When taking over at a child care center that has been operating for 30 years, Julie*, the new director made it her first priority to empower staff to focus on what matters: families and their children. By taking advantage of Procare and its parent engagement capabilities, she has been able to deliver on that vision.
Bogged Down by Paperwork
Before being named director of the child care center, Julie had taught in classrooms for over 25 years. Though she hadn’t been part of the administrative side of running a child care center, she quickly recognized the need for changes when she became director.
With an enrollment of 180 children, this child care center is open 11 hours per day, five days a week, and is staffed by 43 teachers and four administrators. The center handled key processes on paper. Parents filled out forms to get on the waitlist and sign up for the requisite tour. They also registered and re-registered their children on paper forms, and filled out immunization cards.
Parents checked their children in by filling out a book in the lobby. Every month, center staff had to process the check-in sheets for every child, put them into binders and get parents to sign them.
Once COVID-19 hit, the center wanted to limit people touching the same paper, so each classroom had its own sign-in and sign-out sheets and staff had to continually clean pens after parents used them. The child care center could incur a $150 fine from its regulatory agency for every time a parent didn’t sign in or out.
Even classroom attendance was noted on paper. Moreover, staff managed tuition payments using spreadsheets. The center accepted paper checks, which sometimes led to issues with accounts being in arrears.
Streamlining and Improving Processes with Procare
The center bought Procare’s child care management software platform, but hadn’t used it when Julie joined. She reached out to a previous child care center where she had worked. It had deployed Procare after she left and she wanted to know what they thought of the software.
“They loved it, and were taking advantage of just about every feature. They feel that Procare is intuitive because it is designed specifically for child care, and eliminates a lot of the stress that comes with running a child care program. Having now used the software, I completely agree, ” Julie says.
Now the child care center handles everything from registration and tuition processing to contactless check-in using Procare. It captures all registration, emergency forms, rosters and immunizations in Procare. Staff can much more easily track when children are due for immunizations – a process that was very cumbersome when immunizations were tracked on cards.
“Parents love the contactless check-in. Parents use a QR code to check in. It takes them 30 seconds. They come in, scan the code and sign our iPad, and wait while we check their child’s temperature before taking the children to class,” continues Julie.
The center also eliminated accounts in arrears since it processes tuition electronically using Tuition Express, which is integrated with Procare’s software.
“Tuition Express is a godsend. In real time, we can easily pull data, run every report we need, and know that every child’s accounting sheet is accurate. It was transformative because we eliminated all the stress around financials,” Julie explains.
In addition, the center has since deployed Procare’s parent engagement platform, which makes it possible to stay connected with families via an easy-to-use app. Teachers use this to remind parents of things like pajama day. Julie even used it to send an alert in real time about a delayed opening when a power outage occurred.
“Procare Parent Engagement provides an additional layer of communications. People have technology fatigue right now, so it’s helpful to send alerts on phones instead of via email. Plus, it’s faster to send messages to all families with children in the same classroom, or even to a single parent, such as, ‘Your child isn’t signed in. Please wait for the all clear,’ ” she continues.
While the child care center enjoys a range of benefits by using Procare, perhaps what matters most is that it has freed staff time.
“Procare shortens so many processes that we can use our time and resources wisely to focus in the right places: on families and their children,” Julie concludes.
*Name changed to protect privacy of center and director