Efficiency and small children don't seem to go together. Still, you can reduce the chaos and move them along quicker with improved drop-off and pick-up procedures.
Every day it's the same — crowds of parents attempting to check their children in or out of preschool, afterschool, or daycare facilities. If you use paper rosters or a dedicated computer terminal, they're waiting in line, milling about, and generally becoming frazzled.
You can start the day quicker by improving your check-in and check-out processes while creating happy parents. All you need are a few best practices and a childcare management solution that keeps everyone happy, healthy, and efficient.
Stagger Drop-off and Pickup Times
By staggering drop-off and pick-up times, you can reduce the number of parents arriving during high-volume times of the day. Perhaps segment the children by age or grade so that you can fill specific rooms first. Or maybe you can find a way to reduce the staff needed at the front so others can start getting the children ready for class or home.
The biggest benefit of staggering times is that you can meet parents outside as they arrive, perform verbal health screens, check temperatures, and walk children into the center without causing long lines or a backup.
Also, encourage families to choose one person to drop off or pick up children to reduce the overall number of adults on the grounds or in the building.
Communicate clearly and directly with parents and be thoughtful about their schedules when developing staggered times. Not every parent can modify their schedule.
Set Up Hygiene Stations at the Entry
Getting the kids into the building is only half the battle. You also want to know everyone's hands are clean before they enter. Meanwhile, you teach everyone the etiquette of infection prevention.
Set up hygiene stations where children can quickly fill their hands with "fuzzy bubbles" on the way through the door. You can reduce the germ load significantly, and it takes less time than handwashing.
If you prefer children to wash their hands, make sure the sink area has plenty of room and plenty of paper towels. It may take a little longer, but you are teaching proper handwashing technique as you go.
As children arrive, screen them for symptoms or signs of illness like sweating, flushed cheeks, fatigue, or discomfort. Remind parents not to bring sick children to your facility for the health and safety of everyone and the comfort of their child.
Reorganize the Drop-off Zone
Look at the current traffic pattern in front of your facility. Are people moving along, or are they stuck because everyone is going in a different direction? Also, is your drop off organized for curbside drop off and pick up, or are parents parking and walking their children in?
To reduce traffic, create a one-way counterclockwise traffic pattern that moves by the front door—station staff to assist in unloading and checking children in and out at the curb. Clearly mark the path with highly visible signs and paint, so nobody gets confused. If school buses carry children in or out, create a separate lane to prevent backups.
Ensure your drop off/pick up lane is long enough to handle expected traffic. A short drop-off zone can cause traffic jams that leave parents waiting in the street. Implement rules like no double-parking or line-cutting. Don't allow the parents out of the car. Encourage carpooling if possible.
Also, create traffic patterns that prevent children from crossing a road or parking lot to get into your center. Keep the various lanes for cars, buses, bicycles, and pedestrians separated by zone. And provide a map on your website to help parents plan ahead.
To make curbside check-in and check-out work, you need some technical help.
If the pandemic did nothing else, it encouraged businesses to find ways to limit contact and maintain social distancing.
With a childcare management solution, you can digitize your check-in and out process. Parents receive a unique QR code for each child that they can show on their smartphones. Staff can scan the code and automatically check children in and out, leaving an audit trail and a simple way to count attendance.
Staff can also use a contactless clock-in procedure with the same software. With this type of software solution, you automate attendance for staff and children. You don’t need to keep track of time cards or rosters, and there is no more manual data entry, which eliminates errors. The automation includes adding late payment and pick-up fees and notification of late staff clock-in or early clock-out.
Pre-pandemic, many childcare facilities had an open-door policy. Parents simply walked in with their children or came in to pick them up. In today's world, you need a safer option. Contactless attendance means you can quickly begin curbside service and keep your facility's doors locked except for those authorized to be there.
Consider EZChildTrack for Your Contactless Solution
EZChildTrack provides multiple contactless processes to create efficiencies across your childcare operation.
Use a wireless scanner or smartphone camera to read QR codes from parents’ smartphones or a barcoded armband. It eliminates the need for parents to write on a roster or stand in line for the facility’s computer.
Send an email blast to parents containing the link to set up a unique QR code that connects to each child and the family’s account. The system performs a validation step for security. A single QR code can represent multiple children. Parents select from a list to show which child they check in or out.
The system records the date and time of each interaction as well as a notification if the child is not enrolled at your facility.
EZChildTrack provides an improved drop-off and pick-up procedure and automates a number of administrative tasks to save you and your staff time and reduce errors.