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How to Optimize Your Daycare Schedule for Staff, Parents & Children

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.

Centralize Communication

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.

Be Consistent

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.

Final Thoughts

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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Stay Current with Training and Safety Certifications Using Child Care Management Solutions

The most important aspect of a child care center is that it be able to foster health and development in a safe environment. That is why before becoming a child care provider, or opening their own daycare center, those in the field of early child care development must undergo rigorous training, log hours of work experience, and attain various certifications. This training ensures that caregivers are prepared in the event of an emergency, in addition to giving them the skills to identify the best course of learning for each child.

As caregivers complete their training, it is important to track who has which certifications and when they must be renewed.

child care training

This is crucial for two main reasons. First, state law often requires these certifications. Therefore, for your center’s staff to be legally licensed by the state, they must be up to date on all required trainings. Second, when deciding on which care center to send their children to, parents will often ask about the staff’s level of training and experience. Thus, a more experienced staff will help your center win more business.

Types of Child Care Training

There are two main categories of training and certification that care providers must complete according to Child Care Aware. These are initial training and annual training.

Initial Training

child care education

Before starting a daycare center, owners, administrators, and staff have to undergo initial training and coursework in daycare management. This often includes receiving a degree in early or elementary education, as well as a continuing education. These courses teach daycare providers how to build curriculums and handle the business and administrative aspects of running a child care center.

Initial training courses are those that are completed once during a care provider’s career. Though still important, it is generally simpler to track these credentials for each instructor.

Annual Training 

emergency training

Annual training refers to training and certifications that must be renewed on a yearly or biannual basis, as many states require these courses to be taken by care professionals every two years.

This type of training is generally focused on emergency safety and ensuring that child care providers can recognize and monitor developmental or emotional issues.

Emergency Safety Training

Kids will often push their limits without realizing the dangerous consequences associated with their actions. That is why it is important that care providers have up-to-date first aid training and CPR certifications. Required certifications might vary based on the age group your center serves. For example, there is an entirely different set of recommendations when it comes to CPR for infants. These trainings include both indoor and outdoor safety to ensure teachers can create a safe environment for students.

Annual emergency training will also ensure that instructors are prepared to handle natural disasters, such as fires, as well as man-made emergencies. 

Child Development Training 

In addition to emergency training, care providers must renew certifications that inform them on the development process. This includes the ability to recognize and diagnose cognitive disabilities or areas of physical development that might need more attention. This will also include training to care for children with special needs. Finally, care givers will have to attend trainings that enable them recognize potential cases of child abuse, and teach them the proper protocol to report it.

The most effective way to track the completion of each of these types of training is with child care management solutions.

 

Using Child Care Management Solutions to Track Trainings 

Keeping track of all of these certifications is necessary to ensure the safety of students, and that your center is compliant with state regulations. However, tracking the initial, annual, and continuing courses being pursued by your staff can be difficult to do manually.

With child care management solutions you can track child care training and certifications on an individual level, and set reminders for when they need to be renewed.

For example, Procare helps child care centers track employee training and continuing education hours using the Requirements or Benefit Hours settings in the Employee Data Module.

Incorporating a software solution at your child care center can ensure that your staff is always up to date on necessary training and certifications – thus creating a safe and healthy learning environment.

Final Thoughts

To meet state regulations and give parents peace of mind, child care providers must continually learn the most effective methods for teaching and caring for their students. When caring for children each day, it is easy to get busy and lose track of individual training records.  With child care management solutions, tracking employee training and setting reminders gives providers more time to engage with and plan activities for their children.

Learn more about how Procare’s child care management solutions help organize employee and family data.

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A Complete Guide to Managing Child Care Billing

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

Financing Your Daycare Center

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

Child Care Payments

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

child care management software

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.

Final Thoughts

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.

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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 Choose the Best Child Care Management Software

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.

 

Child Care Center Administrative Tasks

 

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.

 

child care management checklist

 

1.) What are your business goals and needs?

 

Daycare Staff

 

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?

 

Child care costs

 

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?

 

child care management software usability

 

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?

 

software support

 

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

 

child care center owner

 

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.

Final Thoughts 

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.

 
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