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Family Daycare vs Daycare Center: What’s the Difference?

The two primary child care options that parents consider are family daycares and daycare centers. Both options provide outstanding opportunities for early childhood development, but the experiences are undoubtedly different.

 

As a budding child care provider, you might be asking yourself, what direction should I take my aspirations in? When searching for an answer, it’s important to consider what parents are going to be looking for, what you can reasonably provide, and what your goals are, both short-term and long-term.

 

Differentiating Between Family Daycare and Daycare Centers: Pros and Cons

To help you decipher which type of child care is best for you, we have compiled a list of the pros and cons of these two types while providing a more in-depth explanation of what it means.

Family Daycare

Pros:

  • Providing kids with more individual attention

Spatial restrictions limit the number of children that a family daycare can house at any given time. However, the smaller classes and strong provider-to-child ratio present opportunities cultivating relationships that might not be present in a larger daycare setting.

  • Creating a unique learning environment within your own home

Comfort is one of the keys to strong childhood development in the early stages. You will have an opportunity to create a unique learning environment by opening your doors and developing trusting relationships with both the children and the parents.

  • Limited upkeep costs can improve profitability

Hosting a family daycare in your own home can limit the potential costs that a daycare center might deal with. These costs range from employing a large staff of childcare professionals to paying for the property where you operate your business. Instead of exhausting resources on those things, recordkeeping software and security hardware can help you with carrying that weight.

 

Cons:

  • Keeping your home up to the necessary safety standards

Family daycares are a full-time job because your home, especially the areas where you operate the daycare, must be kept in pristine condition. The conditions must reach parents’ expectations, and they must be within the requirements that are established within your licensing agreement.

  • Limited staffing options

Owning and operating a family daycare is a do-it-yourself type of role. You will need to have the bandwidth to handle everything that comes with it while being extremely selective about who you bring aboard.

  • You get what you put in

Getting your family daycare up and running is a challenge. Finding new clientele and keeping your existing clientele isn’t easy either, especially if you are running the show solo. Positive word-of-mouth is your best chance at marketing and keeping up with an established level of quality can be tiresome, but it’s rewarding if you have the drive and determination.

 

 Daycare Center

Pros:

  • There is a strong support system

Depending on what your aspirations are, opening a daycare center is a team effort and each member of your staff will be a valuable piece to the puzzle. Hiring established and ambitious child care professionals will make the operation run smoother, and help you reduce stress.

  • Create targeted curriculums for age groups

Family daycares deal with a large group and limited staffing, whereas a daycare center can afford to break down its students by age and development level. Creating targeted curriculums can help diversify your classrooms and bring your daycare center to the next level.

  • You have an opportunity for growth from a business perspective

Opening a daycare center is a versatile business decision because there is a lot of room for growth and you can build it up to whatever you’d like it to be. If there is demand for your services that go beyond your capabilities, you can always get bigger.

 

Cons:

  • Keeping up with necessary safety standards

This is a con that daycare centers share with family daycares. The parallel that exists is when you are dealing with child care, safety is paramount regardless of the setting. In a daycare setting germs are more prevalent because of the number of students and age groups that you might be dealing with.

  • Higher costs of operation

Paying for the space to operate your daycare center is certainly more expensive than operating at your home, and employee salaries can add up too.

  • Balancing personalities and different levels of development

As children grow and continue to develop, personality traits manifest differently. You will have to prepare yourself and your staff for facing these challenges properly. Another aspect to consider is dealing with the parents who are trusting you with the continued development of their child. It might lead to some headaches if you stretch yourself too thin.

 

Identifying the Best Fit for You

There is a lot to consider around what the best fit for you might be, a family daycare or a daycare center. Each form of child care will lead to a unique environment that may or may not be a fit for your qualifications, goals, and financial capabilities.

Both options provide you with an opportunity to lead the way for childhood development in your area, but the pros and cons of each may push you towards one option over the other.

Looking for ways to simplify and optimize the administrative and business functions that go into opening and running a child care center? Learn how Procare can help!

 

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7 Biggest Child Care Challenges & How Technology Can Help

Child care providers deal with similar pain points in some way, shape or form. The organizational, communication and financial responsibilities that child care center’s encounter present hurdles that must be cleared to provide the best care possible.

 

Based on size alone, the Millennial generation has tremendous buying power. Reaching millennials is so important because they will be making up 8 out of 10 of your tours. This group desires personalization and convenience, and technological advances have made those desires the baseline.

These advancements have led to improvements across industries, and they are being applied through the development of advanced child care software solutions which can relieve common struggles.

Having the right tools in place at your school or daycare means more enrollments, more secure finances, and long-term success for your school. For this reason, we wanted to address the common challenges and help you identify these pain points while providing potential solutions along the way.

 

7 Common Child Care Challenges

Below we explore 7 challenges that come with operating a school, daycare, or child care center of any kind.

1. Collecting Tuition on Time

Creating an environment that is nurturing and secure for students is crucial. However, in order to reach the standards you set out for your child care center, timely funding is paramount. Balancing the business and personal aspect of the relationships you develop with students and parents can be made easier by simplifying online payments.  

Young parents trust technology more than past generations. According to a 2017 AITE study, 69 percent of Millennials pay bills either online or with direct debit, and 52-percent of millennials never write checks. Offering multiple payment options and producing email reminders will help you stay on top of things so your doors can stay open.

 

2. Managing & Growing Enrollment

One of the toughest parts of operating a child care center is managing the flow of new students. You never want to turn away a family, if you can make room somehow. Knowing where there is space and what you can offer with a few clicks rather than scrambling to organize your files makes managing your classrooms and keeping them in ratio a breeze.

Utilizing the right child care solutions allows you to get a look at the big picture. This includes better managing your waitlists and using enrollment reports to determine what the availability is when prospective customers inquire about your child care center.

 

3. Keeping Track of Family Records

Operating a child care center comes with the responsibility of getting to know the ins-and-outs of every student under your watch. There is no shortage of information that you will need to track – immunizations, authorized pickups, and allergies are just a few that come to mind.

Having immediate access to important information simplifies the day-to-day operations. The family data module from Procare can save your center time and money, allowing your staff a chance to spend their time focusing on child development instead of combing through file cabinets.

 

4. Juggling Family Communications

Part of running a child care center is becoming a part of the local community’s fabric. Maintaining open lines of communication with parents is a key to making sure your child care center is successful. It’s not so different from how any business must rely on customer communication in order to continuously improve their product offerings. The major difference being that Millennial parents are glued to their cellphones, and they might expect you to be as well.

Millennials check their phones 100 times per day, presenting you with numerous opportunities to reach them. Consistent and detailed communication with the families at your school will help your business run smoothly. Our software has been integrated with KidReports, presenting you with a way to simplify your day by providing an all-in-one comprehensive solution for center management and parent engagement. Keeping parents in the know about schedules, special events, added programs, tuition, billing, and changes in policy is beneficial. 

 

5. Bookkeeping Can Be Hard

Manually tracking the vast quantities of information that comes with running a child care center can take up more time than would be preferred. Bookkeeping is a challenge, but it’s necessary, and most importantly it can be made easier.

By establishing a system for bookkeeping, you can improve communication with parents, cut down on unnecessary expenses, and continuously optimize your operations. Running a child care center is a continuous learning process, and the proper bookkeeping software can help you each step of the way.

 

6. Managing Staff & Payroll

Child care centers mainly focus on the development of students, but in a way, the child care professionals are developing their skills. Tracking and organizing data on the employee side of things shouldn’t be cast aside.

Your center will get a boost from Procare’s employee data and payroll module as a result of the structure and stability that comes with it. Providing employees with a stable environment to develop their careers enables them to go ahead and replicate that environment with the students and parents that come through your doors every day.

 

7. Security & Attendance

Providing adequate security measures at your child care center goes hand in hand with accurately tracking attendance and storing your data. Safety is paramount for parents, and part of that is keeping track of the kids who are under your watch.

Keeping accurate attendance data plays a role in keeping up with licensing requirements, maintaining ratios, forecasting your staffing needs amongst a variety of other factors. Leveraging attendance tracking software and security hardware can help you eliminate entry by unwanted visitors, track who comes and who goes, and provide a strong, secure environment that parents will prefer.

 

Final Thoughts

Operating your center presents a slew of headaches that can be eased by investing in modern child care technology that will assist with communication, data collection, organization and so much more. Consider the challenges listed above, and ask yourself – are you doing all you can to overcome them?

Looking for ways to automate and organize administrative and business functions such as registration, data collection, and payment processing at your child care center? Learn how Procare can help!

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What Is Family Daycare & Is It Right for You?

Starting a family daycare is no small task. You are asking a lot of yourself and anybody who lives in your home. Sorting out the financial, logistical, and educational aspects of running your family daycare may present some challenges, but when done right it can be a very fulfilling experience.

Before jumping into the specific elements of family daycare and determining if it’s right for you, let’s start by addressing exactly what a family daycare means.

What is Family Daycare?

Family daycare serves the same purpose as any child care provider – to assist in childhood development by providing a healthy, secure and nurturing learning environment. However, the key difference is that a family daycare operates out of the caregiver’s home, putting a family-focused spin on the other child care options that are out there.

Key Benefits of Family Daycare

From a parent’s perspective, one of the most attractive elements of family daycare is that it’s typically a less expensive form of child care when compared to other options like hiring a nanny or enrolling in a child care center. The home-oriented focus offers a comfortable setting that a more business-oriented provider often struggles to duplicate.

Along with the affordability and comfortability factors, a notable feature of family daycare is the diverse age groups that they tend to include. Because these programs usually accept and incorporate a mixed group of ages, the diversity can be a great learning environment for kids of all ages, and it’s common for family daycares to have a strong ratio of children to caregivers.

To summarize, some of the most noteworthy benefits that set family daycares apart from other providers include:

  • Affordability
  • Comfortability
  • Diverse Ages

Is Family Daycare Right for You?

Running a child care service out of your own home can be a daunting task, and it is certainly not for everyone. Family daycares share similar goals with any child care center, however, the method to the madness is where things differ. On the whole, the operation is condensed and more focused on relationship building. Curriculums can be more specific to the needs of the children due to the smaller groups, and costs of operation are cut as a result of using your home as the base of operations.

If you are considering opening a family daycare, put yourself in the shoes of the parents who you want to reach. Unlike with a more extensive child care operation, your ability as a child care provider and the family-driven atmosphere that you create within your daycare is your most valuable asset.

3 Tips for Opening a Family Daycare

Below we have outlined three tips and considerations for opening and operating a successful family daycare that can help you decide if it’s the right path for you.

1. Make Safety a Priority

Making your home as safe and secure as possible will relieve some the stress that comes with having a handful of children running around. Parents consider safety a priority when looking for child care providers. Procare offers hardware security solutions that can be installed in your home, making everything that comes with a family daycare a bit easier for you to manage.

If maintaining a high standard of safety in your home and committing enough space to operate your daycare present a significant challenge – then, a family daycare is not the best route for you. By keeping a tidy home that is entirely childproof, parents will be more open to trusting you with the continued development of their child or children.

2. Document Your Policies & Emergency Procedures

Structuring your family daycare must be a priority and sharing the relevant procedures and documents with parents is a great way to get off on the right foot. If you are dealing with a mixed range of ages, it’s essential to have a plan for situations that might arise during a regular day. This includes everything from how you structure your day, to how you plan on dealing with sick children, to how your staff will be expected to deal with any behavioral issues.

As the homeowner, you are the point person for any issues that arise, and parents will expect you to be easy to reach during business hours. Should an emergency present itself, the responsibility falls on your shoulders. It’s the hard truth, but it comes with the territory. If that’s too much to handle, perhaps a different role in the child care industry is best.

3. Be Selective When Hiring Staff

It’s unlikely that your family daycare will be in a financial position to carry an extensive staff of child care professionals. However, should the opportunity to hire an employee or two present itself, it’s important to be extremely selective. Your personality, home, and ability to enhance the children’s development will define your daycare. A lot of the responsibilities will fall on your shoulders, but that comes with operating your own family daycare.

Any staff member that you bring on must be on the same wavelength as you, and parents must trust them as much as they trust you. Parents who look at family daycares want their child to develop within an atmosphere of love and learning and safe

 

Final Thoughts

Deciding whether or not a family daycare is the right business venture for you requires thought and careful consideration. Opening up your home and providing a secure and nurturing learning environment for kids can be intimidating, but if child care is your passion, it can be a rewarding vocation.

The considerations listed above are meant to give you an idea of what type of structure and level of planning is needed to operate a family daycare that will thrive.

Looking for ways to simplify your family daycare operations, including administrative and business functions such as registration, attendance, and payment processing? Learn how Procare can help!

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6 Key Factors to Consider for Starting & Operating an After School Program

When it comes to starting and operating an after school program, there are two broader aspects that you need to lock down to set yourself up for success.

First of all, you have the task of getting your after school program off the ground and running. This includes the financial, logistical, and educational aspects of running an after school program. After that comes making sure the day-to-day operations are smooth, keeping up with the demands, and squashing any issues as they present themselves.

6 Key Factors to Consider for a Succesful After School Program

Let’s dive into 6 key factors that are crucial for starting and operating your after school program.

1. Securing a designated space

When choosing the location for your after school program, keep travel and convenience in mind. For convenience, securing a location for your program that’s close to the school system where your prospective students are enrolled. It should be readily accessible to the parents as well.

There are a lot of possibilities for what compromised the actual space. Your program could use a variety of spaces by scheduling them ahead of time, or you could opt for a permanent location. Local libraries, churches, or rec centers are just a few of the potential options.

 2. Creating a business plan

Identifying what type of plan will work best for you and the families you work with is a crucial step in starting an after school program. You should be completely aware of the market you are entering and build a business plan that is based on the needs of the community. Establishing the trust of the community doesn’t come easy but providing a prominent service on a strong foundation will create interest.

When you are deciding what your programs identify will be, local parents can be a resource. The business plan you build around should fulfill a niche in the community.

 3. Building out a curriculum

Building a curriculum for your after school program is the natural next step in determining what service or value you are providing the community. There should be a diverse set of options to appease a collection of age-groups. There is an increasing demand for enrichment during out-of-school time and programs are beginning to shift their curriculum to fulfill that need.

Consider the basics like art, music, math, and science, and supplement those educational aspects with recreational activities and free time. It’s important to not force your students into an activity that they aren’t interested in. After all, this isn’t school. If you spend your energy and resources trying to fit a square peg into a circular hole, the curriculum will be ineffective and your after school program won’t be successful.

4. Supporting your staff with up-to-date technology

Managing a room full of students isn’t for those who lack patience or ambition. Supplementing the growing pains that come with operating an after school program with technology can simplify your after school operations from top to bottom.

Investing in a technologically advanced after school program has a variety of advantages. A few that come to mind are:

  • Keeping students occupied and entertained
  • Easing common stresses that come with running an after school program
  • Attracting the interest of young parents

By making technology a focus and integrating operations, your staff will be able to focus on providing the students with an environment that promotes growth rather than spending too much time on the organizational clutter.

 5. Maintaining a safe and secure environment

Ensuring the safety of your students is priority number one. Regardless of your location, you must provide a secure learning environment and a trusted place for parents to leave their child during work hours. Safety during out-of-school time is the primary concern of parents, and secondary to enrichment.

After school programs are meant to provide a safe and secure place where kids can go on a regular basis when schools are not in session. There is security hardware that can assist you along the way, but the premises should be scanned for health hazards daily, and most importantly, the kids should trust your staff.

 6. Surrounding yourself with qualified staff

An after school program needs to fulfill the needs of students. Unless you plan on running the show solo, surrounding yourself with a qualified and passionate staff will make everything easier. Your needs will be more apparent once you have an idea of what the plan of attack is, including your business plan and preferred curriculum.

Staffing can be done through job postings, recruiting or word-of-mouth. However, once they are in the building and on your payroll, making sure everybody is on the same page will lead to smooth sailing for you, your staff, and the families involved.

Final Thoughts

There is a lot of planning that goes into starting an after school program. Getting the doors open and running the show have their unique challenges. Following the guidelines above will give you an idea of what type of structure and what level of planning is needed if you want to build a thriving after school program.

Looking for ways to automate and organize administrative and business functions such as registration and payment processing at your after school program? Learn how Procare can help!

 

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Checklist: 6 Essential Steps for Starting a Preschool That Parents Will Choose

Put yourself in the parents’ shoes by asking – what would you want from a preschool? Ultimately, the conclusions you reach should drive your strategy for getting your preschool started.

In order to start a preschool and put your business on the path to success, you need to focus on creating a positive experience for everyone involved, including yourself, your staff, the students, and the parents.

Here we have identified 6 essential steps for starting a preschool that parents will choose over other options.

6 Essential Steps for Starting a Preschool

1. Learn the Trade

Child care isn’t an entry-level profession, and parents need to know that they are trusting the development of their child with a licensed professional. For this reason, it’s especially important that you do your research to fully comprehend the industry you are entering.

Understanding the business practices and strategies behind opening and managing a preschool will set you up for success in both the short-term and long-term. It’s a complicated business and spending the time to peel back the layers will be beneficial for your preschool

2. Choose the Right Location

Starting a preschool in an area where there isn’t a need for one can end your venture before it even begins. However, there are a variety of factors to consider other than local demand. 

Parents will look for a preschool that is easily accessible and safe. You should also be aware of state standards for how much space will be needed for the number of children you will have enrolled.

3. Create a Culture of Learning and Growth

Developing a culture that focuses on growth and improvement can become a marketable asset for your preschool from day one. A positive reputation makes word-of-mouth referrals a powerful tool when parents get together and the topic of preschool comes up in conversation.

Regardless of what role you take within your preschool, you represent and embody it’s values and goals starting the moment your doors open. Parents will look to you as the person who sets the tone on a day-to-day basis through your decision-making ability. This includes staffing, structuring, and facility management. 

4. Hire Premier Child Care Professionals

At a minimum, your preschool’s staff must reach the requirements held by the state, and proper screening should be in place. Verify their past and help them build for the future.

The culture in your preschool extends to the type of hires you make. Starting slow and expecting to find your footing in the industry is an easy way to fall behind. Proactively appeasing any concerns from parents and building trust is made easier by employing a capable staff that shares a passion for child care. You need parents to trust you and the talent you have on your team.

5. Open Lines of Communication with Parents

Getting your preschool up and running can be a slow process, but once you get it going your best resource for improvement is the parents. They should be involved in your processes to a certain extent, especially in the early stages.

Field their questions and put the effort into calming their concerns, whatever they might be. Encourage your teachers to do the same. Giving parents the chance to direct your classroom management is not the goal. Instead, absorb their opinion and use it to create the best experience for the children in your classrooms.

6. Build Strong Promotion and Marketing Networks

While getting your preschool up and running it’s important to identify what your strengths are. Preferably, these are tangible benefits that parents experience. Pristine facilities, prime location, or professional staff are just a few examples of what will carry a lot of weight with parents.

Without returning customers and referrals your preschool could flounder. Promotion is necessary and having the awareness of what your most marketable features are will help fulfill parent’s needs.

Final Thoughts

The essential steps that we have outlined above will ease the potential strain of opening any new business. Structuring your preschool appropriately and placing value on the input of parents creates an inclusive environment that, when done properly, helps you hit the ground running.

Looking for ways to simplify preschool administration while you get it off the ground and build it up for the long-haul? Check out Procare’s preschool management software for more information.

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