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4 Tips to Grow Your Child Care Enrollment

Preschool Boy in Field of CloverLying in a field of clover on a sunny spring day is the perfect way to spend a carefree afternoon—but if you’re waiting for a lucky four-leaf clover to increase enrollment at your preschool, you may be in for a surprise.

Enrollment gains aren’t based on luck. They require focus on marketing your child care business and effectively communicating with potential families. Lucky for you though, it’s easy to do when using Procare Child Care Management Software and following these 4 tips to grow your enrollment. Continue reading

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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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How to Calculate Full Time Equivalency (FTE) at Your Child Care Center

If you’ve ever played piano or most any musical instrument, you may be familiar with the metronome. It’s used to help you keep in time with the music; that is, to play at a steady tempo and consistent pace.

Likewise, Full-Time Equivalency (FTE) is a way to help your child care business keep each classroom filled in a steady and predictable way.

The beauty of FTE is that it allows you to compare classrooms in a reliable manner, regardless of the types of programs offered. This is possible because FTE uses a single measurement to account for daycare schedule variations, like full-day, part-day, or before and after school.

 

Daycare Schedule

 

Here’s how it works. One child with a full-time, 5 day a week schedule would have a FTE of 1.0. Two children each scheduled half days, all week long, would have an FTE of 0.5 each, but combined they would also have an FTE value of 1.0. In other words, together they would be equivalent to one full-time child.

Managing FTE Calculations

If all the children in your care are full-time you may be able to do the calculations by hand or with a simple spreadsheet, but if some children are scheduled on M-W-F or Tue-Thurs, or a few hours here and there, the calculations get complicated quickly. That’s where daycare scheduling and tracking software can help. By scheduling children in a management system, like Procare Software, you’ll be able to easily print reports showing the full-time equivalency for each classroom. This can be especially helpful when projecting enrollment for future weeks, and help with decisions about which programs need a marketing boost.

How to Calculate FTE at Your Child Care Center

FTE calculations are determined one child and day at a time, then added together for the week. Let’s assume you’re open 5 days a week and consider a full-time day to be 8 hours. For a single day, the most a child could contribute toward the weekly total would be 1/5 of a week, even if they were scheduled over 8 hours. Since 1/5 is the same as 20% or 0.20, a child scheduled 8 hours (or more) would have a FTE value of 0.20 for that day. A child scheduled less than 8 hours would contribute less to the total; for example, a 4-hour schedule would have a value of 0.10 for the day.

Example 1: One Full-Day Child, 3 Days/Week

Let’s say McKenzie was scheduled 8 hours on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, her FTE would be 0.20 for each day and 0.60 for the week. That is, she would be equivalent to 60% of a full-time child.

FTE: One Full-Day Child, 3 Days/Week

Example 2: Five Full-Day Children, 3 Days/Week

If 5 children (including McKenzie) had the same M-W-F schedule, their Monday FTE would be 5 children x 0.20 = 1.0 for the day and 3.0 for the week. In this example, none of the 5 children are full-time by themselves, but added together they are the equivalent of 3 full-time children for the week. A quick glance at the report shows we need to do a better job of getting the word out about our Tuesday and Thursday programs.

FTE: Five Full-Day Children, 3 Days/Week

Example 3: Add Five Half-Day Children, 2 Days/Week

If we add some children on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4 hours per day, each of them would have a FTE value of 0.10 per day (half of the full-time value) and 0.20 for the week. In other words, half-day kids scheduled two days a week are equivalent to 20% of a full-time child. Adding 5 children with half-day schedules on Tuesdays and Thursdays would give us FTE values of 0.5 for each of those days (5 children x 0.10). And, adding that to the 3.0 we already had for M-W-F children gives us a full-time equivalency of 4.0 for the week.

FTE: Add Five Half-Day Children, 2 Days/Week

FTE Graphs and More

Some software packages let you print graphs to get a feel for your FTE numbers in a more visual way. You may even wish to run reports by department, rather than classroom, especially if you have multiple rooms for each age level. For example, you might have two classrooms called the Blue Whales and Green Turtles, but they are both part of your preschool department. Breaking it down this way provides an additional layer of organization to your daycare scheduling process and data organization.

FTE Pie Chart Graph

Final Thoughts

Having a clear understanding of your enrollment numbers and schedule availability is necessary to optimize operations at your child care center. By calculating the FTE of your students, you can better understand the resources and staff you need day-to-day, as well as days or time slots that can be improved upon.

Depending on how many students you have enrolled and the variation in their weekly schedules, it can be easy to be overwhelmed by FTE calculations. Using a child care management tool can keep track of FTE calculations and reports for you and your staff automatically. We hope this introduction to FTE helps you better manage enrollment in a predictable way, just like the steady beat of the metronome.

Learn more about how Procare can help you keep track of daycare schedules and enrollment.

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Managing Your Child Care Waiting List

Waiting in line can be a hard thing to do, especially if you’re waiting for something important to you. For children, that might be as simple as waiting for lunch on pizza day. For their parents, it might be waiting for an opening at your child care, daycare or preschool. For you, as their provider, it might be waiting for the official pre-registration payment to hold their slot.

To make sure that families on your child care center’s waiting list actually enroll, it’s important to keep in touch with them through the process. Luckily, for child care administrators, it’s easy to create a contact list of parent names, phone numbers, and email addresses for your wait list families. By using a child care management solution like Procare Software®, you can create a printed list or choose to email or send text messages to selected families all at once.

Child Care Management

Wait List Directory

It’s easy to get a list of everyone on the waiting list with parent contact information. Start with the standard “School Directory II” report (found under Reports > Standard Reports > Family Data > Filtered Reports) and use the Filter button to include only children whose enrollment status is set to “Waiting List”. See Sample: Wait List Directory 

Customized Wait List

With the Procare Data Viewer you have more control over how the information is laid out and can include other fields, such as the date they got on the waiting list (the Status Date). Start with the Child Relationships view and add the fields you want like Primary Classroom, Enrollment Status, etc. See Sample: Data Viewer Wait List  

Use the filter icon (funnel) on the Enrollment Status header to include only “Waiting List”.

To group the report by classroom, drag the Primary Classroom header into the gray area just above the other headers.

You may also want to remove the page break so you don’t get a separate page for each class. Right-click the gray area next to Primary Classroom and uncheck Insert Page Breaks.

Then you are ready to Print or Export to another format, like a spreadsheet, PDF, etc.

Email or Text People on Your Wait List

To begin, use the Select Filter to include only families with children whose enrollment status is “Waiting List”. Then you’re ready to Email the Families or Send Text Messages to the people of your choice. You can even use the built-in Letter Merge to automatically fill in certain fields, like the name and address of each person, etc., and email (or print) the letter.

Final Thoughts

As you get under way for the year at your child care center, it can be easy to lose track of the families on your waiting list. However, though your classrooms might be too full at the moment, at some point you will have space to accept new students.

It is important that you have family contact information for those on your wait list, and are keeping in touch with them regarding their status. Using child care management software, it’s easy to manage your child care waiting list to ensure a positive relationship with prospective parents and simplify their enrollment process.

Learn more about how Procare simplifies family data management at your child care center.

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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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