6 Effective Strategies for Retaining Top Talent in Childcare

Childcare is an essential service that plays a critical role in the growth and development of children. In the United States, over 11 million children under the age of five are enrolled in some form of childcare. With such a significant demand for quality childcare services, it’s crucial for providers to retain top talent in their industry to provide quality care to these children.

High employee turnover can be a significant challenge in the childcare industry. According to the National Association for the Education of Young Children, the average annual turnover rate for childcare staff is around 30%. This rate can have a negative impact on the quality of care provided, as new employees need time to adjust to their roles and build relationships with children.

To overcome this challenge, childcare providers must implement effective strategies to retain top talent. Here are the 8 effective strategies that childcare providers can use to retain their best employees and provide quality care to children:

Competitive Pay and Benefits

Offering competitive pay and benefits is crucial in retaining top talent. Childcare professionals work hard to ensure the safety and well-being of children, and they deserve to be compensated accordingly. Ensure that your salaries are at or above industry standards, and offer your employees health insurance, paid time off, and other attractive benefits.

Bright Horizons, one of the largest providers of employer-sponsored childcare, offers a comprehensive benefits package that includes health insurance, dental insurance, vision insurance, and a 401(k) plan. They also offer a range of other benefits, such as employee discounts, tuition reimbursement, and paid time off.

Professional Development Opportunities

Providing professional development courses is an effective way to encourage teacher retention in the childcare industry. According to a study conducted by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the majority of early childhood educators who participate in professional development opportunities reported feeling more competent in their work, more motivated to stay in their jobs, and more satisfied with their careers.

In addition, the study found that teachers who participate in professional development are more likely to stay in their current jobs and less likely to leave the field entirely. This is important because a survey conducted by the National Child Care Association (NCCA) found that 83% of childcare center directors reported that offering professional development opportunities was an effective strategy for retaining staff. 

The same survey found that 87% of center directors believed that providing professional development opportunities improved their centers’ quality of care. It improves teacher competency and motivation, leading to greater job satisfaction and a lower likelihood of turnover.

Consider offering tuition reimbursement, mentoring programs, or on-the-job training to help your employees grow in their roles.

Recognition and Rewards

Recognizing your employees for their hard work and dedication is crucial to retaining top talent. Childcare professionals often work long hours and deal with challenging situations, and it is essential to show them that their efforts are appreciated. Offer rewards such as bonuses, paid time off, or other incentives for achieving goals or exceeding expectations.

More prominent organizations like – The Goddard School, a franchise of early childhood education centers, offer a recognition program called “Goddard Shout Outs”. This program allows employees to give shout-outs to their colleagues for going above and beyond in their roles. The recipients of the shoutouts receive gift cards and are recognized at staff meetings. It has definitely helped them to avoid teacher retention on a larger scale. 

Work-Life Balance

A healthy work-life balance is essential for employee satisfaction and retention. Encouraging work-life balance in a childcare organization is vital for the employees’ well-being and the quality of care provided to children. Here are some strategies that can help: 

    1. Set clear expectations: 
      Establish clear policies and procedures that support work-life balance, such as flexible scheduling, telecommuting options, and time-off policies. 
    1. Lead by example: Encourage managers and supervisors to model healthy work-life balance practices, such as leaving work on time, taking breaks, and avoiding overwork. 
    1. Create a supportive culture: Foster a work environment that encourages open communication, collaboration, and mutual respect. Encourage employees to support one another in finding balance and be proactive in addressing issues.

    1. Offer resources and support: Provide resources such as employee assistance programs, wellness initiatives, and professional development opportunities that support work-life balance. 
    1. Prioritize time management: Encourage employees to prioritize their time and delegate tasks when necessary. Provide resources such as time management tools and training to help employees manage their workload effectively. 
    1. Recognize and reward balance: Acknowledge and reward employees who demonstrate healthy work-life balance practices, such as taking time off, using flexible scheduling options, and maintaining work boundaries.

By implementing these strategies, childcare organizations can create a supportive work environment that promotes work-life balance and supports employee well-being, leading to improved job satisfaction and higher-quality care for children and families.

Positive Work Environment

A positive work environment can significantly impact employee satisfaction and retention. Create a workplace culture that values open communication, collaboration, and respect among colleagues. Encourage teamwork and provide opportunities for employees to build relationships with each other.

Bright Horizons has set an excellent example by introducing a culture that values diversity, equity, and inclusion. They have a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Council that promotes these values throughout the organization. They also offer Employee Resource Groups that allow employees to connect with each other and build community. 

Employee Referrals

Employee referrals are a crucial aspect of retaining top talent in childcare. Referrals are when current employees recommend candidates for job openings to their employers. There are several reasons why referrals are essential: 

    1. Quality of Candidates: Referrals tend to be high-quality candidates more likely to fit in with the organization’s culture and succeed in their roles. Current employees are more likely to recommend someone they know and trust and who they believe would be a good fit for the organization. 
    1. Cost-Effective: Referrals are a cost-effective way to recruit new employees. Traditional recruiting methods, such as job postings or job fairs, can be expensive and time-consuming. Referrals can help reduce these costs and save time in the recruiting process. 
    1. Faster Hiring: Referrals can help speed up the hiring process. Since referrals tend to be high-quality candidates, they are more likely to be a good fit for the role and require less training. This can help reduce the time it takes to onboard new employees. 
    1. Employee Engagement: Referrals can increase employee engagement and satisfaction. When employees are involved in recruiting, they feel more connected to the organization and invested in its success. Employee Engagement also contributes mainly to better enrollments.


Retaining top talent in childcare is crucial for the success of any childcare center. You can create a workplace culture that values and supports your employees by offering competitive pay and benefits, professional development opportunities, recognition and rewards, work-life balance, a positive work environment, employee feedback, and career advancement opportunities. When employees feel valued and supported, they are more likely to stay with the organization and contribute to its success over the long term.

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