Why “Staff Quitting” is So Devastating to Your Children

staff quitting

The 21st century has seen much lower unemployment rates, but that hasn’t really helped everyone that I have talked to lately. Conversation everywhere around me goes to not being able to hire and/or keep employees (and they don’t even say “good” employees).

There seems to be this swinging door of Lisa Jones getting a job here, staying for a while, thinking that it must be better at another center, leaving and immediately getting another center job, then deciding maybe child care is too hard, quits and immediately gets hired by Target, doesn’t like working weekends so quits and … on, and on, and on.  I’m not exactly sure how the people in D.C. calculate the unemployment rate when it is so difficult to keep track of the workforce.

Typically you’ll be faced with one of these people – (1) she loves children, (2) she thinks she loves children and working with children, (3) she loves children and working with children, or (4) she never wanted to work in the first place.

You definitely don’t want #4, and hopefully you can weed her out before you accidentally hire her.

#1 and #2 are ‘iffy and you’ll need to probe a lot more.

#3 should be a gem.  Now you just have to prepare her to be the best child care professional in the world.

So, we have thought about the hiring process and hope you are in good shape with the right employee.

Now the children get to meet this new person.  This new person who is going to be their WORLD six to eight to ten hours a day – three to five days a week.  I’m sure that you realize that many times you and your staff spend more AWAKE time each week with a child than the child’s parents spend with him/her.  This person who is going to be a second Mom, the person they adore and can’t wait to see when they get to the center.  The person that the completely form a bond with emotionally.

How would these children feel if their mother or father just disappeared one day?  No explanation (as if that would matter).  Just gone!

Well, this is how children feel when their child care professional disappears. Abandoned. Devastated. Insecure.  There is even a term for this:  “abandoned child syndrome.”

Child care professionals must be informed of this so that they can think clearly before they just quit.

Here is my suggestion if you are losing staff:

  • Give your high risk employees an assignment to research abandoned child syndrome. Have each report out to the whole staff the cause, treatment, etc. of this condition.
  • Ask the group as a whole how to protect your children from having this experience.
  • Develop a procedure for employees who will be quitting to follow that includes saying goodbye to the children. (Yes, swallow your pride and have a goodbye party for someone that is quitting – for the sake of the children.)

There is a huge difference between missing someone who leaves and feeling like the person has abandoned you.

Our children are growing up in such a volatile world.  We should never be contributing to this.  It is our responsibility to recognize the seriousness of the effects of staff quitting and protecting the children as best we can.

My personal dream is that child care professionals will make deeper commitments to the children when they realize the impact they have on their lives.  Never forget to remind them of this and think of ways to show them how much their children care about them!