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.
When new families contact your child care or preschool program do you have a plan for what you’ll say, what you’ll do? Letting them know about your facility and what programs you offer is important, but there’s more to making a good first impression. Parents are trying to determine if your center is really the right place for their child. They want to be at ease with their decision; comfortable that little Johnny or Johanna will feel at home. After all, the children they place in your care will be spending a good deal of time with you, your staff, and the other children at your center.
Listen More, Talk Less
If you focus solely on what a wonderful place you have and tell the parents about your programs, you may be missing the key to getting the family to enroll. While some degree of talking is good, you’ll find that listening is even better. Your job, whether during a formal ‘intake interview’ or an informal phone inquiry, is to learn what you can about the child. Continue reading
It’s an extremely simple device. Shaped roughly like a rounded triangle with a large hole at the top and a small one at the bottom. You’ve probably got at least a couple of them in your kitchen. Perhaps there’s another in the garage. But what can you do with a funnel? More than you might have imagined.
For kids, a funnel can be great for water play. Try pouring some though a funnel. It’s sure to splash around a bit and rain down on your bare feet; perfect for a hot summer day. Sand works well with funnels too, especially in a centers-based play area at your child care, daycare or preschool.
For adults, it’s more likely you’ve used a funnel to help create a special recipe in the kitchen or perhaps add a quart of oil to your less than brand new vehicle.
But did you know funnels can also be used to track new inquiries and increase enrollment for your child care business? Not in the literal sense, of course, but here’s the idea: you want to move potential new families from the inquiry stage to the wait list, to pre-registered, to enrolled. You want to guide them through your enrollment funnel, whatever it may be. Continue reading
With the current economy, maintaining a stable and profitable enrollment base, as well as an updated and active waiting list, are key ingredients to the prosperity of your child care, daycare or preschool. Maintaining records to track the success of various advertising campaigns, new contacts generated, referral sources, and how many contacts move on to become customers, are all important ingredients to successful growth.
In today’s post, we’ll take a look at using Procare Software® to track these items so owners and directors can reliably see results.
Track Marketing Sources
Procare includes a very powerful database that can accomplish a wide variety of tasks, extending way beyond the scope of daily child care management. One of these is a Customer Relationship Management database, or CRM.
Set Up Customer Relationship Management (CRM)
Create the marketing items you wish to track. From Procare Home screen go to Configuration > System > Database Management > Tracking Items & User Defined Fields. See: How to Set Up Tracking Continue reading
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.
#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.
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.