Providing Childcare at Your Events

One of the biggest challenges for some events is securing childcare.  While every event doesn’t lend itself to bringing children, there are times when providing programming for children is both necessary and allows for greater attendance.

Ask any church staff member, and they will probably say positions in the children’s’ department are some of the hardest to fill.  This same mentality often carries over into event childcare.

How can you implement childcare during your adult sessions at your conference?  What can you do to recruit workers for your next event?  Here are a few ideas and tips to aid in planning your next event.

  1. Determine the ages for which you can provide childcare.  This will depend, in part, on your event space accommodations.  If caring for infants, will you have cribs available?  Can you bring in pack-n-plays?  Is there water access?  Can you refrigerate snacks? For older children, are there outdoor activities available?  Is there a playground?  If you are caring for a wide variety of ages, do you have space available to separate them?
  2. Determine the charge for childcare.  Let’s face it – childcare is typically expensive.  While you don’t have to charge the going rate for babysitters (that would make it most likely impossible for anyone to attend!), you have to cover the cost of your supplies and possibly pay for workers.  It is perfectly okay to make this fee nonrefundable, as well, due in part to pre-planning necessity.
  3. Think outside of the box if you are having trouble securing childcare workers.  Do any of your event staff have older, responsible teenagers/college age children who could serve?  Check with your host location.  They might have a list of childcare workers or possibly interns who could work.  Contact local churches or religious groups within colleges/universities for potential childcare workers.  I once worked at an event when an entire church youth group came and served as childcare workers for a conference for the entire week.  The church used this as a mission opportunity to provide back yard Bible clubs during the childcare times.
  4. Think safety.  Anytime children are involved, you need to make every effort to ensure their safety.  You will need to have background checks on your workers.  You should also contact them prior to the event to verify they are indeed the type of person you want working with the children of your guests.  Reference checks are also beneficial.  In addition, you will want to have first aid available and obtain information from parents regarding any allergies, special needs and medical conditions.  Security measures for dropping off and picking up children, as well as emergency contact information are vital.

However you choose to implement childcare at your events, hopefully these tips will be useful as you plan.  Remember, providing childcare can allow for much more intimate times with your adults if they know their children are having a great experience.