Possible New Policies in Childcare

Possible New Policies in Childcare

We’re experts at building software, not politics.  So, we can’t prognosticate about the likelihood that any of these changes is enacted or whether they should be.  But, if changes in government programs could happen, we thought it was worthwhile to understand what those changes could look like.  Here’s our analysis:

 

During the presidential election campaign, the Biden campaign included on its website several proposals for childcare.  The proposal builds on the proposed Child Care for Working Families Act sponsored by Senator Murray and Congressman Scott.

 

 

Universal Pre-Kindergarten

Both proposals include provisions to provide federal funding and state requirements to offer pre-kindergarten for all 3- and 4-years old children.  Importantly, the most recent proposal includes a provision that would allow existing preschool providers to participate in this program, meaning a private or non-profit provider could qualify for funding just like a school district, for this program.  What we think this means is that current providers of preschool and childcare for 3- and 4-year-old children will need to ensure that they’re compliant with the program – namely with respect to tracking and reporting attendance, incidents, and learning assessments – and will need the ability to invoice government agencies for reimbursement.  It likely also means that many parents who pay for care for children in those age ranges would switch from private paid to government paid, or some combination of the two because it’s likely the government funding will only cover a portion of the day.

 

Refundable Tax Credit

Both proposals include a provision that would provide a refundable tax credit to families in an amount equal to what the family paid for childcare in excess of 7% of the family’s income.  This would increase the need for childcare providers to give parents accurate and timely tax statements.  Perhaps more interestingly though, it also makes childcare more affordable for families without reducing tuition which suggest some families who do not have children in childcare today may be able to afford it and/or families may be able to expand the use of childcare with an existing provider.  This trend should be a big positive for the industry because it would increase utilization without reducing tuition.

 

Bonus Payments

Both proposals include provisions for bonus payments to childcare providers in certain circumstances.  The bonus payments would be in addition to subsidy payments or parent payments.  The circumstances envisioned include care during nontraditional working hours and care for children with special needs.  We think these bonus payments would make programs more financially viable.  For example, bonus payments for care during nontraditional working hours would allow a school to pay teachers more during those hours, attracting staff while maintaining profitability.

 

Extend CCDBG Funding to Afterschool

Both proposals include a provision that would allow Child Care Development Block Grant funding to be used for after school care for children up to the age of 13, rather than just for preschool age children.  This would likely allow for expanding enrollment in after school programs.  It would require those programs to track attendance and have the ability to invoice state agencies that distribute CCDBG funding which are likely capabilities most after school programs do not have today.

 

 

As we said at the beginning of this article, we’re not political experts, so we don’t what, if any of these changes will be enacted.  We hope that our summary of the most likely changes and the implications those changes would have for your childcare center or after school program is helpful.

 

 

Virtual Tours

Virtual Tours

Recently we teamed up with our friends at IntelliKid Systems to learn how you can add Virtual Tours to your enrollment toolbox. The informative webinar went over how to make a virtual tour, why it should be an important part of your strategy and all of the ways you can maximize its effect on your enrollment.

Increasingly, parents are asking to tour a new facility remotely.  Even in the pre-COVID world, this request would arise from parents who were moving and wanted to see a school before their move or from parents who are strapped for time and could squeeze in a virtual tour during work but couldn’t make the actual trip. 

Now, in the post-COVID world, virtual tours help parents reduce exposure.  Most importantly, virtual tours aren’t mutually exclusive with in-person tours, meaning you’re likely gaining tours that wouldn’t have happened otherwise which can only benefit your school’s enrollment. 

For all these reasons, virtual tours should be part of your offering.  Now that you understand why virtual tours are important, let’s discuss how best to conduct a virtual tour. 

The first thing you should do is to map out the way you want to showcase your facility. It’s important to decide which classrooms you will be showing, what outdoor yards, and to have a concise walking path between all of the elements of the tour. Then, you will film the tour from the point of view of someone walking around. It’s important to remember that the camera will be your prospective parent’s “eyes” so be sure to capture all of the unique elements you normally would in an in-person tour. In our webinar, we discussed the right tools for the job, which in our case was a iPhone 11 pro camera and a stabilizer made by DJI. Once you have your video ready, you can then connect with your prospective parent over a few different video conferencing services. We discussed a few of the options, including Zoom and Google Meets. While sharing your screen, and your facility video, you can then be free to walk the inquiring parent through your building just like you would in-person! Using this method allows you to engage and build a relationship with the parent, answer any questions while still maintaining distance and adhering to any new guidelines that prohibit in-person tours. 

For a more detailed discussion about the methods, impact and to learn how to make your own virtual tour, we encourage you to watch the recording of our recent webinar with IntelliKid Systems.

Good luck!

The Daze of Summer

The Daze of Summer

Summer can be a unique time for a childcare center. Normal routines get disrupted. Everyone seems like they are in vacation mode. And yet, you probably feel busier than ever. We think summer is a great opportunity expand your program offerings and think about improving in the next year.
Summer Activities

Summer activities can present different challenges and opportunities than the school year.

Do you run a summer camp or offer summer specific activities?  Consider offering summer programs for school-age children.  This is a great way to make use of extra space at your facility and helps parents find quality care. 

Smartcare can help in several ways:

  • If you’re already using Smartcare, use our messaging feature to message parents to promote your summer programs.  Chances are many of your parents have school-age children!
  • Better yet, if you’re using Smartcare, ask your families if they have school-age children and use tags to tag families with school-age children so that you can filter for just that group, and message them specifically.
  • Use our online enrollment feature to quickly get information about children enrolling in summer programs and eliminate data entry.
  • Use our billing feature to bill by attendance, flat fee or on-demand, based on the fees for your program.
  • Use our lesson planning functionality to build engaging activities specific to your summer program, keeping kids engaged and parents satisfied.
  • Track attendance for all of your programs, keeping children safe and giving parents peace of mind.

 

Getting Ready for Next Year

In addition to using summer as an opportunity to expand program offerings, summer is also a great time to get ready for next year. 

Use the change in pace to look back at the prior year and assess your performance.  These are just a few questions to ask yourself.  Each situation is different, but in general, this a good place to start.

  • Were you in ratio compliance for all your classes for the prior year?
  • Are you collecting over 98% of charges in less than 30 days?
  • Did you meet your budget, especially for teacher payroll?
  • Did you complete assessments on all children and discuss the outcome with parents?

 

Smartcare has tools to help you improve next year.  At a high level, Smartcare is an all-in-one platform to manage a childcare center, with functionality including:

  • Manage multiple locations from anywhere
  • Online enrollment and registration
  • Manage attendance
  • Automate billing, payment collection and account integration
  • Class, student and teacher scheduling
  • Employee hours worked and paid time off
  • Curriculum, lesson plans, assessments and activity tracking
  • Custom reporting
  • And much more!

Schedule a Demo

Watch our 1 minute intro video above

Your live demo will include how to:

  • Send billing and post payments
  • Record attendance history
  • Retain medical information
  • Note incidents, successes, and birthdays
  • Make payments at your center
  • Create real-time communication with parents
  • Use leads to nurture prospective families
Meet all your center’s needs with our cohesive child care and preschool software solutions

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