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How to Onboard New Staff at Your Child Care Center

January 29, 2021

Starting a new job can be stressful, making people feel vulnerable, stressed, and even out of place as they seek to find their role, fit in with staff, and please their new employer. Onboarding is the process of avoiding this situation by orienting new hires so that they understand their role, acquire necessary knowledge, and embrace company culture through a formal or informal process.

In years of personally onboarding employees I am not sure I ever got it completely right. Onboarding is a very layered and complex process, so much so that some centers actually hire a company to assist them with the process. Although it is a complicated task, effectively hiring and onboarding are the most important things you will do as a director. Hiring the right people and successfully onboarding them will not only save you time and energy but will pay big dividends over the years. 

Today, I am going to share with you my process of formal onboarding. As we go through the steps below, reflect on your current process and see if you can add at least one thing to improve training and on-boarding your next hire. We will start the process shortly after you decide to hire a new employee. After you have found and interviewed a suitable candidate, simply follow the four steps below to start onboarding like a pro!


The first step in the process is for the new team member to accept the job offer. Make sure that you have a clearly written out job offer letter that includes information such as job title, start date, and days and hours scheduled to work. Feel free to use a template to help you.

When you send the offer letter make sure to attach a job description as well. It is so important that your new team member knows the job that they are signing up for and has it in written form. Have the new team member sign both the job offer and description and return them to the office prior to continuing in the process.

Tour & Initial Introduction

During the first day I would suggest scheduling paperwork and no classroom time. The biggest mistake I see leaders make with onboarding is trying to rush the process. During the first meeting, tour the new team member(s) around the center, introduce them to the teaching and office staff, and start the paperwork process. This is a great opportunity to start introducing the new team member to the culture of your center.

The best way to share culture is by purposely pointing out things that reflect your culture as you go along rather than just reading a statement of your goals or description of your desired culture. 


The paperwork process is something that rarely gets missed because often these items are required by the state or providence. Having a detailed checklist of items you need to complete can be helpful and make sure the process goes smoothly. For a detailed checklist check out ours here!  Note: yours may be different depending on your state or province’s requirements and policies. 


This is the final step and will likely be on-going. Initial training should be done over several days, monitored closely by yourself or another seasoned staff member. Our training was broken down over a few days with a mixture of shadowing, training and hands on learning taking place.

When you break training into chunks and spend enough time in this step your new staff member will be best set up for success in their new role and you will not only see an increase in productivity, but are more likely to keep employees longer as well. For a detailed list of staff training check out this blog. 

Final Notes

If you take one thing from this post it should be not to rush the onboarding process. It takes time to properly set up a new hire for success. Take the time and do it right the first time! Of course onboarding takes time, but one thing you can do is use software to help manage your business and free up time for these important tasks. Notice how I have also suggested using other team members to help with the process. As a childcare director time is always at a premium but keep in mind you do not need to do the whole process yourself, nor should you.

By having your staff help with the onboarding process you can free up your own time for other priorities while showing staff that you value their knowledge and skills enough to trust them with these important tasks. Soon your new hire will be onboarding your next hire and your successful onboarding process will begin all over again!

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