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How to Compare Child Care & Daycare Software

scalesHow do I find the best child care and daycare software program for my needs?
Choosing child care management software is an important investment of your time and financial resources. It requires research and careful consideration of the following items:

  1. Define your Goals: Which administrative tasks do you want to tackle? What parts of your center need improvement and streamlining? How can software simplify the management of your business?
  2. Features: Based on your goals, ensure the software includes the most essential modules and can grow with your business… Family Data, Family Accounting, Attendance Tracking and Employee Data are basic essentials which should be included in any package.
  3. Pricing: Make an educated choice based on value not just price. The smart decision will be the one that meets your goals and yields a return on your investment. Does the software include functionality to save time, money and  improve operational processes? Be sure to get a complete understanding of cost, fees and contract obligations.
  4. Consultation: Knowledgeable software consultants will help you determine how you’ll benefit from automation. Being experienced with daycare and child care management issues, including billing and accounting, your consultant should clearly understand your goals and needs.

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Using Immunization Tracking Software at Your Child Care Center

Girl Holding Teddy Bear while Getting a ShotHugging a teddy bear can help kids feel braver when it comes to getting a shot. And while they may have to endure a brief moment of pain in the name of good health, at least they don’t have to deal with the hassle of keeping track of immunization records and paperwork. Truth be told, neither should you.

As a child care professional, chances are you’re familiar with the recommended immunizations for young children and you’re careful to make sure every family brings in the child care immunization records for their children before they can attend. Next on your list is the question of how to efficiently keep track of all the immunization requirements, due dates and child history.

How to Track Child Care Immunizations

To help you simplify the paperwork, here are some essential features to look for in  immunization tracking software to keep your immunization records up-to-date.

Flexible Immunization Schedule

In order to track when the next immunization is due, you’ll need a way to define the schedule of required vaccinations. Since each shot requires a different schedule, you’ll want the child care database you choose to be flexible. For example, one immunization may have multiple doses due at specific ages, another may be due every 12 months, and a third may be due so many months after the last one, rather than at a specific age—such as when children are on a make-up schedule.

See Video: Set Up Immunizations

Allow for Exemptions

Children may be exempt from certain vaccinations for a variety of reasons.

  • If they’ve already had an illness, like chickenpox, the immunization (such as varicella) may no longer be necessary.
  • A child might have an exemption due to family philosophical or religious reasons.
  • Combo-vaccinations are another reason for exemptions. Families might choose (or their pediatrician might recommend) individual shots or a vaccine that combines multiple immunizations into one. Therefore, you’d need a way to exempt children from the “individual” shots or vice-versa.
  • An age exemption is another possibility. For school-age children you may not be required to track immunizations that apply to younger children.

Mark Child as Exempt from an Immunization

One final thought on exemptions: you’ll also want a way to indicate the reason why a child is exempt.

Alerts When Immunizations are Due

It’s good to know when an immunization or other requirement (physical, etc.) is due, but it’s even better to get advanced notice of when it’s coming due. In other words, you’d like the parents to know ahead of time, so they’re able to make sure they have the necessary doctor’s appointments arranged.

 

Immunization Due Alert

You may also want a way to:

  • Easily see on your director’s screen when immunizations are due or coming due.
  • Let parents see immunizations that will be needed soon, at the time they check their children in.
  • Generate reports and lists showing immunization information.

Immunization History

Beyond knowing what’s coming due, you’ll also want an efficient way to track the history for each child. In other words, what dates did a child receive each vaccination in the sequence? Typically, this information should be available on an immunization history report.

 

Immunization History Report
Final Thoughts

Making sure the kids attending your child care center are up to date with their immunizations is necessary to ensure the health of every child in your care. However, when the year gets underway and your schedule fills up, it can be easy to lose track of the multitudes of paperwork that go along with immunizations records. To mitigate these challenges and manage health records, child care centers should employ immunization tracking software with a degree of flexibility and customization that allows them to account for each child’s needs.

Learn how Procare can help you better keep track of  family health information at your child care center.

Interested in learning more about managing health information at your child care center? Check out these related articles.

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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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How to Track Child Care Certifications and Trainings

Are your employees current on their CPR class? How many CE (Continuing Ed) hours does your staff have so far this year? Child care centers must know that employees are keeping up with periodic continuing education hours and health-and-safety certifications to provide high quality care for children.

It can be difficult to stay up to date on the child care certification and training requirements for each member of your staff, as well as how frequently they must be renewed. This is one area where child care management software can be valuable for your daycare center, after school program or preschool.

Child Care Employees

Tracking Child Care Certifications and Training  

Employee Data Software from Procare lets you track those types of requirements and training hours. To track employee certifications and continuing education hours, you can use either the Employee Requirements or Benefit Hours features, or both, depending on your situation.

Tracking Certifications with Requirements or Benefit Hours

Requirements are recorded much like immunization tracking. They may be a one-time or recurring event, such as a CPR certification. Benefit Hours, on the other hand, are entered on the Employee Time Card. They may be totaled based on the Benefit Code you assign, like “Training”.  Using benefit hours is appropriate if you need to know the number of training hours (during specific dates) for each employee.

Using a Requirement

An example of a requirement might be a CPR certification renewal that occurs every 3 years. You would simply record the date the requirement was met. The Requirements Due report will include only staff who are near or past the required expiration date.

Sample Requirements Due report

Using Benefit Hours

Recording training hours in the Employee Time Card lets you report specific hours for a certain date range. A quick way to post training hours is to enter them through the Batch Post Time Card feature. Once recorded, you can run benefit code reports grouped and totaled by the code (or the employee) for the period selected.

Bonus Tip: To track hours based on the employee’s hire date, create Employee Tracking items to match each hire month.  When you run reports, you can filter them by selecting only the hire month you’re interested in viewing.

 

Sample Benefit Hours Report By Employee

Sample Benefit Hours Report By Benefit Code

Keep in mind that you can use both of these methods together to give you the most flexibility in tracking your employee training and certification requirements!

Final Thoughts

To run a successful child care center, you need a staff that meets the training and education requirements of your center, as well as the various regulations required by the state. It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day tasks of caring for children and forget when there is a training deadline coming up.

In order to complete child care certifications on time, child care centers need a consolidated view of each employee’s training status. The Employee Data module from Procare allows daycare centers, preschools, and after school programs to monitor these requirements seamlessly, ensuring the best child care experience.

Learn more about managing employee information and certifications with child care management software.  

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Interested in learning more about employee data management? Check out these related articles.  

 

 

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The Best Preschool Check-In Systems for Security

Thinking of fingerprints at your daycare or preschool may bring to mind those wonderful, colorful creations that are always popular with the five-and-under set. Wide smiles and giggles are sure to follow when the finger paints and easels appear.

But there are other areas where fingerprints could benefit your child care business. Namely, preschool check-in and security.

Fingerprint Check-in

Parents and child care providers  have to know where their kids are and who they are with at all times. Incorporating a fingerprint-based daycare security system enables child care providers to know each child is being dropped off and picked up by an authorized guardian. This added layer of security gives parents and caregivers peace of mind, knowing each child is safe.

In addition to security, preschool check-in systems enable expedited and automated check-in on busy mornings when parents have to get out the door, and caregivers have multiple young children to watch and engage. Moreover, they can link with attendance tracking solutions to automatically create updated and accurate reports.

It’s easy to let parents check their children in using a small fingerprint device (also known as a biometric ID) connected to a computer with child care attendance tracking software.

Preschool Check-In

The Best Preschool Check-In Systems for Security

If you’re currently using Procare Software® for child or staff check-in, you’ll especially appreciate the option to use a fingerprint only with no additional password required.

Built-in Fingerprint Reader 

It’s easy to set up fingerprint recognition. One option is to choose an all-in-one computer with integrated touch screen and a fingerprint reader built right into the unit. 

Video: Procare Check In

Separate Fingerprint Reader  Fingerprint Check-In Pad

Another method is to connect a separate USB fingerprint reader directly to your check-in computer. All of the software needed for the reader to communicate with your computer is automatically installed along with Procare. 

Optional Password Setting 

You may choose to allow check-in using just the fingerprint of the parent, or other authorized pickup person. As an alternative, you may require a password to go with the fingerprint so a person would touch their finger, enter their password and choose the children to check in. Just check the Require Password box on the Check-In Options screen.

Fingerprint Security

People often want to know if their actual fingerprint is stored or if it could somehow be used for any purpose besides checking their children in. The answer is a resounding “no.” The finger reader does not produce a picture of individual fingerprints. Instead, the system electronically scans hundreds of data points on the finger that are processed through two proprietary systems. Because this scan is simply a series of random numbers, there is no harmful (or useful) information that can be obtained from the data produced by the fingerprint reader.

Final Thoughts

Security and safety are some of the most important features of a successful preschool program. Just as parents need to trust that caregivers can pay proper individualized attention to their child and help to develop core cognitive and physical skills, they also need to trust that caregivers are paying close attention to their child’s location at all times. Preschool check-in systems offer this sense of security to parents and teachers, with additional administrative benefits.

Learn more about fingerprint readers and other preschool check-in systems for your child-centered business.

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