Building A Constructive Parent Feedback Program For Your Childcare Center

Survey Says: Constructive ways to Collect, Evaluate, and Implement Change Based on Parent Feedback.

Do you consider the parents of your preschool, day care center, or after school program to be enemies or allies? Have you ever even thought about it? Maybe you have some of each. The ultimate goal is to make them all allies.

Going to war with a challenging parent is a battle you will never win. Yet, how do you win over the tough ones? Proactively ask them for feedback. That’s it.

Provide all parents, (especially the challenging ones) an opportunity for feedback on a regular basis. At the end of the day, we all want to be heard. If you regularly take time to listen and then make and execute an action plan, you can have a winning ally in each of your parents.

Why Is Parent Feedback So Important?

If you are a parent, your children are your pride and joy. Most of what you do is to provide for your children and raise them the best you can. Their health is a priority. Their education is a priority. Their happiness is a priority. Their safety is a priority. The list goes on and on. So when working parents enroll their children in child care, they are trusting this facility and those who work in it to take care of the most precious thing they have. 

That’s a lot of responsibility for a child care center, and even the best centers always have room for improvement.
Partnering with parents and seeing them as an ally is vital to any center’s success. Allies work with you, not against you. They have your back during times of need or struggle. Thus, this partnership requires regular back and forth communication. The easiest way to encourage that is through surveys, newsletters, and informal conferences when time permits. Understanding areas that your center’s parents value and ensuring that you meet their standards today will save you a lot of unnecessary battles down the road.

Step 1: Collecting Parent Feedback

Parents are busy bees, so it is important to make the process as quick and easy as possible. Different clientele will have different preferences in terms of how they wish to be contacted and provide feedback. During enrollment, you can include a contact preference section so as to know what works best for them. It could be via email, phone, or in cases specifically related to feedback, it could be via a comment box or web form to which you provide the link. Regardless, travel the path of least resistance when trying to collect feedback. There are a bevy of free services available online including: These services allow you to send directly from their sites or provide a link for you to embed in an email sent from your email service. You will receive notifications when participants complete the survey, and in some cases, you can run reports and compile the data received. (NOTE: Some services only offer the reporting component in the paid subscription version of their site.) If you want to text or call parents to request feedback, you can use such services as: The most ideal option would be to survey your parents directly through the tool that you use to manage your student records. If you are managing your business with a comprehensive child care management system, you’ve got half the battle already won. You should be able to create custom forms within the software to create your survey, which you can then blast to all of your parents or add to your parent portal. Once parents submit their feedback, you can store that data in their child’s record so that you can associate this information and feedback with that family in the future. Pretty slick!

Keep Your Parent Feedback Surveys Short & Simple

Try to limit the number of questions on your survey. 3-5 should be more than enough questions for you to get a feel for the way things are going, and will keep the survey short enough that it won’t take up too much of a parent’s valuable time. When you survey on a regular basis, you can choose specific topics to ask your parents about. Did you recently add a new curriculum or service? Do you want suggestions on how to improve drop-offs, meals, email communications, classroom accommodations, etc.? Do you want to know how your parents feel about how a you’re communicating daily activities or other classroom interactions? Always add one optional question at the end of a survey to ask if there is anything else they’ve noticed and would like to share. This gives them the opportunity to recognize good work or raise any concerns they might have outside the topics you’ve already asked about!

Step 2: Compile & Analyze Parent Feedback Responses

Once you have sent the surveys to your parents, allow anywhere from 1-2 weeks for them to respond with feedback. Feel free to send a reminder or two, but don’t spam them with reminders! This may lead to parents unsubscribing from your mailing system or turning off surveys altogether. When the survey has closed, compile the data. This may just mean running a report using the service you used or perhaps even doing it manually if you used a comment box. Either way, this is time well spent. Group feedback together into categories and look for common pieces of feedback from your parents. Rank them in order of easiest to address and most difficult to address. Prioritize feedback in a way that ranks those items that are the easiest to implement and will positively impact the majority of your parents and children at the top of the list and those that are most difficult or would negatively impact some of your students are the bottom. Analyzing the data entails reading all of the feedback. Some of it may warm your heart while some of it may frustrate you. Constructive feedback isn’t always easy to hear or read, but every time you take this feedback and act on it to improve your center, you will gain more trust and respect in your community, ultimately driving more business and money into the center.

Step 3: Plan & Communicate Changes To Staff & Parents Alike

You may want to share the feedback with your parents and certainly with your staff. In doing so, you are able to highlight some of the strengths as well as identify some areas for improvement. you can also create and share an action plan from which to take steps towards improvements in the areas parents showed dissatisfaction. This reinforces the idea that you asked, they shared, and you listened. At the end of the day, the challenging parents will feel validated, and you will have taken a baby step towards the ally relationship versus the enemy relationship with these types of parents.

Execution is key here. Only put the improvements you can actually implement into the action plan. Even if it’s just a partial step in the right direction. You don’t want to over-promise. Provide updates and progress towards the action plan in your monthly newsletter. Don’t be afraid to re-survey once you have successfully achieved an area of improvement to see if parents are happier. At the end of the day, your goal is to run a safe, clean, educationally proactive center. When you know better, you do better. So, don’t be afraid to reach out and find out what the talk on the street is about your center. You might be pleasantly surprised, but either way, you can only make it better once you understand the problem.

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Best Practices For Managing Difficult Parents

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