11 Tips for Adding Child-Care Services to Your Events

Author: Jasmine Zhu       

child-care services

Some hotels now offer complimentary daycare for conferences attendees staying at the hotels. The Kids for All Seasons program at Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World includes access to the Splash Zone (center) and The Hideout game room/play area (right). (Don Riddle/Four Seasons)

Many conferences and conventions fail to offer child care to participants, but more event professionals are calling for the service as a standard practice. In a recent Convene poll about child care at events, 30 percent of the 33 event professional respondents said that they themselves had been unable to attend events due to a lack of child-care options.

Accent on Children’s Arrangements, a subgroup of DMC Network, has provided child-care services at meetings and events for 28 years.

“It has to be a partnership between the association and the parents,” Diane Lyons, CMP, said about offering child care at events. Lyons is president of Accent-DMC Inc., a DMC Network company.

child care tips

Diane Lyons

Lyons provided the following tips when organizing a children’s program at an event.

  • Decide whether to hire an outside firm, use an established hotel program, or run the program yourself.
  • Plan well in advance. What kind of activities will be planned? How many children are coming? How old are they? What kind of schedule will you need (half- or full-day child care)?
  • Decide who’s picking up the tab. Make sure attendees know what costs they’re responsible for.
  • Provide children with registration packets and badges. Their printed program should be included in the overall convention program so parent and child know where the other is at all times.
  • Set an age limit on children. Remember that the younger the child, the more supervision required and therefore the costlier the program.
  • Divide child attendees by age category: two-to-four-year-olds, five-to-eight-year-olds, nine-to-12-year-olds, and 13 and up.
  • Give the younger ones structure; avoid heavily structured programs for teens, and give them a “hangout” place to meet other teens.
  • Hire qualified, licensed supervisors. Avoid too many off-property activities to limit your liability.
  • Make the program educational. Consider tying in with established programs such as a zoo’s animal programs or science experiments, or local attractions like the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C., or the Arch in St. Louis.
  • Be careful about religious beliefs, particularly planning activities around religious holiday seasons.

Lyons’ one additional piece of advice: Be transparent. “I am a firm believer, having been in the event business now almost 40 years, that you have to be really honest about anything that happens, whether it’s a child biting another child,” she said. “That doesn’t happen very often, but three-year-olds bite.”

Learn more about Accent on Children’s Arrangements’ child-care guidelines.

Related: Speaker Turned Away from Conference for Bringing Baby