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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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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.

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Create and Manage Your Daycare Waiting List

Are you still keeping track of children on the waiting list at your child care, daycare, or preschool with paper and pencil, or perhaps a computer spreadsheet? Child care management software —specifically designed to help your center run more efficiently— makes it easier to manage your daycare waiting list and make informed decisions about how to market your business.

Daycare Business Planning

Manage Your Daycare Waiting List and Marketing

In this article we’ll show you how Procare Software® can help you both manage your waiting list and keep track of how people found out about your center.

Child Care Waiting List Categories

It’s easy to set up a waiting list by creating enrollment categories in Procare. You could use just a single status like “Waiting List” or create multiple items like “Wait List – Student”, “Wait List – Faculty / Staff”, “Wait List – Public” to categorize each person on the list. This may be useful if you have different levels of priority for each group.

  1. From the Procare Home screen go to Configuration > System > Data Management > Status & Relationships > Child’s Enrollment Status.
  2. Enter a new status on the top blank line, then click Save > Exit.
  3. Then look up a family and assign a waiting list status on the Child’s Enrollment screen.

Creating a Waiting List Report

In Procare’s Family Data module, you can use an enrollment report to find out how many (and which) children are on the waiting list, with these three steps.

  1. In Family Data & Accounting choose Reports > Family Data > Child Enrollment. To see a list of children whose status has changed (everyone new to the waiting list) choose Change of Enrollment Status. To include everyone at their current status (everyone on the waiting list) choose Enrollment Status Summary.
  2. Choose a Date Range then click Run Report.
  3. With the report on screen double-click a status (like Waiting List) to get a detailed list of all children assigned that status.

As an alternative, try the following report that lets you sort by name, age, or classroom. Choose Reports > Family Data > Filtered Reports > Child: Birthday – Age Summary. Use the Filter to select the Enrollment Status of “Waiting List” as of a date you specify.

Tracking Your Marketing Sources

Be sure to ask new enrollees and those on the waiting list how they heard about you. That way you can track each source and get a picture of what marketing sources are working best for your center. For example, you may wish to track how many people saw your add in the yellow pages, found you online, heard from a friend, saw your flyer, or found a coupon, etc. With Procare, this requires just a few simple steps:

  1. Create a tracking group called something like “Marketing” and items within the group like “Yellow Pages”, “Online”, etc. See the knowledge base article on how to Manage Tracking Items.
  2. Assign your marketing items to the Account Tracking screen for each family.
  3. Use the Account Filter to get a quick count of the number of families with each referral source.
  4. Print a report to get a list of families assigned to each category, like Reports > Family Data > Tracking Account: Contact Information. Then choose your “Marketing” category and Run Report.

Final Thoughts

Having a well managed child care waiting list is the best way to ensure consistent enrollment at your center throughout the year. Using child care management software allows your center to keep track of the families on your waiting list, get accurate and up-to-date reporting, and track marketing efforts to optimize your spend, while increasing efficiency at your center.

Learn more about how Procare can help manage enrollment and wait lists.

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Interested in learning more about simplifying administrative tasks at your child care center? Check out these related articles.

Up to Date Enrollment Reports

Child care centers, daycare facilities, preschool and after school programs all need to keep up to date enrollment reports. Sometimes it’s even desirable to print a report showing historic enrollment, in other words, the number of children enrolled in a past period. This can be useful to establish staffing trends and to compare enrollment over periods of time. Another reason to run enrollment reports may be to satisfy Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) requirements showing the number of children enrolled at various reimbursement levels.    Continue reading

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