Businesses have always tried to do more with less. Unfortunately, trying to do more with fewer people at your childcare center is often a recipe for error and lost documentation — not to mention the need to generate, complete, file, and store paper childcare forms.
Going digital with childcare management software has numerous benefits. If you follow best practices and a few pieces of advice, you can easily claim those benefits for your business, staff, and clients.
The Benefits of Digital Childcare Forms
One of the most practical benefits of digitizing childcare forms is that you can't lose them, nor can parents or staff. There is no misfiling, and all sensitive information is kept entirely private.
Digital file security is crucial in today’s online marketplace. Digital childcare forms can’t be dropped on the floor or left on a desk. The software only allows authorized users to access specific information.
In most solutions, you can set different permission levels so no one can look at data they have no business seeing. Each user gets a username and password. If you enforce the no-share rule, your documents are safer than they ever were in a file cabinet.
In addition to data security, childcare management solutions have access logs that record every event. You can see who accessed what data and when. You can even find out if that person changed any information.
The data is secure, but it is also highly accessible to those who need to see it. If you handle security properly, your staff can quickly find information on food allergies, emergency contacts, and billing and payment questions, among other things.
Digital childcare form management also improves record-keeping. You can design forms that ask for the specific data you require on each family, staff member, or business department.
Nothing gets left out. If someone attempts to submit an incomplete form, the system can notify the user that the form cannot be submitted without the required information.
As for your staff, digital childcare forms reduce the administrative load. Childcare management solutions eliminate repetitive tasks, reducing the time needed to process paperwork and the chance for data entry errors.
Tips for Using Digital Childcare Forms
Here is some general advice for using digital forms and tips on designing application, enrollment, feedback, and expression-of-interest forms.
When creating your forms, prioritize making the applications easy on the administrators.
- Use a web form or a dedicated email address parents can use to submit information.
- Make it easy for staff to find information about using the forms when parents inevitably have questions.
- Make it easier to forecast availability and keep a waitlist.
Childcare management software automates and streamlines administration processes and helps manage parent expectations. Parents have access to all the information they need as they consider your childcare facility.
Make the Forms Convenient for Parents
Families may be considering multiple childcare situations. Design your forms accordingly. Make it as easy as possible for them to provide the information you need.
- Clearly label navigation to forms on your website.
- Make it easy to access and print materials.
- Be transparent about enrollment periods and application submission guidelines.
- Provide the forms in multiples languages when possible.
- Let parents know what to expect once they submit the forms.
Provide parents with easy online enrollment, so they don't need to make multiple trips or mail an enrollment package. Let them know how long it will take for you to respond and how to contact you if they have questions or updated information.
Ask Only for What You Need, No More
When deciding what to ask on each form, keep the number of fields to a minimum. Ask only for what you need and nothing more on each form. Also, do not create forms that cause parents to enter the same information more than once.
Forms can be used instead of emailing back and forth. The type of information you should collect includes essential background information on the child and parents. In addition, you can include questions to help you understand the needs of each child.
Format your digital forms to make information collection consistent.
- Keep all questions short and use easily understandable language.
- Match the form to your branding to set a professional tone.
- Clearly mark which fields are required for submission.
- Make sure your form displays well on both desktop and mobile.
Complicated forms that are difficult to fill out or that ask for unnecessary information can cause problems for staff or even turn away prospective parents. Proper formatting will help streamline your processes, so make sure all your forms are both usable and easily accessible.
What to Ask on Digital Childcare Forms
Digital forms encourage parental involvement, building confidence in your program. If you provide excellent communication, your clients are more satisfied and easier to retain. You can build essential referrals when parents are happy.
Use straightforward, focused questions for parental feedback in the appropriate format.
- Closed-ended questions for crucial information and yes/no responses
- Multiple choice or dropdown menus with a predetermined list of choices
- Scales for measuring feelings, preferences, and opinions
- Open-ended questions to learn more detail and obtain meaningful insights
Your form is often the first communication you have with potential enrollees. Make everything as clear and simple as possible.
You can add prompts in your childcare management solution to send automated emails when an application is submitted, letting the parents know the next step. It signals that you are sensitive to their need for information.
Include questions on everything from who is authorized to pick up a child to the days the parent requires childcare. Ask about the child’s favorite activity and whether they prefer to play in a large group or entertain themselves.
Not every parent is ready to apply immediately. You can provide a digital form to track interest, providing insight on the people considering your childcare center. An expression-of-interest form can trigger tour information, provide FAQs, and show details about your curriculum, all without pushing too hard for enrollment.
Go Digital with Your Childcare Forms
You can use more than basic enrollment forms when you digitize your communications. Create feedback forms for parents and staff. Develop forms that ask for immunization history, preferred hospitals, and any medical conditions. Provide authorization forms for approved guardians, special custody arrangements, and permission for photographs or participation.
With digital forms, you can empty out all those file cabinets and eliminate storage payments. Centralize your data and make collection easy using childcare management software like EZChildTrack.
Contact us with any questions or if you would like a demonstration.