Daycare center software is a powerful tool
It works for providers and parents, ensures schedules and payments stay organized and clear. It also helps with consistent scheduling for staff, which is very important. All in all, 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.
Since there’s a lot of it, here’s a short summation of five daycare management software products popular on the market, from Childwatch to Brightwheel to iCare. For a comprehensive list of daycare center 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 e-pay 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.
If you need more funds to afford it, check out Hopping In which can help you fill your daycare and earn extra revenue by displaying your booking calendar.
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, but 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. However, if iCare is exactly what your daycare needs, look into ways of earning more with your vacant spots and set the funds aside for the software you need.
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. For more details, you can take a look at our review of Sandbox.
You can try Sandbox for free, but it 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.
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, to a 60-day money-back guarantee. Having said that, customers also note that its various features can be confusing and annoying in some cases.
For software that is not exactly cheap (starting at $495 for daycare centers with under 50 kids or under), you want to think Childcare Sage through. It 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.
Hopping In: it works for both parents and owners, and turns additional income into permanent income
Hopping In isn’t a daycare management software program, but it’s a great tool for parents and providers.
By listing unused spots in your daycare and showing them to parents looking for a slot for their kid, Hopping In streamlines the booking process by focusing on availability. This lets you offer daycare on demand without changing your work hours.
It also allows the parents who have dropped a spot to earn some of their tuition back. They can sell their child’s unneeded spot for credit towards the next time their child needs a spot.
Essentially, Hopping In helps you make extra revenue by helping you run your daycare at full capacity. It works for new and current customers, for owners and parents, and for full slots and partially empty slots. It’s flexible so don’t worry about adjusting to it – it can adjust to you.
Daycare center software makes providers’ and parents’ lives easier
Even though the day only lasts 24 hours, it’s worth spending the time on research to find the perfect daycare center software for your needs.
Just like kids, no two daycare centers are the same. That’s why finding a program that adjusts to your daycare matters. It gives you more time to focus on making it better, not just navigating paperwork and the day-to-day.
Plus, if it keeps the staff and the families happy – you know you did good.
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 childcare centers and family daycare providers fill unused spots.
To contact him or for media inquiries email email@example.com