if you have more workers than kids? How far out can you cancel childcare? Make sure that your policies balance ministry needs with workers’ needs with being good stewards of the money spent on pay.
5. Provide activities and resources – Just because you are utilizing paid childcare workers doesn’t mean that it has to be baby-sitting. Provide activities, crafts, or curriculum for workers to use to engage kids during their time there. This also helps fight the “we’re just babysitting” image of kidmin. Parents don’t often know the difference between a regular program and paid childcare. Church is church.
6. Look for ways to honor them – Let’s be honest. Your paid childcare workers don’t make very much money, do they? Ours don’t either. Look for other ways to honor them, whether it is providing occasional meals or snacks while they are working or having an occasional party. Help them realize that they truly are part of the ministry, not just hired hands.
7. Use them in multitask ways – Sometimes kids show up late or the crowd is low. If you are paying workers anyway, put them to work. You can schedule in a few minutes for workers to clean toys, bag up snacks, cut stuff out, or other simple tasks.