When it comes to child care software, there is a clear lack of options in the industry. While schools, colleges, and doctors' offices have thousands of choices when it comes to management software packages, child care seems to be the last frontier with only a handful of options for child care center owners and directors.
Some child care center owners and directors wonder why they would even need child care software. The answers are simple: better tracking of data means better management and better income; saving time on accounting, data entry, and payroll creates savings on salaries; and better communication with parents and families means more referrals and increased business for their center.
Procare is perhaps the best-known competitor in the child care software market and one of the earliest options to come onto the market. With an extensive suite of options available to child care centers, Procare seems to offer options that meet the needs of businesses small and large. However, Procare misses the mark in two specific areas: technology options and pricing.
The software provided by Procare runs on an PC computer. The child care center is stuck with having to purchase a computer for each staff member who will be using the software. While there are some mobile apps available that integrate with the Procare software, their use is dependent upon an additional purchase of the Procare Cloud package. Without this additional purchase, center staff and families are stuck with using only the computer-based options. In addition, Procare has strict requirements regarding which computer equipment, network types, and mobile devices are compatible with its cloud-based service. At a time when software companies are producing everything for cloud computing, Procare is behind the times.
Each piece of Procare's suite of products has an individual cost. Purchasing all the parts of the suite can have center owners spending more than $1,000 for the mini package (which serves a center with only up to 60 families). The full package (which allows an unlimited number of families) can be more than $4,000. In addition, the packages are a full purchase of the software which means if a center determines that Procare doesn't meet its needs, they can't cancel and move on to another option.
SmartCare is a better choice.
We are SmartCare and we offer solutions to Procare's shortcomings and additional options without extra fees.
Our SmartCare system tracks the same data as Procare's system, provides the same level of payroll support, and collects payments from families just as efficiently as Procare. However, ours does all this with no upfront cost to child care centers. Instead, we collect a small technology fee ($4-5 per month) from families. While child care centers pass on the cost of software to parents, those using our system do not have to worry about collecting those payments; SmartCare does it for them. Additionally, parents know exactly what they are paying for because of the amazing tools offered to parents by the platform.
Because SmartCare is a complete cloud-based system, it is accessible from a variety of devices. Our company actually provides these devices to child care centers free of charge in order to use the system.
The devices we provide to each center include:
- 1 Director iPad
- 1 SmartCare Sign-in Kiosk
- Classroom tablets for teachers (the number varies depending on the subscription package)
In addition, we provide free in-person setup and training as well as ongoing support at no cost.
The best part of SmartCare is its interactive communication with families and staff. Families can receive daily reports to see how their children are progressing at the center. A journaling and sharing feature allows centers to send families photos of their children throughout the day so they can still be part of their child's day even when they're not there. Sign-in and sign-out kiosks ensure that child attendance and staff punctuality are tracked and that alerts are sent to staff issues arise. A beautiful, easy-to-use interface also means that all of these features can be used by anyone with basic technology skills.
In the small handful of child care software options, SmartCare stands out as the smart choice for those looking to upgrade the technology of their centers and looking to reap the benefits that come with everyone being connected.
--Sara Miller, Director of Communications