Whether you have a formal program for mother’s like Mother’s of Preschoolers, a variety of Bible Study groups, or your Women’s Ministry likes to host brunches … inevitably childcare becomes an issue.
- Not enough volunteers.
- Not enough budget to pay childcare workers.
- Background checks are expensive.
- Limited space in Sunday School rooms.
- To feed or not to feed the children.
I have yet to speak with a Women’s Ministry team where this hasn’t been an issue at some point, if not currently. Growing churches will often outgrow their Sunday School rooms or nurseries if there is a surge in births. The more kids you have, the more childcare workers you are going to need. For the safety of the children and for the church, more and more churches are requiring background checks of anyone working with children over the age of 16 -18. This is an expense that the ministry may not be able to afford. Many women’s ministries will share stories of volunteers who don’t show up at the last minute, leaving members of the ministry team to miss the event in order to properly care for the children. However, paying for childcare workers (especially on top of paying for background checks) might eat up the entire event budget.
What do you do?
There are many churches that have opted to NOT offer childcare because it causes so many issues, and would prefer to avoid the headache. However, this will virtually eliminate any of the single moms or women who have husbands who work odd hours from attending your events. Yet, these are quite often the women who need to be reached the most. Fellowship events may be the only time they get to mingle with other women who are believers.
- Paid childcare workers are more reliable than volunteers. If paying a childcare worker isn’t in your budget, consider charging or taking donations for childcare services for women’s events.
- Offer childcare only to those who are truly in need. To do this you can opt to not include it in the event publicity, but direct those who may have childcare concerns to speak with a WM team member.
- To offset costs of childcare workers’ background checks, pool with other ministries in the church or neighboring churches. You can split the costs of the background checks and share the approved list of workers.
- Cut childcare expenses in half by utilizing paid childcare workers and volunteers. Many churches have teens who need volunteer service hours for high school graduation or college applications. Or, you may have a group of teens who receive funds for youth trips in exchanging for volunteering at the church.
- If you know some of the women attending have teens that can serve as childcare workers, or tweens you can help your workers, ask mom to bring them along. I find directly asking mom is far more effective than going directly to the teen. (Volunteer or Paid)
Some other suggestions:
Partner with another Women’s Ministry team that has a schedule similar to your ministry. If you always have a brunch on the 1st Saturday, and they have theirs on the 2nd Saturday…. your team could provide childcare for their event, and they could provide childcare at your event.
There are many different online services for babysitters that include background checks for their sitters as part of their service. Baby sitters will list their experience, availability, and their rate of pay under their profile. This may be an option, if you are comfortable hiring childcare workers that are not from within the church or personally recommended.
Another facet of childcare that can prove to be difficult is estimating how many childcare workers you need. Consider having your mothers pre-register their children, even if the childcare service is free. Then you are only securing the amount of childcare workers you actually need, but do be prepared for the couple of moms who didn’t know or forgot to register.
If the brunch is a potluck, considering having a few of the women’s ministry team members prepare dishes for the children instead of the brunch/luncheon itself. Be sure to skip things that are known allergens, or to ask moms when they pre-register.
A final thought, for women’s ministries who have chosen NOT to offer any childcare for their events. There are times where it just isn’t feasible to have childcare available, or despite our best efforts we just can’t get the workers (such as during holiday seasons). If you are not going to provide childcare:
- Give plenty of notice about the event. Even if all the details are not secure yet, a simple “Save the Date” is enough to allow moms to begin planning for childcare needs on their own.
- Provide a list of known baby sitters, and suggest moms’ pool together and hire two sitters, for one house, and the group brings their kids to that home for the duration of the event.
- Plan women’s events during the same time the kids events are happening at church. If the kids are having an Awanas meeting, you could have a special event nearby.
- Some nearby churches may sponsor “Mom’s Days Out” programs periodically. You can schedule your activity during this time frame, and only suggest these locations to the single moms.