More and more childcare programs are looking towards innovative apps to help run their sign in-out, billing, and daily parent communication. Their goal is simple. Find a solution that is easy to use, quick to understand, and solves their paper problems. In the past, there was one choice in childcare management, that was the older, in-house system, like Procare. Today, when looking for a solution to help manage your daycare, you have an option between new childcare management apps and older, in-house, childcare management systems.
So which is right for your program?
This article aims to break down the differences between childcare management apps and these older systems.
Modules v All-In-One
Traditional companies have modules. One module for a family database, another for sign in-out / staff timeclock, and a third one for family billing. Each of these modules are in their own silo, making it difficult for the information to pass between one another without technical guidance and backend maintenance. This usually means you need to go through extensive training or have a tech savvy staffer to help maintain the system.
Cloud based software does away with the need for buying these modules individually. Instead, with minimal training and no technical background, you can manage your daycare all in one place, via website or your mobile device. It’s one solution for everything you need to run your program.
“With the old system [we] spent hours doing error checks and fixing mistakes, but with Kinderlime the billing process was practically error free” – Paul, Administrator at NCC Preschool.
Local v Cloud Data
When you have all your student data sitting on your personal computer, keeping your student data secure costs you an expensive server, antivirus, technical expertise, and more. And if your server crashes? All your family billing data is lost in an instant. As a busy business owner, you don’t want to worry about IT and maintaining a server to prevent such a disaster.
Solutions, like Kinderlime, utilize a web and cloud-based daycare management offering – which is maintained on Amazon servers (the same servers used by Amazon itself and companies like Dropbox and in some cases banks as well). This means that if you have a power outage, all your information is secure and accessible when your power comes back on. There is no information stored on your phone or laptop, so should you lose either, you will not need to worry about the information being accessible to others.
Upgrades & Maintenance
Do you want to be responsible for paying for upgrades then upgrade it yourself? Probably not. That is the old model of management systems. These maintenance fixes and upgrades do not come cheap. This will require you to either contact your provider and schedule a time to fix your system, OR you will need to have the technical know-how to fix it yourself.
With cloud-based childcare apps, updates and maintenance occurs regularly at no extra cost to you. Issues are fixed much more quickly and typically fixed late at night as not to interrupt your daily use of the system.
Priced on a monthly or annual subscription basis. They require little to no upfront investment, only the license fee. For a small or medium sized childcare program with little technology budget, this option is typically better as everything is included in the monthly or annual subscription. For larger programs, with many locations, a solution like this could help centralize all your data making it easier to manage without the need to hire an extra IT personnel and no ongoing maintenance, upgrading, or support fees.
These systems typically require purchasing a perpetual license for a substantial upfront fee. There are no recurring license fees, but extra (hidden) fees may apply for implementation, support, maintenance and updates. Imagine your on premise software being out of date and upgrading it could be risky. You may have to upgrade your servers as well together with a potential of losing your data.
BONUS: Parent communication and apps
Everyone uses a smartphone now. Everyone expects access to everything via their phone. With this app, parents could communicate with you via their app and pay through the phone. Imagine seeing payments come in the next day after you send the invoices out. This is all made possible with instant communication and engaged parents, which comes easier when it is available on their phone. Parents view their balances and receive a notification on their phones when you send out tuition invoices. No more paper billing.
The approach to childcare management software has evolved. Daycares expect simplicity, all features included, and for companies to handle all the technical work. We agree and that is what we do. It allows you to focus your time and energy on what’s important to you, the children.
You can try the our childcare software for free by going online and just signing up for a Free 14-Day Trial. For an easy way to impress your parents, grow you business, and liberate yourself from difficult software, then try Kinderlime’s childcare apps. Manage everything in one place and take your daycare program to the next level.
Whether you’ve been running your childcare business for 5 days or 5 years, you need a presence on social media. You’ve heard this over and over again, and yet, 1 out of every 2 daycares either don’t have a social media presence or don’t use it regularly. This article will provide some ideas on where to get started and how to create an engaged audience of parents.
Why It’s Important
Parents want to show off their children and what their children are doing. Social media enables you to do this in a simple way, catered to your audience and easy to share. You have the opportunity to provide them with the images, content, and fun posts they crave, starring their very own child!
The more engaged a parent is, the more likely they are to share their experience with their friends and family. They want to see their children learning, socializing, and most importantly, enjoying themselves. Parent-to-parent communication is essential in the growth of your program.
Social Media Platforms
If you don’t have a website (and don’t have the time/money for one), Facebook should act as your program’s main site. Invite all your parents to join your Facebook page. Include all the relevant information: Name of your program (be sure to double check the spelling – some are careless with spell-check and it can hurt your brand!), logo, location, description, daily hours, contact information, marketing material (like this), and pictures to capture what your program is and does. This will be your main page for providing information and showcasing your program.
Twitter is a quick way to share real-time updates of activities and events – like pumpkin carving, field trips, water days and more. This depends on the reach of your program. If you are a local, one-site childcare program, you most likely don’t need to be on Twitter. The more platforms you use, the more time it takes you. Facebook should suffice for a smaller program. For those with larger programs, or multiple locations, this is a great way to reach your widespread audience.
Both platforms use the power of pictures to capture your creative posts. Don’t just post pictures of the kids, get creative! Post a video, craft, or project of the day (see below). These types of posts are more likely to spread or go “viral” within your community.
All it takes is 1-2 updates per week on one or all of these platforms to build an engaged audience. Of course the content you post matters.
Get creative with your posts. You have arguably the best resource for adorable pictures, quotes, and more at your disposal: the kids! Show your current parents, and all the other parents looking for a new childcare program, how much fun the kids are having with you. Here are some ideas:
Post a short video of a child in a giggle fit – laughter is contagious!
Post a short video of a dance-off or sing-along
Hold a drawing contest and post all the artwork
Capture a moment of pure sincerity when one child shares with another
Ask parents to share pictures of their children with their pets
Creativity is free and fun for everyone. But remember, don’t post everything. You only need 1 or 2 posts to engage the audience. Pick out your favorite pictures of the week and send them out.
If you want to send out pictures on a regular basis, using an app like Kinderlime is a better way to go, rather than to risk overloading any one media service.
You will probably be taking WAY more than 2 pictures every week. These parents want to be updated on what their children are doing (both good and bad). That is why we came up with our Daily Sheets and Photo Sharing childcare app. It not only allows you to record activities for each child throughout the day (meals, naps, mood, bathroom breaks, etc), but also allows you to share pictures of the kids directly to the parents via the app. Keep parents connected and engaged throughout the day.
Gone are the days of passing out registration forms, arduously collecting them back from parents in a timely manner, then collecting checks or cash which you then need to sort out and type up later. You don’t have time for that, you’re trying to run your afterschool program and spend time with students!
Our new Online Registration system does away with this entire manual paper process. We aim to free you up to focus on other, more important aspects of your program.
Simply edit the form with any additional fields to fit the information you need. Send it out along with the fees associated, and any other notification or acknowledgement forms. Parents can pay online or via their phone and once the form is filled out, all the registration information that you need is transfer to their profile within Kinderlime.
In the event you already have a billing or student information system, no need to worry! We are have direct integration available for those systems.
If you have any questions regarding our Registration System, our Sign in-Sign out, Billing & Reporting, or Parent Communication features, please feel free to visit our website and schedule a demo with one of our customer success team members.
It’s amazing how 2016 went by so quickly. We had a lot of fun making Kinderlime even more awesome for our customers and hearing your feedback.
Let’s celebrate what we achieved together over the last year. With thousands of Childcare Programs using Kinderlime, we have a lot to feel thankful about.
Billing: We extended our Billing program to do weekly billing along with monthly billing. The powerful financial reports that we put together for Balances, Invoices and Payments enable childcare directors to get good insights into the fiscal health of their program. You can even export this data to Quickbooks.
Parent app: Innovation never stops at Kinderlime. We became the first and only childcare software company to allow parents to pay through the app using their credit card and bank accounts. With push notifications for photos, daily sheets and billing, parents appreciate the app more than ever.
Daily Sheet: If you are a technophobe, this is the app for your daycare. Now you can tag multiple children to the same activity (saving more time for your staff). Setting up lesson plans for each of your classrooms became easier with our Daily Sheet Templates feature. And photo sending experience became quicker this year.
Sign In-Out: Our Sign In-Out app kept getting better. We added a Carpool feature and Ratio tracking to the app. The Carpool feature allows parents to use their own pin when added to the authorized pickup list for other families. We also introduced meal tracking and CACFP reporting.
In 1992 Cross of Christ Lutheran Church opened a preschool that was dedicated to creating a nurturing space where children could grow physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. When the school first opened it was a tiny program of only 10 children. Throughout the years, the preschool’s popularity grew and their enrollments began to increase more and more rapidly.
Amy Lauria, the project and admin coordinator of Cross of Christ, saw that while the increased enrollments were exciting, they were also starting to take a toll on the amount of administration and paperwork needed. They had massive amounts of paper sign in-out sheets they needed to store, and reviewing those attendance sheets was a tedious process that required a large amount of manpower. However, the real challenge arose when it came to billing their families. they spent hours upon hours creating, sending, and collecting family invoices.
The school was able to find a few volunteers to help with the increase of paperwork, but this solution only worked for a small amount of time. Once the school hit 60 children, they could not grow anymore. They either had to slow down enrollments or find a solution.
Hiring a new staff member was too expensive, so they started looking into other methods of managing their preschool’s paperwork and family billing. The preschool team kept their eyes peeled for a solution to help them manage their growing enrollment. They tried various methods and software programs, but they all fell short. Nothing seemed to truly fit the needs of their preschool program.
After searching and searching, Cross of Christ finally came across Kinderlime. Finally, the preschool software solution they needed. They went from struggling with paperwork and limiting their total enrollment, to enrolling over 100 students and still having more time than they ever had before.
However, where Kinderlime truly made a difference was in family billing. They went from manually billing their families one by one, to an electronic billing system that made creating, sending and collecting payments easier than ever. Parents loved how easy and convenient Kinderlime’s preschool software, specifically online billing, made paying for tuition, and Cross of Christ no longer had to deal with collecting and recording large amounts of cash and check payments.
The days of spending hours going through attendance sheets were over. They were able to use Kinderlime’s time tracking system to easily calculate how many additional hours children stayed in their aftercare program, and send out all of their family invoices with the click of a button.
Today, Cross of Christ continues to provide quality care and education to preschoolers. They now have over 130 students, and their numbers keep growing. Thanks to the dedication and innovation of the Cross of Christ team, and a little help from Kinderlime’s preschool software, the preschool has become an incredibly successful program that continues to serve more and more families each year.