Ultimate Guide to Growing and Engaging your Childcare Waitlist

With Free Email Templates




Build Your Waitlist

There are a variety of reasons why a family may be placed on your waitlist. If a child has not yet been born, if they are moving into the area within the next few weeks or months, or maybe you’ve reached capacity at your center for the current enrollment period.

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Collect the Relevant Data

It’s important to keep your waitlist up to date with relevant contact and family information so that you can keep parents engaged with your center until their start date.

Aside from basic contact information (name, address, email, phone,) record data about their child, his or her age, any special needs, their requested care schedule, and any other important remarks. This will help you later when spaces open up and you need to prioritize your list. Get information about what areas of development the child needs improvement or special attention. With this information, you keep the family engaged while they’re on the waitlist by sending them personalized information.

Be Transparent with Families

Ensure parents on your waitlist are informed by being open about your policies. Consider addressing the following questions upfront:

  • Waitlist Fees: Are their costs either to apply, register, or join the waitlist?
  • Enrollment Periods: Can families apply and/or enroll at any time of year or are there designated enrollment and start dates?
  • Waitlist Order: Where is each family in your list?
  • Communication: What is the best point of contact for families to reach you?
  • Enrollment Offers: Is there discounted pricing for siblings? Do you offer special pricing at various times throughout the year? Can parents defer/postpone for a few months or even a year?





Touchbase Often

Check-in once a month with your waitlisted families via phone to make sure they’re still interested in your center and have not decided to enroll somewhere else.

Lead Nurture Campaigns

Parents have more choices than ever before about where to enroll their child for care. Many families inquire for care with 5-7 different centers, book tours with 3-4, and then contemplate between 2-3.

It’s essential that you stay top of mind with waitlisted families as they could still be looking for care in other areas. Send long-term nurture emails at regular intervals to maintain their interest and keep them excited about enrolling at your center.

These emails should be personalized to help establish that interpersonal connection. This means that they need to include the parent’s name and/or child’s name either at the beginning of the email or within the body text. Additionally, only age-appropriate content should be shared with the family. For example, refrain from sending an email with a link to an article about potty training to a family with a newborn. Instead, share that email with a parent whose child is aged 18-24 months.

Start with 2-3 emails in their first week on your waitlist. This ensures that they feel in touch with you and don’t feel forgotten after registration. Then, you can begin to make the emails less frequent.

From 2-3 times in the first week, you send 1-2 in the second week. By the third week, you can move to one a week. Ideally, the longest you would wait between each email is 10 to 14 days. You should also consider sending quarterly newsletter emails.


In terms of what you should be sending, regular long-term nurture campaigns share:

Tips (ex: ‘The importance of socialization in toddlers’ )

Facts (ex: ‘Why do newborns get jaundice?’)

How-to’s (ex: ‘How to encourage your child to share’)

Other ideas of content you can share with waitlisted families:

  • Testimonials: Gather quotes or happy stories from families in your center using a survey and share the positive results with your waitlist. One of the best ways to get started is by using any online reviews that you have received from parents already. Check sources like Google, Yelp, and Facebook for positive feedback to share with your audience.
  • Children’s Gift Guides: Share Christmas and/or Birthday gift guides for parents about the latest toys, games, and activities. Here’s a tip - send the birthday gift guide 1-2 weeks before the child’s actual birth date to show that you care about important milestones.
  • Talk about your classrooms. For example, discuss why they look a certain way, i.e. “We use blue in our infant rooms because it creates a sense of calm and peace for the babies.”
  • Video Content: Give a center tour or share a ‘day in the life’ of a child at your center, including where they check-in, what the classroom looks like, where they take a nap, the playground, and where they get picked up.
  • Parenting Resources: Show your personality by sending a roundup of your favorite Instagram accounts with parenting tips for families to follow. Including a bit of a ‘why I like them’ will allow people to get to know you more. Do the same with your favorite parenting podcasts.
  • Pinterest Ideas: Create and/or share Pinterest boards for educational activities that parents can do at home with their child.

Use Various Communication Methods

Make sure to include some variety in your communications. Establish a phone call or texting cadence with families, aside from just using email. It’s recommended to call waitlist families monthly and send a text message every other week to stay top of mind.

If you want to go the extra mile, particularly for those families paying a fee to remain on your waitlist, send them a physical mailer or small package with a children’s toy, books, or educational activity such as a planter kit which they can use to learn about eco-science and plant growth.



Establish Deadlines to Enroll

When a spot becomes available, provide a deadline to your waitlist families of when they must enroll. This ensures you aren’t left wondering whether they will take it so you can plan accordingly. Determining how much advance notice you want to provide is an important decision. Establish this deadline for enrollment based on your current capacity, your staff’s needs and abilities, and the number of other families waiting for a spot to open up.

Use Proven Templates to Build Your Emails

Creating emails and drafting copy that engages families takes a lot of hard work. That's why we built this guide, along with 9 FREE email templates you can start using at your center today.

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