As a childcare owner or director, each day is filled by wearing many hats. On any given day, you’re the marketer, HR, maintenance, a substitute teacher, and the accountant. In fact, today you may have already changed a lightbulb, given a tour, filled in for a teacher on a restroom break, and followed up on past-due tuition…all before noon!
When you get done fighting all the fires you see on a daily basis, the last thing you want to do is miss a step on your childcare procedures and compliance checklists. Small oversights can be costly.
We get it, and that’s why we’re here to give you 4 easy steps to streamline compliance and best practice.
1. Document best practices and procedures
Documenting all of your operational best practices and procedures creates repeatable processes, leading to streamlined compliance and consistent service delivery.
Operational processes and procedures are the glue that ensure things run smoothly from sunrise to sunset. Begin by ensuring you have a well documented and communicated set of procedures.
Many an owner has confided that sometimes routine procedures such as opening, closing, cleaning and more have become just that – routine. Routines are great, but just because the box was checked, has that procedure been completed to the level of quality you would expect like you did when you first opened your doors? And let’s face it, many of us have our own opinion of what complete or “meeting the standard” means.
Next, look for bottlenecks or gaps in your process, and continually review where improvements can be made.
- When should items be escalated?
- To whom?
- What is the criteria?
Make sure that escalations that don’t receive prompt attention have built in nudges or reminders in order to get them resolved quickly. As the saying goes, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
So step one, take the time to properly document and establish what your best practice means even when it comes to the most basic routine procedures.
2. Set clear expectations and inspect what you expect
Now that you’ve thoroughly documented your processes and procedures to ensure best practice is the new standard, let’s set clear expectations with your team so you can inspect what you expect against the documented practices.
This way no one can say they didn’t know what was expected of them.
As staff complete daily checklists or capture details around behavior or incidents that take place each day, your clear processes and procedures empower staff to consistently rise to the standard.
They do so with a heightened awareness of the importance of tasks, their role, and their duties that may seem routine or unnecessary. It also creates a mindset of being proactive by helping staff see the incidents that could be easily avoided.
You have peace of mind knowing the same set of measurements are in place for all whether it is a newly hired staff member or a veteran teacher. Everyone excels when expectations are clearly communicated and necessary supports are in place to complete duties to your standards.
3. Transform your best practices and standards from paper to digital
You’ve documented your processes and procedures. You’ve established and communicated your expectations to be inspected and measured.
Now it is time to move these systems from paper to digital (and save some trees not to mention time in the process!).
What does it mean to go digital?
Imagine having real-time visibility of data at your fingertips simply by consulting your dashboard. With a click or two you can analyze your processes and procedural data over time – whether you are in your center, hitting the gym, traveling between centers or managing operations remotely!
Storing checklists and incident reports online ensures you have all the necessary documentation and analytics delivered by scheduled email reports. Or you can simply access the data whenever you need it!
Along with saving on your not insignificant paper and printing costs, digitizing your processes also keeps papers from getting lost amongst the stack of papers all directors face on their desk.
So let’s put it into practice.
Let’s say you’re reviewing your dashboard to monitor incidents, injuries or behavior concerns.
With your digital dashboard you can be proactive by noting which activities are most commonly producing incidents, which areas of the building see issues arise most frequently, and what times of day typically present the highest risk, which staff members are present and more.
Or let’s say you’re preparing for your staff meeting.
Your digital dashboard gives you concrete up-to-the minute visibility to quickly identify how you are performing against your best practices. One glance gives you the opportunity to spotlight your rising stars with a shout-out, or on the flipside, identify opportunities for staff training to bring up the scores.
Another benefit of digital dashboards.
By digitizing your processes and procedures, you can now add photos to checklists, forms and day-to-day processes. And immediately you squeeze out the subjectiveness of what was done and how it was done.
A picture tells a thousand words and creates staff accountability for completing daily tasks. Provide staff with picture examples of your expectations, then require pictures of the classroom as part of your daily checklist process. You’ve just ensured the check and balance needed to ensure best practices are being met!
How 1Place Childcare digitally transforms compliance processes
1Place Childcare is cloud-based process and compliance management software for childcare centers, so you can make best practice the new standard.
1Place allows you to create and store processes and procedures digitally, provide photos of what complete looks like, provide links to for any process that needs further description or even link it to a page in your employee handbook.
Voila, you’ve just created an online version of what is expected and with a click of a button, every classroom, staff member and school location has a clear set of procedures and measurements at their fingertips.
Ensuring consistency, quality and measurements around your digital best practices allows you to ensure everyone is operating to the standard. Consistently meeting the standard leads to compliance and quality as the norm.
When your staff feel they are supported, receiving ongoing feedback to be their best, it creates a sense of belonging. That sense of purpose and belonging extends to the culture, to the tone of the classroom and naturally flows to the children and the quality experience for families. That is a win, win, win!