Looking Back to Look Ahead: Surviving 2020 and Thriving in 2021

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2020 challenged the child care industry – and our global community, for that matter – in ways we never imagined. Faced with an unprecedented pandemic, we had to think and act quickly, and become comfortable with constant change and the unknown. It was, and continues to be, a daily struggle. But if anything, this year has shown us that the child care industry is incredibly resourceful and resilient, and despite a host of setbacks and uncertainty, providers were able to show up for their communities.

At Procare, we’re ready for the new year and have a lot of exciting things planned. However, it’s also important to look back on 2020 and reflect on the ways we came together as a team to support our incredible customers during this stressful year.

Focused on Health & Safety

While health and safety have always been a focus area for child care businesses, this year, it became the top concern for child care administrators, staff and families alike. To that end, Procare worked quickly to roll out contactless solutions like check-in and check-out, which use both QR code and GPS technology. In addition, we rolled out multi-question support, allowing customers to incorporate questions into the check-in process.

To help customers navigate the daily challenges presented by COVID-19, we created a microsite filled with resources including articles, guides, eBooks, infographics and more.

Enabled a Fully Integrated App to Help Create Stronger Parent Connections

There’s no question that engaging with parents and maintaining open lines of communication became a key issue for child care providers. Mitigating the spread of COVID-19 meant fewer (if any) in-person interactions with parents, making parent communication tools and applications all the more important. Procare worked quickly to introduce its Parent Engagement app to its Procare Desktop customers, ensuring both Online and Desktop customers could offer parents the following benefits, all in one easy-to-use app:

  • Contactless QR code and GPS Check-In/Out, letting parents to check their children in and out from their smartphones.
  • Lesson Plan Resource Sharing, making it easier to either facilitate at-home learning and/or keep parents up to date on their child’s development.
  • Ability to receive their children’s photos/videos, milestones and daily activities.
  • Ability to read rich, compelling newsletter content.
  • Two-way communication capabilities, meaning every conversation with parents is all in one place. It also includes threaded messaging, which means parents (and centers) can view an entire conversation in one stream. 

Launched New Features to Support Learning & Development

We heard a lot from our customers this past year that they needed easy ways to track developmental progress, while also making it simpler to facilitate online or hybrid learning options. To support them, Procare rolled out several new features, available to both Procare Online and Procare Desktop with Parent Engagement customers:

  • State & Montessori Standards: We sourced the most up-to-date state and Montessori standards and pre-loaded them into our platforms to simplify lesson planning and milestone tracking.
  • Lesson Plan Resource Sharing: With this feature, we enabled the capability for child care administrators to upload links, images and documents that staff members can then choose to share with parents. By sharing lesson plan resources, child care providers not only keep parents in the loop on their child’s learning and development journey, but also, the feature enables them to provide more support because they have access to the lesson plan and any supporting documents.

Simplified the Procare User Experience

The challenges presented by COVID-19 complicated every aspect of our work and home life. This spurred Procare to focus on ways we could enhance and simplify our customers’ experience with our platforms. Improvements included:

  • Quick Actions Menu for Procare Online: The Quick Actions menu was created to give Procare Online customers a way to access their frequently-used actions from any screen. Users can customize their Quick Actions, which include options like:
    • Add Staff
    • Add Calendar Event
    • Create Invoice
    • Add Student
    • Add Lead
  • New Look for Procare Desktop: To give our customers more ways to customize the look and feel of their Procare Desktop experience, we added a new design featuring our updated brand colors and imagery. Customers can choose to use this new look, or stay with their current style.  

Introduced a Report Tracking the Impact of COVID-19 on the Child Care Industry

As a company that supports child care businesses across the country, Procare saw an opportunity to leverage our data to provide an informative view of the child care industry as it navigated the COVID-19 pandemic. “Tracking the Impact of COVID-19 on the Child Care Industry” assessed anonymized data to identify trends in attendance and child care center re-openings. The report, which continues to be published regularly, provides both a U.S. and state-by-state analysis of child care attendance rates. Because of the unique data offered, the report was featured in a variety of articles in top media outlets like the Wall Street Journal, CNBC and Forbes.

Unveiled New Brand, New Website and New Microsites

2020 was definitely the year for change, and at Procare, we made some big changes to our brand and website.

  • New Brand: As we have continued to grow and evolve to better meet the needs of our customers, we knew we needed to capture the essence of that evolution while still honoring our past. Our new brand, which we rolled out in May, was guided by the feedback of customers, partners and industry leaders, and incorporates a new slate of colors, a new logo and new imagery.
  • New Website: We completely reimagined our website to not only reflect the new brand, but also make it simpler to navigate and to enable customers to easily access the information they need. This included build-out of a brand new Resource Center, which is chock-full of articles, guides, infographics and other resources aimed at helping child care businesses flourish.
  • New Microsites: With the pandemic creating a high degree of uncertainty among child care administrators, teachers and staff members, Procare developed two microsites with specific information aimed at navigating and thriving in a COVID-19 (and post COVID-19) world:

    Navigating and Succeeding in Today’s Environment: This COVID-19 resource microsite offers dozens of resources aimed at helping child care personnel communicate with families, reopen and market their centers, leverage Procare’s solutions to grow their businesses and learn about financial assistance.

    Resources for Teachers and Child Care Staff Members: This microsite features blog posts, guides, articles, videos and a variety of other resources that provide information on classroom activities, career development, parent engagement and COVID-19.

Looking Ahead

The child care industry has weathered perhaps the biggest storm it has ever faced; however, what we’ve learned will no doubt help us to not only more effectively traverse any challenges in 2021, but also turn those challenges into success over the next year.

We want to thank child care businesses for everything they’re doing to support the learning and development of the children in their care. Your impact is invaluable, and we look forward to helping you thrive in 2021.

About The Author

Michelle Burrows

Michelle Burrows serves as Chief Marketing Officer at Procare, providing integrated software, products and solutions for child-centered businesses. In her role as CMO, Michelle drives strategy, brand awareness, demand generation and delivering outstanding customer experiences.

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