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If you have a home daycare, you know we are on the front lines every day. Firemen and police officers are heralded as heroes, but you never hear a word about people like us who are giving our all during times when everyone else is running the other way. But what if we have to close our daycare because of crisis? Here is some advice for daycare providers during times of crisis.
There is so much uncertainty for everyone right now. We aren’t the only ones feeling it. But being self-employed in a business with super slim profit margins makes it much scarier than it would be otherwise.
Schools are closed but governments are urging childcare facilities to stay open. If that doesn’t make you feel undervalued, I don’t know what does. I know the reason behind it is because the schools are in much larger groups, but it still seems like, as usual, we are the stepchild of the working world. So let me share some advice for daycare providers.
Many providers are scared and unsure about how their daily financial needs will be met if they have to close because of illness. I know I am. And I’m also scared to stay open. I see people online saying providers staying open aren’t doing their part to prevent the spread of illness. And I see my state and local government asking me to stay on the front lines.
Should I close my daycare or stay open?
My husband has severe respiratory issues. Something like this is pretty unnerving for me. I pray so hard he doesn’t get sick. But we both live right where I keep the kids. So, every day, we are letting people come into our homes and trusting them to keep us safe by being safe in their daily life.
It doesn’t seem like there is a close end in sight. There’s no timeline for when this could be over. Three of my 7 kids are not attending right now. They are connected with the schools and have chosen to hunker down and I’m glad. But school just closed for the remainder of the year in our state, so what does that mean for me?
I don’t know whether to fill spots, to close down, to sit tight and see what happens. I know I need to make income to pay the bills I have. I just don’t quite know what to do. Do you?
Lots of parents are being laid off, so how can we really expect them to pay us when they aren’t being paid? I know I need my income, but I know they need income to pay me. It’s a lose-lose situation. It makes me sad.
What can I do for money if I have to close my daycare?
Here are a few things you can do if you have to shut down. First, there are some businesses that you pay such as utilities and mortgage companies that will defer your payments until this is over. It’s not ideal, because it takes a while to build business back up, but do it sooner rather than later and get a plan in place.
Secondly, you can offer childcare to other kids, such as kids displaced from school while it’s closed. Come up with ideas for ways you can serve families in a different way. Look for what the needs are and see if there is a way you can fill them. Some states are allowing more kids, etc.
Thirdly, check out what finances are available? Take an assessment of your checking, your savings, and anything you have and calculate how long that will last. What’s the best way to use it? Are there government funds available?
I know they are already offering small business loans, but what else is out there? Could you refinance your home to cover this time? Do you have an asset you can sell? Look at all your options so you’ll know what you have available.
What about getting a temporary job somewhere where they are hiring to handle all the extra work right now?
Lastly, be prepared for the future. Once things calm down, the need for childcare will be there again. How can you promote your business? What age groups do you want to take? Do you have enrollment packets ready?
Our governor recently said for us to innovate solutions and make it work. That’s the definition of a daycare provider, isn’t it? We improvise and innovate daily. Give us a bunch of kids, not enough resources, add in stress from parents, and we make it work every day. We are superheroes and this situation is no different.
This situation is going to end, so hang in there. Everything will work out in the end. How we handle the stress along the way makes a big difference in how much it takes away from us. Don’t lose hope. You got this. Keep yourself healthy and be as safe as you can.
You have to decide whether closing or staying open is right for you during any time of struggle. The current situation won’t be different. Do what’s best for your situation. It’s a tough choice. If you do stay open, what can you do to reduce your risk and the risk of your families?
First, please realize that when you make decisions, you are making them for multiple people. If I decide to go ahead and go to church with a group of people during this illness, I am making choices for 7 families, not just mine. I’m doing everything I can to keep my families safe! I’m staying home unless I have to get supplies. And I’m taking measures in here to make it as safe as possible.
Make sure you are using disinfectant on top of cleaning. Make sure it’s rated for safety to use with kids AND that it’s an actual disinfectant approved by the CDC. Not everything sold as disinfectant kills serious germs like what we are facing now.
Steps to minimize exposure to illness in daycare
Obviously, I practice health and safety regularly or I’d always be sick. But I’m taking special care to make sure kids are not just washing their hands, but doing it effectively.
Because there are already 7 kids involved and 2 adults in this house, I’m asking parents to do porch pick up and drop-offs. Fewer people touching the surfaces means less exposure for all of us. I am also sanitizing all of the inside and outside doorknobs on the front door EVERY time I use it. If someone happens to put their hand on it and I don’t see, it covers that too.
Here’s a free printable you can use to post on your door about the porch policy.
It’s uncomfortable to me because I have a very open-door policy, but in times like these, this is important. So, I’m sucking it up and doing it. There are lots of things I’m doing that’s uncomfortable, but it’s the best thing.
I feel like a girl in a bubble that can’t be with any grownups. But the sacrifice is worth it, so I’ll keep going. I know my parents appreciate it. I’m grateful I have good ones!
I’m continuing to make sure food surfaces, toys and changing surfaces are regularly sanitized just like always as well as bathroom surfaces.
Don’t allow any outside food or drinks to come in. Have everyone wash their hands when they arrive as well as the regular times of after potty, before eating and when we come in from outside play.
Make sure all parents know your illness policy and don’t allow anyone in with fever or dry cough or anyone that doesn’t feel well. If anyone’s family was exposed or has traveled, have them stay out for two weeks.
For even more details about how to stay safe during illness, click this article.
Freaking out doesn’t help anyone. It’s still going to happen whether we stay calm or freak out. So, try to minimize stress for you and everyone else. You will have parents that will freak out and they’ll need you to be the voice of reason. It’s hard when you already feel stressed, but try to calm yourself and them.
Stay calm for littles. Kids can tell when you’re super stressed. That makes everything harder on them too. Be honest with them when they ask questions but don’t scare them. If they have questions about what is going on, tell them the truth, like right now, there is an illness like the flu or strep going around and we are doing our best to not get sick just like we do with those things. They don’t need any more than that.
Illness will likely not affect you and if it does it’s likely not to be severe. Remember the percentage of chances you have of really being harmed. Focus on positive things happening. We have teddy bears in our windows for the neighborhood kids to go on a bear hunt and find them around the area.
Try to find ways to help each other. If you need disinfectant and someone else has toilet paper, trade and help each other out. We will all get through difficult times together.
Lastly, make sure you are practicing self-care. It’s hard to remember to take care of you in times of crisis, but keep it in mind and do something that relaxes you. Please stay safe and please share this post with other providers who are unsure just like you.