Family Daycare: Strengthening Family Relationships with Kinderlime

Helping Hands Family Daycare

Bridget being presented her 4th star by the Lieutenant Governor Matthew Denn. She recently received her 5th star from the Delaware Board of Education.

 

Helping Hands Family Daycare reading time

Bridget teaching children about the U.S. Presidents

After working in technology for 25 years, Bridget Williams decided to make a change in her career path. She always had a passion for children and helping her community, and decided to open her very own family daycare.

Bridget’s technology background gave her an innovative and creative approach to running Helping Hands Family Daycare. When parents came to her with problems, she did not only give advice, but started offering workshops to educate and encourage families. She found that if one family was struggling to get their child to sleep or needed help teaching their children about hygiene, there was most likely other parents facing the same challenges.

 

Helping Hands Family Daycare

Teaching children the importance of brushing their teeth

As Bridget continued in her new career path, she also began to look for ways technology could make her life easier as a daycare director.  However, she was immediately baffled by the lack of technology in the childcare industry. She went from being surrounded by the tech world, to doing everything on pen and paper. She knew there must be a better way, and continued to search for something that could help create a more efficient family daycare.

She found various tools and methods to make attendance tracking and billing easier, but few seemed to truly fit her needs. Nothing seemed to be created with daycares and childcare centers in mind.

 

 

Helping Hands Family Daycare

The Helping Hands team brings creativity into everything they do and teach

She then came across Kinderlime, and immediately fell in love. One of Bridget’s toughest challenges was maintaining her sign in-out sheets. She not only needed a system that could count the hours a family attended her daycare, but something that was licensing approved, and could record signatures. Kinderlime was the only tool she found that fit her needs. As she continued to explore Kinderlime she found that they did not just provide a solution to her problem, but helping childcare centers was what they did! Kinderlime was “The Childcare App!”

Today, Kinderlime has helped the Helping Hands Family Childcare to eliminate paperwork, and go completely electronic. Bridget’s team uses Kinderlime to create and send daily sheets, communicate with families, record staff hours, and manage billing.

 

Helping Hands Family Daycare

Parents love hearing how their baby is doing throughout the day

Bridget loves Kinderlime for making her life easier and saving her time, but she found that Kinderlime was also an amazing tool for building strong family relationships. Her parents love Kinderlime just as much as Bridget does.

Kinderlime helps remind parents about upcoming workshops, and sends newsletters with parenting tips and tricks.  The parent app allows families to quickly view and pay their bill, and see in real time what activities their child is doing throughout the day. For busy parents with young children, this tool is priceless.

 

 

Helping Hands Family Daycare

Learning to read at Helping Hands Family Daycare

Bridget and her team at Helping Hands Family Daycare can’t imagine how they ever ran without Kinderlime. It’s been an incredible tool that has helped in not only managing the business side of her daycare, but provides effective parent communication. Instead of keeping Kinderlime to herself, Bridget has helped and encouraged other childcare providers to start implementing tools like Kinderlime to help in creating more efficient and successful programs like hers.

5 AfterSchool Sign In-Out Simplification Tips

Afterschool sign in-out
The first year I worked in afterschool I learned many lessons the hard way. I thought I could get away with printing out attendance sheets 15 minutes before program starts, and often underestimated the administrative time that went into attendance tracking and billing. While I’ve realized no after school program is perfect, these afterschool sign in-out tips will help you create a more efficient and simple program that is nearly close to perfect.

1. Be Proactive

Some of the most helpful changes for afterschool sign in-out occur before the day even starts. Taking a few small steps early on will not only help alleviate stress, but create a smoother afterschool program:

  • Print out attendance sheets well in advance– you never know when your printer will run out of ink or the power will go out.
  • Assign Staff Responsibilities- having specific staff assigned to preparing, checking, and reviewing sign in-out records makes the whole process run smoother.
  • Do not wait to audit your attendance sheets- I recommend looking over your afterschool sign in-out records every day. If you find that a parent forgot to sign out or wrote down the wrong time, you can catch these problems early on and stop them from recurring .  

 

2. Keep it Simple

Making the sign in-out process as simple as possible eliminates mistakes and keeps parents happy. It’s really a “win-win” situation. Here are a few ways you can ensure your afterschool program is running as smoothly and easily as possible.

  • Where do parents sign in-out? Place your sign in-out desk in an easily accessible location. If possible, have it in the same location the children are typically in, making the pickup process quick and effortless.
  • Use a digital clock- If you place a digital clock next to the sign in-out location, you will avoid parents writing down the wrong time.
  • Keep your binders neatly organized- Use tabs to keep your sign in-out sheets organized alphabetically. This makes it much easier for parents to find their child.
  • Use monthly billing- Invoicing weekly is 4 times more work than doing it once a month . Move over to monthly invoicing so that you don’t have to revisit billing every week
  • Avoid complicated billing rates- Tiered rates can make billing a nightmare. Having a flat hourly drop in rate makes billing much easier. Prefer to have families pre-pay? Ask your families to prepay for the entire month and they can use the after school program any number of times. There is no reason to make billing more complicated than it needs to be. 

 

3. Use an afterschool sign in-out software

Many afterschool programs are still using paper sign in-out sheets and tedious manual billing methods. While this may work great for some smaller aftercare programs, for others it can cause a large amount of frustration. If you are facing any of the following problems, the use of technology may help in creating a more efficient and simplified afterschool program.

  • Problem #1: Parents making mistakes during sign out

Ever had a parent sign on the wrong child’s line or write the wrong pickup time? Using an electronic system makes is virtually impossible for either of these problems to ever happen.

  • Problem #2: Parents forgetting to sign out their child

It’s a busy time of the day. The parents are ready to rush out after picking up their child. With a sign in out software you can ensure compliance. Parents will receive notifications that confirm they signed out their child and Kinderlime will flag any missed sign-out entries.  

  • Problem #3: Too much time spent calculating attendance drop-in hours

Your sign in-out sheets are organized, but now you have to go through and calculate the hours, days, or weeks of attendance. The process can take forever! An afterschool management software will do all the auditing, calculating and billing for you, so you have more time to do whatever your heart desires.

  • Problem #4: Sign in-out process taking too long for parents

Ever had a long line of angry parents waiting to sign out their child? When parents have to flip through attendance sheets, and find their child, things can take awhile. We have found that signing in-out on an app takes only a few seconds.  

 

4. Have a backup plan

It would be nice if everything always went as planned, but life is often unpredictable. The best thing we can do is prepare ourselves for the speedbumps we know may happen once in awhile.

    • A staff member calls out sick

You may be prepared to handle one of your staff calling out sick, but what if 2, 3 or 4 staff members aren’t able to work for the day. While we hope for your sanity that days like this don’t happen too often, it is best to have a plan in place if the situation arises.

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We suggest having a back up staff member that can step in if needed. However, if this is not feasible, try using a service like ChildCare Careers. You can find substitute staff on-demand when you are in a bind. Try  to have your regular, experienced staff member near your sign in-out location. Parents like to see a familiar face, and your year round staff knows how the process works best.

  • The power goes out

We encourage you not to wait until the last minute to print out your attendance sheets or charge your walkie talkies and tablets. Power outages and printer failures are unpredictable, and you don’t want to be stuck in a sticky situation.

  • A classroom is unavailable

You can typically plan on having certain spaces available during afterschool hours, but what if your usual sign in-out location is needed for an event, or is under construction? Whatever the reason, you may not always have certain spaces available to you.

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Create a plan on what to do, and where to move your children or afterschool sign in-out location. Be sure to also communicate as best as possible with parents on any changes. We suggest sending out a text blasts to inform parents of any changes of sign in-out location and putting up a sign to help guide parents.

 

5. Communicate Expectations with parents:

  • Teach sign in policies early on

The best time to set and explain expectations is at the beginning of the school year. During the first month of school, train your staff to watch and guide parents through the sign in process. This is a great way to eliminate parent mistakes before they even start, and sets the expectations for the school year.

  • Parents STILL not following procedures?

Are parents still forgetting to sign their child out, constantly picking their child up late, or never telling you when the student will be absent?

Monetary consequences may not be the most popular choice with parents, but they do work! Parents are much less likely to forget the procedures you have in place when there is money involved.

  • Explain the reasoning behind your madness

We tell parents to please write the time clearly, and we charge them fees for missed sign outs. From a parent’s perspective it may seem like we are being “critical” and “picky.”

It’s helpful for parents to understand that it’s a legal requirement, and helps ensure their children’s safety. Also be sure your staff knows why these policies are in place, as it will help them ensure parents are writing clearly and not forgetting to sign out. 

For more afterschool sign in-out simplification tips, or to learn more about how Kinderlime can help you manage afterschool paperwork and billing, give us a call today! We would be more than happy to talk with you about creating a simpler and more efficient afterschool program.

 

How to Hire Quality Childcare Staff

childcare staff

 

I find myself frequently talking with childcare operators about the biggest day-to-day challenges they face. While there are many things that come up, I have found that finding, hiring and keeping quality staff are the most frequent instigators of headaches.  

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Managing staff is an unpredictable job. You don’t always know which staff will be a star player, how long a staff member will stay with you, or how long the hiring process will take to replace them if they leave. While there are some factors that are out of your control, there are a few ways you can make hiring childcare staff easier,  more predictable, and less stressful.

 

Where to Look for Childcare Staff

You are ready to start interviewing and training a new childcare staff member, but where do you go to find the best candidates? Not all job site are created equal, and different types of centers and schools may find some resources a better fit than others. Below you will find a list of some of the best job sites for childcare staff:

Craigslist– While there are many sites to post jobs on today, Craigslist still remains a great site for new job postings. They allow you to target your postings based on the industry and location at a very low cost.

Colleges with ECE Programs– Most colleges have an internal job board for college students. Universities with ECE programs are a fantastic place to find ambitious candidates that are currently looking for a job in early childhood education.

CCR&R– Most communities have a local CCR&R network that provides resources and referrals for the child care community. If you haven’t checked out your local CCR&R get on it ASAP. They provide tools that go far beyond hiring.

Indeed.com– A favorite tool to find qualified teachers and staff. It’s fairly simple to use and gives you the opportunity to search through resumes posted for candidates interested in early childhood education jobs.        

LinkedIn– LinkedIn is a helpful tool for networking with other people in the childcare industry, as well as finding new hires. Not having luck with a LinkedIn job posting? Search for candidates with a childcare background, and try recruiting candidates yourself instead of playing the waiting game.                                                                                               
Idealist.org– Is your center or school a non-profit? Idealist is a job site for nonprofit companies only, and is an outstanding place to find passionate candidates committed to making a positive change in the world.

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Referrals

Ask your best Childcare staff for referrals

Amazing childcare staff tend to know other amazing people that would be a perfect fit for your child care center or preschool. If you are lucky enough to have a star staff, let them know often how thankful you are to have them. The only thing more important than hiring quality staff is keeping them.

Let your staff members know that you are always interested in hearing about other spectacular staff and teachers that would be a wonderful fit for your center, even if you are not currently hiring.

Offer a referral bonus to staff

As we just mentioned, quality childcare childcare staff are priceless. Your current team is a great resource for finding other staff and teachers, but sometimes they need that extra push to reach out to their friends and let them know about the opportunities at your preschool or childcare center.

Try offering a referral bonus incentive for each new hire who stays with your center for a minimum of 3-6 months. Make sure your incentive is large enough to peak your team’s interest.

Ask parents too

Parents can be another helpful resource when you are looking for new staff and teachers. They share a similar interest of wanting to see amazing teachers and staff work at your child care center, as the staff they bring to you will be the same ones that work with their children.

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Have a job fair 

Hosting a job fair gives you the opportunity to bring candidates right to your door, talk with a larger amount of candidates at once, and help in expediting the hiring process. A successful job fair requires some preparation and planning to ensure candidates show up to the fair.

Publicize the job fair by posting the event on online job boards and social media platforms like the ones mentioned previously. When creating your job fair posting, be sure to input keywords that are related to the job you are hiring for (ex. preschool teacher, childcare staff, children). This will ensure the right candidates find you.

 

Never stop hiring

Ever felt a moment of panic after someone puts in their 2 week notice? Ever hired someone you possibly shouldn’t have? When you are desperate for new staff you will have a much harder time finding quality staff, and may not be as critical about who you do hire.

Most of the time it takes much longer than 2 weeks to hire someone. It’s good practice to not hire only when you need someone, but throughout the year. This gives you time to post jobs, screen candidates, and have an extensive selection of candidates to interview and choose from. 

We also suggest hiring a floater staff who is available to cover vacancies or help out when staff are sick. It alleviates stress for you and your team, and allows you to take the time to choose the perfect candidate for your center or school.

 

 

CACFP Meal Tracking

CACFP Meal Tracking

The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) funded by the USDA supports many child care providers and provides nutrition meals to millions of children across the country. Now, Kinderlime helps you reduce that CACFP paperwork by recording meals, providing meal counts and reporting it to your sponsors.

When meal tracking is done in conjunction with the Kinderlime Sign In-Out app, the process for recording meals is error free. Our software will look at who is present during meal times and automatically record the proper meal counts, helping you avoid inaccurate reporting.

CACFP MEAL TRACKING FEATURES:

  • Record meals for Breakfast, Lunch and Snack served in each location / room
  • Record the start and end time during which the meals were served. Kinderlime eliminates wrong claims by validating if child was present during the time that the meals were served
  • Keeps an accurate count for each meal – for each child and also for the entire room
  • Download an excel spreadsheet report which lists the meal counts and the child the meals were served to

 

Remain CACFP Compliant

Keeping up with the CACFP guidelines and paperwork is an important part of being in compliance and maintaining your program’s grant. Oftentimes sponsors are out of compliance because of the following –

  • Inadequate paperwork to establish that the providers had recorded meals accurately
  • Meals are approved without validating them against meal pattern guidelines from USDA. Meal patterns should be validated based on age and meal type. These guidelines help providers and sponsors serve healthy and balanced meals to the children they serve
  • Inaccurate meal counts and sometimes counting  meals that were never served
  • Inadequate onsite monitoring of providers

Kinderlime software which is web and app based, removes all these challenges for sponsors and providers. A daycare provider is able to easily record all the meals they serve each day. They can record what is served during Breakfast, Lunch, and Snack and which child has been served each of those meals. Each month the providers can then download a spreadsheet report which shows the attendance together with the meals that were served to the children on each day. A total count for each day for each meal is available. This can also be separated by age group.

CACFP Monthly Meal report

Kinderlime CACFP Monthly Meal report

Here is a 2 min video of how Meal tracking works.

5 Questions to Ask About Safety Procedures at Your Child’s School

School Safety Procedures

 

When your child starts a new school, you probably have a million questions bouncing around in your head about testing, methods, expectations, etc. But, while education questions are obviously important, some of the less obvious questions involve your child’s safety.  If you are unfamiliar with the school and their safety procedures, here are a few questions to get you started.

 

Are They Prepared for All Emergencies (Not Just Shooters)?

Most talk of emergencies in schools today seems to center around shooters or intruders entering a school, and this is certainly a scary possibility. But, the truth is, it’s one of the least likely scenarios your student could encounter while at school. Much more likely are instances of bad weather or violence in the surrounding area. So, before you launch into questions about shooters and gun violence, educate yourself on the school’s procedures for tornados or hurricanes (depending on your area) so you can prepare your child. Asking these questions will help you understand what will be expected of your child but will also reassure you that your child’s school is prepared for every eventuality.

 

How Will the School Communicate With You?

When there is an emergency, how will you be made aware? And is their communication plan one you are comfortable with? For instance, many schools now inform parents of developments through text message. Is your phone capable of receiving texts? Will you have it with you enough for this to be effective? Can you opt out of texts and choose to receive a phone call? Asking these questions will guarantee that you are made aware of important events occurring at your child’s school.

 

How Can You Help At Home?

Preparing your child for drills and emergencies at home is just as important as the drills they will experience at school. So, knowing what will be expected of them during a drill is essential. By asking about the procedures of drills and emergencies, you can begin preparation at home in a comfortable and safe atmosphere. Assure them that when drills, or even emergencies occur, there is no need to panic and that it is important for them to be on their best behavior. When this message is enforced at school and at home, it is more likely to sink in.

 

What is Expected of You?

When you, as a parent, hear of an emergency at your child’s school, your first instinct is to jump into action. But, this may be the wrong thing to do. Many schools ask that parents do not come to campus when an emergency is reported. First responders, police, and staff will all have jobs to do and issues they will be dealing with. Extra bodies wandering will only impede their ability to do their jobs. So, how can you stay abreast of the situation without getting in the way? This is what you should ask the school before the situation occurs.

 

What Types of Safety Devices Are in Place?

Besides procedures, what else is in place in your child’s school to help keep them safe in an emergency. If a shooter enters the building, will your student’s teacher need to rely on chairs and desks to barricade the door? Or is there a device in place, such as the Nightlock Classroom Door Barricade, that will make barricading the door quick and simple? Are you comfortable with the level of protection each classroom offers?

 

While there are many more questions that may come up when it comes to the safety procedures that keep your child safe while at school, these questions will get you started and will hopefully lead to much more in depth conversations.

This post was written by Jason Matznick at Nightlock