Quality Staffing Tools for Child Care Centers

Practical how-to information about employment topics

Needing to hire a new staff member? Start with an overview of the Recruiting Process, followed by Creating a Job Description, Ideal Candidate Profile, Screening Resumes, and Employment – Permissible Questions.

Time for job reviews? See Employee Evaluations and CEO Evaluation.

Wondering how best to plan and track staff development and training? See Staff Development Plans.

You may download and adapt and use any of the tools in this section for your center.

Recruiting Process

Your center’s ability to retain quality staff actually begins at the recruiting stage. Hire the best fit now, and save your center from costly turnover later.

“Fit” is both tangible and intangible. Whether creating a new position or seeking to fill an existing one, start the recruiting process by listing the position’s scope of responsibilities (the “essential functions” of the job) (see Creating a Job Description) and identifying the skills, training and personal attributes needed to accomplish those tasks (see Ideal Candidate Profile). Likewise, think about the overall culture of your center – its values, philosophy, and general approach. What type of person would best thrive and excel in that type of environment?

As part of this process, solicit feedback from those who will supervise or work side-by-side with the new hire. This can provide valuable insights into the most important aspects to look for in a candidate, as well as build a sense of ownership among staff for a successful transition process.

Based on the new or updated job description and a profile of your ideal candidate, you are ready to begin advertising the position. Get the word out – staff, parents and other constituents can provide helpful leads. Solicit networking assistance from board members. Post the job in newspapers, online, and on job boards hosted by community groups, local universities and child care resource organizations.

Once resumes have been received, the key is to have a fair, equitable and consistent process by which to evaluate candidates and make your eventual hire (see Screening Resumes). As with many aspects of employment law, you need to be careful to advance or reject candidates based only on criteria relevant to performance of the job, and not based on personal characteristics such as gender, age, nationality or religion (see Employment – Permissible Questions).

Most search processes will typically have at least two rounds of interviews as the pool of candidates is narrowed. While the center director and position supervisor should be involved in the selection process, now is also a great time to involve a small group of board members, parents, and other staff as part of the interview committee. Make sure that each person knows the types of information they should be soliciting during interviews so that a well-rounded picture emerges of each candidate.

Background checks, DMV and credit checks, and work and personnel references should be conducted before a final offer is made. Before conducting background checks, you should write down your center’s policy about what to do if a background check reveals that a candidate has a criminal record. Will any kind of criminal record prevent the person from being employed? Will you consider the length of time since conviction and the level of the crime committed, e.g. a misdemeanor from 25 years ago, vs. a felony from five years ago?

Task and Timeline for Search for Position

To plan out your recruitment strategy and timeline, you can download and customize the Task and Timeline for Search for Position for your center’s search process.

Creating a Job Description

Whether creating a new position or filling an existing one, make sure you have an accurate and up-to-date position description before advertising the opening. The position description should include the name and mission of your organization, title of the position, the position to which the individual will report, and the specific roles and responsibilities of the job. Be sure to include any physical or behavioral requirements that are essential to do the job, e.g. ability to lift up to 40 pounds regularly throughout a workday; ability to relate consistently to preschool and toddler students with a calm and professional demeanor.

The Job Description for a Teacher provides a template that can be customized to the specifics of your situation.

Ideal Candidate Profile

Before reviewing resumes and interviewing candidates, take the time to identify the characteristics of your ideal candidate. Based on the position description, what personal attributes, skills, training and experience are needed to successfully do the job? Of these, what are baseline requirements? What are desired but not essential? Also make sure to include other qualifications to meet licensing requirements or other applicable laws.

The Ideal Candidate Profile tool can be used to compile your ideal candidate profile.

Resume Screening

It is essential to have a fair, equitable and consistent process by which to evaluate candidates and make your eventual hire. A resume screening tool is one way to make sure you are seeking the best fit for the position requirements (see Ideal Candidate Profile) and comparing candidates on a consistent basis across the board.

For each applicant, identify whether or not they meet, exceed, or do not meet core requirements of the job. In some instances, a resume or initial interview will not reveal that particular information, in which case the reviewer should indicate “unable to tell.” If the candidate is strong in other aspects, that information can be solicited from her or him in the next step of the search process.

Once all resumes have been reviewed, the pool of candidates can be narrowed down to only those who meet or exceed all position requirements.

The Resume Screening Tool can be customized to meet the specifics of your search process.

Employment – Permissible Questions

As with many aspects of employment law, you need to be careful to advance or reject candidates for employment in Minnesota based only on criteria relevant to performance of the job, and not based on personal characteristics such as race, color, national origin, creed, gender, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, marital status, pregnancy, or status with regard to public assistance.

This is a list of what you legally may and may not ask a potential employee in Minnesota during an interview.

Employee Evaluations

Dreaded ritual or helpful tool? When done right, employee evaluations can be a positive avenue of communication that benefits both your center as well as your staff.

  • Be consistent. Evaluations should be done on a regular, predictable schedule. Likewise, staff in the same job category (teacher, aide, etc) should each be evaluated by the same standards and with the same tool.
  • No surprises. Feedback is much more effective when done in real time. Ideally, you’ll let staff know right away when they’ve done a great job, or when a particular issue needs to be addressed. An annual evaluation is simply a formal way to summarize that information.
  • Specifics are key. Whether positive or negative, specific examples carry far more weight than generalities. And if job performance is a concern, the onus is on you as the employer to document the relevant details.
  • Listen. In advance of your meeting, ask the employee to evaluate her or his performance using the same tool that you’ll be using. During your meeting, compare each other’s ratings and comments. Ask clarifying questions. See the review as an opportunity for dialogue, not just a one-way street.
  • Look forward. Together, set performance goals for the coming year. Identify the tools, training or resources needed to accomplish those goals, and how those will be obtained (see Staff Development Plans. These goals and action plan will then form the basis for next year’s evaluation.

The Employee Evaluation tool can be customized for use by your center. As needed, add or adjust criteria to reflect the requirements of specific jobs.

We have also developed a Sample Teacher Evaluation form for your use.

Staff Development Plans

The quality of your center’s programming is directly linked to the quality of your staff. Ongoing training and development are necessary not only for licensing and accreditation purposes, but also to improve staff performance and help staff members feel motivated, engaged and valued.

Staff development plans should be completed at the time of the employee’s annual evaluation. As you discuss performance goals for the coming year, identify the types of training, tools or other resources that are needed for her or him to help achieve those goals. Some of this might take place by way of on-site trainings scheduled for the entire staff, educational courses in which a staff member is already enrolled, or by sending an individual to attend a conference. Costs to be covered by your center should then be included as part of your center’s staff development budget.

The Staff Development Plan can be adapted for use with each staff member.

CEO Evaluation

See CEO Evaluation under GOVERNANCE section.


Disclaimer: Materials and links provided by First Children’s Finance on this website do not constitute legal, accounting, tax or finance advice or professional services. Readers seeking professional advice about specific aspects of their business should consult a member of our staff or other qualified professional.