A Child Care Guide to Sign-in and Sign-out


The goal of this document is to help child care center owners understand the basics of sign-in and sign-out for daily use. This is a beginner’s guide to sign-in and sign-out for the child care industry.

In today’s world, there are many ways parents are signing their children in and out of child care: pen and paper, kiosks, desktop computers and more. Child care centers use sign-in and sign-out as a way of tracking

attendance and knowing when children are in the building. Sign-in and sign-out sheets can be used daily, weekly or monthly. Sometimes these sheets are also referred to as check-in or check-out sheets.

With SmartCare, parents now have the ability to sign children in or out of child care using the parent app on any Apple or Android mobile device. For more information about the parent app, click here.

Terms to Know

Authorized Pick-Up People

People, other than parents or guardians, who have permission to pick up a child from school. If, due to unforeseen circumstances or an emergency, it is necessary for someone else to pick up a child, this person can fill in for the parent/guardian and pick up the child. This person may be asked to identify himself or herself before a center releases the child.

Electronic Signatures Act

The Electronic Records and Signatures in Commerce Act, or Electronic Signatures Act, went into effect on October 1, 2000 and gives electronic contracts the same weight as those executed on paper.


A freestanding computer terminal.


A ratio in child care a child care setting is the number of child care providers required for a specific number of children. This number is based on the age of the children. Ratios are typically smaller for younger children.

Why Mobile?

Many child care centers only offer sign-in and sign-out to families through a pen and paper system. SmartCare wants to take sign-in and make it mobile. Here’s why:

  • As of October 2014, 64% of American adults own a smartphone.
  • 10% of Americans own a smartphone but do not have any other form of high-speed internet access at home beyond their phone’s data plan.
  • 68% of smartphone owners use their phone at least occasionally to follow along with breaking news events, with 33% saying that they do this "frequently."
  • 67% use their phone to share pictures, videos, or commentary about events happening in their community, with 35% doing so frequently.
  • 56% use their phone at least occasionally to learn about community events or activities, with 18% doing this "frequently."

Why Real-Time?


SmartCare management software makes tracking days o˜, sick days, and full/part-time employees simple. With real-time tracking based on sign-in and sign-out (for children and staff), scheduling will no longer be outdated. Child care center owners and directors will never spend another day wondering how to shift teachers from classroom to classroom to maximize effciency. Also, if a teacher has to call in sick, center directors will know exactly how many children are in each room and can easily ask a teacher to switch rooms to stay in compliance with ratio requirements.


The Child Care and Development Block Grant, the federal law that sets the parameters from which state legislation is written, does not have any minimum child to staff ratio requirements. Each state determines its own ratio requirements but NAEYC suggest these ratios:

Age of Child Staff-Child Ratio
Birth to 15 months 1:3 to 1:4
12 to 28 months 1:3 to 1:4
21 to 26 months 1:3 to 1:6
2 to 3 years 1:6 to 1:9
4 years 1:8 to 1:10
5 years 1:8 to 1:10


Labor Productivity

Labor productivity measures the amount of goods and services produced by one hour of labor. In child care, labor productivity measures how many children are being watched by one teacher per hour (based on state ratio requirements). With real-time information updates through SmartCare, child care center owners and directors are able to see if a classroom has fewer children than normal. If that is the case, they can make the decision to send teachers home, cutting down on labor costs and increasing labor productivity. In turn, the child care center would be spending less money on payroll if teachers are paid hourly.

Increasing Revenue

One of the best ways to increase revenue is to bring in more families to a child care center. With SmartCare’s real-time sign-in and sign-out, reflected in the scheduling section, a child care center can see when openings are becoming available and can market that information. Whether this opening is permanent (a child is moving to a new classroom or school) or temporary (a child is going on vacation for a week or two), SmartCare, and partner Care.com, can help any center fill an opening. With more openings available, more money will be coming into the center, increasing overall revenue. This is yet another reason real-time sign-in and sign-out provided by SmartCare’s child care management software platform is extremely valuable to any child care center.