Scene: A parent is talking on the phone to a family child care provider.
Parent: “I’m looking for a caregiver for my child. Tell me something about your program.”
Provider: “I’m Accredited by the National Association for Family Child Care.”
Parent: “What hours are you open?”
What’s wrong with this?
It’s likely that the parent has no idea what NAFCC Accreditation is or why it’s important.
If you are Accredited, it’s your job to explain to parents how this will benefit their children. Doing this can be an effective way of marketing your program.
NAFCC Accreditation recognizes family child care programs that have met high quality child care standards. These standards were developed specifically for family child care providers and cover Relationships, The Environment, Development Learning Activities, Safety and Health, and Professional and Business Practices.
These standards are usually higher and more specific than state child care licensing rules. To become Accredited, a provider first conducts a self study program using the Quality Standards for NAFCC Accreditation.
Next, a provider fills out an application and shows evidence of CPR and First Aid certification, completion of a background check and family child care specific training.
Finally, once NAFCC trained observers conduct an in-home observation to see that the Quality Standards are met and reviews parent surveys, the provider is Accredited for three years.
I strongly recommend that all family child care providers become Accredited!
Accreditation as a Marketing Tool
I’ve talked for years about the importance of family child care providers being able to communicate the benefits of their program to parents. That’s what marketing is all about.
A benefit tells the parent how their needs or their child’s needs will be met by what you have to offer: “My program offers a variety of educational activities to help your child learn.”
Telling parents you are accredited by NAFCC is not enough. You should assume that parents don’t know what it is. You need to explain why it is beneficial to children for you to be accredited.
I think one of the best ways to explain Accreditation is to compare it with your state child care licensing standards.
So, you might say, “By being Accredited I meet higher health and safety standards than our state’s licensing laws. This means your child is safer in my program.”
Then follow up with an example: “I follow Accreditation standards and never leave children under the age of six indoors or outdoors by themselves, even though this is not required by licensing rules.”
Of course, state child care licensing rules vary significantly from one state to the next, so use an example that pertains to your state.
Here’s another example of how to use your Accreditation status:
“I follow Accreditation standards and read to children for at least fifteen minutes each half day. This helps expand children’s interests and imagination, builds vocabulary and introduces new ideas.”
Parents will enroll their child in your program if they can see that their child will be safe and is part of a learning environment. They don’t care if you are Accredited. They care about what Accreditation means to the well being of their child.
Therefore, you need to be very specific with parents about how the fact that you have met the NAFCC Accreditation Quality Standards will help their child be safe and learn.
Tom Copeland – www.tomcopelandblog.com
Image credit: www.nafcctraining.org
For more information about marketing, see my book Family Child Care Marketing Guide.