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.