I want to add childcare at my location. What are the best practices?
If you have any parents within your affiliate’s members, you probably know that offering a childcare area is a benefit that can be the deciding factor for whether or not they make it in for a WOD. Before you start offering this added service to your members, there are some important features to consider.
Each affiliate has a different layout, so a childcare area looks different everywhere you go. Some have a completely separate room, some have a partitioned wall that divides the gym space from the kid area, and others simply have an isolated section of the gym where the children are contained. Regardless of your affiliate’s layout, it is very important that the childcare area be separate from the WOD space. Nobody wants to be lifting heavy weight and be concerned about dropping it on a small child. Unless it is during your youth training class, having children in the WOD space is unsafe for both your members and the kids.
If you’ve been around unattended children, you know that things can get wild fairly quickly. It is very important that your childcare area have a dedicated supervisor to maintain the safety of the children in it. There are many options for how to provide this to your members. You can hire someone to monitor the childcare area; this can often be seen included in an Affiliate Admin or Support Staff member’s duties. Many high schools have volunteer hours that a teen must complete as part of their graduation requirement; this is a great way for one of your teen members to practice leadership and responsibility within your community. Some affiliates have a co-op system where the parents who utilize the childcare area also take time to provide the childcare on a rotating schedule. Regardless of how you choose to implement this at your gym, be sure to have someone responsible for monitoring the safety of the children in your care. As the operating business providing this service, it is also in your best interest to run a criminal background check on those who are working with children. You can find a background investigation service by clicking here and scrolling to "Employee Practices".
With each service you provide, there is more risk. One way to reduce some of your exposure is by adding a section to your waiver regarding the childcare area that outlines the standards for its use. It is best to have a local attorney review this, as laws vary in each state.
If you would like additional information about how to operate a successful childcare area, there are some helpful ideas in this CrossFit Journal article. As with all policies in your gym, be sure to clearly communicate the rules to your staff and members. If you are prepared to offer the safest experience possible, you will keep your members happy and able to keep coming in to the gym!
You can find more information about your coverage for childcare here.