We don’t need to tell you that Covid has thrown everything up in the air - and not least childcare! Families are worried about juggling work and children more than ever before, while potentially feeling uncertain about their career stability and reluctant to commit to regular childcare - as well as feeling anxious about their little ones being exposed to the virus.
It’s been all over the news that childcare is in crisis and we’re hearing of large, long-established settings closing down, but, at the same time, we’re seeing record numbers of people enquiring about training as tiney childminders and many of our community running thriving settings.
While all this can feel a little overwhelming, it’s not all doom and gloom, and we think there are a few ways our childminders can support local families while building their business in these uncertain times. Here are a few pointers…
If possible, offer flexibility. Remember that many parents are working from home - some indefinitely - and may not need as many hours or days of care as they might have previously. If you have gaps to fill, make sure families know you’re up for ad hoc childcare as well as longer-term, full-time placements. In our experience, many short-term placements lead to permanent ones anyway, when they realise how great you are...
If parents aren’t sure they need you right now but might do in the future, offer to meet them in the park or for a walk locally (remember two adults with children under five are allowed to meet outside) to establish a relationship and get things going quickly in the event that they do need to sign up at short notice in the future - for instance, during any unexpected school closures.
Show what childminders can do that nannies can’t - namely, getting the children out of the house! It’s hard for parents to work from home if the kids are around so, while a nanny might seem like the most Covid-proof option, in reality it’s not always the most convenient. You, on the other hand, offer a clean and hygienic home from home just round the corner - a bubble of sorts - which is essentially the best of both worlds for parents who are feeling twitchy about sending their children to bigger settings but who do need them to be cared for and engaged out of the house while they work.
After school clubs - both those based within schools and run independently - have really felt the Covid strain, so consider offering after-school care to fill any gaps in your schedule. It can be tough to form a relationship with schools when social distancing measures are in place, but sending them a friendly email with links to your tiney profile and business social media handles could be a good route into getting them to recommend you to parents. Make sure they know you’re available for drop-offs and pickups and include testimonials from any families at the school you already know. Plus think of your strengths - healthy meals, fun activities, outdoor play to burn off that after-school high, help with homework… whatever you’re able to offer, shout about it!
Hustle! Dream up special offers (bring a classmate for a discounted session? 20% off if people sign up before Christmas? Whatever you’re prepared to offer, give it a whirl!) or offer a package of hours that can be used flexibly.
As ever, always get in touch with the tiney team if you need any extra support or advice - or, even better, make the most of your phone full of clued-up, warm and supportive childminders in the tiney app.