The next step in hiring a staff assistant is to define what duties you need the assistant to do. It’s important to know the job description before beginning the interview process.
Some of the duties the worker may need to perform are:
Supervising the children while at play
Educational or craft activities
Household duties such as vacuuming, laundry, kitchen clean up, dusting, sanitizing equipment
Transporting children to and from school
Substitute for provider when she is absent
Inspecting day care equipment
Errands for provider for supplies or food
Outdoor play supervision
Field trip assistance
Dressing and undressing children
Some providers hire an assistant for a specific age group of kids. The assistant takes over the infants or the preschoolers while the provider does the care of the other group. If your assistant will have the same children in the same age group daily and not be responsible for the care of the other older or younger children, you should make that clear in the job description. It may change what applicants you get for the job.
Once you have determined what duties you need the assistant to do and the hours you are willing to offer then it’s time to advertise. Word of mouth is a good way to let people know that you are looking for a worker. I don’t discuss this with my day care parents because I specifically don’t want a worker who is friends or family of my clients. Other than my current clients, I let everyone I know about my job opening.
There are online resources to advertise freely for workers. Craigslist is a great place to start. Kijiji is very popular in Canada and gaining popularity in the United States. Do your research and find as many free places to put your ad out on the web.
Use area bulletin boards at grocery stores and small eating establishments. Don’t forget to mention it to members of your church and any activity groups you participate in. If you are in touch with your Child Care Resource and Referral you can give them a call and they may be willing to help spread the word.
When you use online free advertising you are sure to get a bunch of spam so beware of that. When you can weed through the spam you will most often find you get a number of responses. It’s a good idea to ask for a resume up front in your ad so they offer you their job history before you begin contacting them.
When you receive responses look carefully at the applicants stated job history, education, training certificates, and experience. In my experience it is very common for them to highly overestimate experience, state they hold certificates that are expired (such as mandatory child abuse, first aid and CPR), and believe that past babysitting experience for family and friends qualifies for experience in the child care field.
When looking at job history you will find it is common in former center workers to have multiple jobs over short periods of time. When contacting the centers to confirm time served in the job, often you find it is actually less than what the employee stated. This is very important because many states require proof of experience by tax records and pay stubs. My state doesn’t accept letters from employers stating previous experience. They want the tax returns to show proof. If the applicant doesn’t have the documents to prove actual experience it may change what license or registration you can apply for and what position the assistant can have ESPECIALLY in the job duty of being a substitute provider in your absence.
When you see phrases such as “I’ve been working in the child care field” for X amount of years” or “I have education in the child care field” be beware. Ask for written proof of their claims. One of my staff assistants sent me this initial response to my advertisement: “I am interested in being your employee. I am 19 years old and have 5+ years child care experience with children ages 0-10 years. I am a fun responsible and trustworthy person. I have been through CPR training but I am not yet certified. “
The experience she had was with family and friends. She hadn’t worked in any child care position. She had CPR training but did not have an actual certificate to show training or completion of testing. She believed she had experience and some training but as far as my state is concerned she had no experience and no training. She only qualified for the lowest possible position my state offers a child care worker in a home day care.
When you look at education, look at the actual degrees accomplished. Ask for a copy of the diploma. Many staff assistant applicants believe that taking child care classes through child care training classes are the same as college classes. They believe this qualifies them for higher pay or a higher position.
In my state the only training that applies to the staff assistant position in a home child care is training that has been done within two years of my registration renewal date. That application is only for the “co-provider” role on one of the four possible registration categories.
In Centers the classes within five years of the employees start of employment count towards a point system that can allow a worker to have a supervisor position of responsibility. The applicant may have the experience in centers where the child care classes increased their salary or responsibility but in my setting it wouldn’t affect the position or the salary. They may be looking for recognition financially in a setting where their past training or education isn’t required or doesn’t prosper the owner.
My preference is to hire a staff assistant who does not have education or experience in the field. I prefer to have a clean slate employee. I like to train them myself and have them learn my ways. I don’t want them to come to me with preconceived notions or “bad habits”. I don’t want them indoctrinated by the child care classes for the masses. I want them to go native in my environment and learn the “Nan Plan“.
When I’m sorting through the experience and education claims of applicants I’m looking for the opposite of what most employers want. I am looking to verify that the employee really hasn’t had any experience in the child care field. I do enjoy getting a staff assistant that has a current certificate in CPR and Child Abuse because that saves me a little bit of money in the training of the employee. Other than that, I’m happy to have a fresh newbie who has no idea what they are doing but is willing to work hard and learn.