School-age kids spend 80% of their waking hours outside of school. And it’s estimated that 11.3 million children take care of themselves after the school day ends. That’s why before school, after school and summer learning programs (also called out-of-school time programs or OST) are so important.
Given the fluid and complex nature of these programs—especially in today’s environment—OST programs can encounter a variety of challenges that can hinder their ability to deliver meaningful learning experiences. Below are three of those challenges, as well as how providers are using technology to tackle them.
The check-in/check-out process can seem fairly simple, but there’s a lot of room for error if OST programs are doing it manually. And, given today’s health concerns, there’s something to be said for a less manual, less risky and less physical approach. With the right software, OST providers can:
- Allow parents to use their smartphone to check their kids in and out through contactless QR code or GPS technology.
- Track students’ activities/movements, which is not only helpful for OST programs that feature a varied curriculum, but also for health checks and ratio monitoring.
Many programs still do paper registration, which is time consuming and creates a lot of room for error. To address the cumbersome work that comes with using manual processes, many child care businesses are taking their registration online using child care management software. Benefits include:
- The ability to configure registration forms specifically to the programs being offered (such as before or after care, drop-in, summer camps, and enrichment and athletic programs).
- A completely contactless sign-up experience for parents and staff.
- An easy way for families to input all their information, including waivers, emergency contacts and medical info.
- The convenience of being able to set up automated billing at the same time, creating an easier and safer way to collect tuition.
Parent Engagement and Communication
The “secret sauce” to any good child care program is parent engagement. Yet so many still struggle with it – especially given social distancing and the fact that it’s hard for programs to visit with parents face-to-face. That’s why OST providers are turning to child care management technology to enable stronger connections with their families:
- Email or text families individually or all at once with ease. Being able to send
a text message to parents to convey time-sensitive information (like an illness) is critical now more than ever.
- Offer a parent portal, giving families one central location to make payments, set up autopay, update child and parent information, and access daily activity updates and photos.
- Provide online registration, allowing parents to easily sign their children up for programs from the comfort of their computer or smartphone.
- Accommodate fluctuating schedules, making it easier to meet your families’ varying needs.