We can all agree that there are no shortcuts when caring for children. Child care cannot be made more “efficient” — there is no quick way to foster a child's development. But the administration of a child care center, all the work you do to make the business run, is a different story.
Running a child care business means doing a lot of administrative work, and how you handle things like billing, staff time sheets, and daily reports can affect your efficiency. Child care management software can help you automate and streamline your recurring tasks to increase your productivity and your bottom line. It can also help you build a good rapport with parents through streamlined, family-friendly communication and convenient options like automated billing.
Here are eight ways that child care management software can help improve the administrative side of your business, so you can spend more time and energy on creating an amazing experience for the children in your care.
1. Digital timecards
When staff sign in to work each day digitally, keeping track of their hours becomes a much simpler affair. Rather than having to calculate the hours each staff member worked by hand, software can help with auto-generating those calculations for you for any given staff member and date range. This means you can check time sheets and calculate paychecks from anywhere without having to carry around sensitive paperwork. Using digital timecards means running payroll takes less time and is more convenient.
2. Convenient communication
Parent communication is the backbone of any child care business, but that doesn't mean it is easy. You need to know what the right channel is to contact parents in every scenario, and keep multiple points of contact on file for every family. Will your email get lost in an inbox, and which email on file is the most recent? When is the best time to call an office number vs. a cell phone if something isn't urgent?
With a digital system that stores child profiles, including parent contact information, you can quickly pull up phone numbers and emails, or even communicate with push notifications. This means you can pick the appropriate channel to use at any time and keep parents informed. With in-app notifications, parents always know where to go to find updates on their child, and won't miss a voicemail or have an email buried in an inbox. Parents want to stay up to date with what is going on with their children, and making easy communication a priority builds relationships that can strengthen your reputation and help ensure re-enrollment.
3. Less printing
From daily reports to enrollment forms, much of what used to be managed with pen and paper can be taken care of using child care management software. When you are printing hundreds of pages a month in daily report forms alone, spending on paper and ink can add up. During busy periods like enrollment, this can easily balloon. Digital systems significantly reduce that cost.
It also takes staff hours to restock supplies, print out forms, and file away information. Using a digital system means everything is neat and ready on a computer, phone, or tablet whenever you (or your families) need it. This reduces hassle for your staff across a number of tasks, from taking attendance to checking an emergency contact or an allergy.
4. Fast and accurate invoices
Billing families is easier and faster using child care management software. You can create invoices without hassle using pre-set costs in your billing system to make handling different care schedules, meal charges, and one-off fees simpler. Or, set up recurring plans to generate invoices with the same set of recurring costs automatically. Then push out your invoices from your online system directly to parents and track their payment status in your system.
This streamlines the process of generating and sending invoices, cutting administrative work around billing, especially when you automate recurring invoices.
5. Efficient daily reports
Staff members using paper reports have to juggle recording the day's events with actually engaging with children. Using an app to quickly log common events with the tap of a finger can save time — actions like napping or snacks can easily be recorded with a few touches. Daily reports are then delivered to parents digitally, simplifying that hectic pickup time.
In addition, digital daily reports can include parent-friendly touches, like photos, that keep families connected with their child and confident about the quality of the care their child is receiving. This is particularly helpful for divorced parents and working families, who can get a daily report whether or not they are picking up their child that day. This aids in your parent communication and builds a stronger rapport between you and the families you work with, which can boost referrals and re-enrollment.
6. Easier child portfolios
If you run a child care center, your staff probably spends a big chunk of time compiling portfolios to showcase the progress of each child in their care. Reporting, scheduling activities, and keeping observations and photos in child care management software, means you automatically have everything you need all in one place.
Rather than looking through paper reports, staff can easily find any historical information they need to generate a portfolio in a child's digital profile. This ensures the accuracy of child portfolios while saving your staff time — a win-win for any child care center.
7. Automated payments for families
Every month when families need to pay for child care, their bill can be automatically taken care of — every busy parent's dream. No more remembering the checkbook or getting chased down for late payments — everything is on time and happens automatically. Autopay offers families the flexibility to make partial payments any time before their autopay date, and pay the rest on the day an automated payment is processed. If a payment fails, you get an automatic notification that there has been a problem. Autopay can give parents peace of mind knowing their invoices are promptly paid, while helping ensure that you can take care of your bills and expenses promptly.
8. Accurate enrollment forecasting
Enrollment forecasting allows you to accurately plan for future sessions based on the children currently in your care. A digital system can tell you who is aging out, and which children will be in what age group for your upcoming sessions.
Not only does digital management of your center's enrollment information help predict the number of children in your care, it allows you to spend the necessary time and money focusing on ensuring that all of your class rosters are full. Quickly learn which children are aging out and which classes may need additional staff support or fall short of full enrollment levels. Then use this knowledge — and the extra time you now have — on marketing efforts and/or hiring new staff.
Optimizing the business side of your child care service is an opportunity to help your bottom line in a number of ways. Save staff time and energy by automating or eliminating tasks, and make it easier for them to do things like create detailed child portfolios. Strengthen your connection with parents by giving them superior communication and options to pay in a way that works for them. Give yourself the flexibility to automatically calculate staff time sheets and tuition bills from anywhere. The sum of all these parts is a more efficient business that supports better care.