Changes to federal legislation requiring all childcare centres to report attendance times in parent’s statements offered a prime opportunity for directors to digitise childcare management systems. In the wake of COVID-19, and the realisation that hygiene and social distancing are “the new normal”, this same digital revolution thrusting childcare centres forward into digitalising their processes, now also brings with it some new considerations.
The benefits of digitisation are clear. The automisation of administration tasks saves time, effort and resources. Enhanced security requiring personal logins and pass-codes offers greater peace of mind. Devices in the classroom mean staff can record-keep and document progress on the go. The opportunity to share and report on children’s activities, in real time, straight to the parents’ device, builds trust, satisfaction and a sense of community.
For centre directors looking to digitise, the market is heaving with options. And whether your centre has already taken this daunting step or still in the process of shifting through the many available products to find the perfect solution, we have the top five things you need to consider.
1. Take a look at the bigger picture
Traditionally, childcare centres may have had separate software for accounting, waitlists and admissions, billing and employee timesheets, as well as classroom tasks such as programming, activity record-keeping and parent reporting. Most childcare management systems will bring many or all of these tasks into the one system, streamlining operations and offering greater insight into the business. Start by auditing your existing management systems and create a list of the functions and requirements for your childcare centre. Childcare management systems can help relieve the administrative burden of running a centre, freeing up time for strategic planning, marketing and other development activities.
2. Improve your processes
Do you want a system that mirrors your existing processes, or do you want to expand what you are able to capture, document and share with your new system? Do you want to move centralised check-in to classroom check-in, or vice-versa? Offer families the opportunity to check in all children attending the centre at once? Consider meeting with staff, and even a few families, and having a planning session around what is essential in a system, and what is desirable. This will help narrow your focus, especially when it comes to weighing up the costs of the different systems and what they offer.
3. IT and communications hardware and systems
Don’t forget to consider your childcare centre’s IT and communications requirements. Will your current hardware and internet support additional load? Is your internet reliable enough to support a cloud-based (or online) management system? Do you have enough storage to manage the processing load of running a new system through your current network? What about network security – are you protected from viruses and malware? Make sure you check the requirements of any childcare management system and think about upgrading your hardware and internet to manage any new demands. If IT isn’t your strong suit, consider getting some training, or recruiting a specialist to support the transition.
4. Device deployment
Digitising isn’t just about the childcare management system’s functionality. An integral element will be the devices to be used throughout the centre. Many opt for tablets, for their ease of use and practical size. The other major consideration is how you secure them – after all, these expensive devices are very interesting to little people or could fall victim to busy parents in a rush or even thieves. Secure iPad desk mounts, wall mounts or floor stands, as well as tablet desk mounts and floor stands for other popular brands including Samsung, enable parents to access the digital sign-in and out, away from the reach of children. Likewise, secure tablet enclosures protect any roving devices used throughout the classrooms, allowing educators to use the device to document play, celebrate achievements and build a library of images and stories for record-keeping, without constantly worrying about protecting the device. Additionally, secure iPad stands allow tablets to be used in common areas, such as reception, meeting rooms and hallways, to provide directions and other information to staff and families.
5. Protecting your employees and parents
How well are you minimising the risk of COVID-19 transmission in your childcare? With illness able to wreak havoc on a childcare centre’s operation and profitability, both from a staffing perspective and unplanned closures for deep cleaning and quarantining, the switch to digitisation has the potential to fuel this fire. Rolling out tablet sanitisation processes to protect staff and parents, and protecting your tablets with a secure enclosure, will ensure that your new streamlined processes lead to improved centre experiences and not costly closures.
Jacloc’s range of secure iPad desk mounts and secure tablet enclosures offer a flexible range of device securing options that can be fully customised to meet the needs of your childcare centre and are easily cleaned to protect your staff and parents. Stocked in Australia, Jacloc mounts and enclosures are 100% secure, elegant and robust.