Want to avoid burnout in child care? Here’s how child care software can help.

The right digital tools can reduce stress for early childhood educators.
Digital tools like child care software can reduce staff burnout in early education
February 8, 2024
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In early education, it’s too easy to lose a great team member.

That doesn’t feel good to read (or to write), but it’s the truth. The staff retention crisis among childcare centers has finally started to grab big newspaper headlines, which points a brighter spotlight on why early educators are feeling stressed and leaving the sector.

Ultimately, the answer lies in more public funding. But if we’re talking short-term solutions, you can reduce stress and avoid provider burnout in two big ways: getting rid of the frustrations that can make the job so demanding, and giving staff members more time to focus on the aspects that bring them joy.

Childcare software can help with both of these goals. With a pinch of automation and a dash of streamlining, the right digital tools can make it easier for you to keep your team happy, and help them make a long-term career out of early childhood education.

Today, we'll look at exactly how childcare software can help your team avoid burnout, while giving you more tools to provide quality childcare. You can do this through four key ways:

  1. Give your team a better work-life balance by taking the pressure out of parent communications
  2. Make it easier to swap shifts, check schedules, and handle your team’s daily practicalities
  3. Get more clarity on meeting staff ratio requirements, and never worry about an understaffed classroom again
  4. Create more time for focusing on child development and building supportive, individual relationships with children

Down below, we’ll get into why each of these matters so much for reducing stress and provider burnout, and how this feeds into the bigger picture of workforce retention in early childhood education.

Child care software can help staff burnout by reducing paperwork

Reducing pressure from parents

It’s all too easy for work to follow us home.

Most early educators know the feeling of a late-night text from a parent, straight to their personal phone, asking about food allergies for tomorrow’s lunch. These little intrusions make it hard to feel like you can really ‘switch off’ from your job, and can easily contribute to feeling overwhelmed or burnt out with work. When long hours and hard work already weigh on early educators, this relationship with parents and caregivers can become another source of stress outside the classroom.

This can be a big source of provider burnout for your team, when you aren’t using an all-in-one communication platform to handle parent engagement. Good child care software can solve that communication gap by giving educators better boundaries between their job and their personal life, and giving parents access to more information about their own children.

Here’s how it works.

  • Empower educators to set boundaries between work and personal communication. When you’ve got an all-in-one child care software, your educators can expect to keep their own texts and calls for themselves. When everything work-related is contained in an app like Famly, that clear work-life boundary can be a meaningful source of stress relief for your team.
  • Enable parents to answer their own questions. With an app like Famly, parents can always access photos, videos and observations from their children’s day, as well as critical messages and housekeeping updates from your program. When they’ve got more information accessible from their own phone, it’s less likely they need to reach out to your team in the first place.

Simple schedules mean less stress for staff

Sometimes, the smallest items on our to-do list can become surprising sources of stress.

It’s often the simple things, like looking at your shift schedule or checking your payslips from last month. These small tasks can quickly pile up — and if you’re using different digital platforms, or still relying on paperwork and manual processes to take care of this sort of employee-focused administration, it can all start weighing on your team.

This is another key area where child care software makes your team’s lives easier. With the right platform, these to-dos get automated, streamlined, and gathered in one place. No more scribbling on calendars hanging in the break room, or waiting for a Sunday night text to get your shifts for the week.

Using child care software like Famly, staff can:

  • Access their own schedules at any time, right from the Famly app on their own phone
  • Swap shifts with colleagues, and approve these proposed swaps in-app
  • Clock in and out of work, submit sick days and holiday requests
  • Easily connect with managers and shift leaders with questions or critical updates

Simple features like these make it easy to take care of everyday practicalities, reducing the risk that they boil over into big issues. Plus, it gives your team the personal responsibility to handle these tasks on their own terms, which gives them extra independence as professionals.

Child care staff discussing everyday practicalities

Get clarity (and peace of mind) with your room ratios

It can be a juggling act to make sure you’re staying within ratio in every classroom. Tracking that by hand (or by Excel sheet) takes time and focus — 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. 

For your staff managing the behind-the-scenes administration, this can easily become overwhelming. But when you’re dealing directly with safety and state regulations, you’ve got to be sure you’ve got it right.

Child care software makes it easier by automatically generating those charts, so you can easily identify any ‘deficits’ in your schedule.

By combining children’s attendance data along with your staff schedules, you’ll get automatic charts to quickly show whether each classroom meets your ratio requirements. If anything’s missing, it just takes a few taps to swap shifts and get every classroom properly staffed.

This feature helps show your educators that you’re conscious of making sure every classroom has the right support, and that you take their time and talent seriously.

Make early childhood education easier and more meaningful

Your educators are the ones doing the work to support children as individuals, nurture their growth, and engage them with new challenges. 

Here, child care software is here to underscore educators' critical work, and then get out of the way. Ultimately, the goal is to give your team more time for meaningful relationships with the children, uninterrupted by digital devices or paperwork.

Often enough, taking the time to have to jot down an observation, and write developmental notes can take an educator out of the moment. Child care software makes it quicker to take notes — maybe a quick bit of text (and perhaps a photo or video) recording that a child demonstrated some milestone. 

You can come back later to add in more reflections, but you should have a way to capture those first thoughts while they’re fresh, without taking you too far out of the action. After all, a digital system is to help you focus on children’s growth, not stand in the way of it.

When you’re selecting child care management software, you should look at how the platform enables educators to jot down that brief note, or snap a photo, save it, and get back to engaging with children.

You might consider factors like:

  • At a glance, is the observation interface user-friendly? Does it seem approachable, or intimidating?
  • How many text entry fields are there? How long would you imagine this would take one of your educators to fill out?
  • Is it easy to record or attach a photo or video file to support the observation?
  • Where are these observations shared within the application, and who can see them?
  • Can you save observations as drafts, before sharing or posting them?

Practitioner using child care software

How to pick the right tools to support your staff

When it comes to taking care of your staff and improving your early education program, choosing the right child care software makes a world of difference.

Investing in better digital tools shows your team that you value and support them, and that you’re enabling them to do their best work. It means less stress and burnout, more time together with children, and a happier, more rewarding experience for your educators. 

In the long run, these digital solutions make your program a place where staff are more likely to stay and make a career.

But which software platform works best for you? That’s the next big question.

To decide for yourself, you might check out our quick guide on how to make that decision in 5 minutes or less. Or, you can also download our Savvy Buyer’s Guide to Child Care Software.

The big ideas

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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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