Another summer of preparation is coming to an end, and after-school caregivers everywhere are dealing with feelings of both eagerness and apprehension about what the new school year has in store.
Before we go on, we would like to say good luck and thank you for doing what you do! Aspects of the industry like creating after-school schedules and templates, organizing your space, and opening lines of communication with parents are important. And, to be successful, these things certainly take time and preparation.
The many moving parts that go into running an after-school program can present challenges and obstacles – everything from enrollment to scheduling, billing, payments, and more. Pre-planning during the summer helps, but it doesn’t account for the unexpected hurdles that are so common across all types of child care.
Each school year presents an opportunity to improve. With that in mind, we’ve put together some ways that you can start off on the right foot this year.
5 Ways to Improve Your After-School Program This School Year
Below, we explore how you can guarantee that your after-school program will be running smoothly from day one, so that you and your staff can focus on the most important task of all – providing the best care for children under your watch.
1. Recognize Weaknesses from the Past Year
Taking a step back and identifying what needs changing can help you set goals for the new school year. It’s a continuous learning process. Consider factors like your personal goals, professional growth, and what’s next for your after-school program.
Entering the new year with goals that are both attainable and challenging is imperative from a business standpoint as well as on a personal level. Whether it’s paperwork causing clutter around your space, unpaid tuition bills that hold your program back, or keeping track of activities and schedules, know that these are not only common problems – they are solvable. We will continue to explore these pain points below.
2. Focus on The Development of Your Staff
At the end of the day, it’s all about building trust with parents and creating an environment that promotes growth for the children. Enter the new year with a clear vision and goals for the program from the start, and provide strong, directed leadership and support your staff. They are your greatest assets.
Child care centers and programs often still struggle collecting and leveraging data to make more informed business decisions. To gain a competitive advantage, owners and operators must use hardware and software solutions to assist with managing daily operations, so staff can focus on the most important task of all – providing the best care for children under their watch.
3. Automate & Simplify Processes
Administrative tasks such as collecting tuition, calculating payroll and managing supplies can be extremely time consuming. However, there are a variety of solutions that automate and simplify processes that have presented you with challenges in the past.
Take billing and payroll, for example. Your business will benefit from a software-driven approach that reduces time spent on routine processes, and parents will notice the improved experience as well. Another example to consider is attendance tracking.
These are prime examples of automation and data being put to work, and providing value for your after-school program. By streamlining these processes, you will have more time to focus on your after-school program management strategy.
4. Commit to Data Collection
Data collection is a significant factor in developing your after-school program management strategy and growing from year to year. For example, knowing which children are involved in which activity, monitoring class registration, and tracking sign-in sheets and attendance records, are data points that are essential. By keeping everything in a digital format you will simplify processes, significantly reduce clutter, and stay organized.
Child care management has been incrementally changing in new, unique ways for years due to the influence of technology. Parents tend to notice the little things. This includes how you handle certain situations, your organizational skills, and how responsive you are to communication. Parents have access to countless child care resources, and it’s safe to assume they have done their research.
This is one of the many reasons that record keeping is becoming more important than ever, and the right software can help keep up with collecting data that will improve operations and ensure everything is running efficiently.
5. Make Communication Easier for Parents
Each school year brings in more children that are born to millennial parents, and they are defined by their reliance on technology. Cell phones present a direct line of communication at nearly any time, and millennial parents also tend to use them as a wallet.
Using after-school program management software can make all the difference in their eyes. For example, cloud capabilities let parents access their portal on the go, and put them just a few clicks away from being in contact with you. Leveraging these capabilities can revolutionize your after-school program.
Remember, with each school year comes new opportunities and challenges for your after-school program. However, there are available solutions for the tasks that present challenges, create clutter, and take away from the time you can spend developing the children in your care.
Learn about how Procare Software can help support your after-school program needs year-round.