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Automating Your Child Care Center

Road Sign: Automation Just AheadAs a child care provider, your primary goals are to offer a quality learning experience and loving care to the children at your center. Too often, however, time-consuming administrative tasks can divert your attention from these goals.

By automating the record keeping at your early childhood program or preschool, you can regain time to focus on the children. There are many advantages to automation, including accuracy and efficiency, as well as saving time and money.

When thinking about how to best automate management tasks at your center, you’ll want to consider a number of factors…. Continue reading

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Prepaid Deposits for Summer Child Care

Child Building Sand CastleThe summer session at your child care, daycare or preschool may not include building sand castles, but with dozens of crafts, fun field trips and plenty of outdoor play, families may already be signing up. A great way to handle summer sign ups is by charging a prepaid deposit. Doing so has two benefits. First, you’ll know you’re getting at least some of the money up front; second, people are much more likely to keep their commitment when they pay a deposit.

According to the policies at your center, you may eventually credit the prepaid amount back to the family (toward their summer tuition) or, if the deposit is non-refundable, convert it to a fee, such as a registration or forfeiture fee. This may be appropriate if the child ends up being a no-show.

So let’s get out our sand shovel and dig in to see how Child Care Software from Procare can help you keep track of prepaid deposits. You may also be interested in a previous article on Tracking Summer Enrollment. Continue reading

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Is Managing Your Child Care Enrollment like Playing Musical Chairs?

Musical Chairs © Ant Strack/Corbis

Musical chairs, it’s a great game with oh-so-familiar rules. Once the music stops, it’s all about who can sit down most quickly; who can claim that last vacant seat. Predicting child care enrollment at your daycare, preschool, or after school program might feel a bit like that too. You’d like to be sure every seat is filled with happy, smiling faces. You don’t want to take away a chair if you’ve still got room.

Recently, a question came up asking about tracking the date a child is expected to move to the next classroom. But this isn’t just about recording a date; it’s also about forecasting enrollment and revenue. What you really want to know is, “How is my enrollment shaping up for next month, this summer or fall?” In fact, it would be even better if you could project your revenue over the coming months as well.

So without playing any more musical chairs, let’s take a look at how your child care management software can help.

7 Ways to Better Manage Child Care Enrollment

Typically there are two types of children to account for —  those who are currently enrolled (and are expected to continue) and new children enrolling for the first time. With that in mind, here are seven ways to let Procare Software® help you know what to expect when the music stops.

#1 Schedule Ahead

A great way to plan for the coming months is to set up child care schedules for everyone who is likely to be in a particular class at that time. By doing so, you can print reports with names, counts, etc., for any point in the future.

  • For currently enrolled children, just add an additional schedule beginning at the point they would likely change to a new classroom. The ending date might be the end of the school year, or the point when they would age out of that program.
  • For new children, who are pre-registered or otherwise expected to enroll, set their enrollment status to “Enrolled” (as of their likely start date) and enter a typical schedule for them as well.

Hint: Use the online registration feature of MyProcare to gather data from parents through your website.

#2 Set Up Anticipated Fees

To get accurate revenue projections, place the typical weekly or monthly rates in each Child’s Billing Box and assign the rate to the appropriate schedule. Your Billing Box reports will include only fees that are effective as of the date you select.

child care enrollment

 

#3 Child Tracking for the Future

As an alternative to schedules, you could set up a Child Tracking Group called “Future Enrollment” and create items within the group, like “Infants – May 2017”, “Toddlers – Sept 2017”, etc. You could even have a group for “Summer Camp” with items like “Week 1: June 4” and “Week 2: June 11”. This is helpful to create quick rosters, but does not tie in with revenue forecasts.

#4 Child Care Enrollment Reports

Even without entering schedules, billing information or tracking items, you can still use Child Enrollment reports based on a future date. The first page includes the number of kids that will be enrolled, then just double-click to see their names. This report shows the primary classroom they are currently assigned to (not the class they will be in), but you’ll get a snapshot to help predict class levels.

#5 Enrollment with Data Viewer

You can use the Data Viewer to create your own custom enrollment lists. For example, you could make a list of children sorted by the age they will be as of a future date. If you are also using Tracking for future programs (as mentioned above), you can include only children assigned to a certain item, like Week 1 of Summer Camp and so forth.

#6 Calendar Reminders

Make a Calendar Reminder for each child, using the date they will move to the new class. You might even set the reminder a few days ahead, so you’ll know it is coming up. Of course, this isn’t really necessary if you’ve already pre-scheduled them, but it could help you remember to change their default Primary Classroom. Hint: If many children are changing classrooms at the same time (such as at the start of the school year) use the Classroom Graduation feature.

#7 Make Your Own Date Field

If you want to record the exact date a child will change rooms, another option is to create your own field (or box) to enter the date. This is known as a User Defined Field. It doesn’t have the benefits of scheduling into the future, but would let you print a simple list of classroom transition dates.

Final Thoughts

Having consistent enrollment at your child care center is necessary to plan programs and ensure regular cash flow. However, planning child care enrollment is not always easy.

With so many moving parts, balancing waitlists, enrolled students, graduating students, and more, it can be easy to lose track of enrollment numbers and be left scrambling at the beginning of the year.

That is why we’ve created this list of tips to help child care centers more accurately measure enrollment, and therefore revenue, to plan for upcoming programs. Here’s hoping every chair is filled at your center!

Learn more about how Procare can help your center better manage child care enrollment.

Looking for more tips on child care enrollment and registration? Check out these related articles.

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Tuition Payment Reminders for Your Daycare Center

The ideal child care billing situation would be one where every parent is aware of a looming tuition payment deadline, and is prepared when that day arrives with a check that covers each day of child care provided, as well as factoring fees for late pickup and similar infractions.  

As nice as this sounds, it is rarely the case. The parents your child care center serves are busy. It is unlikely that they will remember every payment, let alone track hours and accrued fees on their own spreadsheet.

It can be difficult to remind parents of their overdue child care bills. Drop-off and pickup times are always hectic as care providers monitor kids, gather their belongings, and prepare them for the beginning / end of the day, while parents hurry off to work or to get their kids home for the night.

Because this is often the only face-to-face time care providers get with parents, incorporating  daycare attendance software that can also display tuition payment reminders is valuable.

Child Care Payments

Use Check-In Messages as Tuition Payment Reminders

If left unchecked, a family’s balance due can build up over time, making collection of larger balances difficult and time consuming. Using the Attendance Tracker messaging feature of Procare Software®, you can remind parents they need to make a payment if their balance exceeds a certain amount. Because the Attendance Tracker also knows exactly when students were checked in and out, the center can easily charge fees for extra hours and late pickups.

Of course another option, to make sure you are paid on time – every time, is to use Tuition Express™ to collect payments electronically, but we’ll save that for another article.

How Does it Work?

Video: Check-In Message for Balance Due

You’ll simply create a recurring message to appear at the Computer Check-In Station for any parents whose balance is greater than a certain dollar amount, say $50.  This message will only be displayed when their balance exceeds that amount.

To create the message begin at the main screen Procare Family Data:

  1. Go to Functions –> Attendance Tracker –> Messages.  Click New at the bottom.
  2. On the Message screen under Type of Message select the option Current Balance and set the ‘greater than or equal to’ amount to whatever you’d like, say $50.
  3. Choose an End Date far into the future, and mark Show Always – that way the message will appear any time the balance amount is exceeded, until the future date is reached.
  4. In the box below, type the message that you’d like your payers to read, for example:

“Attention! Your payment is past due. Please speak with the office manager to make payment arrangements as soon as possible.”

Final Thoughts

It can be easy for parents to forget about an upcoming payment. While this is understandable, child care providers can’t let it slide. In order to run a successful child care program, there has to be a consistent cash flow on a monthly basis.

An easy way to send child care billing reminders to parents is through your check-in interface. This is beneficial to your center as it ensures consistent cash flow, and to parents as it keeps past due balances from becoming unmanageably high.

Related Articles

Want to learn more about managing child care billing? Check out these related articles:

 

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How to Track Subsidized Child Care

If your daycare, preschool, or other place of early childhood learning offers child care to subsidized families through a state or county agency (like DHS, DFACS, Head Start, etc.) you’re already well versed in the effort involved in tracking payments from each different agency. Using Child Care Management Software can greatly streamline the process by tracking the amount owed by each agency and handling parent co-payments.

In this article we’ll take a look at how Procare Software® can help you track, not only how much each agency owes, but exactly what item(s) they still owe you for – so you won’t be leaving money on the table. And we’ll show you how a single agency payment may be disbursed to cover dozens of children all at once. Continue reading

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