Child care businesses know that to see success, they need to maintain strong connections with the parents of the children they serve. But COVID-19 has thrown a wrench in their ability to do that, making parent communication tools and applications all the more important. But which ones to use?
Given the many different opportunities that arise for connection, child care centers may be relying on a variety of channels to communicate with parents while maintaining a safe physical distance, including phone, email, text, newsletter or social media. And those communications can include:
- New policies
- Information on upcoming events
- Details on a child’s learning progress
- Photos and videos of a child’s day
- An overview of a child’s daily activities (i.e. naps, diaper changes, food eaten, etc.)
If you’re reading this and thinking, “wow, that’s a lot to manage,” you’re not alone. Let’s take a closer look at some of the key challenges we’re seeing when it comes to parent engagement and how many child care centers are using “all-in-one” child care management platforms and apps to greatly simplify and streamline their parent communications. These tools are designed specifically for child care centers, and can help build strong relationships with parents without eating up the time providers could be spending with the children in their care.
Procare is here to help.
We know the business of child care. For more than 30 years we’ve been guiding child care professionals just like you to help stay connected and in control.
CHALLENGE 1: I’m overwhelmed trying to share each child’s progress, photos, videos and more with parents on a daily basis.
Parents want to be immersed in their child’s day – especially now, when they can’t see their child’s experiences in person. Some centers use apps like Facebook to share photos and videos with parents, often because they know most parents are familiar with how to use them. Or they’ll text parents directly. The problem? Doing that for every child is incredibly time-consuming and hard to keep track of.
The right parent engagement application makes sharing photos, videos, milestones and daily activities really easy. Instead of child care staff having to record a child’s activities in one place, then recreate that information in a Facebook message or text, all the child’s information and activities are already populated in the application, meaning staff can just click a few buttons to send the pre-packaged information to parents. Plus, it’s good to know that any notifications from you or your staff won’t get lost in the slew of other notifications parents are getting through a public social media app.
CHALLENGE 2: Parents are contacting me in a variety of ways, and it’s hard to manage.
Parents don’t just want to hear from you, they want to be able to respond. And for many child care professionals, that means juggling a variety of apps or channels depending on how the parents reach out. It’s overwhelming.
Look for a parent engagement app that offers two-way messaging. That way, every conversation you have with each parent is all in one place. Even better if the app has threaded messaging, which means you can view an entire conversation in one stream. The app should also allow you to easily switch to mass communication mode when you have something you want to share with every parent.
CHALLENGE 3: I need an easy way to share all of my center’s announcements and events.
Often times, you’ll have information and events you want to share with all of your parents. You can send out an email, but it’s clunky to put together, and busy parents might skim it and miss important information.
Get a parent engagement app that includes a newsletter function. This allows you to create rich, compelling newsletter content using the simple drag-and-drop interface. You can pick from many different layouts and themes, upload photos, add attachments and collaborate with other staff before sending. Well-designed newsletters are much easier to read than standard emails, and you can have confidence you’re getting your information across in a way that’s memorable and compelling.
CHALLENGE 4: I need a private and secure way to connect with parents.
When it comes to children, privacy and security are of the utmost importance. Parents want to know any information about their children is protected – and that extends to the communications you send and receive. With free apps like Facebook, you’re exchanging your data for ad-funded use of the platform. Parents might have reservations about photos and information related to their child being shared via a public platform with limited security protocols.
Parent engagement applications designed for child care are inherently more secure than the free applications. Because they’re not shared with millions or even billions of other people, they offer a more contained environment that’s easier to monitor and protect. Plus, the best apps offer a private feed for each child, ensuring their child’s information and photos/videos are only visible to their parents or caregivers.
CHALLENGE 5: I need a parent engagement tool that won’t break the bank.
It’s no secret that child care centers operate on smaller margins. When they come across a new product or service, they have to make sure the benefits justify the costs.
While the natural inclination is to pinch pennies everywhere, strong parent engagement apps – particularly those that can sync with a child care management platform – can end up both saving centers money and helping them bring in more money. For example, the app can reduce the administrative time staff members spend packaging and sending communications to parents and redirect that time toward marketing and recruiting. The benefits of a solid parent engagement app far outweigh its already nominal cost.
CHALLENGE 6: I need to know the parent engagement tool I use has my back if I have any issues.
While parent engagement apps are intuitive, you may have questions or need help at some point. However, free apps tend to make it hard to contact support, and you rarely, if ever, get to talk to a live person.
The best parent engagement apps offer live support – both via phone or chat directly within the app – and can help answer any questions or resolve any issues within minutes, not days or weeks. For those who prefer to address any issues themselves, make sure the app also offers a variety of support and troubleshooting articles.
Take Your Parent Communication to the Next Level with Procare
Procare’s parent engagement app is much more than a parent messaging tool – it offers a one-stop-shop for:
- Sharing children’s photos, videos, daily activities, newsletters and more
- Assessing and sharing children’s progress on developmental milestones
- Tracking attendance and any room movement
- Ensuring adherence to teacher/child ratios
- Viewing and updating family and child information
- Enabling contactless check-in/out
- Facilitating staff communication
- Implementing online registration
Building relationships with, and staying connected to, parents and families is critical to any child care center’s success, and it’s never been easier with Procare’s parent engagement solution.