By: Sholom Strick
Daycare center software is a powerful tool
There’s a a lot of daycare center software out there. Some programs are good, some are not so good. Daycare center software can be an important tool for providers and parents. It ensures schedules and payments stay organized and clear. Effective daycare software can also help providers ensure consistent scheduling for their staff, which is very important. A successful daycare center gives kids a safe and welcoming place to learn and grow, and decent daycare center software can go a long way to making that happen.
Here’s a short summation of five daycare management software products currently on the market, from Childwatch to Brightwheel to iCare. For a comprehensive list of daycare center software software, click here.
Childwatch: web-based childcare made easy …
Childwatch is a completely web-based childcare management software program. The program is well-reviewed and well-trusted, having been on the market since 1997. It works smoothly on PC, Mac and mobile. It offers a parent portal and epay function, meticulous record-keeping of employee hours and a great system for keeping track of meals, attendance and other daily daycare functions. Childwatch also integrates smoothly with Quickbooks and accounting software. With a small business entry price of $39.95 per month, Childwatch has a more-than-reasonable cost for all that it offers.
Procare: highly-rated but pricey …
Procare produces well-known and highly-reviewed childcare management software. Customer support is top-notch and Procare can handle a lot, from tuition record-keeping to managing wait lists. Additionally, Procare is smoothly integrated across platforms, with a wide variety of software. Procare’s programs help a number of daycare centers and institutions run smoothly, but prices can take a toll on the wallet as it requires an up-front flat fee to get going.
Brightwheel: revolutionized early childhood education
Brightwheel started as a daycare child tracking app that keeps track of student’s activities. Teachers can record student attendance, make notes on in-class behavior or highlights, and share photos and memos with parents. On the administrative side Brightwheel is useful for keeping track of classes and scheduling, tuition and attendance. There’s a lot more it can handle, too, from keeping track of meals and immunizations to wait-list management and employee management. Brightwheel has a free version that’s only good for small daycare centers and a premium version that can handle a lot more volume, multiple daycare center locations and is customizable. It can be a bit pricey, depending on the size of your center.
Pros: Brightwheel is a highly-rated app that is easy to use with 24 hour staff support. It can be useful for a broad range of daycare center needs and has a lot of happy customers. Cons: its timing system can be a bit inaccurate at times and it requires Wifi to function, which can be a hassle on field trips or other outings.
iCare: works well, but can take time to set up …
iCare is great for helping with tuition billing, keeping track of attendance and bookkeeping tasks. Customer reviews of iCare show that it is quite popular, with its ability to streamline staff and student attendance and everything from meals to wages and tuition. iCare is a helpful tool with friendly staff ready to assist, the only potential drawback is that it can take some time to integrate your daycare center into the system, as it is quite comprehensive. iCare starts at $70/month, so it’s towards the more pricey end of the spectrum compared to a product like Childwatch, for example.
Sandbox Childcare Management: good reviews, but big setup fee …
Sandbox is a popular option for providers, with a well-functioning system that lets you run a daycare smoothly and with minimal hassle. The program is user-friendly with helpful staff on-call and it’s gotten very good reviews from many daycare center providers. One minor downside is that there is no mobile Sandbox app for iPhones. You can try Sandbox for free, but Sandbox starts at $59 per month if you have under 50 kids, and also has a $250 setup and training fee. The initial fee makes it a little less attractive, as you can get the same thing without the setup cost. On the other hand, if you are training staff who are very new to these kind of systems it can be worth the paying the fee for the training that comes along with it. As daycare center software goes, it’s pretty good.
Childcare Sage: sage advice says you’re better off elsewhere …
The Childcare Sage is a non-web-based program has several good reviews, and its range of abilities is decent. From billing customization, record-keeping and a sign-in and sign-out function, — as well as a 60-day money-back guarantee. Having said that, customers also note that its various features can be confusing and annoying in some cases — and it’s not exactly cheap, starting at $495 for daycare centers with under 50 kids or under. Another observation: Childcare Sage’s website looks like it was made by an amateur, not by software wizards trying to help providers run a kindergarten. Childcare Sage has worked out well for some providers, but it may be worth looking elsewhere considering some of the difficulties customers have experienced using it and the less-than-professional presentation.
Did you know there’s another great tool that offers a win-win to parents and providers and streamlines flows of extra income for your daycare center?
Yes, true story.
Hopping In isn’t a daycare management software program, but it’s a great tool for parents and providers. Those looking for a free, web-based app to fill open daycare spots flexibly don’t need to look any further. Instead of staying empty, an unused spot is immediately listed. That means it’s available to a parent who may need it pronto. Hopping In is all about flexibility and having additional funds!
Hopping In lets parents book or drop spots in a well-organized, integrated system. It’s easy and the commission is tiny (only 5%!)
Tuition-based parents can also sell their child’s unneeded spot for credit towards the next time their kid needs a spot. Hopping In is a great choice for providers and parents to achieve a win-win daycare solution.
Daycare center software makes providers’ and parents’ lives easier — believe me!
It’s worth spending the time and doing research to find the perfect daycare center software for your classes. Every provider’s technological needs are a bit different, but at the end of the day having a reliable daycare center software program that keeps kids and parents happy is indispensable.
Author: Hopping In Blog
Sholom Strick is an expert on the business of running daycare centers and founder of Hopping In, a tool that helps daycare centers earn more when children are absent.
To contact him or for media inquiries email firstname.lastname@example.org