How to Choose a Child Care Management Software

Child care management software guide

 

With so many child care management software options available, the process of choosing a software that best fits your programs needs can be daunting. We have put together a few questions to guide you through the decision making process.

 

1. What are my goals?

When choosing a child care management software, the first thing you will want to ask yourself is “what am I looking to get out of this software?Child care software’s vary in features. What is right for one program, may not be for another. This list below displays some of the key features offered by child care management services. Evaluate and choose the features that will help you achieve your goals.

Key Child Care Management Software Features:

  • Sign In and Out
  • Parent Signatures
  • Attendance Tracking and Reports
  • Staff Clock In-Out
  • Security Notifications
  • Online Billing and Invoicing
  • Daily Sheets and Reports
  • Photo Sharing
  • Newsletters
  • Calendar Management
  • Emergency Text Blasts
  • Ouch Reports
  • Marketing Features
  • Integration Services
  • Tech Support
  • Employee Management
  • Food Program Records
  • Child health records
  • Online Registration
  • Parent Portal
  • Wait List Management
  • Menu Planning

 

2. What is my budget?

During the decision making process evaluate the importance of price. If cost is important, then decide which features you would be willing to give up for a lower price. Here are a few tips on coming up with a budget that works for you:

  • How much time and money will the software save you? Depending on the type of program you are running, various features will not only make your job easier, but actually save you time. Evaluate the amount of time you spend on certain tasks (attendance tracking, auditing sign in and out sheets, filling out daily sheets, ect.) Doing this will allow you to see the value of certain software features.
  • How much can you realistically spend? Regardless of the value of certain features, some software programs may simply be too pricey for your particular program. Decide on a maximum price you can afford.
  • Are there ways to save? Many child care software programs offer special discounts and deals. Be sure to ask your child care software of interest about any discounts available.

 

3. How easy is it to use?

.While every new program may have a small learning curve, you should not find the system extremely confusing to use. Using a child care management software is supposed to make things easier, not harder. To evaluate how easy the program is to use, try signing up for a free trial or request a demo.

Many companies provide the option of testing out their services to help in the decision making process. Be wary of companies that do not allow you to first test out your service. You want to make sure the software you chose will work for your program’s needs, and this is one of the best ways to evaluate this.

 

4. What level of customer support is offered?

The child care software you choose should provide instructional resources , help guide you in the set up process, and answer all common questions. Aside from these basic customer support needs, there are many additional levels of customer support offered by child care software companies.

Depending on your programs needs and the size of your program, you may need the assurance that you will be provided top quality customer service. Here are a few things to keep in mind when evaluating the customer support options:

  • What time of day is support offered?
  • What is their average response time?
  • Do they provide video tutorials?
  • Do they offer training if needed?
  • What methods of contact are provided (e-mail, phone, text, instant messaging)?

 

5. Do they listen to their customer’s needs?

The tech world has exploded over the last two decades. 20 years ago you would practically never find child care programs using a child care management software, but today it is an incredibly valuable tool used by many. As technology continues to develop, as do the needs of programs.

When deciding to choose a software program, investigate the growth of the company. Are they continually adding new features, or have they stayed the same? It is valuable to work with a company that values innovation, and is constantly listening to their customer’s needs.

If you find that a child care software does not have a feature you desire, let them know. This is a great way to gauge how they handle customer requests, as well as letting them know what features you desire.

 

6. What is the deployment of the child care management software?

When it comes to child care software companies, there are typically two options available: Web based or Installed. 

Web-based Software

Web based software runs on a web browser. You need an internet connection to access the child care software. This secure method of deployment  allows for users to access their information from anywhere at anytime.

Installed Software

Installed software is installed on a particular computer or laptop. Some installed software may require you to purchase additional hardware or pay to add the software to multiple computers. If you are going with this method of deployment, be sure to check if any additional hardware or software will need to be purchased to avoid any surprise costs.

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 For further guidance on choosing a child care management software, please contact us.

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Going Green with Kinderlime’s Child Care Software

Going Green with Kinderlime's Child Care Software

Graciela Marques-Hahn and Amrit Bhuie accepting the Acterra Award for Sustainability at the 2014 Business Environmental Awards Reception

Image by NCC

Immediately upon entering the Neighborhood Christian Center, you know this is not your typical childcare program. In this beautiful outdoor campus you will find everything from a Chicken Coup to an Edible Garden to a Native American Center. For Graciela Marques, the executive director of NCC, sustainability and living green is a lifestyle. Each part of the Neighborhood Christian Center is built with nature in mind.

Graciela and her amazing team teach their children how to compost all kitchen scraps, grow their own fruits and vegetables year round, and make every effort to reduce, reuse and recycle. Today, NCC is an amazing representation of a green school, but things were not always this way.

Kinderlime's Child Care Software

Children walking to the Native American Village  and Edible Yard at NCC

Image by NCC

Before Kinderlime, NCC used paper sign in-out sheets. They would often find themselves printing over 250 sign in-out sheets daily. The immense amount of paper would take hours upon hours to go through. As the program grew, copying and paper cost came out to $1,000 a month! NCC was preaching sustainability, yet was wasting massive amounts of time, money, and trash on paper sign in-out sheets.

NCC finally decided enough was enough! They were teaching their children how to live a green lifestyle, yet were producing unnecessary garbage.

In the past, Graciela had tried other child care software options. They were costly, and made promises they simply could not keep. She was hesitant about trying out a new child care software, but she could tell immediately Kinderlime was different. “Kinderlime is a company I can work with” Graciela said, “someone that actually listens and understands. They truly understand NCC’s goals toward sustainability.”

As Graciela started with Kinderlime, she was able to immediately eliminate her costly and harmful paper use. She no longer needed paper for sign in-out sheets and billing invoices. NCC was finally being aligned with their green and sustainable values, but this was just a part of the many changes Kinderlime made.

Going Green with Kinderlime's Child Care Software

Children harvesting the snap peas they have grown to make a big pot of vegetable soup

 Image by NCC

When NCC used paper sign in-out sheets, they constantly faced the challenge of parents forgetting to sign their children out. Forgetting to sign in-out once or twice may not seem like a huge problem, but when it comes to child care licensing, a missed signature can be damaging.

In a large child care center like the Neighborhood Christian Center, it is difficult to keep track of the parents that are not signing their children out. Thankfully Kinderlime’s child care software makes this problem manageable.

Instead of having to spend hours and hours going through each attendance sheet, finding out which parent forgot to sign their student out, Kinderlime’s child care software keeps track of the missing sign-outs for them. While Kinderlime had not completely eliminated the problem, it helped NCC keep parents accountable and child care licensing happy.

The switch from paper sign in-out sheets to Kinderlime’s child care software allowed Graciela to easily manage her children’s attendance and stay licensing compliant without ever having to print out a single sheet of paper. Staff loved the ability to easily track their child to teacher ratio, and parents loved the quick and easy sign in-out process.

Kinderlime gave the Neighborhood Christian Center more time and money to focus on what matters most to them; teaching and implementing an incredible sustainable and green program.

After all their hard work, and a little help from Kinderlime, in 2012 NCC became a certified Bay Area Green Business, and in 2014 became the recipient of the Acterra Business Environmental Award!

Going Green with Kinderlime's Child Care Software

The exceptional staff at NCC celebrating their successful year

Image by NCC

 

6 Fun Ways to Use Photos in your After School Program

6 Fun Ways to use Photos in your After School Program

 

You do not need to be an expert or have an expensive camera to have fun with photography in your after school program. All you need is simply one digital camera, or even a smartphone, and you will be on your way to discovering the world of photography in the classroom. Fill your program with enriching and academic photography activities that your students, staff, and parents will love.

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 1. Put Together A VIDEO YEARBOOK

Schools are not the only ones who can have yearbooks. After school programs spend tremendous amounts of time with their children. It’s always a little bittersweet when the school year comes to an end, and you must say goodbye to your graduating students. However, a video yearbook is a fun and affordable way to celebrate the end of the school year and commemorate your children that are moving on.

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Create a video yearbook by using pictures taken through the year at holiday events and fun activities. Put the pictures together and create something that your children, parents and staff will love. Either show your children and parents the video at an end of the school year event, or burn DVDs of the video as a farewell gift.

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2. Create a Photo booth

fun-649463_640Try creating your very own photo booth for your after school program. Throughout the month have your students work on planning, drawing, coloring, decorating and creating props for your photo booth.

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Look up wacky weird holidays such as World Penguin Day or Watermelon Day for a photo booth theme, and get creative! If you are still not sure where to start, check out photo booth ideas for kids on Pinterest for a little inspiration. Your children will have a wonderful time creating and taking pictures in the photo booth, and parents will love to see the photo booth pics.

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3. JOURNALISM CLUB

Creating a journalism club is not only a great way to use photos in your childcare program, but a great academic alternative that captures almost every student’s interest. Students can become writers, interviewers, photographers, comic strip creators, or even take on leadership roles. Help your students create a quarterly journal where they can discuss their interests, concerns, and what is going on in your after school program.

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Be creative with your journal, and cater it to your children’s interest. After your journal is put together, you’re students will have something tangible they can be proud of and show off to their friends and parents. Check out these school newsletter ideas to help you get started.

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4. PHOTOGRAPHY WRITING PROMPTS

samsung-691035_640Coming up with academic activities that students enjoy can sometimes seem impossible. Thankfully, photography does not simply have to be a fun hobby or after school club, but a way to fully engage students in academic alternatives.

Have your students take a few pictures. You can either give students the freedom to take pictures, or give them a guideline on types of pictures to take. Use these photos as a writing prompt. Have your students tell a short story, write a poem, or describe how the picture makes them feel. Students will be much more likely to engage in a writing prompt when they took the pictures themselves.

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5. Take a Stand

Photography is an incredible tool for assisting social change movements and non-profit organizations. With the help from your students, come up with a way you can use photography to make a positive impact on the world. Which problems in the world do you feel most impact your students and your after school program?

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Create a photo contest that asks students to take a photo that demonstrates “taking care of the planet,” “kindness,” or anything else you and your students want to take a stand on. Create a collage of your student’s photos to help spread awareness of how to be “green” or “kind.”

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For older students, use this activity to teach your students the negative and positive uses of photography. Teach students not only how to stay safe when using photos on the web, but how to use photography as a tool to make the world a better place.

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 6. Parent Communication

shutterstock_74207074
Photos are not just for kids. They can be a great tool to keep parents updated, and let potential parents learn more about your program. Use photos you or your students snap during program, and post them to your program blog or website.

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Don’t have a website? Use these photos in your monthly newsletters. Parents will love seeing their child having fun and representing your after school program. Just be sure to have each parent sign a photo permission form before taking and posting pictures for the public to see.

 

Have you tried any of these fun photography activities? How do you use photos in your after school, child care, or daycare program?

Check in Software for your Daycare

check in software for your daycare

Over the last few years, Kinderlime has been the check in software of choice for preschools, daycares and after school programs. The Check In-Out app can be downloaded on an iPad or Android tablet and used as a Sign In-Out kiosk.

Starting with the program is easy.

1. Install a tablet kiosk and enter the students on the website. Alternatively you can send us a spreadsheet of your roster for easy upload. Each parent and care giver on the pick up list is assigned a pin code when they are entered into the Kinderlime system. You are then ready to get started!

2. The parents can sign in using their 4 digit code. If you run an after school program, then your staff can sign in students in bulk by selecting kids on the electronic roster in Kinderlime.

Kinderlime Sign In-Out sheet with signatures

Sign In-Out sheet with signatures on check in software

All the reports are available on the Kinderlime website. There you can do billing, send newsletters, and access attendance reports. Additional services like daily sheets, lesson plans and menus with templates are available. To learn more about what we do, please email us and we’d be happy to schedule a demo.

9 Must Have Child Care Management Tools

Child Care Management Tools

Managing a child care is no easy task. The first time I ever stepped into a child care program I thought all I needed to know was how to work with kids. I quickly learned that while taking care of children is important, it is just the tip of the iceberg.

Child care directors, administrators and supervisors at times have similarities to superheroes. They are multitasking wizards, creative, energetic, and intelligent. They not only care for children, but manage parent communication, billing, budgets, attendance reports, staff, paychecks, programming, and so much more!

As many other child care providers have learned, we can’t always do everything ourselves, and can use all the help we can get. Thankfully, there are a few tools that help make child care management for any type of program a little easier.

 

Top Child care Management Tools

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1. QuickBooks

quickbooks- child care management toolsWhether running a small or large child care program, properly keeping track of the money being put in and out of your program is absolutely necessary. In a small business environment this can become overwhelming. Thankfully, QuickBooks is a lifesaver when it comes to bookkeeping for successful small businesses.

QuickBooks provides an inexpensive small business software to help you keep track of every aspect of your child care program. This program provides a manageable way to keep track of your programs expenses, vendors, customers, staff payroll, and any other financial aspect of your program. And it’s easy to roll up your finances during tax time.

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2. Kinderlime

kinderlime- child care management tools

The paperwork and time that goes into managing a child care center can seem endless. Kinderlime is a child care management tool that will make your life much easier. It helps child care providers easily manage billing, attendance tracking, staff time sheets, daily infant sheets, parent communication and more. Kinderlime is an extensive and flexible tool, making it perfect for almost any type of child care program.

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3. Paychex

paychex- child care management tools

When it comes to running a child care program, payroll is just another task that takes away from the time you would like to spend with your customers and kids. Paychex helps simplify payroll for small businesses. They provide the option of doing payroll online anywhere at any time, or working with your local Paychex team.

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4. SurveyMonkey

surveymonkey- child care management tools

SurveyMonkey is one of the best tools out there to gain feedback from participants, parents, teachers, staff, and anyone else who is involved in your programs success. Survey Monkey provides their own customer satisfaction survey templates, or lets you create your own. It allows for individuals to easily respond to your survey anonymously, giving you wonderful feedback that can greatly improve your child care program.

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5. HelloSign

hellosign- child care management tools

Whether you are running a childcare, preschool or after school program, you will likely deal with the daunting task of getting paperwork and documents signed. HelloSign provides a highly secure and easy to use e-signature service. E-signatures make hiring new staff, completing program applications, and signing monthly reports much easier.

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6. LinkedIn

LinkedIn- child care management tools

When you think of LinkedIn, you may simply think of a place to network or find a new job. While LinkedIn can help in those areas, it also is a great tool to help improve your program’s success. Join child care groups to share ideas with other thought leaders in the child care field. Groups can also be a great opportunity to propose questions on challenges you may be facing within your program.

Aside from the strong support system you will find on LinkedIn, you also can explore and find insight into trainings, classes, articles and more about the child care field. LinkedIn has the potential to be an effective tool not only for networking, but for personal growth.

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7. Scanner Pro

scannerpro- child care managment tools

As a supervisor of a child care program I found myself constantly scanning and faxing documents. The fax machine was often being used by someone else, and the scanner was always seeming to give me problems. Thankfully, I finally discovered the ScannerPro.

The app turns your phone into a portable scanner. To use the app you simply need to take a picture of the document you would like to send and the app formats the document into a PDF file that is easy to send and read. This app is not only helpful for running a child care program, but one that you will find using in your everyday life as well.

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8. Pinterest

pinterest- child care management tools

Pinterest is a childcare provider’s best friend. Not only is it extremely addictive and fun, but it is also a helpful resource for childcare providers. By searching childcare keywords, and following your favorite boards, you can discover ideas for activities, classroom setup, parent communication, classroom management, and practically anything else you may need some extra help and inspiration for. Easily organize your favorite ideas by creating your own Pinterest board.

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9. Google Drive

Google_Drive- child care management tools

Google Drive is an incredible tool for file storage and collaborating. As a child care director or administrator you may find yourself traveling from site to site. With Google Drive you can be assured that you can access your important documents from wherever.

Google Drive is also a great tool for collaborating on ideas. Share Google Docs or Spreadsheets to collaborate on your programs activities for the next month, plan spending, or to figure out staff availability. Along with Google Drive, you will find many other useful Google tools, such as Google calendar. These Google tools are easy to use and absolutely free.

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Have you used any of these child care management resources? What are your favorite tools to use?