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Working in early childhood education opens a world of helping to shape young minds, helping young ones develop, finding new ways to be creative, and so much more. Yet, all of the education, projects, play times, and development would not be possible without someone behind the scenes making learning possible for the children. Enter childhood facility directors. Critical to every early childhood education center — whether at a childcare facility or preschool — is someone helping it run smoothly, manage the daily operations, and deal with unexpected surprises that inevitably arise. 

That someone is a childcare facility director (also known as a childcare center director), who oversees all aspects of running the program — including hiring and training staff, working with the parents of young students, and identifying the proper curriculum to facilitate development. As you dive deeper into exactly what a childcare facility director does, take some time to consider how to become one, what the role involves, and how to handle multiple responsibilities at once.

What Is the Role of a Childcare Center Director?

A childcare facility director is responsible for the overall operation of a childcare center. This includes, according to Betterteam, hiring and supervising staff, creating and implementing curriculum, budgeting, and ensuring the center meets all state licensing requirements. A director must also be able to communicate effectively with parents and guardians to ensure they are satisfied with the care their children are receiving.

What Does a Preschool Director Do?

Similar to a childcare center director, a preschool director is responsible for the overall operation of a preschool. This includes managing staff, developing curriculum, maintaining budget and finances, and ensuring the facility meets all state and local regulations. 

The most important responsibility of a preschool director is, again, to ensure the safety of all the young students in their care. Practical Adult Insights points out this includes offering a clean and safe environment, as well as ensuring all staff members are properly trained in child safety procedures. A preschool director must also be able to effectively communicate with parents and guardians to keep them updated on their child’s progress and address any concerns they have.

In addition to safety, a preschool director must be able to provide a high-quality educational experience for all of the children in their care. Resilient Educator explains this experience should involve developing and implementing age-appropriate curriculum, as well as providing opportunities for children to socialize and interact with peers. A preschool director must also be able to manage staff effectively and ensure everyone is working toward the same goals.

A preschool director plays a vital part in ensuring a child has a positive experience during their time in preschool. By providing a safe and nurturing environment, as well as a high-quality educational experience, a preschool director can help set the stage for a successful future for all the children in their care.

How Do I Become a Preschool Director?

The minimum education and experience to become a preschool director is typically a bachelor’s degree or some postsecondary education and experience in the field of early childhood education, according to findings by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS)

What Is the Salary of a Director?

Childcare facility director salary and other compensation will vary based on location and center type. For instance, preschool directors can expect to earn a different salary than those working as a daycare director. The BLS does provide some averages for preschool and childcare center directors, which include data for 2021. The BLS cites a median salary of $47,310 per year, or $22.75 per hour. The bottom 10% earned less than $31,200, and the highest 10% earned more than $78,350. Broken down by center type, median annual salaries included the following in 2021:

  • Directors of elementary and secondary centers (state, local, and private): $62,310
  • Directors of religious, grantmaking, civil, professional, and similar centers: $50,000
  • Directors of child daycare centers: $46,890

Is a Childcare Center Director a Stressful Job?

The job of childcare center director can be quite stressful at times, especially when dealing with challenging behaviors from children or other issues that pop up in the running of a center. There may be times when working long hours or being on-call is required, meaning extended hours or even weekends. Overall, however, most people who work as childcare center directors find the job to be both rewarding and fulfilling, per the BLS. When describing the environment in which childcare center directors work, the BLS finds:

“Preschool and childcare center directors may find working in an early childhood educational environment rewarding, but they also have significant responsibilities. Coordinating and interacting with staff, parents, and children may be fast-paced and stimulating, but also stressful.”

What Makes a Good Childcare Center Director?

There are many factors that go into making a great childcare center director. Some of the most important qualities include:

  • The ability to lead and inspire others
  • Being flexible
  • Being organized and efficient
  • Having a true passion for working with children

In its handbook on becoming a director, the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) explains these qualities further, along with how to use them to be successful in childcare centers.

“Leadership is an essential quality for any childcare director. A great leader is someone who can inspire others to believe in and follow their vision. They are able to motivate their team to work hard and achieve goals. Leaders also need to be able to make tough decisions when necessary. For a childcare facility director, these tough decisions might include hard choices such as budget cuts, dealing with challenging family dynamics, and marketing the center throughout the community. While education is still at the core of the role, managing business needs is also a key responsibility — and best handled with leadership expertise.”

Being organized and efficient, then, naturally follows as an integral quality for childcare directors. They need to be able to keep track of all the different aspects of running a childcare center — including budgeting, scheduling, and ensuring all the children are safe and well-cared for. At one moment, they may be dealing with hiring staff; the next moment, a concerned parent; the next moment, curriculum. As no two days will be exactly the same, organization and efficiency are skills critical to success in this role. 

Finally, a great childcare center director needs to have a true passion for working with children. They should love spending time with kids and enjoy watching them grow and learn. If a childcare director does not have this passion, it will be difficult for them to find joy and longevity in the career.

What Is the Best Way to Train as a Childcare Facility Director?

There is no one-size-fits-all answer to this question. Every childcare facility director will need to receive training that is specific to their role. However, there are some general tips to follow to ensure that a childcare facility director receives proper training.

Some of the most important things that a childcare facility director should learn include child development, safety procedures, and emergency management. In addition, they should also receive training on how to effectively communicate with parents and staff members. By receiving this type of training, a childcare facility director will be prepared for anything that they may encounter while on the job.

Managing the Staff and Budget of a Childcare Center

Overseeing a childcare center is similar in many ways to running any business. There will be enjoyable aspects and parts of the business that are less appealing. For those who care deeply about education, some elements of the job — such as people and money management — may prove to be especially challenging. Staff members often have their own agendas and goals and may be resistant to change. If a childcare facility director is not prepared to deal with these types of situations, they may struggle to keep up with the demands of their job.

Finally, a childcare facility director may also face budgeting frustrations. Childcare centers often have to operate on a tight budget, and budget cuts can hurt staff, curriculum, and kids. It’s understandable budgeting is a major concern.

What Are Tips for Dealing With Challenges?

There are many tips that a childcare facility director can use to deal with the challenges that they may face. Some of the most important tips include being organized and being efficient, as mentioned above. By following these tips, a childcare facility director will be better prepared to deal with the challenges they may face.

Being organized is one of the most important skills that a childcare facility director can have, and it cannot be emphasized enough, according to Early Learning Academies. Being organized will help a childcare facility director keep up with the demands of their job. In addition, being organized will also help a childcare facility director to make sure they are meeting the needs of their clients.

Similarly, another important tip for dealing with challenges is to be efficient. Being efficient will help a childcare facility director save time, which can save money (that is, budget) elsewhere. A few ways to be more efficient include adopting software that can automate processes, such as communication with parents and the community, and bringing in additional help in areas that require a special expertise.

Finally, having a positive attitude is an important tip for dealing with challenges. Having a positive attitude will help a childcare facility director to stay motivated and ensure they are meeting the needs of their clients.

How to Manage Parents as a Childcare Facility Director

Parents can be one of the biggest challenges a childcare facility director may face. Parents often have high expectations for their child’s care. In addition, parents may also be very demanding when it comes to the services that they receive from a childcare center. If a childcare facility director is not prepared to deal with these types of situations, they may find themselves struggling to keep up with the demands of their job.

For center directors who find themselves dealing with challenging people, particularly the parents of young children, the following strategies may help:

  1. Stay calm
  2. Develop relationships and build trust
  3. Interact with the community
  4. Demonstrate care
  5. Exhibit authority
  6. Speak lowly
  7. Understand mistakes happen
  8. Be empathetic
  9. Illustrate examples
  10. Develop resources

By following these tips, a childcare facility director will be better prepared to deal with the challenges they may face on a daily basis. While there will be frustrations in the role, there are also many joys.

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Are you currently a licensed RN?

This program requires you to be a current licensed registered nurse. Please check out other programs to reach your education goals such as the BA in Health and Wellness.