There have always been workers whose schedules are not your typical 9 to 5. They cobble together childcare by relying on a non-working spouse, family, or neighbors to take care of the kiddos when daycare isn't open.
Now, many more workers have schedules that are considered non-traditional. They work shifts, have erratic schedules, and might be single parents trying to do everything on their own. Providing childcare for this growing demographic is not only a business opportunity but a national concern.
Examples of Non-Traditional Work Schedules
Many industries rely on shift-workers to keep things going around the clock, sometimes seven days a week. Some examples include:
- Hospital staff
- Emergency workers
- Manufacturing plant workers
- Law enforcement
Others have erratic or unpredictable schedules. For instance, some employers schedule only a month ahead, depending on their workers to be available for changing shifts. Employees may not receive a schedule until the end of the month when it’s too late to change their childcare arrangements.
The situation is worse for workers who may not receive more than a week’s notice for every schedule.
Other industries use rotating shifts. The workers may know when their work times will change, but there is nothing available during the new shift that might be in the middle of the night. Certain types of foodservice and other round-the-clock employers come to mind.
Then some increasingly work at home. Most have discovered that attempting to care for small children while also working full time, even in their own house, is a losing proposition. The employer, the employee, and the children all lose out.
Limited Childcare for Non-Traditional Hours
For decades, daycare and pre-schools offered care only during the day. The hours were extended slightly to compensate for parental travel time to drop off and pick up. Still, there were few alternatives for people who needed someone to watch their young ones after 4 pm or before 7 am.
Some facilities offered Parent's Night Out, but that was one evening a week and for only a few hours. Typically, childcare is offered from 6:30 am to 6:00 pm, with late fees applying for parents who could not pick up their child on time.
Parents attempt to fill in the gaps with family, neighbors, and friends. Some put together a network of childcare that includes multiple care facilities or services. Others tried to ensure they worked alternate schedules.
If a child becomes ill, the parent is forced to call in sick as well, possibly with no pay. Single parents or parents with a traveling or deployed partner are hit the hardest.
Employer-Based Care or Arrangements
Some employers attempt to help by offering lists of childcare facilities within a short distance of the workplace. Others staff a childcare facility on site. A few may be unaware of the childcare issue.
Speaking with an employer sometimes results in a more amenable arrangement, with a modified work schedule to help everyone remain productive. The workplace may provide other information and assistance with childcare arrangements through support groups and parenting seminars.
Some employers ensure any schedule changes are communicated well in advance and maintain communication with parents to make sure everything is covered. These practices benefit both the business and the parent.
However, solutions remain limited for many families. What can be done to improve the situation?
Innovating Childcare Management and Provision
Any facility looking for new business opportunities should consider ways to offer regular, respite, and emergency childcare. Analyze the local needs to learn what type of care is lacking and who is looking for childcare arrangements.
Online and email surveys, referrals from existing clients, and other marketing tactics can help you get the word out that you are considering new care arrangements. With enough interest, you can plan for your changes. Use the mailing list you obtained through positive requests for information, and get the word out that you are offering care at new times.
Efficient operations are critical to a successful childcare business. When offering new hours or services, streamlining existing services and seeking efficiencies is top of mind. With the right childcare management software, much of the tedious administrative work and any communication issues can be automated and placed online.
Tools for a Flexible, Innovative Childcare Business
Childcare management software, like EZChildTrack, smooths the way toward efficient business processes that also beef up your bottom line. Communication applications keep everyone in the know about everything from special events to special weather hazards. Billing and payment automation keep unsent or unpaid invoices from falling through the cracks. Managing your childcare business has never been so easy.
Calendar-based enrollment is offered through the primary application and the Parent Portal. You can show all activities added to a program period in an online calendar and allow parents to enroll directly into an activity.
Clients with flexible schedules can enter their childcare needs into the online calendar as soon as they know them, allowing you time to plan for staffing and business hours. You can even define different rates or discounts for various hours or activities and collect an upfront fee for the enrolled period.
Keep parents updated at all times with an online Parent Portal, where they can go to get the latest information on their children and your facility.
The portal is entirely configurable to your program requirements. You can grant differing levels of access to each client account. Your staff spends less time with paperwork and more with the kids.
The Parent Portal allows clients to make online payments with a credit or debit card or bank account withdrawals. They can manage information for each child from immunization updates to emergency contact changes. They can enroll in auto-pay if they wish or ask for printed invoices, payment reports, or tax statements.
Staying in touch is vitally important to parents, especially when an emergency arises. EZChildTrack provides communication tools that allow you to send messages to single and multiple targeted recipients in one click:
- Send bulk emails to active and inactive account holders.
- View system message status.
- Attach mandatory documents to messages.
- Create, manage, and download forms linked to the program.
- Send text messages in bulk and check status.
- Apply filters to narrow recipients based on your criteria.
Notify parents by text, phone, and email for any reason.
Real-Time Account Management
For many small business owners (and large ones, too), the most un-fun part is doing the paperwork, from billing to payment processing. With EZChildTrack, you can automate most of your account management.
- Filter clients based on billing status and account flags.
- Manage demographic information for children and family members.
- Check account balance and payment due information.
- Easily update information, reviewing and approving new accounts, registrations, and enrollments from the Parent Portal.
- Manage waiting lists based on defined capacity
Since EZChildTrack is a cloud-based service, you can do your administrative tasks from any device with a web browser anytime that is convenient for you.
If you have been thinking of expanding your business hours or offering other services, now is the time. Start by implementing childcare management software like EZChildTrack to simplify and streamline your business processes.