Part-time students are no surprise to you. Parents have been seeking part-time care for years, but as the internet grows and connects people more and more, it makes it easier to find flexible care beyond what childcare centers are currently offering.
We know what you’re thinking: more flexibility sounds like an accounting and scheduling nightmare. How can you compete with the semi-retired caregivers and stay-at-home moms marketing themselves on websites like care.com?
The reality is, you have so much more to offer with your curriculum and trained staff of teachers than an individual whose only job is to ensure a child is safe and fed throughout the day.
Childcare software provides you the tools to make flexible scheduling possible without the administrative burden. Here’s how.
One of the biggest difficulties in allowing for a flexible schedule in your childcare is billing these part-time clients. With the childcare software iCare’s Childcare Software, you can bill based off of a schedule, attendance or even a combination of the two.
For example, you might have a flexible student whose parents say will spend two days at your childcare center each week. But those days are flexible based off of when the child’s extended family can care for them. So, you can set your billing to be no less than 16 hours a week in the cases where there are weeks the child always stays with family, but based off the specific days he or she attends your center during the other weeks.
This ensures that the flexibility you’re providing your clients isn’t hurting your bottom line by not allowing you to fill your classroom and budget how much income you’ll receive each week.
The real beauty of using childcare software this way is, you can then program the software to auto bill your clients so that you never have to worry about remembering how your billing is set up and base your invoices off of that. This gives you more time to do what you do best – care for children.
Now that your flexible billing is in place to accommodate part-time scheduling, let’s look at how you can keep a good student-to-teacher ratio even with flexible students. The key is to not place all flexible students in one classroom where their attendance would throw off all your calculations and overwhelm your teacher in that classroom.
You’ll also want to stay in close communication with parents via the messaging functionality in iCare to know when they plan for their child to be with you. It may be that every once in a while, there is a week where they need you for a third day and you can look at your attendance tracking to see if another family is out on vacation to accommodate this flexibility.
To make part-time scheduling and part-time billing of flexible students possible, you need good attendance tracking methods. To be honest, paper tracking will leave you frustrated and wishing you had never opened up your facility to part-time students. Entering paper attendance tracking into an accounting system is a nightmare, but the integration of these services within childcare software is ideal and seamless.
iCare Software makes it possible to open the web-based application, quickly take attendance before starting a class and move easily to teaching the class before squirming toddlers become an issue.
How to market yourself
With all the tools and practices now in place to enable you to provide flexible childcare options, now you need to find the right clients with these needs. The next step is to market yourself so that your local community knows the service you provide parents and students.
Here are a few ideas to help you get the word out about your new scheduling options:
- Join Facebook groups in your neighborhood
- Update your website with keywords like “flexible childcare options” and “preschool with flexible attendance”
- Research local businesses and their hours to see if you should be flexible with drop-off and pick-up times to reach these businesses with unconventional hours
So not only is flexible, part-time scheduling the next big thing in childcare centers, but it just might open the doors to new business and growth for your childcare center.