Is your school unable to start families eager to enroll because you cannot find teachers?

If so, have the number of families on your waiting list increased to an all-time high?

Is your current staff harder to retain than ever?

The pandemic, the Great Resignation, and the workforce game-changers in its aftermath have definitely shaken up the economics of early care and education. Two of the key areas it has impacted are your ability to retain quality staff and to enroll to capacity.

When the pandemic began, I quoted John Kennedy who displayed the Chinese symbol for crisis, and noted that it has two strokes – one for danger, and the other for opportunity. Though the staff hiring and retention crisis poses a danger to your school’s ability to meet capacity, revenue and profitability goals, it is full of opportunities to build strong relationships with current parents and those on your long waiting lists. And if you are willing to look outside the box, it can offer opportunities for new streams of revenue for you while serving current needs of families who need you. With your team, brainstorm these ideas…

  1. Increase school-initiated engagement, especially with waiting list families. Schedule regular contact with them, not just for where they stand on the list, but for ways they can participate in your center’s community. That might be attending center events, inclusion in porch pick-up activities for children to do at home with parents, invitations to classes or resources you offer your current enrolled families.


  1. Ask them how they are currently solving their needs for early care and education. One thing you can count on is the creative problem-solving mentality of young parents. They are NOT going to simply wait for you forever. Are they applying elsewhere and taking whatever comes up first? Are they finding creative ways to enlist family for care when they must work uninterrupted? Are they setting up small groups to share care? Are they turning to more online educational opportunities and setting play dates for social interaction? Think in the prospect’s perspective. What do they need that you might be able to provide – at a nominal fee – in the interim until you are staffed and ready to start them.

Do not do this with an online survey. This needs to be a focus group or individual personal conversations you schedule with them.


  1. Remember the power of video. Though everyone is tired of Zoom classrooms, you could provide them with video recordings of a variety of educational activities. Something as simple as a video of the children currently in your school learning about plants and then planting a garden, could give a waiting parent a valuable teaching tool. These waitlist families may be very grateful to be able to pause, rewind, and re-watch the lesson and the observations you guide them toward until their child is able to be physically in your school.

If you do this, be sure you have permission from your current parents for their child to appear in such a shared video.



Here are some current resources to help you turn these staffing and enrollment building challenges into opportunities…

WebinarChanging Economics in Early Education, Wednesday, April 13, 1:00 ET, hosted by Kathy Ligon, Hinge Advisors,

Blog – Three Ways Teachers Can Improve Communication with Families,

WebinarThe Hierarchy of ECE Staff Happiness – Reducing Turnover through Cultural Shift, Wednesday, April 13, 1:30 ET, hosted by InspireCare360.

World Happiness Report  This is a global survey reporting how people worldwide evaluate their lives. Good insights into “soft benefits” to retain staff. Referred by Kathe Petchel of Hinge Advisors.

Articles and Resources – Exchange Press is addressing staffing challenges and parent communications as regular topics. Check for a list and links.


Julie Wassom
The Child Care Marketing Expert and Coach
Marketing and Sales Speaker/Consultant/Author