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A Complete Guide to Successful Daycare Management

Professionals seeking to pursue a career in child care or daycare management are motivated by their passion to improve the lives of their students. In order to do this, it is important that these individuals have a strong understanding of the developmental needs of children, how to communicate with their families, and how to ensure kids’ health and safety while in their care. This understanding helps child care professionals establish an integral trust between themselves and the children they care for, which ultimately fosters stability in kids’ lives.

There are several qualifications that aspiring professionals in the child care field must meet. These requirements can vary based on state licensing regulations, or the requirements of the school or daycare center. In order to be successful in this field and reach the level of responsibility desired – whether a teacher, daycare director, or daycare owner – candidates must complete various courses and trainings that qualify them to provide and contribute to:

  • A safe, healthy learning environment
  • Quality curriculums that promote child development and parent involvement
  • Business operations and administrative tasks.

Typically, to acquire accreditation in these areas, child care professionals will have completed degrees in early education or elementary education, or pursue continued education degrees in daycare management.

In addition to these classes and course work, daycare management professionals are often required to have their Child Development Associate (CDA) credential, or Child Care Professional (CCP) certification – these are two of the most commonly recognized and required daycare management certifications. These programs can be rigorous. The CDA requires prospective candidates to have completed 480 hours of experience working with children within the last five years, as well as 120 hours of formalized child care. CCP certification requires 720 hours of experience, and 180 hours of training in nine specific areas of care.

Successful Daycare Management: Training, Courses, & More

These certifications, as well as many daycare management education courses and programs, focus on providing enrolled care professionals with the following core competencies.

Create a Safe, Nurturing Learning Environment

Daycare Center

It is essential that daycare providers have the skills to keep children safe and healthy, while still encouraging curiosity and exploration. While pursuing daycare management education, providers will learn how to create this environment.

Care providers should assess the space from a child’s perspective, looking for hazards or items that might cause accidents, such as sharp edges, or uncovered electrical outlets. Caregivers must also be careful with how they store food and medications. If children require medicine, caregivers should store it up high, behind a lock. If there are any allergies, food will have to be stored accordingly to ensure there is no cross contamination.

In addition to safety measures, daycare providers must create welcoming centers that encourage early childhood development with age appropriate games and toys, as well as child sized chairs and tables, natural light, and ideally an outdoor area.

Promote Development Through Curriculum

Daycare Curriculum

The primary goal of any child care provider is to educate their students. Courses in daycare management teach providers how to build out programs that promote development across all core functions such as cognitive, physical, emotional and social skills. This will include creating customized plans by age group, from infants, to toddlers, to preschoolers.

In addition to teaching daycare providers how to plan these nurturing curriculums, a strong daycare management program will also help to develop the skills needed to observe and evaluate each child’s developmental progress. This ensures the highest quality, individualized care, as instructors observe and alter plans based on the pace of each child’s growth. Furthermore, these trainings will help daycare instructors create plans for parent engagement, for how to best communicate and build relationships with families to align learning.

Business and Administrative Operations

Child Care Center Administrative Tasks

In addition to preparing child care professionals for day-to-day child needs, daycare management training will also prepare professionals with the business and administrative knowledge to direct a daycare, or to open their own daycare. Individuals in these management positions are in charge of the administrative tasks that keep daycare centers running.

This means tracking employee training and licensing requirements, billing and payroll, scheduling, expenses, and more, to ensure that that center is profitable. Daycare management courses will often include sessions on how to automate these processes with daycare software, and how to choose the best child care software for your center.

Final Thoughts

To achieve a well-rounded daycare management education that informs high quality care, caregivers need training in three core areas of operating a successful child care business. When searching for the program to get this training, child care providers should maintain the three core areas listed above as a basis for their continued daycare education and training.

Learn about how Procare’s child care management software supports daycare administrative tasks.

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How to Start A Daycare: The Ultimate Guide

Starting your own daycare center can be both exciting and daunting. Many of those who choose to pursue this step in their career do so out of passion for helping children develop and reach their full potential.

While passion and child care experience are musts when opening a daycare, it cannot be overlooked that child care and daycare centers need a solid business plan. Therefore, the opening of your daycare center must be approached with a careful strategy in place to ensure success in the early make or break years. This combination of a clear mission and a carefully constructed business plan will greatly increase the success of your child care business.

At Procare, we want to encourage and enable child care professionals with all of the tools they need to enrich the lives of their students. That is why we have created this outline of important business needs to consider when starting a daycare center. The following information will provide aspiring daycare owners with direction throughout this challenging process.

Daycare Center

The “Why” Behind Opening Your Daycare Center

Starting a business, especially one as demanding as child care, is a huge time and financial commitment. It’s a good idea to examine the reasons driving your decision to open a daycare center, or “your big why.” Make sure you have a clear understanding of the time you will be required to devote before and after opening.

You should also consider your previous child care experience. If you have been in this field for years and know it is what you want, then you can move on to the business planning stage. However, if you have relatively little experience in the field, it might be prudent to gain more experience at an independently owned center or even franchise. Think about why you want to open a daycare and the specific attributes that make you uniquely qualified for this filed.

Assessing Your Market

Once you are committed to opening your own daycare center, you will have to do research to determine how competitive a marketplace your community currently is, and how sustainable an environment it will be for your business in the future.

First, are there already daycare centers open in your community? If so, you will want to look at things like:

  • What kind of center are they?
  • What age groups do they accept?
  • Where are they located?

Another good indicator of the need in your community is whether these child care centers have waiting lists. This information can help you determine if there is enough demand in your community to open you center there.

Another research strategy is to look at the current demographics in your neighborhood. If there are a lot of young families or newlyweds, this indicates that there will continue to be a need for your services in the future.

Differentiating Your Daycare Center

Once you are familiar with the current child care landscape in your community, you have to think about how you will differentiate your program to fill a need not currently being addressed.

Look at the hours of operations for the other centers in your community. Perhaps there is a timeframe early in the morning or late in the evening during which these centers are not open. Filling this need could make your center a valuable resource for parents.

Additionally, if there is an age group that is not being served, such as daycare for infants (newborns to a year) or after school programs, your center could establish a foothold by filling these needs.

Bonus Tip: Talk to parents in your community to find out what they need most from a daycare, and aim to address these needs at your center. 

Business Planning

Business Planning

Once you have done this initial research into whether your daycare business will be viable in your community, you have to begin compiling a comprehensive business plan that maps out your objectives and the strategies by which you will bring them about.                                              

Child Care Center Business Plan Checklist

Here’s a checklist recapping some essential steps of putting together your child care business plan:

  • Competitor matrix
  • Financial Planning: Funding and budgeting
  • Location of your business
  • Staffing needs
  • Licensing requirements
  • Materials, equipment, and program agenda

Bonus Tip: As you go through creating your business plan, it is a good idea to mark down important deadlines and milestones on a calendar. This will ensure you have an accurate timeline for how long planning and preparations will take, and a strong estimate for when your business will be able to open.

Licensing Requirements

Child Care License

There are many legal regulations to consider when opening your center. License requirements are typically determined by states, and therefore will vary based upon where you live. You will have to make sure your business is in compliance with these regulations by acquiring the proper licenses. Child Care Aware offers a licensing resource that directs you to the proper licensing authorities by state.  

It is important to note that child care licenses and business licenses are not the same. You will likely have to acquire separate business licenses and child care licenses to legally operate your business.

Financing

Financing Your Daycare Center

Starting a business is financially demanding. For your endeavor to be successful, it is essential that you accurately assess how much it will cost for you to open the center, determine where that money will come from, and then budget and plan to ensure your financial structure will sustain your business as it gets off the ground.

During this process, you should consider initial expenses, and how much it will cost to run your business on an annual and monthly basis. Consider how much you will pay your daycare staff, what your tuition structure will be for parents, how late fees will factor in, and how much property rent / cost is in your community.

Potential Costs of Opening a Daycare Center

A few examples of the costs associated with opening a daycare center are:

  • Property renovations
  • Insurance
  • Materials
  • Staff
  • Marketing

Funding

It is important that you don’t begin the business process until you know how it will be paid for. This is money can be accrued from a variety of sources including your personal savings, loans from friends, loans from the bank, government programs, or grants.

Financial Tracking

It is important that you keep track of your expenses and cash flow for multiple reasons. First, it will help you to track and pay back any loans in accordance with the agreement you made with the lending party.  

Second, tracking cash flow ensures that you don’t overspend, or create a payment structure that will jeopardize the financial stability of your business on a month-to-month basis.

To be aware of when money comes into and leaves your center monthly, you should be tracking: the number of tuition payments you get per month, how many times a month your center pays employees, how many enrolled children you are permitted to have, and how many of those slots will be filled.

Bonus Tip: Doing these calculations by hand leaves room for error, so we recommend a child care accounting solution that will track financial information for the center and the families you serve, as well as tracking bookkeeping, tuition payments, and cash flow.

Choosing a Location

Daycare Center

The first thing to determine when choosing a location for your daycare center is if you want to run the center from your own home, or in a commercial space. This will affect your expenses and licensing requirements.

The location of your daycare center will be subject to many licensing regulations, including building safety, zoning, physical space requirements, emergency preparedness, and more. Many of these are to ensure that the environment in which you run you center is healthy and secure. This includes things like proper waste removal and having fire alarms. 

Two important location licensing requirements to keep in mind are zoning and physical space requirements. Zoning refers to a permit from the proper authority that allows you to run a business, or be zoned for business. The physical space regulation refers to the requirement that child care centers must have 25 square feet available per student. Therefore, you have to keep in mind that the size of your space will determine how many students are allowed to enroll.

Staffing

Daycare Staff

For parents to feel comfortable leaving their children at your center and confident that they will get the developmental stimulation they need, you staff has to be well trained and experienced. Additionally, you must have enough instructors to provide quality group and individual care, as well as meet ratio requirements.

When hiring staff for your center there are three key features to keep in mind:

  • The student-to-teacher ratio
  • Licensing requirements
  • Training

Student-to-Teacher Ratio

The student-to-teacher ratio refers to the number of instructors that must be present based on the number of and age of the students. The National Association for the Education of Young Children provides recommended ratios based on age and group sizes.

Staff Licensing Requirements

Professional certification requirements and licenses vary by state; however, child care providers are often expected to have a high school degree or secondary degree. Common certification requirements are the Child Care Professional certification and the Child Development Associate certification. These require a certain number of hours of experience in different child care fields.

Staff Training

You should also make sure that your staff has training in safety courses such as CPR and first aid, as well as how to asses and document child development to report to parents. Child care instructors can provide important information to parents about where their children are developmentally, and where they may need individualized attention. That is why it is important to have reporting and parent engagement processes defined at your center, to simplify communication between caretakers and parents. 

Bonus Tip: The interview and review process to find the perfect candidates for your center can be time consuming, so you will want to start the hiring process at least two months prior to the opening of your center.

Last Steps

With financing, licensing, location, and staffing researched and prepared, you are almost ready to open your child care center. Final steps will be getting the necessary equipment and supplies, and setting an agenda for your daycare programs. You will need kid sized tables, furniture, and cots, as well as toys, crafts, and games. You will also need cleaning and administrative supplies.

When setting the agenda for your program you will want to establish routine daycare schedules for each age group. These schedules should incorporate activities that promote early child care development in major areas such as cognitive, emotional, and physical development.

As you get to know your students better, you will be able to cater the activities and learning programs to their specific interests.

Final Thoughts

The processes and planning that go into starting a daycare center can be overwhelming. However, with a defined mission and strategic business plan in place, it can be a successful and worthwhile endeavor. Following the guidelines above will give you the structure you need to build a thriving daycare center with an environment that fosters healthy, happy kids.   

Looking for ways to automate and organize administrative and business functions at your daycare center? Learn how Procare can help!

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Running the Payday Race at Your Preschool?

Race to the Finish LineCross the Finish Line with Direct Deposit

You know the routine. It’s payday at your preschool or child care business, but it feels like “race day” both for you and your staff. As the owner or director you’re pressing to get payroll checks calculated, while your staff is antsy about hurrying to the bank to deposit their earnings.

Wouldn’t you like to stop racing around and create a win-win situation for everyone? It’s easier than you think! By finding the right tool to streamline the process of doing payroll and handling direct deposit for your employees, you’ll cross the finish line without even running the race. Continue reading

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Summer Vacations & Childcare Management

Bear Visiting CampgroundAh, summer vacations. Everyone has their favorite type of getaway. My family tends to like camping, especially near the beach. And although we’ve never come face to face with a bear, we certainly have had our share of run-ins with raccoons, squirrels and an assortment of feathered friends.

Many of the campgrounds at which we like to stay require reservations months in advance. Hopefully, the families and staff at your childcare center, daycare or preschool are letting you know their vacation plans ahead of time too. That’s good information, so you can plan ahead, but what do you do with it? How do you keep track of planned vacations for family and staff, as well as issue vacation credits to your families?

While researching topics for today’s post, I discovered we have covered vacation related items in the past. But, since they have tended to be written as separate, individual posts, there was not an easy way to find all the information in one place. For your convenience, I’ve assembled a short description of each vacation topic with a link to a more detailed article.  Continue reading

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Classroom Forecasting – Sunny with a Chance of Savings!

Johnny Carson as Carnac the MagnificentWould you like to know how many teachers you need in a classroom in the future? Perhaps you want to predict an upcoming vacancy in the Butterflies room? Using the schedule reporting features of Procare Software® you can be your own Carnac the Magnificent and “divine the answer…” !

Setting Up Schedules

First you’ll want to enter your Classroom Ratios.  Then you’ll set up Child Schedules and Employee Schedules as well – in order to forecast accurate staffing needs to meet your child/teacher ratios. You can even use multi-line day schedules if children or employees switch rooms during the day, like a preschooler scheduled in the preschool room from 8:30 am to 11:30 am who then moves to the Bluebirds room from 11:30 am to 4:30 pm.

Continue reading

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