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When the Third Parent Moves On

By “J”, a Child Care Center Director
For the safety and security of the children and to provide a “real” perspective on child care, “J” has chosen to remain anonymous….for now.

The dreaded T word…turnover. Turnover, better known to parents as “why are all the teachers leaving?”. Turnover, also known to teachers as “are they paying more at the daycare you’re headed to?”.

Turning. Over.

Turnover.

This word looms over child care centers all over the globe; the rain is sporadic and comes down at the worst times. This word breaks up happy classrooms and shakes parent’s comfort to no end. For a center director, its par for the longest course known to employment. Over my career I have had a few staff teams/crews that I honestly felt could not get any better. Great teamwork, curriculum up and running, they understood the ebbs and flow of a living breathing childcare center. It feels good to get the teamwork car flying down the highway in 5th gear until an oversized-same color as the road-can’t really tell what it is-speed bump.

One of your team members has found another team, similar to your team but the other team just happens to pay a little more. When I say little, I mean pennies to the dollar-little. As a director (the coach), I’m not always in a position to counter offer like an owner could (unlimited obvious sports references can be applied here) but I try to offer the value of team.

There is no “I” in team.

There is an “I” in bills.

Turnover wins again!

No matter how many sports cliché’s you could muster to parallel, the majority of times I’ve lost great employees it’s because of money. As easy and simple as that decision may seem, it’s very difficult to explain to a child who, for the past year, has gotten in mom/dad’s car without a fight just to see teacher “X”. The bond that is built at the preschool level is one that can’t be denied. The connection a teacher builds overtime with their students in irreplaceable. I have witnessed on numerous occasions where a teacher can convince a child to do something before a parent can. That magical moment was not sold to you by an after school special program, it is very real. Teachers become extended parents.

The truth is that teaching in the early childhood sector does not pay great. Even if you invest in multiple credentials it rarely equates to a larger gap in pay from those without. So like most business decisions (profit via education not excluded) the higher dollar wins and the turnover celebrates in the end zone. No matter how good the team is it faces (parents, co-teachers, children) turnover remains undefeated.

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