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Apr 6, 2020 6 min read

Child Care Online Registration: Why Switch to Digital?

Procare By: Procare
If you are still handling program registration manually via paper, it’s time to rethink your approach. Paper-based registration is inconvenient for parents and your staff – and expensive for your program. No wonder so many providers are embracing child care online registration.

The issues with paper-based registration

Let’s consider the paper-based registration experience from parents’ perspective. To register for your programs, they either need to request forms via mail or print them from your website. It is also important to remember that along with forms from parents,  as a program you must also capture state-required data. This means parents must fill out state information cards in addition to your registration form, and forms such as permission notes for field trips and photos, to name a few. Once parents have gathered and filled out all these forms, they must then either mail them in or drop them off. As if that’s not enough of a hassle, they must repeat this process for every session and program.

Once parents complete this manual process, your staff then needs to do the same. You’ll find your staff getting bogged down by the time-intensive task of manually transferring registration information to your systems of record. And whenever a manual process is dependent on someone entering information, you can be certain that some errors are made during that data-transfer process. In addition to being error-prone, the manual entry process  adds no value to the services you provide. It also reduces the amount of time your administrators can spend on the activities that matter most, such as ensuring your programs deliver value.

With all of these issues and little, if any, upside, it’s hard to justify sticking with an outdated registration model.

Streamline by enabling child care online registration

These days, outstanding customer service is an essential part of every thriving business. You want to not only provide good child care and programs, but also make it easy for families to partner with you.

To satisfy parents’ expectations and streamline your internal processes, it’s imperative to modernize. Child care online registration is often the first entry point for providers going digital.

With child care online registration, you can include as much detail about your programs as you like. That means your staff spends less time fielding emails and phone calls to answer questions from parents about your programs, rates, schedules and more.

Plus, by allowing parents to self-serve, you enable them to enter their own information and upload forms/waivers one time. Today’s technology even allows families to safely sign off digitally on terms and conditions within the online registration process.

Not only can you be certain you capture the right family data from the start, you can also automatically map the information parents enter to multiple forms. Parents no longer need to fill out form after form and your staff no longer needs to spend their time transferring all that information.

The entire experience is refreshing for parents who have suffered through paper-based registration until now – and it’s expected by young, digitally native parents. For all parents, it’s a breeze to re-register. After initial registration, they simply update their selections and information with each subsequent registration via a parent portal or mobile app.

What to look for in a child care online registration solution

Now that you see the advantages of online registration, you’ll want to find the best solution for your business. Here are the key features that will enable the smoothest child care online registration for you and the families you serve:

  • Simple to configure. Ensure the solution makes it simple for you to easily enable child care online registration for your before-school and afterschool programs, regardless of how large or complicated your programs. When you configure online registration with the solution, you should be able to easily designate relevant programs (such as dance, afterschool, etc.). For each program, the ideal solution should let you choose from a default set of common information fields, including name, allergies, contact information and more. You should also be able to add custom fields as needed.
  • Eases the enrollment process. The ideal solution only asks families to enter their information one time. It then automatically maps the data to all necessary forms and systems, including registration, waivers, billing, state information cards and more. This reduces the burden on both the families you serve and your staff.
  • Simplifies collecting state information. Look for a solution that automatically generates state information cards and other government mandated forms. This will reduce the worrying on your end about checking all the boxes and instead give you confidence that nothing important falls through the cracks.
  • Streamlines future registrations. The right solution will automatically save all data entered by parents to their account and make it accessible via a dedicated portal and mobile app. When families re-register in the future, it’s a breeze since their basic information can pre-populate the new form.
  • Supports a range of payment options. Certain solutions integrate with popular digital payment options, including ACH, debit and credit. They might even include an integrated payment processor to streamline work on your end. Look for a solution that you can configure so registration doesn’t process unless parents pay while registering. This ensures payments are collected early, reducing accounts receivable work on your end.
  • Ensures reliable cash flow. Most child care-centered businesses wait two to five business days for funds to be deposited in their bank account. Did you know it’s possible to get tuition payments into your bank account within 24 hours? The right solution enables you to ensure you always get paid on time so you can focus on growing your business and providing high-quality child care instead of reconciling financial records and chasing down tuition payments.
  • Enables families to modify information. Look for a solution that enables families to easily submit program changes – such as choosing a different session or time – through a portal after they register. The solution should make these changes visible to your staff to review and approve (or decline). It should also be able to automatically update a family’s financial ledger/statement, eliminating manual modifications on your end to account for those changes.
  • Helps manage capacity. At times, too many families will register for your highly in-demand programs. While a good problem to have, it’s still one you must address. Some solutions enable you to wait-list families and then approve or decline their enrollment. Make sure once you approve the family, the solution can send a customized email to indicate they have been enrolled in your program.

Move forward confidently with digital registration

Running your business smoothly is a matter of carefully orchestrating many moving parts. Ideally you want to streamline processes wherever possible. One process ripe for improvement is program registration. With the right child care online registration solution, you make life easier for your administrators and the parents you serve.

As you look for a solution, use the checklist above to ensure you’re making the best choice possible for your business. To learn how our solution – SchoolCare Works™ – ranks, learn more about it here.

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