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How to Run a Daycare: 10 Tips for Long-term Success

Starting your daycare center represents short-term and long-term challenges. A lot of preparation and execution goes into operating a daycare that enjoys continued success. Strategically organizing your center and surrounding yourself with a great crew of child care professionals is a good place to start.

Learning how to run a daycare isn’t something that can be done without a particular desire to succeed and a passion for child care. At Procare Software, we strive to encourage and enable child care professionals with all of the tools they need to enrich the lives of their students.

 

10 Tips for Long-Term Success While Running Your Daycare

Starting a daycare presents a huge time and financial commitment. The following 10 tips are meant to provide some guidance on how to run a daycare with long-term success in mind.

 

1. Identify Your Market

Before jumping headfirst into running your daycare, it’s essential to know what you are up against. Figuring out how to run your daycare starts with knowing the market demands. What is there a need for? Identify how you can fulfil those needs.

 

2. Grind Through the Tough Times

There are a variety of different roadblocks that may present issues when you are getting your daycare started, and they may continue to be a thorn in your side while you build towards long-term success. Getting past these trying times, whether they are financial or structural, will make the long-term success more enjoyable for everyone in your organization.

 

3. Place A Lot of Value in Feedback from Parents

Ultimately, your daycare is a service for parents who trust you with the safety and development of their children. Collecting feedback on a regular basis and keeping your finger on the pulse of the day-to-day will help you improve your daycare and set it up for continued success.

 

4. Focus on Financial Planning

Consider what your goals are as you map out your financial game plan. Neglecting important deadlines or milestones can cause problems that a strong business plan would help avoid. Regularly circling back and staying the course will keep your daycare on the path to long-term success.

 

5. Fill Your Staff with Those Who Understand Your Goals and Values

Your staff should be an extension of your passion for child care. They should share a desire to achieve the same goals that you set out to achieve when you opened your daycare. If you are concerned with long-term success, maintaining a staff that you trust to represent your values will make everything easier.

 

6. Maintain a Properly Trained Staff

The child care professionals who you hire will become the backbone of your daycare. All staff members should be required to have certain trainings and certifications. Invest in them as professionals and as people.

Regardless of the role you take within the organization, the staff you surround yourself with become a reflection of yourself. They interact with the children and parents and create impressions that could last a lifetime.

 

7. Make Safety a Priority

This seems like a no-brainer, but it’s worth mentioning. Every aspect of your daycare should be pristine and without any safety hazards. Our

upkeep is similarly essential to maintaining a nurturing environment. All of the toys and equipment should be checked on regularly and don’t hesitate to remove anything that might be questionable. 

 

8. Differentiate Your Services

Whether it’s your daycare’s facilities, staff, customer service, extended services, or curriculum, there should be a value to parents and children that other daycares can’t compete with. 

Setting yourself up for long-term success means separating yourself from the pack. Daycares that don’t provide any unique value are largely interchangeable. This works hand in hand with our first tip, which talked about assessing the market you are entering.

 

9. Open Lines of Communication with Parents

Don’t be a stranger. Parents should be completely comfortable with their child care providers and it’s important to put yourself in their shoes sometimes. Word-of-mouth is one of your best assets and building a relationship with parents can help the positive reviews spread around town. Without repeat customers helping to bring in new customers, long-term success will be a struggle.

 

10. Be as Flexible as Possible

This extends to all aspects of your daycare. If you want to run a daycare successfully, you can’t trap yourself in a routine that might be leaving value on the table. To produce the best results, you will need to revamp your curriculum, facilities, and overall strategies whenever necessary.

On a more personal note, every child is unique and catering to their needs as best you can will lead to long-term success. Parents will appreciate the effort, and the children will continue to grow and develop within your daycare.

 

Final Thoughts

Setting your daycare up for long-term success is a challenge, but these tips can help guide you in the right direction. Providing the structure that children need and parents desire will be valuable in the present as your daycare center thrives and cultivates an environment that fosters healthy, happy kids.   

Looking for ways to automate and organize your daycare center while you get it off the ground and build it up for the long-haul? Learn how Procare can help!

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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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 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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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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