Running a daycare center can often feel like a sprint. You are constantly being pulled from here to there. You have to make quick decisions. You are constantly solving problems. And you never feel like you have enough time. While you can’t magically create more time, you can use technology to help. There are many apps that you can use to keep you organized as you run your daycare.
Here are some free apps for daycare providers:
With the right apps, you can make some impact on your organizational issues. You can find the time you need to run your daycare effectively. And finally, you’ll be able to slow down and take a breath. Keep reading to see how each of these apps can be used to keep you organized.
Cake is a free software system that helps to organize many of the necessary aspects of running a daycare center. The software manages profiles for children, parents, and staff. It handles billing. And it helps to organize the management of classrooms. For child profiles, it offers information about allergies, medications, doctor contact information, and authorized pick-up person. With Cake, daycare providers can gather quick information about parents as well. The information includes contact information, personal notes, relationship (if not traditional parent/child relation), and demographics. With this type of information at your fingertips, pick-ups will be a breeze. For staff, Cake documents their names, educational background, work schedule, reminders for certification, and reminders for training.
Beyond the collection of information on the people engaging with the daycare center, Cake also offers classroom management support. Daycare centers are held to standards concerning ratios of adults to children in the classroom. There are also consistent schedules that are to be followed. With Cake, you can easily mark child attendance. With the attendance feature, you will be able to have a full classroom overview. This overview will make it easier to follow ratio guidelines. You’ll also be able to quickly mark the attendance of staff members. You’ll know if you are short teachers and assistants. This will make it easier to move staff around to get the correct ratios. Finally, Cake provides billing support for daycare centers. You can create a system where parents are auto-billed for the daycare services. You’ll also be able to decide whether you’ll print invoices or whether you will send them digitally. Overall, Cake provides all of the resources needed to keep your daycare center running efficiently. Check out their website for more information https://cakechildcare.com/.
Brightwheel is another free app that will help with running the daily tasks of a daycare center. The app has a free version that offers the following features:
- Daily reports
- Photo sharing
The free version is available for smaller daycare centers. It offers the above features for 20 children and 1 staff person. However, you can pay extra to get access to more features for more users.
Brightwheel is useful because it seamlessly combines all of the resources necessary for running a daycare center. You can use the app to get attendance, manage ratios, and track approved guardians for pick-up. You can also perform health screens and offer contactless check-in to make the process quicker and easier. Another cool feature is the ability to create daily reports for the kids. The reports can include photos of the children while they participate in activities. It can also include activity reports that can share lesson plans with parents. This feature offers transparency to parents and can improve parental engagement.
Finally, Brightwheel also offers resources for billing. The app can set up recurring statements, autopay, attendance-based billing, and subsidy tracks. The ability to track subsidies through the app makes Brightwheel especially useful if your center uses CCDF. To learn more about this app and how it could benefit your center, check out the website https://mybrightwheel.com/.
Additional software recommendations HERE
OWNA is a free app that will provide your daycare center with the basics to keep organized. The app does what many apps would ask you to pay for. The app is not web-based so you must access it through your particular app store. It is available through Google Play, the App Store via Apple, and the Amazon App Store. Features available in the free version of the app include:
- Curriculum Planning
- Upload images and videos
- Daily Routine
- Private Messaging
- Notifications and Alerts
- Staff Reflections
For parents, the free version includes the following features:
- View Child’s Daily Stats
- Digital Attendance
- View Images and Videos
- Notify Center of Absence
- Upload Immunization Records
- Events Calendar
- Receive Notification and Alerts
OWNA’s free version stays free forever. It includes a lot of features and works for both parents and staff. The private messaging feature makes it stand out. It allows for staff and parents to communicate about the information included in the app. It allows for increased transparency with parents as it includes details about each child’s day at the center. Finally, it helps staff with curriculum planning. This is extremely important to parents who want to further expound upon the lessons taught during the school day. If you’re interested in learning more about OWNA, take a look at their website https://www.owna.com.au/.
Storypark is an app that focuses more on parent and family engagement. If your daycare center struggles in this area, then this app will be extremely useful. Storypark has a paid version for daycare centers but offers a free version to parents and families. Parents can set up an account and invite others to share information about their children. Here are some examples of how parents can use the app to support their child’s development:
- Invite family members and friends to comment on posts and pictures about the child
- Invite experts and specialists to assist in supporting the child’s needs
- Connect with the child’s current educators through private conversations
- Invite future educators to view the child’s progress over time
The application allows daycare staff to learn about the children in their classrooms and allows them to share information with parents. This tool is very useful for the most engaged parents. It will encourage communication and will allow more thorough conversations with parents about incidents and successes that may occur at the daycare center. Although the app is free for families, the paid version for centers is affordable. Centers can also get a free trial. Check out the pricing breakdown here https://www.storypark.com/pricing.
Bloomz is an app that provides all-in-one resources for daycare centers. The app allows you to improve communication in your center between staff and parents. It also has the benefit of strict security measures that ensures your information is safe. Some of the features that Bloomz offers include:
- Daily Updates (photos and videos)
- Calendar and Reminders
- Parent Meetings
- Daily Schedule
- 2-Way Messaging
The app is useful because it is a one-stop shop for all of your communication needs. It allows your staff to have quick access to schedules and the ability to update information about children at the center. One of the best parts is that it engages parents in a way that keeps them up-to-date on their child’s needs and progress while at the center.
While the app offers a free classroom set up for teachers, to use the app for your whole center you’ll need to select a plan. So if you are a small daycare provider who is interested in free software Bloomz could be perfect for you. One thing to keep in mind is that Bloomz won’t offer you the resources related to billing in the free version. You’ll need to pay to get additional features. If you’d like to determine what features would be useful for you, set up a demo at the website https://www.bloomz.com/childcare. Bloomz is also available through the App Store through Apple and the Google Play Store. There is also a feature where you can send text signups and notifications through text messages.
Working with children can be extremely rewarding. It also comes with tons of requirements, rules, and organizational pressures. Utilizing some free organizational apps could truly impact the success of your center. Do your research to figure out which apps work best for your team. If you are smaller, then you have a wider selection of applications that you can test out for free. Once you get into larger centers, the needs increase and a paid version may be necessary to keep up. Hopefully, the free applications listed here will help get you started and keep you organized.
Is parent communication necessary for the app I choose?
While parent communication isn’t necessary for the app you choose, it is an extremely helpful feature. With parent communication, you can easily offer updates on children and have a quick and easy space to communicate with parents in case of an emergency.
Please note: This blog post is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Please consult a legal expert to address your specific needs.
To learn more on how to start your own daycare checkout my startup course and documents here.