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Jun 8, 2020 8 min read

Procare Online vs. Procare Desktop: Which is Right for You?

Procare By: Procare

Trying to decide whether Procare Online vs. Procare Desktop is right for you?

As the number one name in child care software, Procare is committed to building innovative products that meet the changing needs of child care centers worldwide. 

On May 5, 2020, we delivered on that commitment once again with the release of Procare Online, a platform designed to promote business simplification and enhance efficiency for child care centers.

With Procare Online, we’re offering lightning-fast deployment, new lesson planning capabilities and in-app billing through a cloud-based platform. While there’s a fair bit of feature overlap with our Procare Desktop platform, there are still plenty of differences that our customers should be aware of before choosing between Procare Online and Procare Desktop.

To help you decide which platform is best for your child care center, we’ve created this resource. We’ll explain the most important feature differences between the two platforms and how to decide which option is best for you.

Procare Online vs. Procare Desktop: What’s the Difference?

Procare Online and Procare Desktop are both child care management platforms for child care facilities of all sizes. 

Procare Online is ideal for child care centers looking to simplify and save time on daily operations and business management tasks. It offers industry-leading parent engagement capabilities, an easy-to-use solution for billing and payments, and rapid deployment.

Procare Desktop is ideal for child care centers with complex billing requirements and the need to optimize staff management and streamline back-office processes. Procare Desktop offers features that support high-level oversight and management of daily operations, staffing, complex billing requirements, and back-office processes like accounting and payroll.   

Procare Online vs. Procare Desktop: Feature Breakdown

Now that we’ve explained at a high level the difference between Procare Online vs. Procare Desktop, let’s take a closer look at the features provided by each platform.

Procare Online Features 

Child Care Management System (CMS)

The Procare Online CMS is delivered through a web application, so it’s available on PC, Mac and mobile devices. With Procare Online, child care centers can manage family and child information, organize staff scheduling, manage child-staff ratio compliance and track attendance. Modules for meal tracking and food program management are also included.

Mobile Apps

Procare Online includes a mobile app designed to facilitate engagement between parents and the child care center.

Child care administrators and providers can use the mobile app to communicate internally about staff scheduling or plan events. They can also reach out to parents with individualized or bulk communication (newsletters, event notifications, updates, etc.) Parents can use the engagement app to enjoy photos and videos of daily activities uploaded to the Procare Online platform by enthusiastic child care providers. 

Financial Management

Procare Online offers an intuitive financial management platform for child care centers with attendance-based billing needs (i.e. charging a flat hourly, daily, weekly or monthly rate per child). Child care centers with Procare Online can accept multiple payment options, accurately account for payments on a per-family basis, and track tuition charges and balances for all enrolled children.


Procare offers integrated payments with Tuition Express, the most secure and convenient platform for child care payment processing. Parents can pay tuition online or use Procare Online in-app billing and payment management capabilities.

Staff Management

Procare Online makes it easy for child care center administrators to manage staff information and business payroll through a simple, web-based interface. A sign in-out app and digital time sheets helps child care centers save time and eliminate paper waste from the payroll management process.

Early Childhood Learning

Procare Online offers features that support early childhood learning. Child care providers can use the platform to create customized lesson plans, schedule them by date and room, and save them to be reused or repurposed later. They can also capture daily observations, support them with images and video, attach them to digital child profiles, and share them with parents to celebrate progress. Finally, Procare Online provides customizable templates for measuring learning progress against 50 state assessment standards for early childhood learning.

Parent Engagement & Communication

Parent engagement features are one of the most important ways that child care centers can use Procare Online to enhance the parent experience. In addition to staff-to-parent messaging and newsletter creation, the Procare Online platform allows child care providers to upload pictures and videos of daily activities, and keep parents in the loop with a parent-accessible event calendar.  


Procare Online customers benefit from fast and easy account set-up – it takes just a few days to deploy the software in your child care center.

Procare Desktop Features

Family & Child Management

Procare Desktop makes it easy for child care centers to store and access family and child information for recordkeeping, safety and other purposes. In addition to tracking basic identifiers like names and birthdays, Procare Desktop helps child care administrators stay on top of:

• Emergency contacts and authorized pick-ups for each child

• Enrollment status

• Attendance scheduling

• Absence and vacation tracking

• Immunization tracking

• Class sizes and staffing ratios

• Meal tracking

Additional features like electronic document storage, integrated texting, multiple user access and log notes ensure that child care administrators can act quickly and decisively in any situation to ensure the safety of every child.

Center Financial Accounting

Procare Desktop integrates seamlessly with Tuition Express, delivering robust financial management and billing capabilities that help child care centers manage complex billing situations. With Procare Desktop, child care centers can process recurring weekly or monthly tuition fees and accurately match those fees with real child attendance schedules. 

The platform supports split billing for multiple-household families and either fixed-amount or percentage-based late fees. Child care centers supporting subsidized families can use Procare Desktop to manage payments from the most common subsidized child care programs (DHS, DFACS, DCFS, Head Start, etc.).

The Procare Desktop platform creates full and immediate transparency into the billing history and account balance of each family, including registration fees, tuition, discounts and payments received.

Staff Management

Procare Desktop offers the staff management features that child care centers need to operate at peak efficiency. Child care centers can use Procare to track the most important information about their staff members, including their immunization history and workplace attendance record.

The platform supports staff scheduling and timecard calculation, tracks vacation and sick days, and streamlines the payroll process with single-step payroll calculation. Working with Procare Desktop, child care administrators can automate reporting on employee attendance, scheduling, timecards and benefit hours.

Corporations & Franchises

Incorporated child care businesses with multiple franchises are uniquely positioned to benefit from Procare Desktop and its corporate tracking capabilities.

In addition to detailed operations reports, Procare Desktop lets corporate child care organizations compare business metrics across multiple locations, define and track their own KPIs, and import staff timecard data into third-party payroll systems.


You’ll enjoy full implementation support from our Procare sales team throughout the one- to two-week deployment process.

Procare Online vs. Procare Desktop Use Cases

Now that we’ve looked at Procare Online vs. Procare Desktop features in greater detail, how do you determine which one is best for you?

One way is by visiting our home page and taking the quiz to find the best fit for your child care business.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick summary of how to choose between Procare Online vs. Procare Desktop for your child care center.

Procare Online

Procare Online is ideal for child care centers with low to medium technological maturity and a need for business solutions that emphasize ease-of-use. 

There are also a few special cases where Procare Online is the preferred solution, such as:

• When your child care center is in Canada or outside the United States

• When your child care facility uses exclusively Mac/Apple hardware, as Procare Desktop runs exclusively on Windows.

Procare Desktop

Procare Desktop is ideal for child care centers with a strong process-orientation and a need for powerful business solutions that promote efficiency and decrease waste.  

Specific use cases for Procare Desktop include:

• Child care centers that need to reconcile child care subsidy payments from multiple agencies

• Large child care centers that require detailed and specific user permissions for staff members

• Managing accounts payable, billing, budgets and payroll from a single platform

Ready to Get Started with Procare?

When it comes to Procare Online vs. Procare Desktop, it’s important to choose the platform that makes sense for your business.

Whichever option you choose, Procare puts you in full control of your child care center, helps you save time and money, and makes every day better for child care providers, administrators and parents.

So, are you ready to get started? Request a Demo Today

Request a Demo

Request a demo and talk with one of our friendly Procare experts to get a tailored child care solution for the unique needs of your business.

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