Help your child care center improve its bottom line AND quality all at once
8/10/2021 | Tamar Andrewws
As the director of a large center (350 children), my office used to look like the evidence locker in a police station. It became an archive housing hundreds of files from graduated preschoolers, long-gone staff and teachers, 3-ring binders from NAEYC accreditation processes, sign-in and out sheets spanning years, and more. I would always apologize when families came in to meet with me as storage was at a premium in our center and saved for the teachers’ and classroom needs first.
Similarly, in my role as a professor teaching Administration and Supervision of Childcare Centers in local universities and colleges, I would bring in stacks of papers and forms for students to study and memorize in order to learn how to be in compliance with their local licensing and business laws.
I now sit in a beautiful office (the exact same room as before), but it is now decorated and something I am proud of. All of this clutter is gone, with literally the push of a few buttons that digitized our program and eliminated most of the paper and pen processes that had clogged up my office, my time, and my sanity. And the best part? My staff feels the same way.
This process also had a significant impact on the ways I teach courses in education administration. The courses reflect what’s now an entirely different field due to the advent of smart devices full of revolutionary apps and digital tools for the field of early childhood education. I liken it to a math professor teaching before the invention of the calculator and after its adoption.
The pandemic definitely changed the way I see childcare management. Being able to manage the center from within, or from my home, was essential because I simply did not have the bandwidth to keep dragging files and paperwork back and forth.
After researching and actually trying out many of the childcare management tools, we settled on one that we found to be the best for us - easy for teachers and parents, very simple in its design, and still, all the bells and whistles we were looking for. These are the criteria we determined should be the standard for centers looking to strategically improve their operations with an app/platform for managing their ECE:
- Touchless sign-in and out managed in the cloud
- Daily wellness screenings
- Ability to contact families immediately (should we need to close or other immediate needs)
- Ability to share photos and more with families who no longer could enter the building
- Easy online application and enrollment processes
- Completely digital online form completion for licensing compliance
- Billing and payment systems
- Most importantly: immediate tech support with a live person at any time
I now have a totally new vision of what the role of the owner/director of a childcare center is. No longer am I chained to a desk and paperwork. I now find that I have more hours in the day to do those things that I love about my job. I find that I have much more money in my budget to do the things I love. My teachers no longer scramble to find sign-in sheets or photos; everything is in one place and so easy to find.
Many of us in the field of early childhood education and childcare are new to the technology that we see out there for our field. Like the invention of the calculator, we need to embrace these new changes and take them for what they are: a whole new wonderful way to manage our programs and free up our resources of time and money for bigger and better things for our schools, students, and community.