Daycare is an important part of many children’s lives. Among children under the age of five, nearly one quarter are in a form of organized childcare, be that a daycare center, nursery, or preschool program. When a child’s mother is employed or in school, he’s even more likely to be in organized childcare: 33% of children with a working mother are in a form of childcare program while just over 28% of children with student mothers are in childcare. Organized childcare programs account for a quarter of all childcare arrangements.
Managing a childcare program can be a rewarding but also challenging task. From supervising and caring for the children to coordinating staff schedules and accounting for payments and expenses, a lot goes into daycare management. This is why there are daycare management systems available to help.
A good daycare management system offers all the benefits of an accounting software while also addressing the specific needs of child and after school program care. Daycare management systems are essentially accounting software designed to provide child care management solutions.They move beyond the basic scope of general business management software to meet your programs needs.
The capabilities of a given daycare management system will vary by vendor. Here are some top features to look for when choosing your childcare management system.
- Sign-in/out feature: Perhaps the most utilized feature of daycare management software is the sign-in and sign-out time clock function. The software not only lets parents sign in and out easily, but can record and track the times children are dropped off and picked up for easy reference later.
- Accounting: The system should readily and easily provide you with information on payments by children’s parents, including those already made and ones still outstanding, as well as any payments you owe your childcare staff. With this information, the software should be able to generate income reports so you can judge your business’s financial standing.
- Reports: In addition to financial reports, you may want a system which can generate other reports, such as staffing and attendance reports.
- Customization of reports: It can be particularly helpful to have a software which allows for customization of such reports, i.e. the ability to alter column order and group contacts.
- Billing: A daycare management system can automatically generate childcare bills and email them to parents so you don’t have to. It should also have the flexibility to handle drop-off billing and keep track of bills you owe vendors, etc.
- Payroll: Like billing, management systems can automatically generate staff payroll and track staff hours.
- Expenses: A management system should track all of your childcare expenses from mileage to staff wages.
- Record keeping: A daycare management system should be able to store important records from immunization records to information regarding individuals authorized to pick up the child. A particularly helpful feature is the capacity to store photographs of authorized individuals for easy verification.
- Forms and letters: Look for a system which can create form letters, create and send emails, generate childcare forms to help in complying with your state’s daycare laws.
- Menu planning: Some daycare management systems help with meal planning by providing USDA meal charts.
- Activity planning: Like menu planning, a daycare management system can help you plan the day’s activities for both children and staff.
- Flexibility: A flexible management system enables you to bill monthly, weekly, daily, and/or hourly at your discretion. It should also be able to handle full time or part time billing, any prepaid attendees, coupons, and even different rates on various days and times.
- International currency: Depending on your daycare system, you may find it helpful to use a software which can support international currencies.
- Built-in back up system: Nothing is worse than losing necessary data. Ensure any management software you use includes a built-in back up system. Since management systems can be either PC-based or on the cloud, it is a good idea to ensure your system is backing up to at least two locations: on your PC and onto the cloud.
- Password protection: For added security, look for a management system that includes password protection.
Whether you run an after school program, preschool, or summer camp, childcare management is a tricky business. A good childcare management system can help you keep track of children and finances alike to keep your business running smoothly.