Request an Unlimited BumbleBee Child Care Software Trial

Close

Please fill out the form to request a free trial of BumbleBee Child Care Software. There is no cost or commitment, and we never share your information. (* = Required fields) For extra credit fill in the optional fields. We'll normally respond within an hour and at most 24 hours. Thank you!

Do bumblebees swim or fly? 

Archive for November 2012

Dropbox: Great, Free Child Care Software

Dropbox: Great, Free Child Care Software

Sometimes the best things in life are free. And recently, when a client asked what cloud storage software I would recommend, I said unequivocally “Dropbox.”

Syncing childcare files can be as easy as flying a kite with Dropbox

Consider cloud storage like Dropbox for your child care center

First of all, Dropbox (and most cloud storage software) is a free service that lets you bring all your daycare photos, scanned and signed immunization forms, classroom spreadsheets, emergency contact forms, tuition invoices, etc. all into one place. It keeps the Dropbox folder synchronized across all you devices (e.g., your reception area PC and the Director’s office PC). It’s easy to install, and works on Macs, PCs, iPhones, Android phones, iPads, (again) etcetera, etcetera.

Dropbox allows you to store up to a certain amount of files and then for charges for storage beyond that. You can share it across teams so multiple administrators in your office can all collaborate effortlessly without having to email things back in forth. It’s like having the same thumb drive plugged into everyone’s computers at the same time.

Secondly, Dropbox performs a backup of your files. If a laptop or computer fails on you, you have a backup “in the cloud”. Software like Dropbox also allows you to go back in time and get previous versions, in case you have a catasrophe and delete five pages of you upcoming monthly newsletter and then the computer reboots, you can simply wind back the clock in Dropbox and get to the earlier version.

Of course, Dropbox is not the only solution for cloud storage, and it is well worth checking out SugarSync or if you are a diehard Microsoft, Google, or Apple fan, their solutions, Skydrive, Drive, and iCloud respectively, as well. Here is a decent blog that summarizes some of the different options out there and their trade-offs.

Security should be a concern when you turn loose your files on the wild world worldwide web. If it makes you feel better, Dropbox recently crossed the 100 million subscriber mark so you are putting your eggs in a very big basket with a lot of other ducks and businesses. With Dropbox, you should exercise the same precautions with keeping passwords private and software and antivirus up-to-date. I would recommend each person with a computer creating their own Dropbox account and then creating shared folders among the users at the day care center.

Also, you should check with your specific software vendors to make sure it is compatible with Dropbox syncing. For example, Quickbooks can cause problems for some of the cloud storage software. This could be true for your locally install child care specific tuition and billing software. But for run of the mill work, cloud storage software works as advertised.

Note: BumbleBee is not affiliated with Dropbox or any other cloud storage provider. If you click this link, we’ll get a referral bonus from Dropbox if you sign up.

Do you have any comments to share with your child care center using cloud storage software? How do you share files?

It’s Not You, It’s Your Child Care Software

It’s Not You, It’s Your Child Care Software

Dilbert.coms Cartoon about User Interface

Steve Jobs was a great innovator and leader. However, I think there are cases where he made mistakes. When Apple introduced the iPhone 4 with reception issues he famously told a user “you are holding it wrong.” I think it is a mistake to ever blame a user of a product for a product not performing as promoted.

Child Care Software is no different. Whenever a BumbleBee client or prospective client points out a glitch with BumbleBee, I cringe (and probably blush). Usually, the reason is because we did not consider the circumstances of how a user would be actually using the product. This is why my one of my favorite things is to go on-site with customer and visit them and see how you work, and how administrators are using our child care software.

I think this blind spot to user feedback arises from the amount of time developers, like us, spend with our products. Ironically, as a childcare software developer, I would say, they become like our children. It’s hard to hear criticism of your children.

Finally, I think it is up to us, software developers, to fix our products to make them work for as many clients as possible in the most natural way possible. Please do not feel ashamed to send the makers of products you use frequently your feedback. Especially early childhood education software developers. And remember, it’s not you, it’s us.

Have you had bad or good experiences with giving feedback to the makers of your products? Please comment below or let me know.

Child Care “Waitlists Are All a Big Sham”

Child Care “Waitlists Are All a Big Sham”

The Background on the Child Care Waitlist Story

child care waitlists parent anxiety

Sometimes the uncertainty is the hardest part of day care waiting lists.

Like most stories involving children and early childhood education, this one has a happy ending. When a friend and new parent heard that we were working on child care enrollment software to help manage daycare waiting lists, she had so many lively insights from struggling to find childcare in Washington, DC, I asked her if I could publish this Q&A.

Our friends – let’s call them Lisa and Jeremy – are proud first-time parents of a beautiful baby who live in DC and work for the US Government. Since both are employed, they are luckier than a lot of people, but they are not exactly spending their weekends sailing their yacht down the Potomac River either. It also may come as a surprise to you, like it did to me, that some departments of the US Federal Government do not offer paid maternity leave. Therefore, when they could not find childcare for their baby, Lisa and Jeremy were faced with taking more unpaid leave than they had anticipated, which created difficult financial as well as career choices.

The Key Takeaways

  1. Keep up the Good Work!– Parents already appreciate your kindness and respect when calling to ask about waitlists.
  2. Keep it Transparent– The more clear the waiting list process is for parents, the more confident they are going to feel about your child care center and your services.
  3. Work Together– If you can help point parents to other possibilities for gap care while they are waiting for a spot at your center, assuming they do not already know of them, please do so.
  4. Connect Families with Local Resources– Please refer parents to resources like NAEYC or your local or state child care referral agencies if your waitlist has no hope.

I spoke with Lisa while she and Jeremy were balancing the joys of being first-time parents with the anxiety of waiting to hear if a spot was available for their four-month-old baby.

The Questions

Q. When did you start putting in applications with early childhood education centers?
A. We started putting in applications almost as soon as we found out we were pregnant. DC’s legendary waitlists are well known among moms. It’s funny because there is this large amount of wisdom shared by parents about daycare waiting list strategies.

Q. What has the process been like for you?
A. It has been very stressful. It’s been over a year since we applied for waitlists and we still have uncertainty about if and when we are going to find a spot.

Q. What is the best way to manage the waiting lists that you are on?
A. We call directors to let them know we are still interested and to find out what they expect about our chances of getting a spot. They are the best resource because they are most aware of when spots are going to open.

Q. How do childcare directors respond to you?
A. The directors and daycare staff have all been really nice. None of them ever make you feel like you are bothering them. Sometimes it is difficult though. Anecdotally, I know friends whose children got in before our baby. Sometimes it feels like the person who happens to call when a spot opens, gets it. That can make me feel like the waitlists are all a big sham. But I know there are mitigating factors like priority for siblings, so it is not always easy to predict.

Q. What more could stakeholders do to alleviate the tight supply of child care?
A. Employers should work with local governments to make sure good regulations are in place and to spur daycare owners to open more centers. The problem seems quite intractable.

Q. What other options do you and Jeremy have for child care if a spot does not come through?
A. We have limited options. Home child cares are very rare in Washington, DC. I have heard it is because of tight licensing requirements. We have looked at nanny shares, but finding a good nanny can be even more challenging than finding care at a preschool.

Q. What advice would you have for other parents who are in the same situation as you?
A. Get on waitlists early. Make sure you follow-up with centers for which you are on the waiting list. If you can find good in-home care through someone you can trust, definitely consider that.

The Happy Ending

Lisa and Jeremy found a spot at a great childcare center in downtown DC towards the beginning of their baby’s fifth month. Aside from the challenges of parent-child separation and restarting work, everything has worked out for the best.

Manage Schedules with More Flexibility

enrollment software child care management bumblebeee

In this example, Payton is enrolling for M-W-F and is on the waiting list for his child care to add Tuesday and Thursday

Many BumbleBee customers manage enrollment using detailed schedules. Child enrollment and capacity are tracked by day of the week. Until now, there was only one place per child to track that information. In most cases, that was fine, but it did limit flexibility.

Now, every status entry for a child can include its own schedule information. This enables our customers to track more nuanced schedule information, for cases such as:

  • A child is enrolled for 3 days/week, but on the waitlist the other 2 days
  • An infant is enrolled for 2 days/week, but has accepted an offer for 5-day toddler care starting in two months
  • A school-aged child is enrolled in after-care 5 days/week, but in before-care only 1 day

If your center does not have such complicated scheduling needs, you will see little impact – perhaps some slight re-arrangement of the forms to add a new child. This will not impact customers that only manage full-time enrollment, and do not use detailed schedules.

If your center currently manages this with a spreadsheet and would like to get a more collaborative and robust enrollment solution to mailing spreadsheets back and forth, please let us know. We would be happy to set you up with a demo or a free trial.

Flexible Enrollment by Day of the Week in BumbleBee

Enhancements

  • Now add waitlist or enrollment by day of the week.
  • Export and downolad CSV files for Excel import for more reports.
  • Build email distribution list for sending targeted messages to certain groups at you child care center like ‘waitlisted’ or ‘toddlers alumni’, etc.
  • Weekdays detail report with copy and paste to Excel. Click ‘Select Table’ and paste into Excel or OpenOffice.

Fixes

  • Fixed tables to remember previous filters for ‘Enrolled’ and ‘Applied’ views.

Don’t Repeat Yourself (D.R.Y.) with New Bulk Transition Actions

Enhancements

  • Bulk transition children from one classroom to the next. This is like moving a bunch of emails in Microsoft Outlook.
  • Updates to hidden time machine report (in beta).

Fixes

  • Add fields to bulk CSV export from the reports menu.

Latest Posts