I don’t know about you but 2020 has been a year of many challenges and opportunities. It’s all in your perspective. Running a Child Care supply staff agency is not easy even on a good day. Running a Child Care supply staff agency to provide ”quality “ supply staff is even harder and I learned the hard way, not very sustainable.
I mean I had rose-colored glasses on when I started this venture in 2016 with a drive to not only provide child care centres with quality supply staff who were not just “warm” bodies, but who were open to learning and growing and have a degree of loyalty to a company that wanted to invest in their growth and development as an ECA or ECE.
Boy, that was “idealistic.” Never in a million years did I think that ECE graduates coming out of community college, even University, had so many gaps in knowledge and not even that, were so lacking in professionalism.
I had invested, as a company, time in doing phone screening, one hour interview to ascertain what gaps in knowledge they did have, do professional development days – all day at my expense and time, to address those gaps and a 2-hour orientation so they knew what their role was in the classroom, expectations, policies they needed to know as frontline teachers and many more details about being an employee.
Then I actually went out to observe them in the centers that were using them to further help them develop skills and give them hints to better work with different behaviour challenges they came up against, smoother transitions, program ideas, and how to manage a classroom.
A large percentage of the staff that went through this process ended up only being available some of the time, not fully like they initially said, received jobs full-time without telling me- just not responding when I called them for jobs. I did not even know what the word ”Ghosted“ was until I started this business.
The staff behaviors I had to deal with:
*Staff committed to a job and not show up and not able to get in touch with ever again.
*Not handing in timesheets and expecting to get paid
*Not going to centres that had a specific religious curriculum
*Showing up late and not calling
*Texting being sick one hour before their shift started
*Committing to 2 weeks of work and quitting just before the 2 weeks and not following through on their work commitments
*Not calling about an emergency-they just don’t show up to the job
*Not doing “diapers” in a toddler room- stating they don’t do diapers
*Not communicating when they are going away for 3 months until they return 3 months later expecting jobs
*Not communicating when they are available to work
*Not picking up the phone or text or email to respond to job requests when they communicated they were available that day to work.
These were staff who I put through an intense screening process and still got these very unprofessional behaviours. I do not get it.
I would go through all this and when it came to them starting a job- they disappeared without a trace- no response, nothing after putting in 4 hours of my time for just them, not counting the full-day professional development workshops I provided.
The ones who were committed and proved to be amazing assets to our company and the centres that used them were quickly picked up by centres to be used as full-time permanent staff. I had a handful of other supply staff who were loyal and committed to just doing supply staff for our agency and were willing to work as much as I could provide.
The Pandemic Hits
During the shutdown, I recruited, interviewed, did orientation with over 30 new staff ready to support our centres when they finally reopened. By the time I am writing this blog, I have 4 left. All the rest have disappeared, got jobs without telling me, decided to stay home until a vaccine, or went back to school (This information beforehand would have been nice to know.) The school board also took a lot of RECE’s from the field to deal with the need for online teachers.
Fall out from the Pandemic
This is my story to date. I needed to pivot quickly or risk losing my business. I have now focused on changing my story to impacting children’s early education by impacting the teachers and the parents. I also wanted to impact Supervisors in supporting them doing their huge job to keep so many balls in the air managing a child care centre –especially during a pandemic. So I am also focusing on consulting services for centres and support in hiring full-time ECE’s, and Supervisors.
How will I do this?
I am now focusing on sharing all the experience, research and theories, and best practices I have gained throughout the last 35 years in the field of Early childhood education and providing educational opportunities via virtual workshops to people who work with young children in various early learning environments and parents of young children.
Teaching, coaching, mentoring, and challenging teacher’s mindsets and beliefs in how we can best interact and program for children of all ages and use research as the basis for these interactions is my new mission. You can never get enough training in this field- it is filled with so many layers of knowledge you need to have in order to make a bigger impact on the lives of both parents and children you are working with. My theme for these workshops are: “What Does That Look Like In A Classroom Or Home Environment?”
Stay tuned for what is next in my journey of Beating Covid 19!