The Top Child Care Tips of 2016

child care

We have recently ushered in a brand new year.  It’s a time for child care professionals to reflect upon the year that ended, review their successes and shortcomings, and renew their commitment to realizing both short and long term goals.

EZCare child care management software has resolved to continue its efforts to inform and enlighten those who provide services to daycare, preschool, nursery school and school age children, by providing them with bi-monthly e-newsletters that contain links to articles from industry experts. These resources help these pros explore new ways to expand their mission and grow their business.

In an effort to deliver only the “news you can use”, we monitor which articles receive the most clicks or “hits” from newsletter readers. To celebrate the launch of 2017, we hope you will enjoy revisiting the five tips and topics that made our greatest hits list in the year just ended.

Childcare centers are drastically reducing late payments by changing the way they collect from parents!

Video testimonials are one of the best ways to boost enrollment.

Market your business more effectively by using the following tips.

Use these helpful tuition guidelines to ensure that you are competitively priced.

Follow these three easy steps to add serious revenue to your business!

At EZCare child care management software, we believe that the best blogs are interactive!  Therefore, we would welcome your suggestions on future topics that may be beneficial to your business. in the New Year. Please feel free to comment on this blog, and be sure to let us know if you’ve utilized any of these articles to make positive changes in your business that have helped you realize your goals.

Explore all that EZCare has to offer and sign up for a free group demo here.

Together, we can make 2017 your best year ever!

by Lynn Edelman

Jan 13 17

SofterWare President Named Philadelphia Inquirer Emerging Icon

nathan-relles

 Nathan Relles, President, SofterWare

Who knew that more than 30 years after co-founding SofterWare with his friend and business partner, Doug Schoenberg, Nathan Relles would be recognized by his peers as an “emerging icon?” Nathan, who serves as President and Chief Innovation Officer of the Horsham, PA company, which designs user-friendly fundraising and childcare management software for nonprofit clients, will received this recognition last night in Philadelphia when the Philadelphia Inquirer honored him as one of six recipients of the newspaper’s inaugural Industry Emerging Icons Award.
By definition, emerging icons are men and women who have the potential to become legends. They are successful business leaders who have contributed to their communities and have helped others along the way. SofterWare clients, staff, and the numerous local nonprofit organizations that have benefitted from Nathan’s philanthropy and volunteer commitment affirm his qualifications for this high honor.

Helping nonprofits use technology to achieve their goals

His personal commitment to helping community organizations grow and prosper through the effective use of technology led to SofterWare’s creation in 1981. Products such as EZCare, which automates billing, data management, payment processing and other time-consuming administrative tasks, and DonorPerfect, which helps cultivate donor relationships and achieve fundraising results, enable these organizations to focus their energies on fulfilling their missions and realizing their goals.

His significant contributions to the field of technology were recognized by Ernst & Young, which named him and Doug as finalists in its 2012 Entrepreneur of the Year competition. He frequently mentors young entrepreneurs and cheers on the success of start-up organizations.

He earned his Ph.D. in Computer Sciences from the University of Wisconsin. His research and dissertation were in human factors and the design of easy-to-use computer systems. His focus on the user experience and making products that are intuitive and easy influenced his decision to name his company SofterWare.

Then and now, the company that Nathan helped to build is committed to developing, marketing, maintaining and supporting software that is easy to use, and adaptable to the unique needs of its users.

Growing and giving back

Under his leadership, SofterWare has grown from a small entrepreneurial business to a company with more than $40 million in revenue, and more than 10,000 clients in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.

He has created a corporate culture where food, clothing, and school supply drives flourish, and employees are encouraged to volunteer their talents and time to serve others.

Leading by personal example

Nathan is the son of Holocaust survivors and immigrated to the United States as a child. His parents instilled in him the importance of giving back, strengthening the community and contributing his time, talent, and resources to organizations that promote Jewish values and diffuse hatred and bigotry. He serves on the Boards of the Abramson Center for Jewish Life in Horsham, PA, Jewish Learning Venture, an Elkins Park organization that innovates programs to help people connect to Jewish life, and the National Ramah Commission, the camping arm of Conservative Judaism.

He has boundless energy, which many attribute to his passion for running. A past president of the Ambler Running Club, Nathan has run the New York City Marathon and participates each year with fellow members of the SofterWare staff in the American Odyssey Relay, a two-day, 200-mile race from Gettysburg, PA to Washington, D.C., which raises funds for cancer treatment and research, and wounded veterans.

He is committed to energy conservation and recycling and drives to work each day in one of the first electric cars licensed in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Nathan also continues to serve on the Upper Dublin Open Space Advisory Group.

Congratulations, Nathan on a well-deserved award!

by Lynn Edelman

Nov 17 16

See the all-new EZCare at NAEYC!

naeyc2016

EZCare is all new!

Come check us out at NAEYC. This year, NAEYC’s annual conference takes place in beautiful Los Angeles, California. We’ll be there from November 2-5, and we hope to see you, too!

Here’s what we’ve got for you at Booth #1622!

 

Get a first look at the all new EZCare!

 

Learn how you can make billing, enrollment, scheduling and other child care management tasks easy.

 

Enter our raffle to win a Neiman Marcus handbag or a $50 gift card!

 

 

Emily Patz
by Emily Patz

Oct 26 16

E-Book: 3 Easy Steps To Get Started With Online Payments

Download Free Payment Processing Ebook

Your time is valuable!

Daycare Worker Saves TimeWhy spend hours or days on billing when you can get it done in just minutes or seconds instead?

Electronic payments through EZ-CARE2 make life easier. By automating an otherwise manual process, you can find time to do the things that create real value for your center, like parent communications, marketing, staff training, fundraising or planning a program for the kids. And the best part is, paying online is a better experience for the parents, too!

Between the paperwork required to set up an account, the litany of fees, software and equipment costs, and the complexity of introducing change to parents, there are plenty of reasons holding center owners and directors back from the world of electronic payments.

But EZ-CARE2 makes it easy!

EZ-CARE2 has created the easiest path for centers of any size to create an electronic billing and payment process. With our 3 Easy Steps E-Book, we’ll show you how easy it is to get started with a program that can truly transform your center and your relationship with parents.

Getting started with our proven 3-step process is a snap.

Step 1: Process a payment from a check or payment card directly through EZ-CARE2
Step 2: Ask the parent if they would like to enroll in automatic payments
Step 3: If the parent declines auto pay, enroll them in billing via email

Click here to view the 3 Easy Steps infographic.

Using EZCare’s built-in tools for payment processing is the most efficient way to manage billing and achieve meaningful time savings, so moving to electronic payments isn’t just a smart decision – it’s an easy one.

Remember: time is money.

With proven strategies developed to contain the costs of payment processing, you can manage the costs of the program and identify hidden savings as a result of doing less manual data entry. Using your time and your staff’s time to do more productive things than data entry can easily offset the costs of electronic processing and even create additional value.

Get Three Easy Steps for Free!


by Colleen Moriarty

Jul 18 16

EZ on the Road: My Time at the 2016 Boost Conference

BOOST Conference Attendance CollageWhile Palm Springs is known for its epic star-studded music festivals, this past weekend buzzed with the arrival of a whole new kind of rockstar. The Boost Conference is an annual meetup of educators, administrators, directors, and more from before-and-after school programs across the country and beyond.

The Boost Conference exceeded my expectations not just in the quality of the sessions and workshops, but also in the delightful demeanor and unparalleled character of every speaker and attendee. Make no mistake, everyone at Boost was there on business. But there was no stuffy suiting or awkward silence. Getting to sessions early was a treat because I had the pleasure of meeting the individuals who make up the community that EZCare serves. Here’s some of what I learned:

In education, titles aren’t as straightforward as they may seem. Whether someone’s called a program director, childcare worker, or teacher, it’s likely their job description requires a superhuman shapeshifter.

The multifaceted nature of these positions can be dizzying, yet no one seemed flustered. I sat in a room of great collaborators who were looking for a way to enhance and expand upon what they’ve got and to explore what they might be missing. Boost is a wonderful conference to help before-and-after school care professionals succeed in all of these pursuits.

In “Short-Staffed!”, a session discussing the challenges caused by high turnover and how administrators can maintain program quality in spite of it, attendees shared many concerns, yet each person seemed to speak of the same storyline. Turnover is high, making training seem almost silly, but training is crucial to the success of both employees, fellow staff, and students. I was happy to hear that programs turned to software like EZ-CARE2 to track childcare staff development and scheduling.

With the raise of minimum wage in California and other states and no contract increases, programs are struggling to compete with other companies who are hiring millennials at the same rate, but requiring less work. While this session couldn’t solve the financial strain of these issues, attendees took notes on the creative spin they could put on their program setup to increase employee happiness and keep students enthusiastic about their offerings – even when manpower is thin.

BOOST Conference Photo CollageCommunication was also a hot topic at Boost. Many attendees flocked to a communication workshop to learn creative ways to build, nurture, and maintain relationships with their children, parents, and staff alike in the hope that improving these important relationships will translate into thriving centers and programs and stellar recommendations. (Editor’s Note: Check out EZ-Care’s childcare marketing tools and integrations to help overcome communications challenges.)

Boost’s Film Festival notably featured a raw and revealing documentary that drove home the ever-growing need for program staff to address the presence of cyberbullying in schools that can lead to students’ social isolation, dropping grades, and in some cases, even death. The imminent need for a counseling aspect to be adapted into programs is becoming more urgent by the day. But implementing services like this in addition to staffing, program development, parent relations, is no small task.

Boost’s “Aha! moment” keynote delivered by the founder and CEO of Every Monday Matters perfectly defined the work of every attendee in the room, no matter what their role. This former Hollywood music exec-turned-activist changed his life when he stopped working to serve himself and instead, at the advice of his therapist, started serving others. Through serving others he found his purpose.

It was this keynote speech that tied everything together so perfectly. Looking around the packed convention center, that sense of purpose glowed in the eyes of every person strolling the halls, participating in the sessions, and greeting fellow attendees.

The women and men who make up the community that educates, encourages, and cares for our youth are modern-day super heroes. And while they don’t appear to be aware of their super-hero status, they shine with the light of people who should know.

BOOST Conference Visitor PhotosMy experience at the Boost Conference brought so much meaning to my role at EZCare. While I’m merely a small background player in all of this, I’m honored to help the before-and-after school community save time and money with EZCare, so they can be as super as they are with less effort. EZCare might not be able to solve every problem, but I’m sure that we can equip, empower, and inspire directors, administrators, and educators with simple solutions that can help ease their workload and increase revenue.

In addition to my role at EZCare, I can also support this phenomenal community by voting in a way that makes education matter, giving to educational nonprofits, and encouraging my friends and family members who work in education.

I don’t have children and I can’t really say that I plan to, but the state of our educational offerings in this country still affects me. I have a teacher to thank for the incredible skills of my superstar colleagues, for my nerdy love affair with grammar, and for a number of my favorite musicians who make up the ever-evolving soundtrack of my life. In the future, I’ll have even more teachers and caregivers to thank. I’ll thank them for the child who grows up to find the cure for cancer, the child who leads the charge for social change.  

I’ll start these efforts by addressing the entire EZCare Client Community. Thank you for the dedication, service, and joy you bring to the children, to our future, every day. It’s such a blessing to them, and in many ways, an even bigger blessing to our society as a whole.
To learn more about the Boost Conference, visit boostconference.org.

Emily Patz
by Emily Patz

May 2 16

Celebrate Your Staff During Teacher Appreciation Day (and Beyond)!

Teacher Appreciation Day Header

This year, Teacher Appreciation Day falls on May 3.

Parent Teacher Involvement Logo

This special day is dedicated to celebrating teachers’ contributions to the lives of children as well as the important role they play in our local communities.

Imagine how many teachers are inspiring the writers, scientists, leaders of social change, and innovators of all kinds who will shape our future. May 3rd is the day to recognize that reality and cheer them on!

Will your center celebrate Teacher Appreciation Day? You don’t have to do it alone. Get both teachers and children in on the fun! Check out the ideas below to see some of the great ways you can show teachers you care.

Here’s how you can get children involved on Teacher Appreciation Day:

  • Ask children to draw pictures illustrating what they love best about their teacher and make each teacher a collage.
  • Choose a song that each class can learn and surprise teachers with a joyful ode to their greatness.
  • Get crafty with a collaborative art project for the classroom like this paper chain photo booth. Take students’ photos and have them write thank you notes to their teachers on the back.

Here’s how to get busy parents involved on Teacher Appreciation Day:

  • Put up a poster board or easel in your lobby so parents and students can leave one word that describes their favorite teacher. What word would you use?
  • Send home a note asking parents to bring in a piece of fruit for each teacher, then assemble the fruit into gift baskets.
  • Ask for a small contribution from each family to go towards the purchase of a microwave, a Keurig coffee maker or another gift that can benefit teachers.

Because there are so many reasons to celebrate teachers, check out this fantastic list of 65 ways to recognize them all year long!

 

 

Emily Patz
by Emily Patz

Apr 21 16

EZ-Care Systems Status Page Live

EZ-Care Uptime Status

Maintenance. Outage. Issue. Downtime.

No matter what you call it, if your system isn’t available, we understand that it’s going to affect your performance and ability to get things done. It’s our goal to avoid unplanned outages (and, 99.9% of the time, we achieve this goal); but the reality is, sometimes there are downtimes.

We are committed to integrity without compromise. So, in an effort to keep you informed and be transparent, we created a tool that will keep you up-to-date on any issues that may arise.

status.ezcare2.com is your source for the latest updates on service uptime, known issues, and scheduled maintenance for EZ-2 Web, WebLink, Payment Processing, or the EZ-CARE2 Client Area.

Just click status.ezcare2.com and select “Subscribe to Updates.” You’ll have the option to receive emails, text alerts (or both) to stay current on the status of our products.

We’re confident this tool can position you to be an even greater success as you endeavor to serve the children and parents of your center.

Subscribe to our StatusPage!

Josh Hurst
by Josh Hurst

Apr 4 16

5 Creative Ways to Celebrate NAEYC’s Week of the Young Child

Week of the Young Child Graphic

What is the Week of the Young Child?

The Week of the Young Child is sponsored by NAEYC and designed to celebrate early education, young children, teachers, and families. With daily themes like Music Monday and Work Together Wednesday, the Week of the Young Child encourages activities that enrich children’s learning experiences. It runs from April 10, 2016 to April 16, 2016.

In the spirit of the Week of the Young Child, here are 5 creative takes to make each day’s theme your own:

Get parents to contribute to your Music Monday playlist.

Music is credited with helping children develop math, language, and literacy skills at an early age. Music Monday is a day to encourage children to sing, clap, and drum along together to their favorite songs.

Here’s how to get parents involved:

If you consider the music of your childhood, tunes from your parents’ record collection will likely come to mind. Parents today have certainly followed suit. That’s why there’s a good chance you’ve got babies growing up on Bowie and kids who routinely belt out Adele in the backseat. So instead of simply telling parents that you’re introducing their children to music, ask parents if they’ve already done so. Then invite them to join in on the fun by sending a YouTube link to their favorite sing-along song from home. That way, you’ll have plenty of tracks to play on Music Monday.

Go Veg on Taco Tuesday.

Taco Tuesday is more than just a day to have fun with food. Cooking lends to the development of children’s early learning skills just like music. In addition to learning math and literacy skills,  Taco Tuesday can teach children about healthy eating habits.

Consider swapping ground beef for seasoned black beans. A diet rich in fruits and vegetables and low in cholesterol is a great way to prevent heart disease as an adult, so it’s important to teach children to learn to love their veggies at an early age. Use Taco Tuesday as a day to introduce children to meat substitutes like black beans and healthy, protein-packed additions like avocados.

Take a vote to determine your Work Together Wednesday initiative.

Children develop their social skills when working together. Instead of assigning them a project outright, get your class involved from the very beginning by having the children choose what they’d like to do for Work Together Wednesday. By giving them a choice, children are more likely to be excited and enthusiastic about tackling a project with their peers from the very start.

Host an art opening on the eve of Artsy Thursday.

Art projects and crafts stimulate children’s imaginations, boost their social skills, and teach them how to make decisions. In honor of the children’s Artsy Thursday creations, consider hosting an art opening on the following Friday evening so children can celebrate their works of art with their families.

Create a collage display in honor of Family Friday.

Family Friday is a day to connect with children’s families through storytelling. Make Family Friday last even longer by rounding up children’s family photos and making a classroom collage.

Start preparing for the Week of the Young Child today!

NAEYC’s site has everything you need to prepare your classroom to participate in the Week of the Young Child. Learn more about the celebration and get tips and resources here.

Membership Disclaimer

EZ-Care is a business member of NAEYC and many other early childhood education organizations. Our mission is to support childcare directors and educators, allowing them to operate their business more efficiently, so that they have more time and resources to spend developing what really matters, the children. Learn more about EZ-Care’s partner and member relationships.

Emily Patz
by Emily Patz

Mar 21 16

EZ-CARE Client Spotlight: Issaquah School District Before and After School Program

Middle School Holiday Night

“EZ-CARE is the single best software purchase we’ve ever made.” – Nathan Winegar, Director of Issaquah School District Before and After School Care

Issaquah School District’s Before and After School Care Program (Issaquah BASC) began in 1993 with the support of parents, principals, and district administration.

Although their children could attend any local childcare center, parents preferred to leave them in the hands of school staff they already knew and trusted. This consistency also led to easier communication between parents and program staff, because parents could get all of their info about their child’s school and childcare center from a single source.

Starting his tenure in 1993 as an educational assistant, Nathan Winegar has seen Issaquah’s BASC program grow from just 2 sites serving 90 students to 15 elementary and 4 middle school sites that serve a total of 2,000 students.

School District Staff Photo

Today, Nathan leads this multi-site comprehensive childcare program as Issaquah BASC’s Director. With an ever-growing waiting list of 800+ students and a community of parents who rally around them, the staff at Issaquah BASC has created a childcare environment that goes beyond the basics by hosting fun events for the whole family and complementing their care with creative educational activities.

As someone who’s been at the helm of Issaquah School District’s childcare program for 23 years, Nathan’s seen the rapid evolution of Issaquah BASC – from enrollment to offerings, to operations, and more.

Among all of the changes, the biggest, most impactful change to the way Nathan manages the financial operations of Issaquah BASC is his investment in EZ-CARE Childcare Software.

Nathan explains, “We used to do everything by paper, including billing, before we moved to EZ-CARE. As we got bigger and bigger, there was so much coming through that we had to move away from our manual processes. We then purchased EZ-CARE. It was a big decision and a big leap for the district to allow me to make that change.”

Afterschool Program in Computers

Using EZ-CARE with its current 2,000 students, Issaquah BASC reduced billing time from 16 hours to 60 minutes.

Before EZ-CARE, invoicing parents took Issaquah BASC’s administrative team two full days, even with multiple people working.  EZ-CARE moved their time-stealing manual tasks online.

“Today, receipting is just downloading an import, which is awesome.  Best of all, there’s no longer a need for us to print invoices, fold them, stuff envelopes and create return envelopes. With EZ-CARE, our approximate 16-hour invoicing process now takes minutes,” Nathan says.

Since Issaquah BASC adopted EZ-CARE’s online bill pay option for parents, 90% of parents pay for their childcare online.

Prior to being equipped to offer online bill pay, Issaquah BASC sent paper invoices to parents through the mail by hand stuffing the invoice and a return envelope so parents could mail in a check. Upon receiving the checks, their administrative staff still had to handwrite receipts and make a copy for Issaquah BASC’s records.

Receiving and receipting all parents’ payments by check took up a significant amount of the secretaries’ day. In addition to collecting checks, they had to pinpoint whose payments were missing by manually accounting for each check received.

Nathan says that parents are just as happy with EZ-CARE’s online bill pay as his staff is. “Now with EZ-CARE, parents can pay for childcare online. Our community absolutely loves it. It’s a huge convenience for them, especially because they build points and miles on their credit cards. It’s not only easier for us, it’s easier for them, too!”

School District Success Story Picture

Because of EZ-CARE, Issaquah has much more time to focus on what really matters.

With EZ-CARE, Issaquah BASC can take the time to celebrate the reason they’re in business in the first place – their children!

Issaquah BASC prides themselves in providing opportunities and experiences that the students “would not receive unless they were enrolled in our program”.  Their program Vision is ‘It’s All About The Kids’ and with more time available to them, they can make that happen.

Issaquah Family Night

Issaquah BASC continues to be a tremendous success because of creative activities like these, where parents are invited to experience the happiness children feel at the program firsthand.

When parents are seeking a childcare center, recommendations from friends and family are crucial to their decision-making process. Since purchasing EZ-CARE, Issaquah has the time to ensure that every parent recommendation is a gleaming one.

“Since we started using EZ-CARE, we have moved from operating $3 million a year to $8 million a year and we haven’t lost a single penny yet.” – Nathan Winegar, Director of Issaquah School District Before and After School Care

Make Issaquah’s story your own. Transform your center into a success by discovering all you can achieve with EZ-CARE childcare management software! Call 800-220-4111 today or visit www.ezcare2.com.

Looking for a print-friendly version of Issaquah School District’s Success Story or other school district success stories?

Emily Patz
by Emily Patz

Feb 26 16

Childcare Management Trends: Auto-Pay, Morning Rituals, and More!

Auto-Pay Childcare Tuition Blog Photo

This Week’s Childcare Management Tips Round-Up

  • 5 Reasons Why It’s Better To Collect Childcare Payments Via Auto-Pay. An auto-pay plan is the easiest, most efficient way for childcare centers to collect childcare fees and for parents to pay them.
  • Literacy is for everyone. Some centers are harnessing creative ways to ensure that all children have access to books, including children with disabilities.
  • Rise and shine! Morning is the most essential time to children transitioning from home to their childcare center or school, so it’s important to make the most of them.
  • Healthy Valentine’s Day. Valentine’s Day tends to be packed with cute cards and an abundance of sugary treats. Try out a healthy twist on your Cupid duties this year with easy-to-make, vitamin-rich Valentines.
  • Hungry For More Useful Childcare Management Tips

    We’ve also put together this useful guide to help childcare directors collect tuition on-time, every time. Learn more about our hassle-free tuition collection tips in this free e-Book

    Download Six Secrets to No-Hassle Fee Collection!


    Emily Patz
    by Emily Patz

    Feb 11 16