COVID-19 Childcare Business Survival Guide – How to Navigate Rent Hardship

COVID-19 Childcare Business Survival Guide – How to Navigate Rent Hardship

During this unprecedented time, many childcare facilities are unsure about the future. This series of blogs covers ways to help our audience navigate this confusing time. Below you’ll find tips for any childcare facility who might be having a hard time paying rent during this time.

When you experience a hardship that affects your ability to pay rent on time, proactively contacting your landlord to find a solution is usually your best choice.  If you are a conscientious and honest tenant who is temporarily short on funds, most landlords won’t evict you for paying rent a little late as it is expensive to pursue an eviction, and in the current economic environment, landlords may worry about their ability to find another lessor.  Therefore, both you and your landlord have an incentive to find a feasible way to keep you in your current space.  To avoid problems, follow this advice:

 

Try to negotiate reduced or delayed payment

Be upfront with your landlord about your situation. It is difficult and expensive for a landlord to evict you and if they consider you a good tenant, they won’t want to lose you. Some basic steps to take when asking for reduced or delayed payment:

  • Update your budget so that you know when, or under what circumstances, you’ll be able to restart paying rent.
  • Send a letter or email as soon as possible asking for the time you believe you will need.
  • Explain your situation and difficulties. Let them know it is a temporary issue.
  • Provide proof of hardship if possible.
  • If you have the means, offer to pay a portion of the rent on time. Often, landlords have expenses that have to be paid like property taxes or mortgages, so try to help the landlord cover those expenses, while reducing your total expenditure at the same time.
  • Give the landlord a date you can pay the full rent, if you have one, and make sure you keep your promise to pay.
  • If your landlord has a late fee policy, be prepared to pay. You can ask to forgo the late fee if you feel they will be responsive.

 

Do not send a check you know will bounce

No one likes getting a bounced check. Upsetting your landlord is not the only consequence of a bad check. A bank may charge the landlord a fee for a returned check which they will in turn charge you, most likely adding a few dollars for their troubles. You may also be charged a fee for a returned check. Sending a bad check is like not paying rent at all.

 

The problem won’t go away, so don’t ignore it

Like so many other things, honesty is the best policy. If you think your landlord won’t notice you didn’t pay, you would be wrong. Your landlord depends on your rent to cover their own expenses. A landlord will be more forgiving and willing to negotiate if you are upfront and honest with them.

 

Keep in mind that your landlord is under no obligation to work with you on delinquent rent, unless state guidelines in your area have changed during this time. In states that have temporarily halted evictions, there are stipulations that rent still must be paid in full at the end of a certain period, so make sure you read up and know what to expect. If you don’t pay rent on time and in full, your landlord has the right to start legal action to evict you and collect the money.

 

 

COVID-19 Childcare Business Survival Guide –  How Can My Center Use Small Business Administration Programs?

COVID-19 Childcare Business Survival Guide – How Can My Center Use Small Business Administration Programs?

During this unprecedented time, many childcare facilities are unsure about the future. This series of blogs covers ways to help our audience navigate this confusing time. As childcare centers navigate the events occurring in response to COVID-19, the Small Business Administration (SBA) has multiple programs available to help.

Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)

In order to qualify for an EIDL, your school must be in an area covered by a disaster declaration.  You can determine if you are in an area covered by a disaster declaration by visiting this site: https://disasterloan.sba.gov/ela/Declarations/Index

If you are in a disaster area, then you will need to apply for an EIDL.  You can submit the application here: https://covid19relief.sba.gov/#/.  This is an online, step-by-step application.

To be prepared, have these items on hand:

  • Your most recent tax return
  • Business formation documents (such as your LLC agreement or articles of incorporation)

Note that the website underwent a major overhaul recently and many users have reported slowness, so be patient.  Expect to hear back from the SBA in about 3 weeks.  If your application is approved, then you will work with the SBA to determine the amount of a loan for which you qualify, up to $2 million, and the terms of repayment.

Advance on an Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL)

After you have completed the EIDL application (https://covid19relief.sba.gov/#/) you will also qualify for a $10,000 advance, issued before your application is reviewed, and possibly forgivable at a later date.

You must submit the current application on the EIDL site to qualify for the advance.  If you submitted the older application, you must re-submit an application using the new format to qualify for the advance.  You can determine if you submitted the old application by looking at the PDF copy, in the top right corner of the first page for “OMB No.: 3245-0017” which is the form ID for the old application.  If you are not interested in the advance, and you submitted the old application, then you don’t need to submit the new application.

Payroll Protection Act Loan (PPAL)

As part of the CARES Act, the government has authorized businesses to borrow 250% of their average monthly payroll up to $10 million.  Specifically, you will qualify for 250% of the average monthly payroll expense, including employer paid taxes and employer paid benefits, but excluding any compensation to an employee in a payroll period that exceeds $100,000 on an annualized basis.

Unlike EIDL, the PPAL program will be administered by private banks rather than the SBA.  Private banks that are current “SBA 7a” lenders will most likely participate, and other banks may participate as well.  All banks are currently waiting on the SBA to publish final rules and guidelines for the program.  The SBA has indicated that those rules will be published in the next 1-2 weeks.  After the rules are published, banks will open applications.

Based on reading the law, you can be prepared by having records for your total payroll by employee for the past 12 months as well as the past 12 months mortgage, rent and debt payments.  You will also want to keep records of all payroll payments, by employee, starting now through June 30 to qualify for loan forgiveness. The specific terms of the loan will be finalized with the lender.  We will publish an updated blog post when the SBA publishes its guidelines with more actionable information.

Find Local Assistance

In addition to the information above, the SBA has a tool to find business counsels in your area.  Visit: https://www.sba.gov/local-assistance/find/

COVID-19 Childcare Business Survival Guide – Online Educational Resources for Childcare Providers and Parents

COVID-19 Childcare Business Survival Guide – Online Educational Resources for Childcare Providers and Parents

During this unprecedented time, many childcare facilities are unsure about the future.  Over the coming weeks, we will publish a series of blogs to help navigate through this confusing time. Our first blog is a list of resources that childcare providers or parents can use to add new activities in the classroom or for virtual learning.

Now more than ever we want to keep our children actively engaged in positive activities.  Let’s help them experience the beauty, the fun and learn new things about our world.  Whether at school or stay-at-home – let’s explore!

 

Tours & Museums

Games & Activities

Language

Math

Science

Learning – All Topics

  • Scholastic – Learn at Home
  • Audible – currently free
  • Funbrain.com – Math and Reading games
  • ClickSchooling brings you daily recommendations by email for entertaining websites that help your kids learn.
  • National Geographic – Geography and animals
  • Abcya.com – Math and reading games
  • Arcademics.com – Math and language games
  • Bamboo.com – Voice based learning, learn through Alexa
  • 123homeschool4me.com – 300,000+ FREE printable worksheets from toddlers to teens
  • Breakoutedu.com – Educational games K-12 
  • Ck12.org – Science, Math, Social Studies 
  • Countryreports.org – 35,000 pages of online content on the cultures and countries of the world.
  • Coursera – Tons of free classes from leading universities and companies
  • Curriki– Digital learning content for preschool through high school
  • Discoveryk12.com – Online homeschool platform & curriculum for Pre-K to 12th grade.
  • Izzit.org – Entertaining & educational videos for all levels and subjects
  • Khan Academy – Online education program for toddler through high chool.
  • Teachers Pay Teachers – Free Printables for PreK-2nd Grade 
  • Littlesparkcompany.com – Free printables library with activities for children 0-6
  • Fluency and Fitness – Educational brain breaks to help students review essential literacy and math skills, while getting in some exercise. Ages 4-8.
  • Fiveable.me – Resources for AP students including live reviews, live trivia, and study guides!
  • Hippocampus.org – 7,000 free videos in 13 subject areas
  • Carmen Sandiego – Carmen Sandiego videos, stories, and lessons for all subject areas
  • Marcolearning.com – Resources for AP students
  • Superchargedschool.com -Daily lessons and educational activities that kids can do on their own
  • Allinonehighschool.com – Every course you could possibly want to homeschool for high school
  • PBS – PreK-12 digital media service with more than 30,000 learning materials 
  • Pebblego.com – Curricular content hub specifically designed for K-3 students.
  • Zearn.org – K-5 curriculum that builds deep understanding and a love of learning math for all students
  • A Better Way to Homeschool – A quick start resource to help families pull together a plan for surviving the next 1-2 months at home with their kids, but it can also be a time of slowing down and enjoying kids as they learn. Preschool through 8th grade
  • US Mint – Your child can play games, learn fun facts, and find out how to turn coin collecting into a hobby.  https://supersimple.com/
  • Kids Think Design explores careers in fashion design, graphic design, interior design, book design, product design, film and theatre, architecture, animation, and environmental design.
  • Free Code Camp – 450 Ivy League courses that you can take
  • Project Explorer – Free videos from around the world from grade 3-12
  • Quizlet – For students to practice and master whatever they are learning.
  • Red T Kids – Critical Thinking resources for K-6 students
  • Wonderopolis.org – Short videos and readings that answer various burning questions for students. There are vocabulary challenges and comprehension questions.
  • EdX – 2,500+ online courses from top institutions
  • Youngzine – News and more for kids
  • Google Earth – All sorts of learning here if you dig in
  • Super Simple – Resource section includes free flashcards, coloring pages, worksheets, and other resources for children, teachers, and parents.
  • Overcomingobstacles.org – Life skills curriculum for students in grades K-12. Their resources include strategies for teaching social and emotional skills.
  • Alcumus is specifically designed to provide high-performing students with a challenging curriculum appropriate to their abilities
  • Mobymax.com – Find and fix learning gaps
  • Ducksters – Education for kids all topics
  • Magic Tree House – Interactive games based on the book series
  • Cool Kid Facts gives your child access to educational videos, pictures, quizzes, downloadable worksheets, and infographics. They can use these to learn about geography, history, science, animals, and even the human body.
  • US Gov – This interactive website, hosted by the U.S. Government Publishing Office, allows your child to see the ins and outs of the U.S. government by taking a series of learning adventures with none other than Benjamin Franklin.
  • Brainscape offers over a million flashcard decks for every subject, entrance exam, and certification imaginable.

Spelling, Writing & Reading

  • Magic Spell is a carefully crafted spelling adventure.
  • Noredink.com -Online curriculum that builds better writers.
  • Novel Effect makes storytime a little more fun for kids (and grown-ups too!) As you read out loud from print books (or ebooks!) music, sound effects, and character voices play at just the right moment, adjusting and responding to your voice.
  • Paragraphpunch.com – Teaches students how to write a paragraph through interactive online tutorial
  • ReadWorks is an online resource of reading passages and lesson plans for students of all levels K-12.
  • Goodandbeautiful.com – Course sets (Levels 1–5) that combine and thoroughly cover phonics, reading, writing, spelling, literature, grammar, punctuation, art, and geography—all in one easy-to-use, beautiful course.
  • The Shurley English program for grades K-8 provides a clear, logical, and concrete approach to language arts.
  • Spellingcity is free right now with code VSCFree90
  • Spelling Training  1-4 grade 
  • Readingeggs.com – Phonics and learning to read
  • Funfonix.com – Phonics worksheets for kids
  • Freechildrenstories.com – Free stories online ages 3-12
  • The Story Starter – Randomly generates 356,300,262,144 story starters
  • Grammaropolis – Work on the 8 parts of speech

History

    • Bighistoryproject.com – Online history classes for all ages preteen through adults
    • Bunkhistory.org – Digital archive of history
    • NGAkids interactives offer an entertaining and informative introduction to art and art history.
    • Mission-us.org – An interactive way to learn history
    • Whatwasthere.com – Allows students to type in any city, state, or country to view an archive of historical photographs and other documents. It’s a unique way to help them learn about history.
    • Bbc.co.uk – Games, quizzes and fact sheets take kids on a journey through time.

Fitness

    • Little Twisters Yoga – Free at-home kids yoga lesson plans 
    • Gonoodle.com – Movement and mindfulness videos created by child development experts.
    • Sworkit.com  choose from Strength for Kids, Agility for Kids, Flexibility and Balance for Kids, Warm-Up for Kids, Cooldown for Kids, Stand Up and Move for Kids, OR create your own custom kid workout.

Test Prep

Music

    • Music Lab – Music is for everyone
    • Thewell.world –Poetry and music 
    • Musictheory.net – intermediate music theory lessons, exercises, ear trainers, and calculators.
    • Prodigies is a colorful music curriculum for kids 1-12 that will teach your kids how to play their first instrument, how to sing in tune & how to understand the language of music! 21 for free
    • QuaverMusic is offering free access to general music activities to all impacted schools, including free student access at-home
    • Smart Music – Music practice transformed
    • Sight Reading Factory – Sight reading and sight singing practice exercises.
    • Virtual Musical Instruments – Lets kids play instruments online. Instruments include the guitar, piano, pan flute, drums, and bongos.
    • Songs for Teaching – A large selection of fun songs to help teach preschool and kindergarten students
    • The Theta Music Trainer offers a series of online courses and games for ear training and music theory.

Coding & Computer Science

    • Instructables – 3D printing projects and Coding projects, involving math and other K-12 subjects
    • Nitrotype – Improve your typing skills while competing in fast-paced races with up to 5 typers from around the world.
    • Typing Club – Keyboarding practice
    • Codecademy – Learn to code
    • Scratch draws students of all types into coding and lays a foundation for future learning.
    • Code.org – Coding with Star Wars 
    • Kodable – Coding for ages 4-10
Use Online Enrollment to Modernize your Childcare Facility

Use Online Enrollment to Modernize your Childcare Facility

As a childcare provider, enrollments are exciting for you, because it means new students. However, enrolling a new student also usually means some back and forth with the parents, a large stack of papers, and then filing all those papers away so you can reference them as needed. It can end up being a lot of work, both for you, as the provider, and for your parents.

On top of that, most parents now expect to be able to sign documents online or send items via email. By moving your enrollment online, you can not only exceed parent’s expectations, but you can streamline your processes – allowing for more time doing what you love, instead of managing paperwork!

Here are the top ways that online enrollment can help your center:

 

Save Paper

Whether you’re eco-conscious or are just sick of filing stacks of paper away and struggling to find them later, saving paper is a big deal. With an online enrollment feature, parents can head to your website or click a link in an email to complete enrollment.

Even better, as with Smartcare’s online enrollment feature, once enrollment is completed, you’ll be notified and can go over their information right away. Once they’ve been approved, you can easily push the information into Smartcare. You will always know where to go to find forms in the future, no complicated filing system necessary!

Increase Efficiency

It’s just not efficient to send a stack of papers forms home with a parent to complete. Not only do you risk papers forms being lost, but then upon return, you have to manually check each field and form for completion. Using an online enrollment system means that a parent will have to complete the required fields in order to move along. This makes it so much easier for you to spot check their submissions before approving or denying.

Additionally, with Smartcare’s enrollment feature, you can capture payment for any fees that need to be paid at enrollment, such as deposits or enrollment fees. This means no more needing to take a check to the bank, you can have the funds as soon as they’ve hit ‘submit.’

Enhance Parent’s Experience

Parents today are tech savvy. For some childcare providers this can be a huge adjustment. However, in today’s world, adapting to technology and your customer’s expectations is a must. The enrollment period is one of the first interactions that you have with a future customer, so it’s important that this experience goes well.

When signing up for a new program, most customers expect that they’ll be able to complete everything, including payment online. They expect the experience to be user-friendly and self-explanatory. By wow-ing your parents by this first interaction, you show them that you’re not only going to provide great care for their children, but you value their time as well.

Modernizing your childcare facility can seem overwhelming if you’re still a bit old-school in some of your practices. From attendance management to billing to enrollment, you can improve bits and pieces one step at a time. Enrollment is a great place to start with modernization, because it’s one of the first steps that a new parent completes. Additionally, enrollment is one piece of the puzzle that affects more than just your experience, it also affects parents’ experience and how they view your facility. Moving to an online enrollment system will surely mean improvements on both ends of the spectrum.

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

Meet all your center’s needs with our cohesive child care and preschool software solutions

Spring Cleaning

Spring Cleaning

Are you getting ready for longer, sunnier days, spring break and getting one month closer to the end of the school year? So are we! Spring is the perfect season to close out winter and do some spring cleaning. Here are our tips for spring cleaning at a childcare center:

1. Floors
Sanitize floors to remove muck and germs that built up over winter.  Steam cleaning hard surfaces like linoleum or hardwood and using a carpet cleaner to clean carpets is your best bet.  Search for professional cleaners in your area.  Or, if you’re on a budget, most home improvement stores offer affordable rental options.  Plan on about an hour per room and 24 hours to fully dry.  A great way to clean floors on a budget is to rent cleaners, come in on a Saturday morning (or another day you don’t have kids in school), clean and be done by lunch time, and then come back on Monday to a facility that feels like new!  We’ve heard it turns into a team event too – just don’t forget to bring the donuts!

 

2. Organize
Your center is probably no stranger to a mess – crayons, markers, books, toys get strewn around.  Here are our favorite organizing hacks:

  • Supply buckets: get small (1 gallon or less) buckets and keep crayons, markers and other small supplies separated into their own bucket. The handles make it easy for kids to carry without spilling, and clean-up time become a game: match the right supply to the right bucket.
  • Prep bins: get larger tote bins and put all supplies for a single activity into each bin. For example, if you’re doing a self-portrait, put paper, crayons and other materials into a bin with a lid.  When it’s time for the activity, take out the bin, distribute supplies and when it’s time to clean-up, everything goes back in the same bin.
  • Label maker! Need we say more?  Having a label maker for your supply buckets, prep bins and other boxes makes it easy to find what you’re looking for and easier to put things back where they belong.

 

3. Files
Spring is a good time to shred old files.  Make sure you know your state’s laws for record retention.  7 years is usually a very safe bet.  Many communities offer free shredding events to safely dispose of documents that are no longer needed.  Check out Shredit.com to see if there’s an event near you.

 

4. Upgrade Systems
Just as you sanitize your floors, organize your supplies and get rid of files you no longer need, spring is also a great time to upgrade your systems.  Do you have a mobile app for parents to manage attendance, pay bills and get updates?  Do you have an electronic registration form?  How about a way for parents to book a tour on your website?  If you don’t or your current systems are older than the documents you’re shredding, give us 30 minutes to explain how Smartcare can help organize your day-to-day operations, delight parents and increase revenue.

 

Interested in learning 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

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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