How child care management software saves you hours of work each week

4 ways digital tools help child care centers save time
Enlarged child care management software in a room with two people
October 24, 2022
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Time is money, and child care workers deserve more of both.

But while getting more money into our early education services proves difficult, there’s one immediate solution we can try: saving time.

In recent years, the top time-saving tool in early education has been child care management software. The right set of digital management tools can whisk away the tedious administrative tasks and automate your paperwork with just a tap. That leaves you and your team with more time, energy and focus for the tasks in early education that really bring you joy.

Seen from a bird’s eye view, child care software is a huge time-saver in these four areas:

  1. Parent engagement and communication
  2. Managing staff schedules
  3. Calculating room ratios and attendance
  4. Simplifying your billing processes

In this article, I’ll walk through these one by one, and go into detail about exactly how the right child care management software can take care of those clunky manual processes, and put time back in your day.

But before we get to that, let’s look at why time saving is so critical in the first place.

Why spare time is so important for child care professionals

A lot of different software promises to save you time. Accounting programs, car insurance providers, food delivery apps, and thousands more businesses might lay claim to the same benefit.

But within the context of early education, time saving takes on a new meaning, because we’re dealing with the growth and wellbeing of a whole generation of children. In your field, an hour saved on paperwork can mean more time for lesson plans, and learning that children carry with them for life.

Let’s look at two big ways where time-saving is so valuable in early education:

  1. It’s a big factor in staff wellbeing and happiness. When your team can save hours in their day, they don’t have to scramble during nap time to catch up on the paperwork. Put simply, child care management software makes teachers' jobs easier. Time-saving allows educators to be more present, more relaxed on the job, and more likely to stick around in the long run.
  2. More time means a better experience for children. With more time on your hands, it’s easier for educators to share unhurried, one-on-one time with individual children. These shared moments — even the daily routines — are foundational for building up the close relationships that support children’s growth. It means educators have the bandwidth to be more present in their interactions, to give every child more attention and focus on the moments that bring them joy in early education.

Educator using child care management software

Make parent communication faster, easier and more meaningful

Parent engagement can be one of your biggest time sinks in early education. But it’s also a critical part of the process — so your focus should be on parent communication that’s seamless and effective.

If you’re not already using child care software, your parent communications are likely a little scattered. It’s common for educators to rely on a clunky collage of email chains, WhatsApp chats, Facebook groups, personal phone numbers and voicemails to pass along vital info. 

But juggling so many lines of contact eats up lots of precious time, and offers too many opportunities for vital info to slip through the cracks.

Let's look at all the features that can save you time with parent engagement at your child care center:

  1. Get an all in one solution for parent engagement. Quit checking a half dozen different platforms to make sure you got your message out — now, you’ve got a one-stop-shop for everything. That means less time spent playing phone tag.
  2. Communicate in pictures, not words. A picture says a thousand words — and it’s a heck of a lot quicker than writing a thousand words, too. Tools like Famly's own easy to use interface make it simple to send parents pictures and videos of their children’s days. This way, you can illustrate each child's development in a personal, immediate way.
  3. Register daily drop-offs and pick-ups within the app. This little feature takes some scramble out of those daily transitions, and gives you more time to connect with parents over more meaningful things. 

It may seem simple, but the all-in-one messaging is number one on that list for a reason. Candice Chouinard, Director of Wild Garden of Childhood in Massachusetts, was using eleven different forms of media to keep her families in the loop. But once she picked up Famly’s child care software, it’s the only she needs for parent engagement.

“There’s nothing more important than organization in the everyday routines — but that shouldn’t take all day. We needed our families to have their important information in one place. Then we got Famly, and that’s really allowed us to focus on what matters. We just have more time to focus on the children’s experience, and the wellbeing of our teachers and families.”

Candice Chouinard, Northampton MA

The big ideas

Staff scheduling, simplified

When you make your educators’ jobs easier, your whole child care center feels it. 

This is a big area where time-saving scales quickly. If software can save each of your 20 staff members two hours a week, you’ve suddenly freed up a full five-day work week of time within your program.

And when it comes to saving your team time (and headaches), we’ll start at the most practical level: sorting out your staff schedules.

A good digital platform should put your team’s schedules right in their pockets — no more printed calendars hanging on the wall, or waiting for a text Sunday night to get your shifts for the week. Management software (like Famly) digitalizes your team’s schedules, so swapping a shift becomes as easy as sending a text. 

To understand how this saves time in your daily practice, it can help to imagine these features in action. So when you’re taking a look at employee management features in child care software, it’s worth asking these questions:

  • If two of your team members want to trade shifts for a given day, how does that work in the app?
  • What does it take to check your work schedule? Is the user interface accessible and easy to understand?
  • How intuitive is this digital platform for your team? Ideally, the staff schedules and messaging functions should be close at hand, and easy to grasp on mobile devices.

Two educators use child care management software to plan staff schedules

Calculate your room ratios in a flash

It can feel like a juggling act to make sure you’re staying within ratio in every classroom. 

Charting that out on paper (or even in a spreadsheet) takes time. And if a teacher calls in sick or you get a few more children in on short notice, you’ve got to crunch the numbers all over again. This sort of program planning requires a lot of detailed administrative work, which can soon snowball into too many hours out of your week.

Here’s another key area where a little automation goes a long way. 

Using Famly as an example, let’s look at two big ways you’ll save time here:

  1. Auto-generate charts to quickly identify any ‘deficits’ in your schedule. Famly gives you a handy dashboard, where you can get an overview of your classrooms at a glance. By combining children’s attendance data along with your staff schedules, you’ll get accurate, easy-to-read charts that immediately show you how each classroom fits your desired ratios.
  2. Create ratio projections and plan for the future. When you’ve used Famly for some months, the system can start to analyze your attendance numbers, and find patterns of when you’re most busy. With this forecasting function, you're able to project those patterns into the future to see your staffing needs for the coming weeks and months. This saves time by eliminating the guesswork, and by helping you prepare in advance for what’s coming.

Cut down paperwork with child care management software

Automatic billing makes business finances a breeze

In early education, money can be both a time sink and a big source of stress.

Payment processing isn’t just a paperwork hassle, but also a potentially prickly subject that can strain parent relationships. But at FLEET Early Learning Station in Shawnee, Kansas, director Tara Van Fleet says one software solution made it all much simpler: Famly.

For Tara, Famly works precisely because it’s humming away in the background. The features she shows up front to parents, and where she’s able to concentrate her focus, are on all the tools that help parents and educators connect around their children’s growth.

“Parents like that Famly Pay is just integrated, all-in one, and easy,” Tara says. “When I explain billing to parents, I just go, yeah, it’s all in one. You just press a button and it’s done.”

At FLEET, sending out weekly invoices for tuition now takes just a half hour each week.

A couple taps is all it takes to send out auto-generated invoices to every family, who receive it in their own online portal in the Famly app. They can give it a look and pay early if they like, or just let the payment auto-process on Sunday evening.

Tara says this simple process not only cuts down her team’s workload, but also allows them to reclaim more time in her weekends to share with her family. There’s no more Sunday nights spent screening for late payments — and because the bills go through automatically, Tara’s team no longer has to chase down parents for missing tuition fees. 

If you’d like to learn more about how Famly gives Tara and her team more time back in each week, you can read their full story right here.

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Please note: here at Famly we love sharing creative activities for you to try with the children at your setting, but you know them best. Take the time to consider adaptions you might need to make so these activities are accessible and developmentally appropriate for the children you work with. Just as you ordinarily would, conduct risk assessments for your children and your setting before undertaking new activities, and ensure you and your staff are following your own health and safety guidelines.

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