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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.  

Related Articles

 Interested in learning more about managing daycare schedules? Check out these related articles.

 

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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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Stay Current with Training and Safety Certifications Using Child Care Management Solutions

The most important aspect of a child care center is that it be able to foster health and development in a safe environment. That is why before becoming a child care provider, or opening their own daycare center, those in the field of early child care development must undergo rigorous training, log hours of work experience, and attain various certifications. This training ensures that caregivers are prepared in the event of an emergency, in addition to giving them the skills to identify the best course of learning for each child.

As caregivers complete their training, it is important to track who has which certifications and when they must be renewed.

child care training

This is crucial for two main reasons. First, state law often requires these certifications. Therefore, for your center’s staff to be legally licensed by the state, they must be up to date on all required trainings. Second, when deciding on which care center to send their children to, parents will often ask about the staff’s level of training and experience. Thus, a more experienced staff will help your center win more business.

Types of Child Care Training

There are two main categories of training and certification that care providers must complete according to Child Care Aware. These are initial training and annual training.

Initial Training

child care education

Before starting a daycare center, owners, administrators, and staff have to undergo initial training and coursework in daycare management. This often includes receiving a degree in early or elementary education, as well as a continuing education. These courses teach daycare providers how to build curriculums and handle the business and administrative aspects of running a child care center.

Initial training courses are those that are completed once during a care provider’s career. Though still important, it is generally simpler to track these credentials for each instructor.

Annual Training 

emergency training

Annual training refers to training and certifications that must be renewed on a yearly or biannual basis, as many states require these courses to be taken by care professionals every two years.

This type of training is generally focused on emergency safety and ensuring that child care providers can recognize and monitor developmental or emotional issues.

Emergency Safety Training

Kids will often push their limits without realizing the dangerous consequences associated with their actions. That is why it is important that care providers have up-to-date first aid training and CPR certifications. Required certifications might vary based on the age group your center serves. For example, there is an entirely different set of recommendations when it comes to CPR for infants. These trainings include both indoor and outdoor safety to ensure teachers can create a safe environment for students.

Annual emergency training will also ensure that instructors are prepared to handle natural disasters, such as fires, as well as man-made emergencies. 

Child Development Training 

In addition to emergency training, care providers must renew certifications that inform them on the development process. This includes the ability to recognize and diagnose cognitive disabilities or areas of physical development that might need more attention. This will also include training to care for children with special needs. Finally, care givers will have to attend trainings that enable them recognize potential cases of child abuse, and teach them the proper protocol to report it.

The most effective way to track the completion of each of these types of training is with child care management solutions.

 

Using Child Care Management Solutions to Track Trainings 

Keeping track of all of these certifications is necessary to ensure the safety of students, and that your center is compliant with state regulations. However, tracking the initial, annual, and continuing courses being pursued by your staff can be difficult to do manually.

With child care management solutions you can track child care training and certifications on an individual level, and set reminders for when they need to be renewed.

For example, Procare helps child care centers track employee training and continuing education hours using the Requirements or Benefit Hours settings in the Employee Data Module.

Incorporating a software solution at your child care center can ensure that your staff is always up to date on necessary training and certifications – thus creating a safe and healthy learning environment.

Final Thoughts

To meet state regulations and give parents peace of mind, child care providers must continually learn the most effective methods for teaching and caring for their students. When caring for children each day, it is easy to get busy and lose track of individual training records.  With child care management solutions, tracking employee training and setting reminders gives providers more time to engage with and plan activities for their children.

Learn more about how Procare’s child care management solutions help organize employee and family data.

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A Complete Guide to Managing Child Care Billing

The child care billing process at your daycare, preschool, or after school program can be a complicated and time-consuming operation. With staff looking after kids and planning lessons, and busy parents running out the door, it is easy to lose track of billable care hours for each student and any additional fees that may be accrued.

It can even be a challenge to track down parents and guardians to collect their checks or payments. However, having a consistent cash flow is key to running a successful business, which means that no matter what, time has to be made to organize and collect payments from parents.

There are a lot of considerations that go into the child care billing process aside from collection. Child care providers have to thoughtfully choose their billing rates and structure based upon a multitude of factors, as well as come up with a system to track payments, fees, and credits.

How to Manage Child Care Billing

To simplify this process for child care providers, here are some top considerations and tips for child care center owners as they build out their billing protocol.

Setting a Child Care Rate

Financing Your Daycare Center

Setting the price for care at your daycare center can be tricky. Center owners must find the right balance of what is reasonable for parents, and what is required to keep the center running and providing high-quality care.

It is important to remember that many parents will plan their child care budget out far in advance. Therefore, increasing your billing rate, though sometimes necessary, can be a major inconvenience for parents. That said, it is important that providers be as thorough as possible when pricing their services, to avoid unforeseen price hikes in the future.

First, when mapping out your child care billing rate, factor in how much your space and materials cost. To earn a profit, the payments from each family have to cover the cost of your space, utilities, and supplies such as snacks, games, and crafts for the kids. When assessing these costs, keep in mind seasonal expenses such as the cost of heat in the winter and air conditioning in the summer.

Of course, this money will also have to cover payroll for your staff. The number of instructors centers have to employ will depend on the number of children, and the required student to teacher ratio. As such, center owners will have to keep a record of enrollment numbers as well as tracking enrollment projections to ensure they are not overstaffing, resulting in greater expenses.

Finally, owners must also factor in the prices charged by other care providers in their community to ensure their prices are competitive, as well as the average income in the community to ensure they are not be pricing their child care out of range.

Determining Billing Frequency

Child Care Payments

When it comes to payment structure and how often parents will have to pay, child care centers have many viable options. Among the most popular are weekly, monthly or tiered, which is based on attendance. This might mean paying a flat monthly or weekly rate, or paying on a weekly or monthly basis for the hours of care accrued. A daily tiered, or stepped up rate, means different flat rates for up to a certain number of hours, after which the rate increases.

When deciding how often to bill parents, it’s important that it aligns with how often you pay bills and staff; to ensure your payment structure will support your business on a monthly basis. For example, if you plan to pay staff twice a month, but collect from parents at the end of each month, this could present some issues. To ensure a stable billing structure, you will have to align your enrollment, how often you pay staff and bills, and how often you want to collect from parents.  

Tracking Child Care Billing

child care management software

Regardless of the billing structure chosen by individual child care centers, the most important aspect of billing is that the center is adequately compensated for work on a regular basis. This means keeping track of the number of hours each child attends the center, tracking fees for late pickups or additional costs such as field trips and class outings.

For child care centers to continue to run and be successful, it is necessary that these costs are accounted for, and paid in a timely way. Conversely, maybe your center offers discounts to families that have multiple children enrolled. When tracking costs, it is important that you are as accurate in billing as you want parents to be, so be sure to have a system in place account for these discounts.

Tracking payments manually can be time consuming, and leaves room for error. Child care management software can automatically track billing, while integrating with attendance tracking systems to ensure billed hours are accurate.

Furthermore, statements can automatically be emailed to families to help them track their own finances, while serving as a reminder that their payment is due. The software automatically tracks all transactions and instances of cash leaving and coming into the center, providing center owners with updated reports to ensure the financial needs of the center are being met.

With Procare, child care centers also incorporate automatic billing through Tuition Express. This allows families to pay from their computer or mobile device, or setup recurring payments. This is both convenient for families, and ensures your center is paid on time every time.

Final Thoughts

For child care providers, high quality child care is always the number one priority. However, neglecting the business and financial aspects of your child care business jeopardizes the ability to provide this car one a regular basis. With child care billing software, caregivers can be sure that their billing and accounting are taken care of, allowing them to spend more time with their kids.

Learn more about streamlining the child care billing process here.

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