Daycare app for Childcare management

Childcare management software has traditionally been very difficult to set up and learn. It was installed using CDs or even floppy disks, with training material in fat user manuals. This is what most users experience when using a legacy childcare software like Procare and EZCare.

Procare and EZCare software

Director using Childcare software of the 1990’s

This has changed with daycare apps like Kinderlime for

(1) Sign In-Out and Staff Time Clock

(2) Parent communication, Photos and Daily sheets

(3) Billing and Reporting

Thousands of Family Daycares, Preschools and Childcare centers have been using Kinderlime to make their business more efficient and their parents happier. With the Kinderlime option, daycare businesses are moving to a simple and yet full featured childcare software . Within an hour of signing up for Kinderlime, former Procare users like Joy Learning center and Neighborhood Christian center were sending invoices to parents.

The Kinderlime Parent app has been transformative for daycares and it’s families. Parents pay their tuition through the app, view photo and daily sheet notifications, and send messages to the daycare staff. So, check out what Kinderlime offers.

 

The Berkeley School: Technology Transforms Extended Day Program

The Berkeley School logo

The Berkeley School’s extended programs have been an instrumental part of the school, giving children the opportunity to continue their growth and learning after school. The talented extended day staff have not only provided a safe oasis for children to play and learn, but have offered everything from woodworking to dance classes! In spite of the amazing programming, there was one very large problem.

josearellano

Jose Arellano- IT Director

When Jose first started working as The Berkeley School’s Technology officer, he knew one of his first project’s would be finding a more efficient way to manage the school’s Extended Day programs. The extended care team was spending at least 2 hours a day on accounting! They wanted to be spending time with the children, not on tedious paperwork.

As Jose began to search for a solution, he quickly found that spending time on paperwork was only a part of the problem. Paper sign in-out sheets were inefficient and inaccuracies of time tracking were much more likely to happen. This made billing families for extended care an absolute nightmare. The school tried their best to bill parents precisely as possible, but using a pen and paper to record attendance made it a challenge.

Jose knew the problem, but now he needed a solution. He began to research and talk with numerous tech companies that promised they could solve his problem. As he continued his research it became clear he needed to work with a system that fit the following criteria:

  1. Easy to use– Jose did not want a system that would require extensive training. He needed something that could be used by anyone!
  2. Quick to setup– He had no time for an extensive set up process. It needed to be seamless, quick and easy.
  3. Low startup cost- He did not want to invest in costly hardware. He wanted something that had a minimal cost, and easy maintenance.

That’s when he stumbled upon Kinderlime. There were no startup fees, no hardware that needed to be installed, and the setup time was minimal. But, what truly sold Jose on Kinderlime was the customer support. From the first time he spoke with Kinderlime he was hooked. He felt less like a customer, and more like a collaborative partner. The Kinderlime team was always there to answer any of his questions, and more importantly, they listened to him. If he had a suggestion or wanted advice, Kinderlime was always there to listen and help.

The Berkeley School

The Berkeley School

It was a week before school, and Jose had officially made a decision, they would go with Kinderlime. Within a couple days his account was setup and student information was imported. Kinderlime’s simple interface made it a breeze to train and prepare staff. Now came the true test. How would the parents like Kinderlime?

Some staff worried that less tech-savvy parents might struggle with the new system, or forget their parent sign out pin codes. After only 2 days the parents not only had the process down, but loved it! Jose described how “everyone just got it.” The sign in-out messages that confirmed that their child had made it to extended care gave parents such an ease of mind, and made it easy for families to coordinate pickups.

Once Kinderlime was up and running it was hard for The Berkeley School to imagine how they ever lived without it. The extended day staff had more time to focus on activities with the children, there was never a debate over parent pick up times, and most importantly, the business office no longer spent hours upon hours calculating bills for families.

To the school’s amazement, billing and administrative work went from 2 hours a day, to an hour a month! Gone were the days of illegible parent sign out times, manual calculation of attended time in extended day, and file boxes full of paper attendance records. Jose described how simple and easy it was to start using Kinderlime, but the long lasting effect it had was vast.

It’s been a couple years now since The Berkeley School started using Kinderlime, and the experience only seems to improve. The school’s preschool now also successfully uses Kinderlime, and Jose feels proud knowing that the extended day program is in good hands!

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 method 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.

 

Child Care Software Helps FairStage Academy Dream Big

Child Care Software Helps FairStage Academy Dream Big

 

Ryan Lea and Evan Summers were riding home on a bus in Manchester after work one day. During the journey home, a group of bored children started to throw rocks at the bus. Instead of becoming annoyed with the disturbance of the young rock throwers, Ryan and Evan saw something missing in the Manchester community, and wanted to make a change. They wanted to provide a space where children could thrive and learn outside of school hours.

Ryan and Evan’s lives have been greatly impacted by performing arts, theater and dance, and they hoped to share these passions with children from all aspects of life. They firmly believed that all children should have the opportunity to experience the performing arts, so in 2012 the FairStage Academy was established.

The FairStage Academy started to offer classes and workshops at a very affordable price, making the program accessible for families of all incomes. Children from the ages of 3-17 had the opportunity to learn ballet, tap, jazz, disco, drama, singing and more!

 

Child Care Software

FairStage Academy’s ballerina performance

 

The FairStage Academy quickly exceeded Ryan and Evan’s expectations. It grew from an idea between two people, to a team of inspirational drama, dance, and singing teachers. The children and the Manchester community fell in love with the FairStage Academy.

The amount of children signing up for their program continued to grow and grow. But, as the FairStage Academy grew, it became apparent that the sign in-out and drop off process was getting out of hand. When the FairStage Academy first started, it was easy to keep track on a simple paper sign in and out sheet the children that were coming and leaving the academy. After more and more children started to attend, Ryan and Evan needed a way to ensure all children and their parents were being safely and securely signed in and out of the academy.

Ryan and Evan began to do some research in hopes of finding an answer to the rapid growth of their program. They came across Kinderlime’s child care software on the iTunes store, and, in Ryan’s words, “immediately fell in love.” It was clear right away that Kinderlime was the missing piece to their fast growing academy.

 

Child Care Software

2014 Summer Production

 

Kinderlime’s child care software made it quick and easy for parents to sign in and out their children, and did all of the attendance tracking and child care billing for Evan and Ryan. They no longer needed to store and calculate paper attendance reports and do paper invoices. Instead they had access to all of the attendance reports and invoices with the simple click of a button.  While attendance tracking and a simplified sign in and out process was what drew Ryan and Evan to Kinderlime, it was only a small portion of the help Kinderlime provided.

Ryan, Evan and their staff were able to use the Kinderlime app as an incredible safety tool. They now could easily access which group each child was in, which staff they are with, as well as have access to all emergency contact information in case of a fire drill or emergency. The best part, the FairStage Academy no longer had a need to carry around clip boards or binders. They could quickly access student and roster information from the app on the FairStage Academy phones and tablets.

 

FairStage Academy Child Care Software

Star dancers at FairStage Academy

 

With the additional time Kinderlime’s child care software had given the FairStage Academy, they were able to focus on their passion of teaching performing arts to all children. They expanded the FairStage Academy team, and gave each child the opportunity to perform in a high quality production. Ryan, Evan and their team continue to teach more students daily how to only be amazing performers, but how to dream, work hard, and JUST GO FOR IT!

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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