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5 Questions to Consider Before Opening a Daycare

Whether you are an entrepreneur who has a passion for childcare that strives to gain the necessary expertise, or a trained professional with years of experience already under your belt, opening a daycare center will present challenges.

Child care is a demanding profession. Before going down the path of opening your own business, caregivers should reflect to make sure they are prepared for any obstacles ahead, and that they are choosing this field for the right reasons. Considering questions about the logistics of your operation, financial goals, and your motivations are a helpful way to do this. At Procare, we strive to provide aspiring child care professionals with the necessary tools they will need to build a stable environment for their students to thrive.

5 Questions to Consider Before Opening a Daycare

Before opening a child care center, you need to identify what your mission is. To help with that, we have outlined a collection of five questions for you to consider before opening a daycare.

1. Do You Enjoy Being Around Children?

 This question requires more than just a yes or no answer. There is a “why” portion that will help you decide if opening a daycare is right for you. Young children are developing, and they require structure and attention to continue on the right path. If you are impatient or rigid in your routine, opening a daycare might not be for you.

Not only do you need to enjoy being around children, but you should be passionate about their learning and development for opening a daycare to be a wise business decision.

2.  What Role Will You Be Playing in the Daycare?

 How you plan on structuring your daycare and how involved you anticipate yourself being in the day-to-day operations must be a factor in determining if opening a daycare center is right for you. To provide the children in your care with positive experiences and a healthy environment, you will need to perform in your role, whatever it may be, to the best of your ability. Similarly, surrounding yourself with qualified and able individuals who share your passion for child care will drive the success of your daycare.

3.  Are You Ready to Provide What Children Need From Their Daycare? 

Answering this question goes hand in hand with the previous one we outlined. Knowing what children need from their daycare, and more importantly, what parents expect from a daycare, will help you identify the optimal role for yourself at the center, as well as who you will want to work with and hire. Providing for children is a demanding job that requires particular expertise and patience that isn’t exactly common.

Structuring your daycare from top to bottom will help reach those expectations. This includes curriculums for the children, development for staff, and a business plan to keep it all running.

4.  What Are Your Financial Goals?

Opening any business can be a financial burden at first. There are a slew of costs that come with opening a daycare, including property renovations, staffing, and licensing, among others.

The reality of opening a center is that you need to get it off the ground and keep it running to create the impact on young lives that you strive toward. For that reason, this question has multiple layers to it. Basing your financial goals on the market and creating a business plan is essential. Consider what the demand is for another daycare within your community, and how you will separate yourself from the local competition.

5.  How Will You Differentiate Your Daycare?

 Opening a daycare is a worthwhile venture if done correctly, but just like any business, your competition will drive demand and expectations. If nearby daycares have lengthy waitlists, your daycare can fill that void. From there, your daycare will need to distinguish itself from the competition. It could be your facilities that stand out, your educational requirements for staff, or your hours of operation. Whatever it might be, your new daycare will come up short if it promises to deliver on something as important as early childhood development and flops.

Final Thoughts­

There is a laundry list of questions that you should consider answering while kicking around the idea of opening a daycare center. Ask yourself if the passion for helping children during their early developmental stages is at the top of that list.

Learn how Procare helps child care providers run successful daycare centers.

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How to Optimize Your Daycare Schedule for Staff, Parents & Children

Daycare centers are nothing without the caring staff that run them. A committed staff of instructors ensures your child care business can thrive, as staffing is of critical importance to daycare owners, parents, and children.

As a business owner, you need these qualified professionals to provide high quality care to the students that attend your center every day, as well as to ensure your center is meeting state licensing requirements for student-teacher ratios.

Staffing is also critical to enrollment, as parents will be assessing the level of care their child can receive, ensuring that staff is qualified and available to provide their child individual attention. Also, children build a trust and relationship with the caregivers they interact with each day, meaning a level of consistency is important.

How to Optimize Your Daycare Schedule

There are a variety of reasons why keeping an organized, informed daycare schedule is integral to the long-term success of a childcare center. As daycare centers plan out staffing schedules to ensure consistent care and sustainable hours for staff, while maintaining a reasonable budget, here are essential tips to consider:

Track Daily Attendance

To ensure your daycare is not spending money unnecessarily, it is important that only the required number of staff is scheduled each day to meet student-teacher ratio requirements. This means that staff will need to have some flexibility, as there may not always be the same number of children in attendance each day.

For the most part, your center will be able to establish its peak hours and schedule staff accordingly. To do this, centers need to keep accurate attendance logs. Each day at check in and check out, have parents record the exact time their child arrived and left. From there, you will be able to determine when you will need to schedule more staff. Make sure to do this for each enrollment cycle, as peak and off hours may shift.

Once these hours are established, try maintain consistency with the day’s and hours you assign to each caregiver. This will help them plan their week, and will ensure they are available when needed. It is also a good idea to have a staff member on standby, in case there is unexpectedly and greater number of students.

Track Employee Hours & Off Time

Of course, there will be time when your staff needs to take time off or is sick. It is important to try to track planned vacations and other employee off time so that schedules can be altered in advance. This will save you from scrambling to find a substitute at the last minute.

Keeping employee records for hours and off time will also help you to accurately calculate payroll.

Centralize Communication

If hours change, someone calls in sick, or more children are dropped off than usual, your center should have a central hub for communication so that all staff remain updated and on the same page. When leaving coverage up to individual staff members, centers risk being understaffed or having too many employees arrive for the shift, which is inconvenient for them and you. Having a central email or central document can ensure this does not happen.

Be Consistent

In addition to providing a more manageable week for your staff, it is important that there is a level of consistency in your scheduling for the children at your center. It is important for children to develop a relationship and comfort with their caregiver. Therefore, centers should try to ensure that the same instructors are paired with the same children each day when able.

Final Thoughts

Having a consistent organized daycare staff schedule is integral to running your business as well as to the happiness of your staff, parents, and children. Following these tips will ensure your center is always properly staffed, meets ratio requirements, and remains within budget.

Learn how Procare can how you track staffing and daycare schedules.  

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Why Is Child Care Attendance Tracking So Important?

There are a lot of different administrative facets that go into running a child care center. There are those administrative tasks that make day-to-day operations easier, those that are necessary from a business perspective, and those that are required by government licensing. Simple, efficient, and accurate child care attendance tracking is a necessary part of every child care center because it checks each one of those boxes.

Attendance Tracking

Attendance tracking must be the first and last thing that child care providers do each day, to ensure the security of each child and the continued success of their business. As a result, caregivers should make the check-in process as simple as possible for parents as they try to get out the door. 

Why Attendance Tracking Is Essential for Daycares

Here are the top reasons child care providers must keep accurate accounts of child attendance, and how to ensure this with streamlined attendance tracking processes.

Government Requirements

child care transportation

While licensing and laws vary by state, attendance tracking requirements at child care centers are common.

  • Licensing: Child care providers have to meet certain licensing requirements, one of which is to keep accurate attendance records. Licensing audits do occur, so it is important that providers have parents check their children in every day, and then review those sheets to confirm parents signed the right spot, wrote the right date, etc. Providers should then file these records to have in the event of a licensing audit.
  • Transportation: Though regulations vary, it is common that if a child care center provides transportation they are legally required to take attendance before and after each trip. For accuracy in this area, staff members will need to have an attendance sheet with them on the bus, or may want to use a tablet with an attendance tracking mobile application.
  • Subsidized Care: For children whose care is subsidized by government programs, caregivers are mandated to keep record of when those children attend their center. Accurate attendance records are necessary to confirm that parent claims of when a child was in your care, and your own, match up.

Day-to-Day & Business Planning

child care attendance

Keeping long-term records of how many children were in attendance at the center can also help providers plan enrollment numbers for coming years, and track the necessary student-to-teacher ratio to ensure compliance without overspending.

Having an accurate understanding of how many children are in your care on a season-to-season basis is essential for planning enrollment and marketing. Attendance reports give child care providers the ability to assess which times and sessions are most popular, and which might need to be cut back or marketed better to increase enrollment.

Attendance reports can also help ensure that enough staff members are on the schedule to meet student-teacher ratio requirements, and calculate full-time equivalency.

Different age groups have different standards for how many caregivers must be present for each child. Tracking attendance gives care providers visibility into the average number of students present for each session, so they can plan staff hours accordingly. This confirms that centers are not overspending by having too many instructors scheduled for only a few children, and conversely that they do not schedule too few instructors to meet standards.

Accurate attendance records also help child care providers calculate full time equivalency (FTE). If a student does not attend on a regular schedule, rather only when a parent needs care, it can be difficult to determine if that student counts as a fulltime student. Keeping a regular attendance record allows providers easy visibility into FTE status.

Security

child care attendance

Parents trust child care providers to keep their children safe. Attendance tracking is completely necessary for security purposes. Caregivers need to make sure that only authorized pickup people check each child out at the end of the day, and that every child is accounted for when they go outside or change locations. Having an attendance tracking system that ensures no student is overlooked and can be flexible to work on the go is essential to maintain this peace of mind for parents and providers.

Improve Your Attendance Tracking

Attendance Tracking from Procare Software provides simplified visibility into each of these areas. Providers are able to monitor which children are being checked in as it happens, and who is checking them in to ensure the person is an authorized guardian. Procare offers several options to increase attendance accuracy and security, including fingerprint check in, signature capture, and check in receipts. Additionally, Attendance Tracker makes it easy for providers to audit their attendance records to align their logs with parents.

The attendance reports provided by this module make it easy to see who is currently checked in, get authorized signature reports, general school attendance summaries, and more.

Final Thoughts  

Attendance tracking is a major part of providing child care, for a multitude of reasons. To ensure licensing compliance, security, and optimal business operations, providers need to have an attendance tracking system that is accurate and that can be easily accessible for reference. Child care attendance tracking software provides this level of automation and organization.

Learn how Procare helps childcare providers maintain accurate attendance records. 

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FAQs About Preparing Year-End Daycare Invoices (And the Answers)

As the end of the year approaches, child care providers have a lot on their minds, including managing enrollment, schedules, and budgeting for the coming year. However, in addition to making these preparations, caregivers are also likely working on distributing daycare invoices for each family they served throughout the year.

Preparing these invoices can be a daunting task, as providers sift through a year’s worth of data and bills to provide an accurate list of each family’s yearly expenses. As they prepare these year-end receipts, child care providers should also be aware of several tax forms that will be required to track their finances.

Addressing FAQs About Year-End Daycare Invoices

To this end, Procare has compiled this list of frequently asked questions surrounding year-end daycare invoices to help providers navigate this complicated process.

child care management

Are Daycare Invoices Required?

While child care providers give this information on a weekly or monthly basis as they are paid, they are not required to provide a year-end receipt to parents.

Though year-end receipts are not required, it is still prudent and professional to prepare and distribute invoices for parents.  

What Are the Benefits of Daycare Invoices?

While time consuming, creating these invoices will provide a host of benefits down the road.

First, it is courteous to provide this record to parents, as many of the families your center serves may qualify for tax credits in accordance with the 2441 form from the IRS. As parents seek to take advantage of this credit, care providers should be prepared to give them a comprehensive list of services in a timely manner.

Additionally, preparing the year-end receipt will help to ensure that you and the family are on the same page with how much they owe and have been charged. This will be valuable in the event of an audit, allowing your center to clearly demonstrate exactly how much you made, and that your records match how much each family says they paid you.

What Should Be Included in a Daycare Invoice?

Daycare Invoice

When building out your year-end invoice, you will want to include your name and contact information, as well as the name and contact information of the specific family.

You will then want to include a line that describes what each expense accrued by the child was for, as well as the price. This might include:

  • Child care tuition
  • Meals
  • Special equipment
  • Transportation fees
  • Late pickup fees

Once all of these charges are accounted for, you will want to include when the parent paid, and how they paid. For example, did they pay by cash or card, etc.? This will make it easy for parents to confirm each charge by consulting payment confirmation emails, or their checkbooks.

Gathering all of this information can be time consuming. It might take some time to locate each monthly receipt. Providers that use Procare’s child care management software can easily print or email year-end statements to parents based on the data stored in the Family Data and Family Accounting modules.

Who Should Receive an Invoice?

The family of each child you cared for throughout the year should receive an invoice. It can be easy to overlook children that only attended a few times, or who left in the middle of the year; however, accounting for this revenue is equally as important to your financial records.

With Procare, providers can send invoices to families with currently enrolled children, as well as those who had children attend at some point during the year.

Extra Year-End Forms to Be Aware Of

Child care tax forms

In addition to the statements providers send out, there are also some common tax forms associated with year-end that daycare owners should be aware of.

  • 2441 Form: Again, this is the form parents must fill out in order to receive child care credits and deductions.
  • W10: Parents are required to have this form filled out by caregivers in order to be considered for child care tax deductions. Providers are required to fill out this form if requested by a parent, and must provide their Employer Identification Number (EIN). The W10 form is accessible within Procare Software. 

Final Thoughts

With the end of the year approaching, we hope these answers and tips help child care providers to create organized daycare invoices in an efficient way.

Learn more about how Procare helps providers track invoices and billing here.

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