🇺🇸 How can software help keep child care programs safe in the pandemic?

For a service as vital as child care, you deserve the best tools for the job.
September 16, 2021
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As child care professionals across the country dig deep to find ways to keep everyone safe, stay open and keep giving quality care, one tool is playing an increasingly vital role.

It’s software.

Sure, it's not the same as a massive federal aid package. But in the here and now, child care management software is an easy, accessible way to wipe away some daily anxieties, and keep everyone at your center that much safer. From digitizing daily duties to screening for symptoms at the front door, child care management software can help you, your team, and your families get a little more control over everything.

Child care is essential infrastructure, and you deserve every resource to help you care for the children growing up through these uncertain times. So let’s take a look at how software like Famly can give you the best tools for the job.

The big ideas

At a glance: Child care software and the coronavirus

If you’re in a rush, here’s a quick run-down of the most critical ways that child care software is helping providers keep safe and stable throughout the coronavirus pandemic.

  • Health screenings. With a quick questionnaire in your software’s mobile app, you can check that staff and children are symptom-free when they arrive at your door. Plus, you’ve got documentation that your center has been sticking to your licensing office’s coronavirus precautions.
  • Touchless sign-ins. Makes it simple to stay socially distanced during morning drop-offs and afternoon pick-ups, and reduces unnecessary exposure between parents and your staff.
  • Easier invoicing. Channeling all your billing operations through your software makes it easier for parents to pay tuition, and means fewer follow-up calls on late payments. All that's good news for your bottom line.
  • Managing ratios. Some software, like Famly, allows you to get a quick overview of your staff-to-child ratios in each room at your center. Easier staffing means a safer center, and avoids overcrowding.
  • Better communication. While everything’s still so upside down, don’t waste time getting a hold of your team or families. Instant messaging makes it easy to share important information quickly.

Easy screening, every day

Protecting your center starts at the front door. The CDC’s guidelines for child care centers put a big focus on daily health screenings, so you should make sure that every child and staff member is symptom-free before they even step inside your center.

On Famly, you can now make a health questionnaire part of the staff sign-in and morning drop-off. Before entering your center, users must confirm short statements like the ones below:

  • In the past 72 hours, neither me, my child or anyone in my household have had a fever, a cough, fatigue, shortness of breath, or a loss of smell or taste.
  • Neither me, my child or anyone in my household has traveled to any areas within my state’s travel advisory in the past 14 days.
  • My child has a temperature below 100°F, and I have not given them any fever-reducing medication today.

This questionnaire is customizable, so you can tailor it to your state guidelines and licensing guidelines. It’s an easy way to help keep your child care center safe, healthy and happy.

At Brooklyn Schoolhouse, Education Director Melanie Muskin has been using Famly’s health screening function as she’s opened for the school year. For her, having the daily questionnaires on file just makes for a little more peace of mind.

“It’s perfect for what we need — contactless, paperless, and thorough,” Melanie says. “Plus, we’re able to have a permanent electronic record of the daily health checks that we could reference in the future to help keep track of any possible COVID exposures. It’s a win-win for us.”

Contactless sign-ins

Under the pandemic, Famly’s contactless sign-in function has taken on a whole new importance.

In the mornings, parents can register their child’s drop-off through the Famly mobile app, from up to 1,000 feet away from their child care center. That means dozens of fewer people touching the same tablet or pen and clipboard every morning, avoiding one of the biggest risks for person-to-person exposure at your child care center.

Parents want to keep their children safe, and having an organized drop-off and pick-up process Putting that functionality in parents’ pockets helps them feel in control, and shows you care about their children’s safety as much as they do.

Tuition and billing

The coronavirus has put serious pressure on child care centers’ bottom line. According to a July 2020 survey by NAEYC, 86 percent of child care centers have experienced a drop in enrollment, and 70 percent are dealing with increased expenses for staffing, cleaning and supplies. Even still, the pandemic complicates everything from getting the proper supplies to making ends meet.

Countless industries have been strained under this pandemic, but nothing has as such an immediate, profound effect on so many peoples’ wellbeing as child care. That’s all the more reason to make sure that you’re collecting your tuition on time, with as little hassle as possible.

Melanie Muskin has found that Famly’s invoicing system has made it easier for her to collect tuition from her families — even easier, in fact, than it was before the coronavirus.

“Prior to the pandemic, we collected checks in-person as well as electronic payments online. It was an arduous process, tracking down missing payments and making time to go to the bank,” Melanie says. “With Famly, this entire process is automated. We invoice families through it, they pay us through it, we send reminders through it. The process is so simple that some families have begun paying tuition early.”

“With Famly, the entire billing process is automated. We invoice families through it, they pay us through it, we send reminders through it. The process is so simple that some families have begun paying tuition early.”

-Melanie Muskin, Education Director, Brooklyn Schoolhouse

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Keeping safe throughout the day

Of course, coronavirus precautions at your center don’t stop once everyone’s through the front door.

Platforms like Famly have a staffing feature, which in these corona times, gives you an easy overview of your staff-to-child ratios in each room, and your staff’s schedules for the coming weeks. By keeping everything simple and at-a-glance, you can be sure you’re keeping to the adjusted staff-to-child ratios, and you’re using less time sorting out who can work when.

Clear communications

When you have to update your parents on changing regulations, closures, COVID cases, and any number of other developments, you want to do so quickly and clearly. Famly’s messaging system puts everything in one place — no more sorting through three email inboxes, a scribbled list of emergency contacts and a WhatsApp group chat to get your message across.

Having a streamlined communications channel makes it easier to keep your team on the same page, and keep your parents in the loop. That way, nothing important slips through the cracks.

Staying flexible in tricky times

In the event of a possible closure, or if someone at your center gets sick, having software like Famly means you don’t need to come to a complete stop — you can take things online. That way, you can continue to support families when they need it most, and keep a stream of income to your center.

Famly has a suite of tools to help you switch to online learning:

  • Famly Live — Famly’s in-app video conferencing function means you can lead remote lessons in a snap, without having to download any more fiddly software. It’s easy to use, and gives you a more personal connection to the families staying at home.
  • Activity Library — Take inspiration from hundreds of early years activity ideas, submitted by child care providers across the country. Then, send them along to your families in a snap. Think of it like Pinterest for child care — you’ll never be short on things to do.
  • Sharing Lesson Plans — You can stick to your curriculum, come rain or shine. You can pass along whole lesson plans to everyone at home, and even attach recorded videos to let families learn whenever suits them best.

These days, it’s tough to say what the future holds. But with the right software, you’ve got a safety net for whatever comes next.

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Official Danish Government Reopening Advice

Guidance from the Danish Health Ministry, translated in full to English.

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UK Nursery Covid-19 Response Group Recommendations

The full recommendations from a working group of over 70 nursery chains in the UK.

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.

Learn more about Famly

Find out below how Famly helped Tenderlinks in recording child development, and see what we can do for you in a personal demo.