As a director, parents often asked me for references during a tour. I was never prepared to give them parent names, so I had to tell them I would ask a few parents tocall them within a few days. Then I would ask parents whom I knew had positive feelings about our program to call the prospective parents. However, I felt this was cheating parents who were askingfor an honest opinion of our center.
I decided to ask parents in our program for their opinions. I explained the situation, and I asked the parents for help in two ways:
1. Parents who were willing could write a reference letter that we could show to prospective parents.
2. Parents who were willing could offer their time to prospective parents by adding their name and number to a reference list.
I was pleasantly surprised at the number of reference letters I received. The parents who wrote letters were passionate about the program and usually mentioned specific things they appreciated aboutthe staff and the environment. Most parents included their home and business phone numbers in their letters. I compiled the letters in an attractive notebook and kept it in the office. I alsoincluded some photos of our staff and children engaged in play. This gave prospective parents a sense of our program that they might not see if they toured early in the morning or at naptime. I madecopies of the reference letters to give to prospective parents upon request. In addition, I included a reference list in our tour package. The tour package also included a letter from me thankingthem for touring our center, an article or booklet from NAEYC regarding quality childcare, and an information page that listed a fee schedule, ratio of children to staff, hours of operation, and ourphilosophy on quality childcare.
Prospective parents were very pleased to know that so many parents had volunteered to share their opinions and that we had taken the time to organize letters, names, and numbers that would help themin making such an important decision for their child.
Key Points to Remember
- Ask parents who are willing to write a reference letter for your center.
- Ask parents who are willing to put their names and phone numbers on a reference list.
- Compile the reference letters and put them in a notebook.
- Compile the phone numbers and have them available for prospective parents.
For More Information
* For complete bibliography, see pages 209-217.
- www.childcaredirectory.com/tips.html is another helpful resource for parents that you might want to include in your reference section.