MILWAUKEE, WISCONSIN – June 24, 2020
Child care centers are reopening as the State of Wisconsin begins to go back to work. But it will take some time to balance operating expenses with revenue in this vital industry. To remain in compliance with state and local orders, providers are following stringent health and safety protocols, including cleaning and disinfecting, social distancing, and health screening. They are adding back staff and opening classrooms as enrollment increases. And like many industries, child care centers are open, but they do not look the same.
Pre-COVID, many providers found order in consistency. They required permanent schedules, had deadlines for submitting schedule changes, and limited part-time scheduling options in order to manage staff. Now, parents need child care in order to return to work, but their work schedule may not be permanent, and it might not exist in a traditional Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. workweek.
For providers to survive and thrive post-COVID, they will need to adopt a new business model that focuses on flexibility, visibility, and efficiency. The following trends are emerging as providers look to rebuild enrollment.
- Rise in flexible scheduling and drop-in care. Parents who were utilizing child care centers prior to the national health emergency are either eager or hesitant to bring their children back and potentially expose them to coronavirus. Some may want to test the waters by starting part-time, some may have been laid off and need child care while they look for work, some may have lost the option for family member support if grandparents are at-risk and continue to quarantine. And, some have school-age children with nowhere to go due to school closures and camp cancellations. Parents’ needs are changing. Provider flexibility will be key.
- Visibility in the community, in real time. Not all child care centers are reopening, leaving parents and the Wisconsin Department of Children & Families (DCF) scrambling. Adding to the pressure, not all child care centers have an online presence. Providers can use Google My Business, the DCF Provider Portal, and the Kid-Tastic mobile app to create a searchable profile of their business, then update these channels daily to confirm they are open, how many seats they have available, and for what ages.
- Efficiency through business automation tools. Child care centers were operating on tight profit margins pre-COVID, so any investment in technology was both too expensive and too time-consuming to train and maintain for most. A positive outcome of the safer-at-home orders is the emergence of online tools that are affordable and easy to use. When providers focused on consistency pre-COVID, they could operate effectively using a spreadsheet, and in some cases, pen and paper. Tools like the Kid-Tastic mobile app, which allows parents to find center availability online, book and pay immediately, help providers restore order – and even save some time – while remaining flexible.
The bottom line is that if child care is inaccessible, parents cannot return to work. The Kid-Tastic mobile app is available for free to both parents and providers as together, we rebuild the village that gives all community members an opportunity to thrive. Providers can create a profile and update their availability every morning. As parents see open seats and schedule care, availability is automatically updated in real-time to show remaining seats. Booking is secured through an up-front payment, giving parents and providers confidence the schedule is confirmed.
The Kid-Tastic mission is to help match parents with available child care, and help providers fill seats by being flexible, visible, and efficient. Neither party wants to play phone tag only to find out an enrollment cannot happen due to availability or pricing. Parents get the freedom and control over when they set a care schedule. Providers get to focus on their students knowing that their center promotion and lead generation is happening online.
If you are a provider, go to www.kid-tastic.com to add your profile for free today or register for an upcoming demo webinar. If you are a parent, download the free app from the Apple or Google Play and start searching for providers in your area.
Kid-Tastic is available for parents in the Apple App Store for iOS devices and Google Play for Android devices. It is currently offered exclusively to the Wisconsin market. Providers can head to here to create an account and access the provider portal.