The role of a day care or preschool director is to manage and oversee all aspects of a childcare center or preschool. This includes serving as the leader of a staff, supervising daily activities involving children and coordinating the center’s finances, such as payroll, budget and income from clients.
In some cases, the day care center or preschool is independently owned, and directors must abide by certain rules. Other times, the director is the owner of the center and makes all decisions regarding how the facility is run. Some day care centers or preschools are part of franchises or chains; others receive state or federal funding. Directors at centers that receive government funding must ensure that their center meets state and federal guidelines.
• Overseeing staff — teachers and childcare workers
• Creating educational programming and setting standards for education of children; meeting with parents and staff to discuss child behavior and development
• Recruiting, hiring and training employees
• Establishing guidelines and policies and articulating those to employees and parents
• Determining budgets and setting fees for services
• Certifying that facilities are well-maintained, clean and in accordance with regulations
The job outlook for daycare or preschool directors is bright. The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects employment to grow 17 percent by 2022, which is faster than the average for other occupations. As the demand for preschool programs and childcare continues to rise, so will the opportunities to become a day care or preschool director.
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median annual salary for preschool and day care center directors is almost $44,000. Day care and preschool directors typically work full time, sometimes more than 40 hours per week.
Day care and preschool directors are required to have at least a high school education, but some states require postsecondary education. Those seeking postsecondary education to become a day care or preschool director should earn college degrees in early childhood education or child development.
Many states also require childcare centers and preschools to be licensed; employees must pass a background check, provide a complete record of immunizations and possibly be certified in CPR and first aid. Some states require directors to have a nationally recognized credential like a CDA (Child Development Associate) or CCP (Child Care Professional).
Day care and preschool directors must possess a variety of skills, ranging from business management to strong speaking and writing skills. Here are a few to consider.
• Communication skills: It is important for day care and preschool directors to speak and write concisely and clearly, especially when communicating to parents about the development of children.
• Leadership skills: A successful director will be able to efficiently manage his or her staff. This includes enforcing rules and regulations.
• Business skills: Especially if day care or preschool directors own their center, they must be able to manage the business successfully. This includes all aspects of business management from strategy and advertising to payroll and HR issues.
• Interpersonal skills: Directors must be able to establish good relationships, secure trust and build rapport with parents, children and staff.
• Organizational skills: It is imperative that directors maintain accurate records about clients and staff members. The ability to multitask is also a must.
While the roles of day care directors and preschool directors are closely related, one common difference is curriculum. Many preschools are structured based on a specific educational approach (like Montessori or Waldorf), while day care centers tend to be more supervisory than educational.
The hours of operation for a preschool may be different from that of a day care as well. Preschools are generally open from 9 a.m. to noon, or 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., while day care centers are typically open from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Additionally, preschool is usually designed for a specific age group. The preschool may teach children as young as 2 and as old as 5 or 6. Day care centers, on the other hand, are for children from infants to elementary school age.