When it comes to starting and operating an after school program, there are two broader aspects that you need to lock down to set yourself up for success.
First of all, you have the task of getting your after school program off the ground and running. This includes the financial, logistical, and educational aspects of running an after school program. After that comes making sure the day-to-day operations are smooth, keeping up with the demands, and squashing any issues as they present themselves.
6 Key Factors to Consider for a Succesful After School Program
Let’s dive into 6 key factors that are crucial for starting and operating your after school program.
1. Securing a designated space
When choosing the location for your after school program, keep travel and convenience in mind. For convenience, securing a location for your program that’s close to the school system where your prospective students are enrolled. It should be readily accessible to the parents as well.
There are a lot of possibilities for what compromised the actual space. Your program could use a variety of spaces by scheduling them ahead of time, or you could opt for a permanent location. Local libraries, churches, or rec centers are just a few of the potential options.
2. Creating a business plan
Identifying what type of plan will work best for you and the families you work with is a crucial step in starting an after school program. You should be completely aware of the market you are entering and build a business plan that is based on the needs of the community. Establishing the trust of the community doesn’t come easy but providing a prominent service on a strong foundation will create interest.
When you are deciding what your programs identify will be, local parents can be a resource. The business plan you build around should fulfill a niche in the community.
3. Building out a curriculum
Building a curriculum for your after school program is the natural next step in determining what service or value you are providing the community. There should be a diverse set of options to appease a collection of age-groups. There is an increasing demand for enrichment during out-of-school time and programs are beginning to shift their curriculum to fulfill that need.
Consider the basics like art, music, math, and science, and supplement those educational aspects with recreational activities and free time. It’s important to not force your students into an activity that they aren’t interested in. After all, this isn’t school. If you spend your energy and resources trying to fit a square peg into a circular hole, the curriculum will be ineffective and your after school program won’t be successful.
4. Supporting your staff with up-to-date technology
Managing a room full of students isn’t for those who lack patience or ambition. Supplementing the growing pains that come with operating an after school program with technology can simplify your after school operations from top to bottom.
Investing in a technologically advanced after school program has a variety of advantages. A few that come to mind are:
- Keeping students occupied and entertained
- Easing common stresses that come with running an after school program
- Attracting the interest of young parents
By making technology a focus and integrating operations, your staff will be able to focus on providing the students with an environment that promotes growth rather than spending too much time on the organizational clutter.
5. Maintaining a safe and secure environment
Ensuring the safety of your students is priority number one. Regardless of your location, you must provide a secure learning environment and a trusted place for parents to leave their child during work hours. Safety during out-of-school time is the primary concern of parents, and secondary to enrichment.
After school programs are meant to provide a safe and secure place where kids can go on a regular basis when schools are not in session. There is security hardware that can assist you along the way, but the premises should be scanned for health hazards daily, and most importantly, the kids should trust your staff.
6. Surrounding yourself with qualified staff
An after school program needs to fulfill the needs of students. Unless you plan on running the show solo, surrounding yourself with a qualified and passionate staff will make everything easier. Your needs will be more apparent once you have an idea of what the plan of attack is, including your business plan and preferred curriculum.
Staffing can be done through job postings, recruiting or word-of-mouth. However, once they are in the building and on your payroll, making sure everybody is on the same page will lead to smooth sailing for you, your staff, and the families involved.
There is a lot of planning that goes into starting an after school program. Getting the doors open and running the show have their unique challenges. Following the guidelines above will give you an idea of what type of structure and what level of planning is needed if you want to build a thriving after school program.
Looking for ways to automate and organize administrative and business functions such as registration and payment processing at your after school program? Learn how Procare can help!
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Put yourself in the parents’ shoes by asking – what would you want from a preschool? Ultimately, the conclusions you reach should drive your strategy for getting your preschool started.
In order to start a preschool and put your business on the path to success, you need to focus on creating a positive experience for everyone involved, including yourself, your staff, the students, and the parents.
Here we have identified 6 essential steps for starting a preschool that parents will choose over other options.
6 Essential Steps for Starting a Preschool
1. Learn the Trade
Child care isn’t an entry-level profession, and parents need to know that they are trusting the development of their child with a licensed professional. For this reason, it’s especially important that you do your research to fully comprehend the industry you are entering.
Understanding the business practices and strategies behind opening and managing a preschool will set you up for success in both the short-term and long-term. It’s a complicated business and spending the time to peel back the layers will be beneficial for your preschool
2. Choose the Right Location
Starting a preschool in an area where there isn’t a need for one can end your venture before it even begins. However, there are a variety of factors to consider other than local demand.
Parents will look for a preschool that is easily accessible and safe. You should also be aware of state standards for how much space will be needed for the number of children you will have enrolled.
3. Create a Culture of Learning and Growth
Developing a culture that focuses on growth and improvement can become a marketable asset for your preschool from day one. A positive reputation makes word-of-mouth referrals a powerful tool when parents get together and the topic of preschool comes up in conversation.
Regardless of what role you take within your preschool, you represent and embody it’s values and goals starting the moment your doors open. Parents will look to you as the person who sets the tone on a day-to-day basis through your decision-making ability. This includes staffing, structuring, and facility management.
4. Hire Premier Child Care Professionals
At a minimum, your preschool’s staff must reach the requirements held by the state, and proper screening should be in place. Verify their past and help them build for the future.
The culture in your preschool extends to the type of hires you make. Starting slow and expecting to find your footing in the industry is an easy way to fall behind. Proactively appeasing any concerns from parents and building trust is made easier by employing a capable staff that shares a passion for child care. You need parents to trust you and the talent you have on your team.
5. Open Lines of Communication with Parents
Getting your preschool up and running can be a slow process, but once you get it going your best resource for improvement is the parents. They should be involved in your processes to a certain extent, especially in the early stages.
Field their questions and put the effort into calming their concerns, whatever they might be. Encourage your teachers to do the same. Giving parents the chance to direct your classroom management is not the goal. Instead, absorb their opinion and use it to create the best experience for the children in your classrooms.
6. Build Strong Promotion and Marketing Networks
While getting your preschool up and running it’s important to identify what your strengths are. Preferably, these are tangible benefits that parents experience. Pristine facilities, prime location, or professional staff are just a few examples of what will carry a lot of weight with parents.
Without returning customers and referrals your preschool could flounder. Promotion is necessary and having the awareness of what your most marketable features are will help fulfill parent’s needs.
The essential steps that we have outlined above will ease the potential strain of opening any new business. Structuring your preschool appropriately and placing value on the input of parents creates an inclusive environment that, when done properly, helps you hit the ground running.
Looking for ways to simplify preschool administration while you get it off the ground and build it up for the long-haul? Check out Procare’s preschool management software for more information.
Want more tips and resources for operating your preschool? Check out these related articles:
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.
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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Whether you are an entrepreneur who has a passion for childcare that strives to gain the necessary expertise, or a trained professional with years of experience already under your belt, opening a daycare center will present challenges.
Child care is a demanding profession. Before going down the path of opening your own business, caregivers should reflect to make sure they are prepared for any obstacles ahead, and that they are choosing this field for the right reasons. Considering questions about the logistics of your operation, financial goals, and your motivations are a helpful way to do this. At Procare, we strive to provide aspiring child care professionals with the necessary tools they will need to build a stable environment for their students to thrive.
5 Questions to Consider Before Opening a Daycare
Before opening a child care center, you need to identify what your mission is. To help with that, we have outlined a collection of five questions for you to consider before opening a daycare.
1. Do You Enjoy Being Around Children?
This question requires more than just a yes or no answer. There is a “why” portion that will help you decide if opening a daycare is right for you. Young children are developing, and they require structure and attention to continue on the right path. If you are impatient or rigid in your routine, opening a daycare might not be for you.
Not only do you need to enjoy being around children, but you should be passionate about their learning and development for opening a daycare to be a wise business decision.
2. What Role Will You Be Playing in the Daycare?
How you plan on structuring your daycare and how involved you anticipate yourself being in the day-to-day operations must be a factor in determining if opening a daycare center is right for you. To provide the children in your care with positive experiences and a healthy environment, you will need to perform in your role, whatever it may be, to the best of your ability. Similarly, surrounding yourself with qualified and able individuals who share your passion for child care will drive the success of your daycare.
3. Are You Ready to Provide What Children Need From Their Daycare?
Answering this question goes hand in hand with the previous one we outlined. Knowing what children need from their daycare, and more importantly, what parents expect from a daycare, will help you identify the optimal role for yourself at the center, as well as who you will want to work with and hire. Providing for children is a demanding job that requires particular expertise and patience that isn’t exactly common.
Structuring your daycare from top to bottom will help reach those expectations. This includes curriculums for the children, development for staff, and a business plan to keep it all running.
4. What Are Your Financial Goals?
Opening any business can be a financial burden at first. There are a slew of costs that come with opening a daycare, including property renovations, staffing, and licensing, among others.
The reality of opening a center is that you need to get it off the ground and keep it running to create the impact on young lives that you strive toward. For that reason, this question has multiple layers to it. Basing your financial goals on the market and creating a business plan is essential. Consider what the demand is for another daycare within your community, and how you will separate yourself from the local competition.
5. How Will You Differentiate Your Daycare?
Opening a daycare is a worthwhile venture if done correctly, but just like any business, your competition will drive demand and expectations. If nearby daycares have lengthy waitlists, your daycare can fill that void. From there, your daycare will need to distinguish itself from the competition. It could be your facilities that stand out, your educational requirements for staff, or your hours of operation. Whatever it might be, your new daycare will come up short if it promises to deliver on something as important as early childhood development and flops.
There is a laundry list of questions that you should consider answering while kicking around the idea of opening a daycare center. Ask yourself if the passion for helping children during their early developmental stages is at the top of that list.
Learn how Procare helps child care providers run successful daycare centers.
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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.
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.
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.
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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