Woman at computer with colleagues

Five reasons why Kidsoft’s partner integration strategy is a winning solution for the childcare sector

Woman at computer with two colleagues

Kidsoft, the Australian early learning sector’s leading childcare software platform, offers a unique integration model that enables customers to integrate some of the sector’s best-known software solutions into their existing Kidsoft platform. 

In recent weeks the number of integration partners has jumped to eight with the inclusion of leading workforce management software provider Human Force and compliance management platform 1Place Childcare joining a host of other providers such as Storypark, ChildcareCRM, KindyHub, KindyNow and more.  

Unlike other childcare management platforms, some of which offer all in one solutions, Kidsoft has an integration ready platform that drives better outcomes for owners, managers, children and families, and is the go-to destination for providers who want the ability to choose what features their platform offers.

Kidsoft’s integration strategy is dynamic and constantly evolving and provides the following key benefits to service managers looking for a ‘best of breed’ solution.

1. Empowering customers to make their own choices

As the number of all-in-one CCMS software providers continues to increase, Kidsoft stands out as the only leading platform that remains committed to providing its customers with the ability to choose which software partners they prefer to partner with, as opposed to being forced to use features embedded in an existing all in one solution. 

Choice is key to the Kidsoft integration strategy and remains a decisive factor as to why partnering with Kidsoft ensures better outcomes for owners, managers, children and families.

2. Facilitating the creation of curated ecosystems

With the ability to choose from a range of integration partners comes the ability to curate a customised ecosystem across each service that reflects specific priorities and ensures the best outcomes are achieved for children, families and team members. 

For example, a service that is particularly focused on improving occupancy metrics would welcome the opportunity to connect their Kidsoft platform with a leading lead management solution enabling them to streamline the customer journey more effectively.

A service that is less focused on occupancy but particularly focused on parent engagement would see the multiple benefits of connecting their Kidsoft platform to their parent engagement platform of choice.

By utilising Kidsoft integrations owners and managers can take control of their software solutions and ensure that what they have is precisely what they want.

3. Ensuring only sector leading solutions are being accessed 

Another key benefit of the integration ready strategy is that it ensures that customers not only have choice but are also guaranteed quality. 

Only the ECEC sector’s leading providers are included on the Kidsoft integration partner list having undergone rigorous due diligence and testing by the Kidsoft integration teams. 

The result is the best of the best can be accessed by the Kidsoft customer community, a benefit that an all-in-one platform could never match.

4. Guaranteeing new innovations are included in real time 

The importance of innovation has never been as paramount as it has during 2020, with changes forced upon the ECEC sector by COVID-19 having created a range of new organisational and operational imperatives that are ‘must haves’ to ensure outcomes continue to improve. 

The Kidsoft integration strategy supports the customer’s ability to remain connected to important innovations through their integration partners, all of which are 100 per cent focussed on ensuring their products are ahead of the innovation curve, and providing users with the best solutions on the market.

5. Removing the need to engage separately with multiple service providers 

By connecting Kidsoft directly to other platforms a streamlined eco-system is created across which information can flow freely and with ease.

As a direct result users will not need to enter information into one system and then re-enter it into another, instead benefitting from synchronisation functionality that automatically transfers information across platforms.

And finally, not only will the integrations improve outcomes and productivity, they could also save money as discounts and incentives are now available for Kidsoft users opting to sign up new integration software partners through the Kidsoft platform.

“We are really proud of our commitment to providing our customers with choice through our integration strategy,” Kidsoft CEO Di Girvin said, outlining that giving customers the ability to connect to the best of the best solution providers in the childcare sector from the Kidsoft platform “is essential to ensuring they are fully supported to meet their objectives and priorities.”

To learn more about Kidsoft’s ‘best of breed’ integration strategy, its integration partners and what incentives and discounts are available for new sign ups please click here.

Teacher speaking with a male parent

5 Ways To Improve Customer Relationship With Parents At Your Childcare Centre

Teacher talking with male parent

Maintaining good relationships with the parents who bring their children to your childcare centre can prove a tricky balancing act. 

When it comes to ensuring that their little ones are safe and happy, parents can be (understandably) somewhat demanding. 

So when things get tough, try to remember that they’re trusting you with their most precious possession, and use the tips below to improve your relationship with them. 

Highlight Good Behaviour as Well as the Bad News

Days at childcare centres are busy and often full of micro-dramas, as kids, fight, cry, and throw tantrums. An inevitability of being rushed off your feet is that often, the only phone calls or emails that a parent will receive is to tell them that something bad has happened. It makes sense: these are the things that parents must be informed of, and so those conversations are unavoidable. 

Yet if every piece of communication with the centre means bad news — for example, that their little one is sick, upset, or behaved badly — parents will dread picking up the phone. Instead, try to contact them to tell them all the good stuff their little one got up to that week as well. Opening with a story about their child doing well will also soften the blow when you do have some negative information to impart. 

Make Transactions Easier With CCMS Software

The parents of children who attend childcare centres are undoubtedly going to be busy — that’s why they’re using your service in the first place. So lessen the admin burden on them with a CCMS software like Kidsoft

This software includes features such as a payment gateway, an enrolment gateway, an attendance tracker, and communication platforms. Not only will parents appreciate having all of the information relating to your childcare centre in one place, but it will also lessen the admin burden on your team, boosting productivity.

Encourage Feedback 

Parents will want to have their say — so give them an outlet for their opinions in a structured way. At the end of each quarter, consider sending out a parent feedback survey. Alternatively, try installing a suggestion box on your reception desk. Make sure parents know who they should contact if they have an urgent complaint or concern to report. This will make them feel valued and listened to, especially when you take steps to adapt to their feedback.

Involve Parents in Events

While your team needs to maintain professionalism around parents, remember that they will also want to get to know the caretakers they regularly leave their children with. Holding events when it’s safe to do so — and involving parents — is a great way to allow them to get to know your team in a professional setting. Whether you throw child-friendly parties, put on shows, or hold bake sales, the more you involve them, the more brand loyal parents will become. 

Ensure Your Centre is Always Clean, Safe and Hygienic

Maintaining a clean, safe, and hygienic space is the absolute minimum a parent will expect of you. Yet, with everything involved in looking after a bunch of children every day, sometimes things can get a little messy. Leaving some spilt food on a table for half an hour, or having an overflowing bin may not seem like a health hazard — but it will look bad to parents. If you run a large childcare centre, it may be worth employing cleaners throughout the day to keep the place spick and span. 

Running a childcare centre and keeping parents happy is no easy feat, but it can be truly rewarding. With these 5 tips in mind, you’ll be able to strive for the best possible customer relationships with parents.

Two girls doing arts and crafts

Batteries not required – the magic of repurposed play

Two young girls playing arts & craft

Do you remember the magic of Play School presenters delving into the useful box? 

Cardboard boxes would become all sorts of things, from buildings to beds, and cardboard tubes would be binoculars, wands and all sorts of other imaginary props. With a little bit of glue and a lot of imagination, items from the recycling pile were turned into meaningful additions to learning. 

While children and families nowadays may be tempted by numerous toys that light up, do tricks, play music or have interactive apps, there is a lot to be said for open-ended play resources. A toy phone, for example, is a great way to pretend to talk on the phone, but the function of the toy is so specialised that it limits the imagination of what else it may be used for. 

A toothpaste box could be re-imagined as a phone, a remote control, a toy boat, a car… the opportunities are endless! 

Open-ended materials have an infinite number of uses, limited only by a child’s imagination. When children are given open-ended materials to play with, not only are their imaginations sparked, but sustainability lessons are learnt as well. 

Here are some suggestions for everyday materials which could take on a new lease of life in your service: 

Gift wrap and paper towel rolls

Many things can be created from cardboard cylinders. They can be used in a bowling game, crafted into telescopes, or even used to paint with. Things can be poured through them, or they can be joined together with tape to make a tower or a tunnel. 

Egg cartons

Egg cartons – perfect as a means to support children with a transportation or sorting schema to explore, the humble egg carton offers a world of possibilities for play. Egg cartons are also great props in small world play when cut up – they can be tables, stools or a roof. (Please consider egg allergies in your space before implementing this suggestion).

Plastic Bottles

Plastic bottles – many educators have cottoned on to the idea of using plastic bottles to make sensory and self-regulation tools for children, but there is so much more they can be used for. Plastic bottles can be cut into mini greenhouses, used in water and sand play, or help with experiments about sinking and floating. Plastic bottles can be repurposed in many ways. 

Cardboard boxes

Cardboard boxes the adage that children love the box more than the toy that is housed in it is true! Big boxes can become cubbies, cars, towers and so much more. Smaller boxes have a plethora of uses too – beds for baby dolls, a new pair of shoes, a letter box – the possibilities are endless. 

By taking a look through your recycling collection, at home or in the service, you may unlock a world of possibility. 

For more ideas and inspirations on working with recycled materials, visit No time for flashcards, Recycle and Play or Playgroup WA

Little boy with Coronavirus sign

7 Tips for Keeping Your Childcare Centre Safe from COVID-19

Little boy with Coronavirus sign

Ensuring that your business stays safe from Covid-19 is hard enough in the current climate, but it becomes ten times trickier when you add large groups of children into the equation.

However, if you take sensible precautions and put safety and cleanliness at the heart of everything you and your team do, there’s no reason you can’t continue to ensure that your childcare centre stays a happy, Covid-free haven for little ones during these uncertain times. 

Here’s how to keep your childcare centre safe from Covid-19. 

1. Require Sick Staff and Children to Stay Home
Ensuring that staff and children who are obviously unwell don’t attend your childcare centre sounds like it should be easy, but that’s unfortunately not the case. Staff presenteeism and parents who need to offload their children so they can get to work may mean that concerning symptoms are overlooked. 

Set out your Covid-19 sickness policy in two clear, easily accessible documents — one for staff and one for parents — and make it clear that you will not permit anyone who has Covid-19 symptoms to enter the building.

2. Ensure That Staff Are Following Guidance
As the pandemic rumbles on, it’s easy for people to get complacent when it comes to things like hand washing and mask wearing. Yet to protect your childcare centre from Covid-19, it is essential that staff stick to the rules.

Help them out by providing PPE such as masks, creating hand sanitising stations, and hanging up posters reminding them of social distancing and hand washing guidelines. 

3. Separate Children and Staff Into Bubbles
If your childcare centre is relatively large, it’s worth separating children and staff into separate bubbles. Assign children to childcare providers who will take care of them each day, and ensure that the separate bubbles stay in different rooms throughout their time at the centre. Stagger their time outdoors and in the lunchroom to prevent crossover. 

4. Stagger Arrival and Pick-Up Times
Prevent large groups of parents and children mingling at the centre by staggering drop-off and pick-up times. Where possible, set up a safe arrival and pick-up zone outside the centre that is manned by your staff so parents don’t need to enter the building at all. 

5. Screen Children Upon Arrival
Covid-19 does not always manifest in obvious symptoms — particularly among little ones. Where possible, screen children’s temperature upon arrival. Ensure that the screening area is clear of other staff and children, and make sure the staff member carrying out the screening is properly protected by PPE. 

6. Regularly Clean and Disinfect
While it’s always vital to keep your childcare centre clean, cleanliness in 2020 needs to hit a whole new level. Develop a schedule for cleaning and disinfecting that ensures that frequently touched surfaces and objects — including toys and games — are routinely cleaned, sanitised, and disinfected. It’s also important to ban the use of toys that cannot be cleaned and sanitised. 

7. Cancel and Postpone Planned Events
The fluctuation of national and local lockdowns means that it’s very difficult to predict whether any planned events will actually be permitted to take place. However, in order to keep your childcare centre safe from Covid-19, it’s sensible to cancel and postpone these events anyway. 

While it’s unfortunate to deprive your community of children and parents of the usual yearly events, they’ll enjoy them a lot more once the pandemic is over — and you won’t have to worry that a coronavirus outbreak is in the cards. 

To find out more about how software like Kidsoft can help you manage your business operations now more than ever, contact us to book a demo.

Male teacher with boy

6 Ways To Make Your Childcare Centre Well-Known In Your Area

Male teacher with young boy

Every childcare centre owner wants to work out how to pack their waiting list with parents desperate to secure their little one a place. You want to ensure your centre is the number one choice for parents in your area, and that it has an outstanding reputation within your community.

Of course, this is difficult to achieve if only the parents of children who currently attend your childcare centre are aware you exist. 

It’s so important to work towards establishing yourself more broadly in your area, so that prospective clients — such as soon-to-be parents or grandparents — are aware of your childcare centre before they even begin to seek one out.  

Here’s how to go about it.

Hold Events
Community events are a fun and effective way of announcing “we’re here!” to the people in your area. Make the most of your building to host events for the children, their parents and — where it’s appropriate — the wider community. 

For instance, an exhibition of the children’s art, a festive show, or a summer fair could be great fun for the little ones and their families. Yet, for other events — from themed discos to fundraising soirees — there’s no reason not to get the whole community involved. 

Marketing Outreach
Sometimes you just have to get down to some traditional marketing. Platforms such as Toddle or Care for Kids are great resources for parents. Ensure you’re putting your best foot forward for your service’s listings.

Email outreach is a highly productive way to connect with prospective clients. Consider building a newsletter list that people can sign up to on your website to share a little about what’s going on each month at your daycare centre and to advertise events. 

Go further and offer those who sign up to your newsletter tours of your centre or meetings to answer any questions. Both of these tactics will help to build trust and get your name out there. Once prospects are engaged and want to find out more, you can begin using phone calls and text messages too, for a more personal feel.

This might sound like a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to be. Fortunately, Kidsoft integrates with ChildcareCRM, which helps daycare centre managers to coordinate all of the above activities. Using this integration, you can connect with new families at the right time and engage them through emails, calls, and text messages on the tool’s easy-to-navigate sales and marketing platform. 

Build Your Social Media Presence
Given that many of your prospective clients will spend hours on Facebook each day, your email outreach efforts should be accompanied by a strong social media presence. Create a private Facebook group that parents whose children are members of your childcare centre can join. 

Additionally, consider launching another group to share news and events with a wider range of people, and to interact more broadly with the local community. It is of course important that you don’t share any information on social media that could put any of the children who attend your daycare centre at risk.

Incentivise Referrals
When it comes to developing a strong local reputation, it’s hard to beat word of mouth. Some of this will happen naturally as parents chat to their friends about the benefits of your daycare centre. But why not speed this process up by offering incentives for referrals? 

For example, if one family successfully refers another family, both parties could get a day or a week at your childcare centre for free. Other rewards could include gift cards, children’s’ toys, or indulgent hampers for the parents.

Engage in Smart Networking
Networking can be time consuming and take you away from your day-to-day tasks, yet face-to-face interaction with your community is instrumental for reputation building. This is why it’s vital to be smart about how and when you network. Where will your time be the most valuable, and where are your prospective clients most likely to hang out? Consider attending groups for new mums and dads, going to events run by businesses catering to children, or collaborating with local primary schools. 

Try these five tips to get the word out about your centre, and for even more support in streamlining your business, check out how Kidsoft can help.Pla

Girl with Christmas decoration

The Christmas Conundrum: Planning for celebrations that reflect and respect diversity

Girl with Christmas decoration

Almost without fail, year on year, six weeks out from Christmas a debate will kick off.

Some commentators call this debate “the war on Christmas” with strong and emotional arguments on both sides, both in favour of, and against “traditional” celebrations. 

These debates can be challenging for those working in early childhood settings – after all, celebrations are important markers on our calendars, and families, staff and children will often all have their own ideas about how they should be acknowledged. 

How can childcare services make sure that all children, families, and staff feel respected?

How can services make sure children and families join in with celebrations in a way which respects the diversity of families? 

One size does not fit all
Some educators and leaders will remember an experience from their childhood of eating dinner, or spending the night at a friend’s house. In those moments, many of us remember the mind-blowing feeling when you realised that not everyone eats dinner with a knife and fork, that some families let their dogs sleep on the bed, or that in some houses, shoes are not to be worn inside. 

What those moments teach is that all families, and all homes, have their own little differences. The same is true for celebrations – not all people celebrate or acknowledge all holidays, and few do it in the same way. 

In most settings, because of different beliefs, biases and experiences, some negotiation will need to happen in relation to special celebrations and holidays. Even within groups that all acknowledge the same holiday, such as Christmas, how individual families celebrate will reflect both similarities and differences. 

For holidays such as mothers and Father’s Day, which families are included, and which are excluded? How could this practice be made more inclusive? 

What’s the why?
Each community is composed of members of many different cultures, backgrounds and beliefs. Knowing the origins and the meaning behind each holiday may support your service in making decisions about what, and how, to celebrate. 

The Early Years Learning Framework encourages educators to think about how they authentically embed culture into environments, practices and programs, describing cultural competence as being “much more than awareness of differences. It is the ability to understand, communicate with, and effectively interact with people across cultures.”

When educators look at how they work with children and families, as guided by the Early Childhood Australia Code of Ethics, they are guided to learn about, respect and respond to the uniqueness of each family, their circumstances, culture, family structure, customs, language, beliefs and kinship systems. 

Honouring this uniqueness also means recognising that each group has a right to their traditions, and that the program should not favour one group of families over another. 

Key ideas for celebrating the holidays… fairly

  • Learning, not celebrating: celebrating a holiday makes children active participants in a culture or tradition, and assumes that all families believe in the premise behind it. Switching that thinking to learning about a holiday means teaching children about what it means to some, and how some choose to participate in it, emphasising the uniqueness of all traditions. 
  • Power of language: choosing to use words that focus on the history of celebrations, and which highlight the range of beliefs, can support a diversity of beliefs in a service. Avoiding phrases such as “but EVERYONE here…” as this may or may not be the case. 
  • Start something new: a unique celebration for a group of children, or a setting, may have more meaning to children and families, and includes everyone, building connections with families and communities. In this piece, the team from KU Ourimbah share a reflection on how they moved from ‘graduation’ to a celebration of learning, led by the children.
  • Support children in understanding why: If a child or family chooses not to participate in a celebration, work with the other children to understand why, explaining that all families have different ways of acting, and that this is not consistent in every home. 

Further resources: 
Celebrate!: An Anti-Bias Guide to Including Holidays in Early Childhood Programs

Holidays and Anti Bias Education 

The Anti Bias Approach in Early Childhood

Educator with young girl

How to Make Your Childcare Centre Stand Out

Educator with young girl

There are many childcare centres out there, and it can be difficult to know what to do to ensure that yours stands head and shoulders above the rest.  

The main thing that parents are seeking in a childcare centre is a place they feel confident leaving their little ones, so making sure to foster a safe and clean environment should always be your number one priority.

But beyond that, how do you truly differentiate your business? Read on for 6 tips to make your childcare centre stand out. 

1. Offer Extracurricular Activities 
Extracurricular activities such as sports or foreign language lessons are important to a child’s development in terms of mental stimulation, social interaction, and/or physical activity.  

While most parents will be looking to enrol their children in activities of this sort, it can be a challenge to fit them into everyone’s busy schedule and sometimes limited budget. Offering various extracurricular activities will therefore be a huge bonus for parents considering your centre. 

2. Invest in Staff Engagement  
A high staff turnover at daycare centres can make parents nervous, which means you should do your best to hang onto your staff for as long as possible. This means driving up staff engagement — and there are myriad ways to achieve this.  

For example, invest in training and personal development plans. Create a social budget for team bonding activities. Give honest feedback, and give praise where it is deserved. Ultimately, do whatever it takes to ensure that your childcare centre is a pleasant place to work.  

3. Develop a Consistent Code of Conduct 
When it comes to working with children, consistency and fairness is key. Parents need to know what to expect from you, and they need to know that each child is being treated the same way.  

Develop a code of conduct and share it with all parents before their child starts at the childcare centre, while emphasising that both the childcare centre and the parents must stick to the agreed rules. This should cover everything from hours of operation and discipline to feeding, vaccines, and what happens in case of emergency.  

4. Hold Events 
Host events to make parents feel like they’re part of the community at the childcare centre. This could mean small events at pick-up time, where parents are invited to relax for a while and see what their kids have been up to over the past few weeks.  

It could also mean bigger community events like barbecues, fairs, or an open house, where prospective parents are invited to get to know you and your staff. If you opt for this route, ensure that you have plenty of business materials prepared to hand out.  

5. Over-Communicate
While people would usually prefer not to be bombarded with communication, parents would generally rather receive too much information rather than too little when it comes to the safety and happiness of their little ones, 

With this in mind, make sure they know that they can reach your team at any point while their child is at the centre, and send regular email updates that don’t require a response from busy parents.

6. Implement Childcare Software
Software can be a huge asset when it comes to running your childcare business as it can help streamline and improve your overall operations.  

In particular, implementing software with a dedicated parent portal will be a major draw for parents — anything you can do to make their lives a little easier is a huge plus. A parent portal will allow parents to complete tasks such as bookings and payments right on their mobile phones, saving everyone precious time. 

For more information on the benefits of implementing childcare software, please contact our team.

Children playing outside

Outside is the place to be – the benefits of outdoor learning for children

Children playing outside

The benefits of outdoor play for children of all ages are well documented, with outdoor environments offering unique opportunities for children to engage in play based learning and sensory experiences.  

Outdoor play allows children of all ages to explore, discover and appreciate the natural world, and to be active, strengthening both fine and gross motor skills. When children play outside they can test their physical limits in ways which are more challenging indoors, and engage in “messy” experiences.  

By planning experiences in the outdoor environment, educators can help children to access a range of benefits, as well as meeting their obligations under Quality Area 3 – Outdoor and indoor spaces are organised and adapted to support every child’s participation and to engage every child in quality experiences in both built and natural environments.  

Healthy bodies 
When children run, jump, skip, hop, climb and roll outside, they are developing their gross motor muscles, balance and coordination. Playing in a sun safe way outdoors helps children to gain access to vitamin D, which is needed for strong bones, and to help fight disease. Spending time with the sun “warming your bones” can boost emotional well being also.  

Some studies have shown that children playing in dirt can expose them to allergens and bacteria which can help to build immunity, with emerging research showing that such exposures under the age of one year can help to prevent allergies from developing.  

Growing brains 
When children play outside, they learn more about how to manage risk. Being able to use loose parts and have self direction over their learning allows children to approach risk and make decisions about how to play safely and practice setting challenges, becoming aware of their limits and pushing their abilities at their own pace.  

When children are able to experiment with how high they can climb, how fast they can run, how far they can go, they will make mistakes, but they will also learn more about their bodies, and grow in confidence, lessening the chance that they will take big risks when they have more freedom later in their lives.  

Space to be  
Children’s wellbeing can be enhanced by having time in green spaces. In Japan, the practice of shinrin-yoku – bathing in the forest atmosphere, or taking in the forest through the five senses – is known to bring a sense of comfort, ease stress and worry, and help in clarifying thoughts.  

When children spend time in nature, it can support them to experience the same benefits, and offer time and space which is governed by the rhythms of nature, which can be very soothing.  

No such thing as bad weather  
All too often, children will be prevented from playing outside because it is too hot or too cold. When educators instead work with children to “be prepared” with hats, warm clothes, access to water play, raincoats and boots, there’s no such thing as “bad weather”. 

A number of ECEC services offer indoor/outdoor programs, where children are free to choose where they play, or place a focus on making natural materials available. Some services go a step further, offering children time, space and freedom to explore the natural environment through programs such as bush or beach kinder.   

Regardless of how the outdoor program is made available, there are lots of benefits for children learning and exploring the natural world. More ideas about how to do this are available in the “further resources” section below.  

Further resources 

Bush Kinder: Starting an outdoor learning program 

Designing outdoor play spaces – easy ideas for educators 

Outdoor learning environments – best practice principles  

Mother with daughter cuddling

Parental involvement – solving the puzzle

Do parents at your service rush in the door in the morning, handing over a child with tangled hair, a full nappy and a quick goodbye? When it comes to pick up time, are you chasing them down the hallway with an accident report which needs to be signed?  

For many educators, it can feel as though parents don’t have time for the “musts” of being involved in an early childhood education and care (ECEC) service, let alone any of the things you would like, such as input on new policies, or a contribution to the quality improvement plan.  

With life being so busy for families and educators alike, how can services encourage parents to be more involved and engaged?  

Mother and daughter cuddling

Empathy 
Before any of the more practical ideas are put forward, it’s essential for educators and leaders to be empathetic with parents, and try to understand their stress levels, strengths, weaknesses and overall capacity.  

2020 has been a tough year for many, financially and in terms of mental health. Parents are no doubt doing the best they can, and no matter how hard you try, not every parent will want to engage with the service, or be involved.  

One size does not fit all, and so remaining open to new ideas, and being receptive to the feelings of the families in your care is key to getting families on board.  

The personal touch 
Greeting each parent, being sure to say hello, smiling when they drop their child off, and greeting their child/ren can set the tone for engaging them more deeply in the service. It’s a simple gesture, but one which makes parents feel welcome, which can lead to more willingness to engage later on.   

Over time, get to know the parents a little more, perhaps by asking what they did over the weekend, talking about pets, hobbies, passions etc. This leads to more in-depth conversations and deepens the rapport. Asking about things they have talked about previously will solidify the bond.  

Use social media 
Many parents are active on a variety of social media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest etc. Some services shy away from engaging on social media because of privacy concerns, but there are a number of ways to use these platforms without compromising children’s right to privacy.  

Perhaps favourite recipes could be shared, photos of learning environments, recordings (sound only) of children singing, or providing links and suggestions to activities taking place in the local area.  

By adding an interactive element, such as a poll, an “ask me anything” question box, or by offering contests and giveaways, parents are more likely to interact with the social media presence, and increase engagement. 

Communicate 
Many ECEC providers use CCS management software to streamline their processes. Kidsoft joins with integration  partners like KindyhubStorypark and many others to allow services and families to seamlessly communicate, sharing video, pictures, learning and much more, all in real time.

Using platforms such as these helps parents to feel connected to the service, and also to feed information back.  

The old fashioned touch 
Reaching out to families with a “sunshine call” sharing a moment of good news or delight can really lift their spirits and make a long day feel bright. Calling at least one parent a week to relay some good news about their child/ren will leave a smile on your face, and theirs.  

Make “Sunshine” Calls – Reach out with a quick phone call when you see that parents need some cheering up.  Or make a practice of calling at least one parent a week to relay good news. 

(Tip: Keep track of these sunshine calls and make sure each family receives the same amount of calls throughout the year.) 

Invite them in  
When restrictions allow, invite families into the service at various times – before, during and after a standard working day. Setting up activities for the children and families to work through together can be a great way to showcase the important work which happens in your service each day.  

For families who cannot attend the service, perhaps they can work together to make a family poster, filled with photographs, drawings, notes or handprints, to bring something of their family in.   

Families, communities and services all around Australia, and indeed the world, are unique and special places. While some of the advice above may not work for each service, trying many different ideas, and continuing to try and connect, should eventually yield a return.  

Further resources; 
Department of Education, Skills and Employment – Connecting with families? Bringing the EYLF to life in your community.  
Emerging Minds – Engaging with Families and Children  
Community Early Learning Australia – Connecting with Families  

clock with pink and blue background

The 5 biggest time wasters for Childcare Centre Managers (and how to reduce them)

clock with pink and green background

We know that on a daily basis, Centre Managers and Operators are being pulled in multiple directions. They’re under continuing pressure to not only ensure a Centre is running smoothly, the team are motivated, and families are happy, but also meet occupancy targets and changing regulatory requirements.  

And that regulatory administration workload is coming at a significant cost to Childcare Centres and the industry as a whole. According to a recent study by Canon, 63% of businesses are wasting up to 10 hours per week on manual and repetitive (yet necessary) administration tasks. For a Childcare business, that equates to $20,800 of a Centre Managers average salary per year that is allocated to administration work alone. That’s a staggering financial cost to any Childcare business, and one that needs to be addressed now!  

So how can you cut down on your administration workload and increase productivity? We discuss the 5 most time-consuming activities for Centre Managers and how to reduce their impact. 

1. Paperwork, paperwork, paperwork

Managing records, incident formsenrolment paperwork, CWA’s and attendance – there’s no getting around it, running a Childcare Centre comes with a lot of necessary paperwork. We’ve got two words for you, automation and technology. Automation is a lifesaver for Childcare Centres who are looking for ways to streamline daily tasks while saving both time and money. Why not: 

  • Create, customise and automate the Family enrolment process to alleviate the pressure on you and make sure it’s a smooth process for Families. iEnrol and  Childcare CRM are two great options on the market to help make this happen. 
  • Digitise paper forms and processes (such as incident, illness or trauma forms) using PDF fillable forms, or software programs like 1Place Childcare to make these processes easier to complete and store online for quick access and sharing.
  • Digitally capture attendance and then outsource the manual process of auditing your attendance and rectifying any submission discrepancies that come up. Enrolment Hub can help you here. 
  • File regularly and oftenHere is also a great resource for managing paperwork storage at the Centre.  

It’s time to embrace technological advances and outsourced solutions to reduce your administration burden.  

2. Responding to new enquiries

With the average enrolment equating to $12,558 per year – every unanswered enquiry can cost Operators thousands of dollars in revenue. Now more than ever, it’s important that every single enquiry you receive is answered and the development of personal connectionwith prospective Families are prioritised. On average, it takes 10 points of contact to convert a new lead to an enrolment, so here are some easy ways to simplify this process for you:  

  • Funnel all your enquiries into one locationsuch as a specific enrolments email address or digital waitlist database to help you keep on top of them. Never let them fall through the cracks again. 
  • Create a range of email templates to allow you to communicate quickly with Families, whilst still ensuring that your brand is always represented appropriately 
  • Allocate two blocks of time each day to review your enquiries and respond accordingly. That’s all.  
  • Get on the phone – a single call could reduce back and forth email communication by half. 
  • Allow Families to book a Centre tour directly on your website to cut down the emails. A web developer can help you here and you can set up rules for times and days tours are available.  
  • Still running short on time? Businesses like Enrolment Hub or Childcare CRM can help manage this entire process for you. 

3. Sending, explaining and investigating Family statements

Child Care Subsidy (CCS) entitlements can be confusing for Families – and the confusion looks set to increase, as Families circumstances and entitlements change with COVID-19.  

This is a great task to outsource to an experienced team – as the investigation into discrepancies alone can sometimes take days. If you’re not ready to outsource, create an ‘Accounts’ email address and direct Families to send their enquiries there. That way you can keep on top of queries and it won’t clog up your inbox. Set time aside three times a week to manage these queries and respond. You can also create automated payment reminders when Families miss a payment through iParentPortal or why not look into integrating iDebtPro? It’s important to ensure your debt ledger never gets out of control. 

4. Applying for CCS, ACCS and QKFS

Cue big groan. Applying for CCS, ACCS and QKFS are some of the most time-consuming activities for any Centre Manager and very rarely are they straight forward. Here are a few tips to make it more manageable: 

  • Ensure your program is set up correctly from the get go (including entering all Family details accurately) to mitigate issues occurring down the track. It will save you hours! 
  • For QKFS funding, look at outsourcing the assembly of the forecast calculation and reconciliation spreadsheets each semester. That way you simply need to review and approve before submitting. 
  • Create various cheat sheets that you can send to Families to help them apply for CCS and ACCS. This will save you time explaining the process multiple times and give Families a clear roadmap. 
  • For ACCS, look at outsourcing the gathering of application information to a third-party (such as Enrolment Hub) to take the pressure off your team. 

5. Booking casual days

Every Centre should provide Families with the option to book casual days as they’re a great source of additional revenue and have become much easier to facilitate over the last 18 months. Why not: 

  • Digitalise the process and give Families the ability to book casual days using programs such as KindyNow. 
  • Set an hour aside at the end of every day to manage and confirm casual bookings received that day. Template any booking confirmation communications so you can work through them quickly. 
  • Families still wanting to book directly with you? Have specific rules around casual day bookings (such as they must be booked at least 24 hours in advance) to give you the opportunity to plan your roster and minimise that last-minute request stress on you.  

Looking to the future, decentralisation is going to be the key to success for many Operators and Centre Managers. Outsourcing key business operations (such as Administration Support and Enquiry Managementwill allow businesses to thrive into the future. 

Like any new process it takes time and commitment to developKnowing how to prioritise and make the most of your time is essential to you, your Centre, and your work/life balance. 

Enrolment Hub, a Kidsoft partner, supports the ECEC sector by maximising enrolment opportunities, converting enquiries and streamlining processes to allow businesses to thrive. Learn more about Enrolment Hub and how they can assist your business by clicking here. 

Not sure where to start? Enrolment Hub Director Scott Monaghan is always available to chat about how best to streamline your processes and remove that administration burden. Why not give him a call to discuss how he can help you – you can reach him on 02 8123 2300 or send him an email at: scottm@enrolmenthub.com.