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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Creating and adhering to a consistent daycare schedule is essential to running a successful child care center. This is important for both staff and children for four key reasons. First, these schedules ensure the necessary staff is available to provide group supervision and individualized care. They also establish daily routines for young children, and help to build trust between each child and their caregiver. Finally, consistent daycare schedules make it easier to clearly monitor and encourage child development.
The Importance of a Consistent Daycare Schedule
From a staffing perspective, having a consistent daycare schedule in place ensures that each team member understands what resources will be required for the day. It’s essential to know which activities are planned for each age group, how much supervision is required, and if any children require individualized care. This will ensure there are enough staff members to meet required child-to-staff ratios, and provide quality care.
Aside from simplifying operations from an administrative perspective, following a daycare schedule is necessary to establish order in children’s lives. Parents and caregivers should establish this regularity as early on as possible. These routines remove unknowns from children’s daily lives that cause undue stress. A reliable daycare schedule helps to regulate behavior, as children know what to expect at each part of the day. This understanding and consistency makes kids more confident and bold in pursuing their interests. Schedules also help children build an understanding of patterns.
Furthermore, being provided for regularly will build an essential trust between the child and their caregiver. Following routines ensures that children know their caregiver will be there to address any needs that arise. This knowledge fosters stability and builds the comfort level the child feels toward their environment.
Finally, a regular daycare schedule makes it easier to encourage and monitor each child’s development in critical areas, namely: emotional, social, language, cognitive, physical, and motor skill development. A defined schedule helps instructors incorporate activities and exercises to foster this early development. Instructors can then coordinate with student’s parents for the best course of action based upon their developmental progress.
With these benefits in mind, we’ve built out some examples of daily daycare schedules for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers, to help daycare owners build quality programs.
Infants are typically categorized as newborns to one year old. A little more flexibility is needed within infant daycare scheduling, as it will largely be based around their biological schedule of when they need to eat and sleep.
Toddler Daily Schedule
Toddlers typically range from ages one to three years old. As toddlers may be new to daycare environments, it is a good idea to encourage parents to incorporate some of this routine into their kid’s daily lives at home as well. This will establish normalcy and make sure their kids do not feel overwhelmed by the change in routine.
Preschool aged children typically range from three to five years old. As you get to know your preschoolers’ interests and personalities better, it is a good idea to plan some activities or projects that encourage and stimulate kid’s individual interests.
When it comes to running a daycare center, consistency is key. Having an established schedule that addresses major developmental goals, even if the specific activities vary day-to-day, allows for the highest quality care. Also, having a consistent routine allows instructors to monitor each child’s progress, and coordinate with parents on daily care plans.
Procare’s Family Data solution assists daycare providers on a daily basis, acting as a central hub for important student information, and student and teacher scheduling. Within Family Data, instructors can monitor each students schedule, ensure proper student-to teacher ratios, and account for any individualized attention a student requires within their day.
Additionally, by incorporating KidReports classroom management and parent engagement, parents and caregivers can communicate with each other directly every day to give daily reports on daycare activities and schedules, as well as to share pictures, and more.
Having a daily routine can foster comfort, trust, and confidence in young children, while developing their core physical and cognitive skills. By building out daily, age appropriate schedules, daycare providers not only simplify their administrative and staffing tasks, they also ensure happy, healthy children, and engaged parents.
Looking for more information on how to simplify your daily daycare schedules? See how Procare can help.
If you’ve ever played piano or most any musical instrument, you may be familiar with the metronome. It’s used to help you keep in time with the music; that is, to play at a steady tempo and consistent pace.
Likewise, Full-Time Equivalency (FTE) is a way to help your child care business keep each classroom filled in a steady and predictable way.
The beauty of FTE is that it allows you to compare classrooms in a reliable manner, regardless of the types of programs offered. This is possible because FTE uses a single measurement to account for daycare schedule variations, like full-day, part-day, or before and after school.
Here’s how it works. One child with a full-time, 5 day a week schedule would have a FTE of 1.0. Two children each scheduled half days, all week long, would have an FTE of 0.5 each, but combined they would also have an FTE value of 1.0. In other words, together they would be equivalent to one full-time child.
Managing FTE Calculations
If all the children in your care are full-time you may be able to do the calculations by hand or with a simple spreadsheet, but if some children are scheduled on M-W-F or Tue-Thurs, or a few hours here and there, the calculations get complicated quickly. That’s where daycare scheduling and tracking software can help. By scheduling children in a management system, like Procare Software, you’ll be able to easily print reports showing the full-time equivalency for each classroom. This can be especially helpful when projecting enrollment for future weeks, and help with decisions about which programs need a marketing boost.
How to Calculate FTE at Your Child Care Center
FTE calculations are determined one child and day at a time, then added together for the week. Let’s assume you’re open 5 days a week and consider a full-time day to be 8 hours. For a single day, the most a child could contribute toward the weekly total would be 1/5 of a week, even if they were scheduled over 8 hours. Since 1/5 is the same as 20% or 0.20, a child scheduled 8 hours (or more) would have a FTE value of 0.20 for that day. A child scheduled less than 8 hours would contribute less to the total; for example, a 4-hour schedule would have a value of 0.10 for the day.
Example 1: One Full-Day Child, 3 Days/Week
Let’s say McKenzie was scheduled 8 hours on Monday, Wednesday and Friday, her FTE would be 0.20 for each day and 0.60 for the week. That is, she would be equivalent to 60% of a full-time child.
Example 2: Five Full-Day Children, 3 Days/Week
If 5 children (including McKenzie) had the same M-W-F schedule, their Monday FTE would be 5 children x 0.20 = 1.0 for the day and 3.0 for the week. In this example, none of the 5 children are full-time by themselves, but added together they are the equivalent of 3 full-time children for the week. A quick glance at the report shows we need to do a better job of getting the word out about our Tuesday and Thursday programs.
Example 3: Add Five Half-Day Children, 2 Days/Week
If we add some children on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 4 hours per day, each of them would have a FTE value of 0.10 per day (half of the full-time value) and 0.20 for the week. In other words, half-day kids scheduled two days a week are equivalent to 20% of a full-time child. Adding 5 children with half-day schedules on Tuesdays and Thursdays would give us FTE values of 0.5 for each of those days (5 children x 0.10). And, adding that to the 3.0 we already had for M-W-F children gives us a full-time equivalency of 4.0 for the week.
FTE Graphs and More
Some software packages let you print graphs to get a feel for your FTE numbers in a more visual way. You may even wish to run reports by department, rather than classroom, especially if you have multiple rooms for each age level. For example, you might have two classrooms called the Blue Whales and Green Turtles, but they are both part of your preschool department. Breaking it down this way provides an additional layer of organization to your daycare scheduling process and data organization.
Having a clear understanding of your enrollment numbers and schedule availability is necessary to optimize operations at your child care center. By calculating the FTE of your students, you can better understand the resources and staff you need day-to-day, as well as days or time slots that can be improved upon.
Depending on how many students you have enrolled and the variation in their weekly schedules, it can be easy to be overwhelmed by FTE calculations. Using a child care management tool can keep track of FTE calculations and reports for you and your staff automatically. We hope this introduction to FTE helps you better manage enrollment in a predictable way, just like the steady beat of the metronome.
Learn more about how Procare can help you keep track of daycare schedules and enrollment.
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