Child Care Management Software
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
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
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
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.
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.
Want more tips on how to run a successful child care business? Check out these related articles.
The first day of a new year or term at your child care center is both exciting and hectic. As a child care provider, chances are that as this day approaches you are busy getting the supplies you need, organizing daily daycare schedules for each class and age group, and coming up with activities that will engage and develop your students.
However, in addition to these child-focused preparations, there are a lot of logistical tasks that must be taken care of before the children arrive on their first day. When parents drop their children off on their first day at your child care center, they need to be assured that you and your staff are fully prepared to care for their child’s needs, and that they will be secure in your care.
As a result, they are required to fill out multiple child care forms for you and your staff to have on hand. In addition to child care forms, there are multiple personal items that parents should bring on the first day to ensure their child is healthy and comfortable while away from home.
The First Day of School: Child Care Forms & Other Items
Keeping track of all of the forms, information, and additional items that parents need to bring on the first day can be difficult. To make this easier, the Procare team has outlined a list of everything a daycare provider needs before the first day of the school year, including free child care forms and templates for child care providers to download and use.
This form should include personal and medical information for the child, as well their parent or guardian’s information. Child care providers should give parents plenty of time to fill this out, and arrange any doctor’s visits that might be necessary.
It’s important that the form includes information like the child’s birthday, medical information, and allergies. This ensures that arrangements can be made to accommodate each child’s health needs prior to the first day. For example, if a child has a peanut allergy, you might choose to make your care facility peanut free.
Following information on the student, this form should include the names and contact information, including home, mobile, and work numbers for primary and secondary guardians. Finally, this form will include the best person and number to contact in the event of an emergency, as well as any other people the guardian wants to authorize to pick up their child.
Child care providers have to know where each student is while in their care. That’s why attendance tracking sheets are necessary to manage each child from the moment they are dropped off in the morning until they are picked up at the end of the night. To account for this, child care providers will need daily sign-in sheets, roll call sheets, and bus run sheets.
Daily sign-in sheets can be filled in each morning by parents as kids are dropped off at school, while roll-call sheets can help you keep track of attendance between activities, such as if your care center has outdoor time during the day.
If your child care program uses a bus or another transportation system to pick up and drop off at the beginning and end of each day, daily bus run sheets can help you and your staff ensure each child is on the correct bus, gets on and off safely, and meets their guardian.
Child care meal tracking sheets are especially important if your child care center relies on the USDA’s Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) which requires centers to track how many meals are claimed at your centers. Aside from CACFP, tracking the meals each child eats during the day is an important part of reporting to parents at pick up. Tracking what they ate during the day will inform what they are served that night, while helping to notice strange eating patterns that might be indicative of health issues.
As these forms and the information stored on them need to be easily accessible at all times, and often on the go, a child care management software can provide value through offering accessibility and automation.
Other Items to Suggest for the First Day
In addition to having all of the necessary registration paperwork completed, there are a few other items you might want to suggest parents bring on the first to ensure their child is comfortable:
It is a good idea to have parents bring one or two sets extra clothes, as well as a smock for painting. Kids can be messy especially during crafts, outdoor play, and at meals. Having clean clothes will ensure your child is comfortable. Additionally, it is a good idea to have parents bring seasonal supplies, such as hats, mittens, and scarves in the colder months, and sunscreen when its warmer.
Depending on your child’s age, you may want to send them to their daycare center or after school program with a specific formula or snack. Make sure they also have their bottle or sippy cup.
Finally, have parents bring one or two comfort items that will help their kids feel more at home in their new environment. This might be a favorite blanket, stuffed animal, or a picture of your family.
Make sure everything you send in with your child is labelled with their name, as they can easily lose track of their possessions.
As the first day of your child care program approaches, it is important to make sure you have everything you need to ensure each child is comfortable and safe. Following this checklist will give you the material you need to stay in touch with parents, track child check-in, check-out, and attendance throughout the day, and help your student to feel more at home while in your care.
Looking for even more child care forms? Access all of our free and printable templates here.
Interested in more tips on managing enrollment and back to school? Be sure to check out some of these related articles:
Child care providers wear many hats. To children they are teachers, caregivers, entertainers, and confidants. To parents they are needed support, trusted helpers, and a resource that can report on their child’s development. To their business and colleagues, they are all of the above and more, as they tackle the day-to-day administrative tasks that go along with running a successful business. Filling all of these roles can be a challenge, which is why many child care providers turn to child care management software to help automate the administrative tasks that take time away from interacting with students and parents.
There are many distinct advantages to incorporating software solutions into your child care business for both staff and parents. Staff can rely on these tools to replace their time consuming, manual methods of bookkeeping, check-in, data collection, and scheduling, as well as to offer a greater level of organization to their hectic day. Parents appreciate the convenience that these tools provide to pay their child care centers easily from their mobile devices, and get daily reports from instructors about their child’s schedule and development.
Software solutions will be especially important as child care programs increasingly cater their services to millennial parents. Currently, 50 percent of millennials are mothers and 71 percent of them work outside the home. Millennial parents have been defined by their use of technology to run their lives and will certainly be looking for programs that can offer mobile-friendly solutions to manage their child’s lives as well. Offering a child care management software at your center is a distinct advantage.
While the benefits of child care management software are clear, what is more difficult to understand is which to select, and which will work best for your business. There are five key considerations that program directors should keep in mind when selecting the best child care management software for their business.
1.) What are your business goals and needs?
To identify which features your solution will need to have, you will have to start off by identifying the pain points at your center. A good way to do this is to talk to staff about which administrative tasks are taking up the most of their time, and where they think automation could most benefit the program. You might also consider speaking with some of the parents to see which features they think would be most helpful. From these conversations, make a list of must-haves and nice-to-haves. This list will start to narrow down possible vendors, and will guide you moving forward.
You will also want to consider who needs to be able to use the software, and where. For example, if your staff needs to be able to update schedules or look up emergency contacts while on the go with students, a solution that does not offer a mobile application will be taken off your list.
2.) What is your budget?
Next to required features, the software price compared to your budget will be the greatest indicator of the solution you will ultimately choose. If you find a solution that satisfies everything on your must-have and nice-to-have list, but well exceeds your budget, it is not a real contender. This will assist in narrowing down your list of potential options. Make sure you request written documentation about any added or recurring costs that might be tacked on to the upfront cost of the software. For example, will there be an additional cost to have regular access to the support team, or to get your staff trained in how to use the software?
You will also want to ask about how their payment options are structured, and if there are any discounts or package deals available. For example, if the child care software provider bases their payment structure in terms of modules, you can purchase the module that addresses your most drastic needs, then add on the nice-to-have feature modules when your budget has grown.
3.) What is it like to use the software?
Once you have narrowed your software search down to a few vendors, you will want to request a demo of the product so you can see its interface and usability first hand. This is an important step to selecting the right product, because you have to make sure that the software you choose will actually be adopted by employees and parents. If the software has the features you need, but has no cohesive user interface, or is just generally confusing, you run the risk of purchasing and implementing a software that your staff does not actually want to use, reverting back to their previous manual methods. During the demo, make sure you can see yourself using the program, and that there is an obvious flow to how it works.
4.) What kind of support is available?
If your business relies on the services provided by your software solution, and something goes wrong, a feature isn’t working, or you have a question on an update, is there someone you can talk to who can resolve your issue in a timely manner? A strong support team is an important feature to look for from a software provider. When talking with the vendor, ask questions about the support available, ask to speak with a support representative, and ask if there is a support site or online resources you can consult.
In addition to learning about the support team, you should also ask about the history of the company. How long have they been providing this service, and where does their knowledge of the child care industry come from?
5.) Talk to existing customers
At this point, you have likely narrowed your list of possible child care management software providers to a few options. One final step before making your decision is to ask to speak with existing customers. Talking with current customers can give you an unbiased view of the providers strengths and weaknesses, and how they would rate their overall experience with the provider. Ask questions about how their implementation went, if any issues arose, or how the product has been received by staff and parents. This can give you a good idea of how the rollout will go at your child care center. Additionally, the customers you speak with might be using the solution in a way you had not thought to, giving you ideas of how to further optimize your investment.
Implementing a child care management software can offer distinct advantages in terms of maximizing your staff’s efficiency and engaging with parents. However, choosing the best software for your child care business can be overwhelming. Following these guidelines can help to streamline your approach to ensure you get the features and usability you need, at a price that fits your budget.
Learn more about comparing child care and daycare software with the software comparison checklist.
How much time will you save in your child care center?
Procare Software® helps child care professionals across the country save 40+ hours per month of administrative duties they were doing manually. With quicker access to information, point-and-click reporting and built-in processing, Procare helps you easily manage your center and analyze important staff and child information in seconds—giving you the time to develop your business and focus on the children.
- Succinct tracking of enrollment and schedules
- Immunization updates
- Quickly post child tuition fees
- Automatically collect tuition payments
- Print/email statements and balance notifications
- Communicate with parents and employees via messages at check-in, email or text blasts
- Maintain logs for incident reports and milestones
- Deposit reports and end-of-year tax statements
- Roll call and sign in/out sheets, birthday reports, waiting lists, classroom ratios
- Automated check-in for parents and employees
- Accurate time card records and calculations
- Let parents pay at check-in or online
- And so much more!
The new school year is coming!
With the new school year coming up soon, now is the best opportunity to get going with your new system.. Financing is available to work easily within your budget. Please contact Procare at 800-338-3884 or visit us online.
How do I find the best child care and daycare software program for my needs?
Choosing child care management software is an important investment of your time and financial resources. It requires research and careful consideration of the following items:
- Define your Goals: Which administrative tasks do you want to tackle? What parts of your center need improvement and streamlining? How can software simplify the management of your business?
- Features: Based on your goals, ensure the software includes the most essential modules and can grow with your business… Family Data, Family Accounting, Attendance Tracking and Employee Data are basic essentials which should be included in any package.
- Pricing: Make an educated choice based on value not just price. The smart decision will be the one that meets your goals and yields a return on your investment. Does the software include functionality to save time, money and improve operational processes? Be sure to get a complete understanding of cost, fees and contract obligations.
- Consultation: Knowledgeable software consultants will help you determine how you’ll benefit from automation. Being experienced with daycare and child care management issues, including billing and accounting, your consultant should clearly understand your goals and needs.