What It Takes to Be a Childcare Manager: An Extensive Guide
Introduction to the US Childcare Industry
For the major part of the century, managing and taking care of children have been a responsibility primarily of the parents without any external help. This way of child care was a given, and hiring nannies and wet nurses to take care of the kids had been a privilege of the wealthy. As the great depression arrived, the need to step out and work got stronger for both partners. Furthermore, during and after World War II, Americans, especially mothers, were required to step out of the comfort of their homes and work. Similarly, during the Industrial expansion, as the workplaces began to scatter away, parents were required to think of ways to manage and take care of their children while they were away. Also, single parents felt the need to have outside support in bringing up their children.
This gave birth to the discussion around child care management in the US. Once a discussion that never used to take place - given the assumption that children are the safest and grow up the best under the care of their mothers while their fathers are away for work, child care management became a topic of discussion for worried families. The discussions about child care management branched out into business ideas and the start of childcare programs. The US Congress and Government authorities took notice of this problem and came up with one of the first initiatives of dealing with it by funding 0.6 million children through child care programs.
With technological advancements coupled with more and more working families facing to manage time to bring up their children, the idea of childcare management apps and childcare management software picked up the pace to evolve into a flourishing business idea.
We will explore the childcare management software but before digging into these daycare apps, let us see the statistics behind the daycare industry.
Industry Stats and Covid 19 Effect
- According to revenue data by Statista, the childcare management industry in the US is projected to grow to 54.2 billion USD by 2024. This humongous revenue is what makes the business around daycare apps and childcare management software extremely lucrative. Providing daycare facilities for infants and younger children is a business model whose structure and success will be discussed here.
- The childcare industry in the US is huge with a big market size. However, since childcare outside parental care highly relies on both parents stepping out for work, the unemployment caused by Covid-19 has resulted in an unexpected decline to 8.1% in the disposable income of families in the US.
- Due to a constant looming threat of the Covid 19 pandemic, several daycare facilities have closed or are closing down. The ones that are open are charging more fees due to an increased cost of sanitization of their facilities. To reduce losses, some facilities are coming up with software infrastructure to support home services for kids to study at home and substitute institutional activities for home-based ones.
- Childcare managers play a pivotal role in making a childcare center successful. This role has become more challenging now given the aspect of running a childcare center or a chain of centers during and post-Covid-19 era. Let us now deep dive into what it takes to become a childcare center manager.
Who Manages Childcare Center?
Childcare centers and nowadays, childcare management software, and daycare management software are run and managed by highly driven and motivated individuals with niche skill sets required to understand children of diverse age groups, their emotional and development needs, their educational requirements, etc., with experience in the early childhood environment. These individuals are trained and qualified to handle a daycare facility and to keep a wholesome approach to the learning requirements of children. They spearhead educational programs for children of several ages, and they are trained to acquire the trust of worried parents with help like daycare daily report since parents rely on the daycare for their children’s present and future.
The person who manages a childcare center or a chain of childcare centers is either the owner or the director, also known as the child care administrator, of the center. The center can either be a separate facility or a part of a larger franchise.
What Does a Child Care Manager Do?
The child care manager, through various certifications and learnings, develops proficiency in conducting childcare programs and managing childcare management software and daycare software. Their role is arguably one of the most important, and their responsibilities are listed below:
- Designing study programs: This is one of the most important responsibilities of a child care manager. They are trained to devise study programs for children depending on their age and educational interests. These study programs maintain a wholesome approach to cover subjects that will sharpen every kid’s emotional and social skills along with physical and cognitive functions. This is a particularly complex task considering the child care manager has to prepare curriculums for age groups ranging from infants to preschoolers with their varied level of understanding. The child care manager has to ensure that every learning program has a measurable outcome for the kids so that the educators can gauge their learning at the end. Apart from the students, the managers also create plans to communicate with the parents and keep them updated on their child’s progress on an ongoing basis.
- Creating a healthy learning atmosphere: Any form of learning will yield maximum results only when the environment is amicable and healthy. This environment includes logistical support to motivate children to perform and give their best. The daycare facility should be kid-friendly and must support every basic need of children of different age groups. The setup should be free of any hazardous object that might physically or emotionally hurt a child; it must be designed in a way that any kind of accidental injury will be avoided. The manager will make sure the learning environment is not only well-equipped with educational supplements such as stationery, books, writing resources, etc. but also stuffed with healthy food essentials. In case of medical emergencies such as allergies, the daycare manager must make sure to keep a stock of medicines and appropriate food supplies.
- Managing the administrative side of daycare centers: A daycare manager’s responsibility is not restricted to devising curriculum plans for kids. They have an end-to-end responsibility of overlooking the entire center-right from operations, administration to managing childcare management software and daycare apps that capture the students’ attendance via tools like daycare attendance app among other things. These managers run the entire chain of functions of a daycare facility. The manager is responsible for ensuring quality education by applying constant developmental changes in the syllabus as needed based on feedback and understanding, training their employees and teachers, and monitoring the expenses incurred.
- Managing employees: Through childcare management software, daycare billing app, daycare attendance app, etc., a childcare manager can keep track of their staff, their performance, any possible hindrance in quality, staff payroll, attendance, and other needs. The manager will ensure smooth communication between the staff and the students.
Education and Training for a Childcare Center Manager
The requirement for a childcare manager varies with the state and city they are required in, but overall, they must be trained to handle the educational requirements of young children, preschoolers, or middle school kids to create a good learning atmosphere for both the children as well as the teachers, and to answer all queries and doubts of worried parents. The manager must have certifications in topics around early childhood. Their skill sets can be divided into the following three categories:
- Certification Prerequisites: They must have certification prerequisites such as prior teaching experience and an experience of interacting with younger kids.
- Job Qualifications: They must have a Bachelor’s degree and certification and must pass relevant exams depending on the state.
- Knowledge of Common Courses: The childcare manager must have a thorough knowledge of subjects such as child psychology, language development, and learnings devised specially for preschoolers and infants.
For example, in California, another name for a childcare center is a child development site supervisor. As a site supervisor, the manager must fulfill the following requirements:
Complete a degree or 60-semester units
Complete additional 6-semester units containing two courses, one introductory and one advance, or two courses of different topical content. This course must be in administration and supervision of child care and development programs.
Complete extra semesters of adult supervision course work
Complete close to a year as an instructor in a child care and development program, working at least 3 hours a day for the past 4 years and completing 100 days of supervising adults in a child care and development program. This experience must be validated by the employer on their letterhead.
Required Certifications for a Childcare Director
- The two most commonly recognized daycare management certifications are:
- Child Care Professional (CCP) certification: CCP requires the candidate to show 720 hours of work experience and 180 hours of training in 9 areas of care.
- Child Development Associate (CDA): CDA requires 480 hours of work experience, specifically with children in the last 5 years, and 120 hours of child care experience.
Qualification of a Preschool Director
Each state has its own requirement for preschool directors; for example, California requires a permit for Child Development Program Director, and Illinois has an Illinois Director Credential requirement for voluntary certification programs.
The median salary of a preschool and childcare center director published in a Bureau of Labour Statistics is 46,890 USD per year or 22.54 USD per hour. In Canada, the median salary is CA$128K - CA$139K. These numbers can vary depending on the year.
Training Institution Options for a Childcare Manager
Child care managers have multiple options to get themselves appropriate training. Examples of such institutions are:
Childcare Education Institute (CCEE)
- ProSolutions training
Now the real question is…
Are You Ready to be a Childcare Manager?
If you are inclined towards managing a daycare management business, daycare manages the software or daycare apps, you must be natural with handling children, from preschool children to middle schoolers. You must be motivated and encouraged to provide end-to-end services in early childcare development. A good childcare manager is not only well trained in designing curriculum for children, but you must also ensure ongoing child care compliance and arrange compliance training for their staff and themselves as required on an ongoing basis. You must be a leader who will maintain a great working relationship with both the staff as well as students and their parents; the childcare manager is responsible for maintaining communications with worried parents and assuring them of their child’s wellbeing and learning.
- Before choosing your career as a childcare manager, ask yourself questions like:
- Do you have high emotional intelligence?
- Are you a flexible human being with high managerial skills?
- Do you love being with children and genuinely helping them develop?
- Are you always ready to keep learning and developing your skills?
- Do you know how to balance communication with both young and old?
If your answer is yes to all or most of the questions, then you are highly suitable to pursue a career in childcare management and can move forward by gaining a diploma or certificate in the field of childcare.
Choosing a Childcare Program
A child care manager has several options at their disposal to work in. For someone who is experienced and passionate about working with children, as a child care manager, you can work in a setup that is already in place or can build a new setup of your own. However, there are 7 child care programs that must be analyzed before a child care manager can open a setup in an independent capacity. These programs are:
Child Care Centers:
These are the facilities that provide an educational platform for children from preschool to early schooling. These facilities are equipped with a well-trained staff who cater to their needs, both educational and logistical, while their parents are away.
Advantages of a Childcare Center:
Childcare centers are designed to address the needs of every child irrespective of their age and weaknesses. A childcare director can apply his/her/their own ideas to customize a learning experience from his/her/their knowledge. This can be facilitated with the help of some best childcare management software such as Illumine which provides a range of services from the click of a button, such as tracking student attendance, tracking payment and billing, drop/off and pick up monitoring of students, and maintaining constant communication with parents.
This concept is a type of daycare where the care provider takes care of the children from the care provider’s home. The care provider takes care of the children along with their own children. This is a cost-efficient method of learning since it saves expenses in setting up a facility, and there may be limited or no licensing requirement. However, in this setup, the number of children is also limited, with lower maximum enrollment compared to centers. However, it also provides an opportunity for the care provider to bond with each child and pass on the saved cost to the parents.
Child Enrichment Programs:
These programs provide tutoring for kids whose parents want them to get an education beyond classroom training. This form of tutoring can cover academia, sports, art subjects, and other specialized topics, and these Child Enrichment programs are meant for older kids who are in either preschool, middle school, or older.
- Advantages: As a child care provider, if you are trained in specialized subjects, you can apply your skills in conducting and managing such enrichment programs for children.
- Since this program is apart from the classroom training, you can help students enhance their performance in school.
- Challenges: The fee structure for such enrichment programs is more than center-based and at-home learning facilities due to the niche learning requirement. Therefore, parents’ and kids’ expectations are high, and you must be thorough and confident of the knowledge that you possess with the ability to address all questions that children throw at you.
Before and After School Programs:
These programs are devised to teach the students extracurricular activities before and after their school classes. As a care provider, you can conduct these classes on the school premises or an existing daycare facility. These are mostly fun yet educational sessions ranging from music, dance to coding classes.
- Advantages: This program saves costs incurred on operating the setup since, as a care provider, you will be utilizing another setup. Since this program covers topics outside the curriculum, these sessions are fun for kids. Also, since this program requires interactive sessions and socializing, this should be refreshing for at-risk teens. At some places, there could be government funding or subsidies for this type of child care program. This program can promote the emotional, physical, social, and academic development of kids outside school time.
- Disadvantages: Since these programs are conducted in outside facilities, travel can be a constraint for students. However, this disadvantage can be converted into an advantage by providing pick-up and drop-off services.
These programs are either center-based or home-based for kids between 5 to 12 years of age. These programs are usually conducted during summers or holidays outside school days.
Advantage: The biggest advantage of these programs is they will keep the students occupied with productive tasks during holidays while their parents go to work. It will ease the worries of parents about their child’s time usage.
Disadvantage: With every child having their own interest zones, planning activities could be a challenge. However, proper planning and using daycare management apps should streamline these programs and help them become a success.
Pre-school Care Programs:
These are mostly part-time programs for children between the ages of 3 and 5 to educate and prepare them for entering school. Children are taught the importance of socialization.
Advantage: Apart from polishing and preparing the children, these programs also help parents who work from home to get their own space to focus on personal activities without worrying for their children.
Disadvantage: Parent anxiety is high for these programs since their children are young and are exposed to the world in one of their first preschool experiences at engaging in educational activities. However, this challenge can be addressed by reassuring parents and gaining their confidence.
In-Home Child Care:
In this setup, the childcare provider is either a nanny or a babysitter for infants, and this form of child care is within the home of the child. The care provider can be full-time or live in.
Advantage: Since you will be going to the home of the child, as a care provider, you can personalize your attention to one child at a time. You can also manage the timing at your convenience.
Disadvantage: There could be issues with a steady flow of money since you will be focusing on one child at a time. In case that stops for any reason, you will have to wait till the next opportunity knocks. This can be addressed if you can add skills to your resume, for example, expertise in a second language that will help you to provide tuitions apart from at-home care.
Evaluating Childcare Manager
As a manager, you will be well-trained and experienced in providing appropriate child care, but as is required for every other role, you must also be evaluated to ensure consistency in the performance so that you stay on track as a good manager.
Collaborative Professional Assessment Process (CPAP)
CPAP is a parameter used to evaluate the performance of a director. It is an evaluation process for gauging the director’s performance in early childhood programs. As a director, you can rate your own performance as well, so that it helps you to further your professional growth and identify weak zones.
The CPAP is devised on certain assumptions:
Ethics belongs at the heart of the evaluation process: Everyone involved in the evaluation is expected to follow the code of ethical conduct and conduct an evaluation with fairness and respect.
The appropriate assessment considers personal and environmental factors: Appropriate assessments will define the career path for a director and chart out your personal growth as a director.
The evaluation process is a professional development tool: The CPAP tool will help you identify your strengths and weaknesses as a director and help you align your goals with that of your organization’s.
Directors are both managers and leaders: As a director, you will plan and organize daily operations of the business. At the same time, as a leader, you will also offer a vision and show the path ahead for the entire setup. These qualities will help you to devise a successful child care program for children of different age groups.
Assessment is central to program improvement: Evaluating and generating assessment is essential to maintaining the quality of the curriculum and standard of child care programs.
This assessment is spread across 4 months.
Month 1: The director, as well as the staff members and the parents, submit their evaluation of the director to the evaluation sub-committee. These submissions are made anonymously.
Month 2: The evaluation sub-committee evaluates all evaluations received before scheduling a meeting with the director.
Month 3: The sub-committee summarizes the findings and comments and hands over the summary of the program evaluations to the director.
Two weeks later: The subcommittee discussed the findings with the director to resolve any differences and agree on common goals.
Two weeks later: The subcommittee develops an annual report based on the evaluation process and develops goals for the upcoming year.
Month 4: The subcommittee presents an annual report, goals, and director’s self-evaluation to the board for approval. Once approved, the annual report and goals are shared with parents.
Despite having the basic qualifications, a childcare manager must be highly self-motivated and incur within the zeal to run a childcare program or center successfully. Let’s discuss some common traits seen among childcare professionals.
6 Habits of Highly Effective Childcare Managers
- Child care managers are the majority stakeholders in shaping a child’s future. Hence, it is essential that they maintain a strong working environment and ecosystem for children’s better educational standards. Here are 6 habits of highly effective childcare managers:
- Care for staff as much as you will care for the kids you teach. This will motivate your staff and help them feel valued. This, in turn, will create a positive environment that will improve productivity in the students.
- Sincerely praise your staff, this will provide them the motivation to give their best at their work
- Treat your team members as equal to you instead of displaying authority
- Take breaks at regular intervals so that a balance is maintained between work and life.
- Maintain healthy communication with your staff and parents to ensure collaborative decision-making.
- Identify your team’s strengths and utilize them to their maximum potential.
7 Ways To Effectively Manager a Child Care Center
There are many childcare management software and daycare software that assists in providing effective child care facilities. Here are 7 other ways that will help you efficiently manage a child care center:
- Training the staff: As a manager, you must ensure that your staff is well-equipped to provide care for multiple children. At the same time, do not overburden the staff and provide them a good working atmosphere.
- Providing a wholesome meal: In parents’ absence, children become your responsibility. Generate daycare meal reports and plan out children’s meals with a healthy balance of fruits and vegetables and availability of snacks apart in between meals.
- Giving your students rest: Add naptime to your daily schedule for the children because a good rest during the day can increase productivity in children.
- Ensuring safety: Keep younger children separate from older ones to ensure no small item can fall into the hands of younger children. Discard anything that can harm the children in any way.
- Matching activities with a child’s skills: Daycare management software can align the desired skill sets in a child with the range of activities that your center has. In this way, you can generate reports pertaining to a particular skill in a student, for example, social skills, at once.
- Using educational equipment only: Make sure that the equipment used at your facility is age-appropriate and keep children occupied with productive tasks.
Implementing Daycare Software: Childcare management software and daycare enable a variety of services under a single umbrella and help child care facilities to better manage their facilities in a timely and disciplined manner. From easy documentation, automated daycare daily reports, quick billing, monitoring of payments by using tools such as daycare accounting software, ease of communication between parents and educators, documentation of every photo and video, planning activities in advance, using the daycare attendance app and communicating the same to parents, and maintaining all health records, daycare apps function as a one-stop-shop for all logistical and operational requirements of a child care manager. There are some very robust child care management software that you can refer to as a child care manager; one of them is Illumine.
Illumine is a childcare management software that helps manage daycare centers that have preschool kids. This highly sophisticated childcare management software can manage a range of operations from enrollment to finance and is also available in the form of an app. Post-Covid 19, Illumine has added extra layers of safety by asking parents to fill a check-in/check-out form for attendance and maintaining a medical log for each student. Student attendance can also be captured by using a daycare attendance app.
With the introduction of childcare management software, preschool management software, and daycare management software, it has become easier for childcare managers to automate and streamline processes and manage chain of centers in a more efficient manner even during the pandemic. As more and more parents step out of their homes to work, childcare centers and their providers have become an important part of a family’s life. With good working practices, training, and strong communication, childcare providers have lucrative careers. As a childcare provider, you must always be focused with a certain amount of sensitivity towards the children and their parents as well as towards your staff.