So how on earth are you meant to choose the best CCSS Childcare Management Software?
Well, it’s important to bear in mind that no two systems are the same. While many might share similarities, sometimes those small differences have the biggest impact on saving you time, improving parent partnerships and helping every child to thrive.
That’s why we’ve compiled this summary of what to look for when choosing CCSS childcare management software to use in your centre. Whether it’s the first time you’re moving away from paper, or you’re simply looking for a change from your current system, we hope this guide can help to narrow down your choice.
Before we get started, here are some of the key things to consider before starting your search for CCSS Childcare management software.
- Never compromise on your requirements – Not all systems will work for everyone, draw up a list of your unique needs before you get started so you can find the right fit for you.
- Think of the parents – Choosing childcare management software that is easy to use and makes parents feel involved can have a big impact on your reputation with current and prospective parents alike.
- Support and training – Do the childcare software provider have quality training resources and on-demand customer support? Try to find out from their existing customers how easy it is to get hold of the support team.
- Software Automation – CCSS requirements demand many actions and if you are not catching up with them, Department of education may record breach against your centre. Hence, it is important to find out how many operations are automated by the potential CCSS childcare software provider.
- Find the hidden costs – Bear in mind that some system childcare providers may have extra costs for additional modules such as different pricing for Kiosk, online waitlist and enrolments, online payments processing, learning observation modules and some other modules including set-up fees or expensive training which you’ll need to pay upfront to get started.
- Does it work everywhere? – Consider how different parts of the system work together or whether you’ll be doing a lot of double data entry. Does it work across all your devices? Or will you need a physical server to be installed? Does it have mobile apps for parents and staffs?
- Ease of use – The system you choose is only as valuable as what you put into it. Make sure that it’s intuitive and easy to use for every member of staff.
- Easily Customisable to your Requirments – Some systems are built rigid and simple changes that you need may take months in development by your childcare software provider. Make sure that your childcare software provider is using the latest technology and their software is easily customisable to your requirements.
- Can it handle the money? – Billing is one area that can be a challenge for some systems, especially with the variety of ways billing can be done. Make sure you check that your way of billing can be accounted for.
- Hear about it first-hand – Once you’ve narrowed it down, ask preferred providers to connect you with local childcare centres who are using their system so you can hear first-hand about their experiences with the platform.
- See it in action first – Make sure to get a proper demo and get all your questions answered before making any final decisions.
- Can you escape? – Find out whether the platform requires a fixed contract or penalty for leaving the software if things don’t work out.
What sort of basics does the system need to truly make a difference, rather than just get in the way of what you currently do?
These are what we think are the core elements of what a CCSS Management Software needs to help make your centre tick, as well as some of the things parents might expect and what can help you with your learning & programming.
Bear in mind that having a system in place to help you with these tasks should make things significantly faster and more straightforward. If you find that the system is eating up more time than ever even once you’ve got used to it, it might be time to look elsewhere.
Should provide customisable roles & permissions for your staff.
CCSS allows you to manage your provider information & service information from third party software providers. You can also change the bank account through account management module in CCSS where childcare rebates are paid every week. Hence, your childcare software must allow you to configure the proper permission to manage your CCSS operations.
Should have auto-enrolment creation & updates –
Many systems require you to set up the CCSS enrolments for the child before the child can be booked in your centre. This can be detrimental specifically for OSHC settings where most of the time casual bookings are done on the go by the parents.
This prevents you from reserving the bookings if the child is going to attend in the future as CCSS does not allow you to make the enrolment in future. Hence you have to take the manual notes, set up reminders to perform these actions. This can be time-consuming and prevents you from forecasting your cash flow for the future without having entered the bookings.
- Look for the system which would allow you to take the bookings and based on the bookings pattern dates the system automatically create/update the CCSS enrolments
- When you increase the session price, the system should automatically update all bookings prices from the effective date and update the CCSS enrolment notices in bulk.
- CCSS childcare software should allow you to modify the recurring booking patterns in future and should automatically trigger the enrolment notice updates.
- CCSS childcare management software should query the enrolment notices every day and keep it up to date.
- Notify you by email or push when any CCSS enrolments are ceased or about to cease.
Automatically Submit the Session Reports & query Session Subsidy Entitlements
Every week, you are required to submit the session reports to the DHS. On top of that whenever you make any booking changes to the past submitted session reports, you are required to update your session reports. Imagine doing this manually, how much time it would take to process all those data.
- CCSS childcare management software should automatically submit the session reports every week.
- CCSS management software should automatically update the past submitted session reports on booking changes.
- Childcare software should automatically query all CCSS session reports to keep it up to date.
- Childcare Management software should automatically query all your Session Subsidy Entitlement reports from the DHS and you should make this available on your parent portal for the families to view their data.
Automatically query parent Entitlements.
If your service charges families in advance, you need to make sure that your childcare billing system estimates the rebate accurately to avoid dissatisfied parents. You need to make sure that your software does the following.
- Query Parent Entitlements every day
- Estimate Parent CCS rebates accurately
- Notify Parents & admin staff automatically by email and push when their entitlement % changes.
Manage ACCS Certificates & Determination Effectively.
The ACCS is part of the Child Care Safety Net, to give the most vulnerable and disadvantaged children, as well as those from regional and remote communities, a strong start through access to quality early childhood education and care. You need to make sure that your software helps you manage this functionality with ease and provide the required support to your staff to set this up & use correctly.
- Make sure the software provider staff has a clear understanding of the ACCS (child wellbeing) legislative and policy framework to promote a consistent understanding
- Help support you for consistent decision-making and administration, especially in areas that are complex and sensitive
- Your CCSS childcare software should aid in ensuring that ACCS (child wellbeing) is managed following legislative obligations and relevant policies and processes.
Automatically Query CCSS Payments and settle the Parent accounts with any adjustments.
Your childcare software should automatically query the processed CCS payments and settle the parent accounts with any possible adjustments from the estimations in advance. This process should be automatic and you should not invest your time in doing this exercise twice in a week saving you valuable time.
Automatically Submit the Weekly Vacancies.
Your childcare management software should automatically submit the vacancies to DHS once every week along with your operational details. This process also takes up some time every week and your software should be smart to handle this function automatic for you.
Query Important CCSS notifications & Correspondance.
Now and then, the CCSS system sends important correspondence where you are required to take actions. When this happens, you should be on top of the task and should never let system inefficiency record the breach against your service.
Provide Reports for CCSS health check and on important data
Sometimes it is essential to audit the health of your system data to make sure that your staffs are following the right procedures set by your operation team. Therefore, your childcare software should allow you to run a report to heath check your data and possibly help you identify the mistakes through smart AI-driven insights.
If your childcare software doesn’t do all of above then it is time to move to a better software like Xap which will help you streamline all your mundane tasks and free you up to focus on more important things.
The ‘nice to haves’
What extras could the system offer to help you gain even further insight into your centre and make improvements to your processes?
While some of these features are likely to come at an extra cost, they are often the ones that can save you a great deal of time, give parents an even better experience, and streamline your processes. That’s why it’s worth doing a proper analysis of these features and what they could do for your setting before you make any final choices.
- Child development – Being able to quickly record observations, learning journals, and any necessary checks or baseline assessments is one of the key reasons you might choose to take your centre digital. Further analysing this through in-depth cohort tracking can give you a ‘bird’s-eye view’ of the children’s progress.
- Parent communication – Gone are the days of sifting through a hefty address book to call or email parents – easy contact via direct messaging is now considered the norm. Sharing photos, videos and other updates throughout the day is also a great way to keep them engaged.
- Invoicing and CCS Rebate estimation ‘ We’ll admit, sending out invoices isn’t the most enjoyable task and can also be one of the most time-consuming elements of running childcare centre. But it has to be done. Look for childcare management systems which can quickly generate batch invoices based on the children’s’ booking patterns and any promotional discounts which need to be accounted for.
- Ratios and room planning – Getting staff-to-child ratios is a vital responsibility when working in the early years. Letting a digital system take care of the heavy lifting here can help you more easily plan staff ratios and free up your time to be better spent elsewhere.
- Accident reporting – Software can be really good for collecting, analysing and reflecting on accident and incident reports to get an overview of events happening within the setting and make the necessary changes.
- Daily child activities – All the happenings in the life of a child at your childcare centre such as nappy changes, meals and snacks and nap times can be recorded much more quickly on a digital system.
- Cloud-based – Working across devices where information is updated in real-time through the cloud helps staff and parents to see a consistent picture of what’s going on at the setting, without the need for messy double-data entry.
- Customer support – When you’re unsure about how to do something within the platform is there someone to turn to for help?
- Document storage – Access to important files, with different access based on the role can help you to work collaboratively and share policies, procedures, and training materials.
- Customised reporting and analytics – Be it advanced debt and revenue reports or occupancy analysis to predict and improve future capacity, this is the ‘big data’ that can help you to make more informed business decisions.
- Enquiries and waiting lists – When you have frequent interaction with new potential parents from the community it’s great to have a centralised place to manage relationships, communicate, and plan for the children that may soon come into your care.
- Sign-in screen – Registering children can easily be one of the busiest periods of the day, and, letting parents check them in with a straightforward screen can speed up and secure the process.
- Parent-requested care – Ad-hoc casual bookings are a great way to increase revenue and fill up vacant sessions at your centre, letting parents quickly and easily do this in-app is a sure way to boost that occupancy.
- Holiday, sickness, and permission requests – Requests and notifications from current parents for holidays and sick leave come in left, right and centre. Managing these in a centralised way can ensure both the nursery staff and parents don’t miss any important information.
- Payment handling – Provide an even smoother experience for parents and avoid handling cash, bank transfers, cheques and reconciliation by having payments integrated into the platform.
- Automation – Some of the more basic tasks you complete daily are also the ones that are a big drain on your working hours including things like room moves and debt collection. At the click of a button, these simple tasks can quickly and easily be automated in some systems.
What features are (in most cases) unnecessary and can complicate the running of your childcare centre for yourself, staff, or parents?
It could be tempting to go for the multiple systems to manage different task which might be recommended by a staff member working at your centre rather than using all in one software. We’d argue against this though due to the confusion, extra costs and reduced frequency in updates to what’s important. Some of the things to look out for are included below.
- Next step suggestions – Every child is unique and will be following their developmental path. The staff working with that child should instinctively know best what the next logical next step should be for them, rather than relying on a system to tell them this.
- An excessively bulky platform – Even though it might seem nice to have endless features, the reality is mess and confusion. Whichever system you choose should have the flexibility to do what you need, but not be so expansive that it confuses your staff or parents.
- Locally stored data – Systems which aren’t cloud-based end up meaning data is not consistent for all users. There’s also the risk of accidental deletion, data loss or unwanted access due to damage or theft.
- Separate apps or systems – Instead of one, unified system, some providers offer different apps for different people or specific use case. This complicates the way the system works together as an integrated whole, leading to double data entry, slower updates and launch of new features, resulting in an incoherent experience for staff and parents.
- Large upfront costs – These are there to tie you in and make it harder to leave if you’re unhappy. In reality, training should be included, or it should be simple enough that you can handle a lot of it yourself.
We hope that the above covers enough information to ask for when selecting the childcare management software.
If you are ready to be among the top-performing centres and grow your business, you have to stop doing things the hard way.
Xap is an easy all in one solution for your childcare business. Get started today – Sign up for a free trial!