banner svg (1)

How to Manage Your Childcare Waiting List Process

Utilize a childcare waiting list template to save time and manage your waiting list process effectively.

How to Manage Your Childcare Waiting List Process

How to Manage Your Childcare Waiting List Process

For childcare and daycare providers, managing your waiting list is a necessary and time-consuming part of running your business, but it's also an area of opportunity. Waiting lists can be frustrating for families, and being proactive about managing your waiting list will build your reputation as a program that puts the needs of families first. 

By using a childcare waiting list template, you can create a structured and efficient approach to managing potential enrollees, ensuring that no opportunities are missed and families are kept informed about their status. 

Continue reading for actionable tips on managing your waitlist, including:

  • Transparent policies
  • Intelligent form design
  • Family communication strategies
Download our free waiting list form here!

Be transparent about your waiting list policy

Securing a spot at a good childcare program can be a long process for families. Making your childcare waitlist procedures transparent is a great way to appeal to families looking for child care. 

Being clear about what happens to applicants on your waiting list makes life much easier for families trying to make costly and time-sensitive decisions for their children. Transparency can also reduce the time you spend managing your waiting list internally, especially when responding to parent inquiries. With a tool like brightwheel, you can keep your waitlist organized and automatically enroll incoming families to your program, increasing your efficiency.

Clear waiting list policies will also help families get a feel for your program. The way you treat your waiting list is an extension of your childcare or daycare center's philosophy. An honest and fair childcare waiting list policy sets a pleasant tone for families searching for an opening for their child.

Address the possibility of being placed on a waiting list in the enrollment section of your website and program handbook. Here are some additional items to include in your childcare or daycare waiting list policy:

  • Fees: What are the fees associated with an application to your center? Are they refundable?
  • Enrollment periods: When are your enrollment periods? Can families fill out an application at any time? What is the likelihood that you will accept a child in between enrollment periods?
  • Waiting list order: Will families know where they are on the waiting list? Do you operate on a first-come, first-served basis to fill spots? What age groups typically have the longest/shortest waiting list? How long are children kept on the list?
  • Communication: If families have questions, how can they contact you? When can families expect updates on the waiting list?
  • Enrollment offers: Can families defer until the next school year if you offer a child a spot on the waiting list? Do you have a policy for sibling enrollment? On average, how many spots open up for each new enrollment period?

Once families fill out the enrollment paperwork, be proactive about managing parent expectations regarding your childcare waiting list policies. It's important for families to understand the process of getting on and off the waiting list before filling anything out. Again, using the right childcare waiting list template will set you up for success.


Make your waiting list forms work for you

Utilizing childcare forms such as a waiting list template, can reduce internal stress over maintaining lists and fielding questions from families. Childcare waiting list templates differ from enrollment form templates in that you only need a limited amount of information from families to put their child on a waiting list.

Your childcare waitlist forms can capture the necessary information:

  • Parent's or guardian’s names
  • Child’s name 
  • Child’s age
  • Date of birth or due date  
  • Desired start date (month/year)  
  • Desired hours of attendance 
  • Any other status that would give the family priority (i.e., sibling status)

Family communication strategies

Frequent communication with families about your waiting list helps strengthen your relationships with families, builds trust in your program, and keeps your waitlist up to date. Try the below strategies to keep families informed.

Check in periodically 

Frequent updates build trust. If a family is still waiting for a spot for their child, an update assures them they are still on your list and helps mitigate parent calls and inquiries. Families are likely on multiple wait lists, and periodic check-ins tell them you haven't forgotten about them.

An easy way to check in is to send an email to all families on your waiting list. If you use childcare waitlist software like brightwheel to keep track of your waiting list, it is easy to communicate with families via email or text. Tell parents their child is still on your list, and ask them to respond if they want to be removed.

When you check in, it's also a good idea to ask families to update their contact information in case anything has changed. With a tool like brightwheel, parents can easily update their profiles after their children are enrolled, reducing your administrative load.

Include common FAQs about the waiting list process

One of the easiest things you can do to streamline your waiting list process is to attach frequently asked questions (FAQs) with your childcare waiting list form or add them to your waiting list section on your website. Although you have outlined your waitlist policies, parents may wonder why another child got in before theirs, whether there is anything they can do to be moved up or off the waiting list, or whether or not they can come for another tour. 

Anticipate these questions by including FAQs. A detailed list of FAQs about your childcare center's waiting list process can help lessen the number of queries you receive. Update your FAQs regularly so families can find relevant and accurate information easily.  

Creating a relevant and effective FAQ resource for families will require you to first put yourself in their shoes and determine what information they would like to know. You can also draw from common questions families frequently ask you. A few examples of common FAQs include:

  • Can I visit the center before accepting the space?
  • Is there a waitlist application fee?
  • How much notice will I be given when a space becomes available?
  • What happens if I turn down a space?
  • What if I accept a space and decide I no longer want it?

Make the waiting process as streamlined as possible 

Finding reliable child care can put enormous stress on families. Likewise, running a childcare waiting list can be time-consuming for staff who correspond with stressed-out parents on top of day-to-day tasks. 

Make the waiting list process as streamlined as possible for yourself and your families by being upfront about your waitlist policies, making your forms a rich source of information for you and parents, and communicating regularly.

Brightwheel is the complete solution for early education providers, enabling you to streamline your center’s operations and build a stand-out reputation. Brightwheel connects the most critical aspects of running your center—including sign in and out, parent communications, tuition billing, and licensing and compliance—in one easy-to-use tool, along with providing best-in-class customer support and coaching. Brightwheel is trusted by thousands of early education centers and millions of parents. Learn more at

Subscribe to the brightwheel blog