Business development

How a childcare management app will save you hours of work

4 ways a childcare software will help you and your staff use your time more efficiently
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February 26, 2024
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In a rush? Here’s a quick rundown.

  • You’ve probably heard a bit about childcare softwares, but are struggling to choose the best management app for your center. Well, one of the immediate benefits you will notice is getting hours back in your and your staff’s days.
  • By saving so much time, you and your staff can spend much more meaningful, high-quality time engaging with the children, and also, it will create a less-stressed environment, and likely result in higher staff retention. 
  • A childcare management app can help minimize time and stress in 4 main areas: finances, staff scheduling, attendance and classroom ratios, and family involvement and parent partnerships.
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When you work in early childhood education (ECE), it’s common to feel like you're spending most of the day completing administrative tasks and drowning in paperwork. It never feels like there are enough hours in the day.

You spend most of your day crossing things off your to-do list, rather than interacting with the children – or maybe working over time, trying to get it all done and spend quality time with the little ones. 

Well, I am excited to share that I do have an immediate solution for helping you get back more hours in your day: a childcare management app and software.

In recent years, the top time-saving tool in early education has been childcare management softwares, because they can automate and streamline tedious administrative tasks and paperwork. This means you and your team have more time and energy to do what really brings you joy – interacting with and supporting the little ones in their learning journeys and early development.

There are a lot of apps out there today, but the best management app for your daycare is one that saves you hours in four critical areas of running a childcare business:

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

In this article, I’ll walk through these one-by-one and go into detail about exactly how a childcare management app can take care of those time-consuming 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 you need a childcare management app to save you time

Of course it is not only ECE staff who feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day, but within the context of early childhood education, time saving is invaluable. 

You are experts in 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 development skills that children will carry with them for life. 

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

1. More quality time with the children.

With more time on your hands, it’s easier to be more present and more engaged in one-on-one time with children. These shared moments are vital to building up the close relationships that support children’s growth and development - not only their knowledge, but also their social and emotional skills. 

When a childcare management app saves time, your staff has more time to provide a better experience, and higher quality of care for the children. It means educators have the bandwidth to be more present in their interactions, to give every child more attention and truly be the best they can be to support the development of the future generation!

2. Staff well-being and happiness – and higher retention.

Having more hours in their days is a big factor in staff wellbeing and happiness. It is important that staff can focus on doing what they enjoy - engaging, teaching and playing with the children - rather than thinking about all they have to get done once the children finally go down for a nap (if they go down for a nap!).

When staff don’t feel like they are constantly scrambling to catch up on paperwork, they can be more present and more relaxed, and more likely to stick around in the long run.

Ok now on to what you are most curious about…

How does a childcare management app save you so much time

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1. Streamline finances with automatic billing and in-app payments 

In early education, managing all your finances can be overwhelming before you even get started, and then once you finally get the motivation to tackle the task, it can take hours to manually track and understand your center’s cash flow.

Tuition fees, billing and payment processing isn’t just a paperwork hassle, but also a potentially prickly subject that can strain parent relationships. No one wants to call and call, and email multiple times to have to bother a parent whose payment is overdue. 

It’s not something any staff member wants to do, and honestly, it can be very time consuming. With a daycare management app, you no longer have to stress about finances, or trying to get in touch with parents, because of features like:

  • Batch billing and invoices
  • Automatic payment reminders and notifications
  • In-app payments
  • Accurate data that tracks and charges the correct amount for each family
  • Processing fees

Take it from one of our customers, FLEET Early Learning Station in Shawnee, Kansas. Director Tara Van Fleet says the best management app for her daycare – Famly! – made all the difference.

For Tara, Famly helps her feel more in control of her finances. And even more, parents are also super happy with the ease and accessibility of in-app payments.

“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 automatically 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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2. Simplified staff scheduling

Staff management and staff scheduling is an area where time-saving scales quickly. Think about it this way: 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 all of your staff schedules.

A good childcare management app should put your team’s schedules right in your pocket, and 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. Childcare management software and apps (like Famly) digitize your team’s schedules, so swapping, adding and changing shifts 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 staff scheduling management features in a childcare app, 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?
  • Can staff see their individual shifts, and an overview of all shifts? 
  • Will staff be notified when they are assigned to a shift?
  • How intuitive and user-friendly is the childcare management app for your team? Ideally, the staff schedules and messaging functions should be close at hand, and easy to grasp on mobile devices.

This was the main reason why Director of Reynolda Preschool, Shelley Beckman, decided Famly was the best management app for her preschool. Famly’s features made it so easy for her to manage all her staff - full-time, part-time, substitutes, floaters - all in one place. No more stress first thing in the morning and scrambling to find a sub last minute. Hear more about how Famly’s staffing features gave Shelley back time, and eliminated a large factor of her daily stress. 

3. No more stressing about attendance tracking & classroom ratios

Manual attendance tracking is a hassle. For instance, when there is a last minute sickness, and then you have to run back to your office to manually switch staff and classrooms to double check it doesn’t interfere with ratios. 

A daycare management app can digitally track your attendance for you with geo-location tags, pin codes and QR codes. Parents and staff simply sign in and sign out through their own mobile app, or through a tablet at your center. This is one way to enhance your center’s safety and security, since you can easily monitor anyone who goes in and out of the center. 

Now about how a childcare app can help with your ratio management. 

In ECE, it can feel like a constant juggling act to stay compliant and fulfill all of the various requirements and policies. Calculating and monitoring teacher-child ratios is one of those time-consuming requirements.

Charting schedules and ratios 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, it requires your immediate attention and needs a quick fix, so you have to drop everything else to crunch the numbers all over again.

Staying in ratio is another key area where a daycare management app goes a long way in helping you manage your time. 

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

  1. 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 are updated in real-time and immediately show you if each classroom fits your desired ratios. If a classroom is out of ratio, there is a clear notification that you won’t be able to miss. Then, it just takes a few clicks to assign staff or switch staff from a different classroom. 
  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.

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4. 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 a childcare app, your parent communications are likely a little scattered. It’s common for educators to rely on a mix 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 childcare 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 Newsfeed - or digital bulletin board - makes 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 when face-to-face.

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 childcare management app, it’s the only thing 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

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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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