A childcare software or a daycare software is a business management software that allows childcare centres to automate or digitalise their daily administrative tasks.
These softwares have been purpose-built for the childcare services sector because of stringent compliance requirements that have been put in place by the federal and state governments of counties, especially in the western world.
To fulfil these compliance requirements childcare centres need to record various aspects in a child’s day at the centre. To put things into perspective, this means completing and managing records for enrolment, meals, nappy changes, toilet runs, curriculum, adherence to educational frameworks, attendance, billing, incident and injury records, educator timesheets and more.
Managing these records on paper on a daily basis can be quite cumbersome and causes inefficiencies. This was seen as an opportunity by childcare software providers who then developed softwares specific for the business needs and processes of the childcare sector.
The offering in terms of functions much vary across different software but generally speaking, you will find the following functions on a child care software:
- Daily Sheets
- Observations and Child Portfolios
- Time Sheets
- Room Log
- Attendance and Billing
- Meal Plans
- Curriculum Planning
- Child Record Management
- Tour Bookings
- Waitlist Management
- Incident Reports
- Payroll and other Accounting Functions
Enrolment is a function that allows childcare operators to manage the enrolment process for a child digitally and then subsequently store and manage the information about the child digitally.
Daily sheets is a function that allows educators in a specific room to add daily records for a child in regards to their meals, sleep, nappies or toilet runs and drinks.
Some childcare softwares have a newsletter management functionality built-in that allows the childcare managers to send out centre-wide notifications to the parents and guardians.
Observations and Child Portfolios
Observations are a photograph or video-based journals of a child’s learnings in a daycare. Typically a daycare plans out various activities that contribute towards the child’s learnings. A software allows educators to capture pictures and videos of children while they are undertaking these activities to share with parents and also for the authorities in order to demonstrate the teaching methods that are being adopted in a daycare centre.
This function allows the daycare staff to send private messages to the parents of children and vice-versa.
As the name suggests, this functionality has been developed to manage the number of hours that a staff member spends at daycare. This helps the childcare management to monitor the timings of the centre staff and to calculate their wages.
Educator Room Log
Some legislations require a specific ratio of students is to educators in a particular room at any given point of time. The room log function allows educators to sign in and sign out of rooms as they move between various rooms within a daycare. The centre manager can then ensure that each room has been appropriately staffed in adherence to the staffing requirements put in place by the relevant authorities.
Attendance and Billing
To track the attendance of the students and to subsequently bill the parents. Some countries such as Australia provide a childcare fee subsidy to parents based on their income levels, in such cases, the billing software interacts with the government systems to determine the correct amount to be charged from the parents a fee. As a part of the software, you will also find the capability to generate statements, take in bookings and run accounting related reports.
Childcare staff is required to maintain a series of checklists during the day as a part of health safety requirements that need to be adhered with. Traditionally these checklists were completed on paper but some childcare softwares allow centres to come up with their own custom checklists that can be completed and stored.
The ability to share food and drinks menu that will be served to the children while at daycare.
The department of education across various countries have come up with educational frameworks that need to be adhered to by early education providers. This is then checked as a part of the assessment and rating mechanism put in place. Childcare softwares have put in place a function that allows educators to plan weekly, fortnightly or monthly curriculums and then follow it. Parents also have the ability to view the curriculum and can continue the child’s learning journey at home based on what is being taught at daycare.
Child Record Management
This function allows childcare centres to manage the records of a child including the emergency records, immunisation records, residential addresses and phone numbers as and when they are updated. In some softwares, parents might have the ability to update these details on their own. This function ensures that the child records are always up to date.
The initial step to finding suitable daycare for a child involves them to contact various centres and book tours to get an understanding of a centre, their staff, the environment, fees, etc. Tour bookings is a function that allows parents to book a tour of a centre and subsequently visit a centre as per the time slot provided to them. Daycare staff can easily manage all their bookings using the software and ensure that a staff member is available to take the parents around the centre.
Waitlist management is a function that allows centres to manage the enrolment process and offer positions to children as and when they become available. This is particularly helpful when the centre is running at full capacity and can only offer positions to children as and when they become available.
The legislation requires that any incident that involves an injury or trauma being caused to a child be recorded. Traditionally, this has been done on paper but now some childcare softwares offer this function as a part of their package. Educators can easily fill the form online and parents can view and sign the incident report using their own login details.
Payroll and other Accounting Functions
The ability to manage their payrolls and perform other important accounting functions for a daycare centre. This can either be built as a core function within software or a childcare software can be connected to existing accounting software to achieve this functionality.
Advantages of using childcare softwares include:
- Lack of dependence on paper, therefore, a more sustainable solution.
- Parents are better connected to what is happening at the daycare.
- Parents can further the child’s learning at home based on what is being taught at daycare.
- Childcare softwares allow for the overall operations to be more efficient.
- Help daycares to get a better rating from the relevant authorities as they have a better ability to demonstrate their adherence to the educational frameworks that have been put in place for the early education sector.