Childcare Tracking and Billing(Podcast #156)
- Eastside - Madison, WI (xls)
Cornerstone ELC - Ben Polzin 2014
We opened a new childcare in Fall 2014 and looked at quite a few solutions. We strongly preferred something that was hosted so we would not need to install a server onsite. We also had payroll taken care of through our existing church finance team, but wanted to be able to track staff hours to feed our existing payroll system as well as child attendance for billing parents.
We landed on Cake Childcare (http://cakechildcare.com) for a few reasons. First, it was far and away the lowest cost out of all the solutions we reviewed ($5/mo). Second, it had some great apps for check-in/out and an in-classroom kiosk app. Third, it seemed to have quite an active following/client list. Some of the solutions we looked at seemed to be one-man shows, which made us nervous. There are a host of other reasons, but these are some of the bigger ones.
Here are some rough notes from the other solutions I looked at and sent to our director for further review. If you want to see a great list of potential options Cake has an extensive list of competitors on their website. However, the feature list on that page isn't 100% accurate.
- EZcare Online (http://www.ezcareonline.com/online-daycare-software-pricing.asp)
- Company has been around since the 1980's, has a staff of 150 and develops other products. This is much more reliable than many other software packages out there that look like they are side projects of one or two people and could 'disappear' at any time.
- Monthly cost looks comparable or better than others.
- They state they have an integration to Constant Contact.
- They seem to have extensive documentation and training/demo videos online: http://www.ezcareonline.com/daycare-software-features.asp
- parent portal with online registration
- User interface isn't as "up to date" or as "clean" as I'd like it to be. Looks a little messy/complicated, but better than some.
- Check-in portal for students looks like the only option is to use a PIN. No magnetic card/RFID card/barcode reader/fingerprint scanner option. (Maybe barcode reader)
- Sandbox Software (http://www.runsandbox.com/Pricing.html)
- Similar functionality, but limited info/demo/videos online.
- From the few screenshots I saw the interface looks like one of the cleanest and most up to date.
- Seems to do a very good job internally-facing (staff tracking, billing, etc), but very few parent-facing or in-classroom features.
- Looks like just 2 employees. Would need to ask about longevity, commitment to the product, how often are updates released, etc.
- Cake (https://cakechildcare.com/cms/view/cake-portal-for-provider)
- A hybrid model. Requires the software is installed on at least one computer (but wouldn't require a server) and syncs all data to the web so it can be access via the Internet as well. If Internet is down, computer-based software still works (check-in/classroom apps running on an iPad would not work).
- In addition to a check-in/out 'kiosk mode' like the others have, it also has a classroom kiosk where staff could select a student and then select an activity, what they ate, when they had a bottle, when they had a diaper change, etc. to automate the end of day reports home to parents. Look at some of the screenshots on this page: https://cakechildcare.com/cms/view/class-kiosk
- It is remarkably cheap... $4.99/mo. See here for more info: https://cakechildcare.com/cms/view/about#tabs-2
- OnCare (http://www.oncareservices.com/products/pricing/index.html)
- Similar functionality again.
- Interface is a mix of old & new, but fairly clean and towards the top of the list.
- Pricing is in line or cheaper than most others.
- Came recommended to us from another center.
- More than just one person on staff, but not a large company (4 employees). They outsource the actual software development to a company in India.
- LifeCubby (http://www.lifecubby.me/)
- Similar to many of the others, but strong focus on in-classroom functionality and parent-facing features.
- Can get a little pricey for larger centers.
- ProCareSoftware (http://www.procaresoftware.com/Products-Services/Pricing/v10-Pricing-(1).aspx)
- This appears to be the big hitter for on-premise solutions
- They offer a hosted model for an additional $20/mo, but the mechanism they use to offer it is a little out of the ordinary from a technology perspective (Cisco IPsec VPN client, which itself is outdated and an odd way to offer a hosted app).
- They have extensive software and hardware options. On the hardware side they offer custom fingerprint scanners, card readers, door control panels, touch screen panels, etc. for check-in/out. http://www.procaresoftware.com/Products-Services/Check-in-solutions.aspx
- OfficeCenter (http://www.etwebsite.com/prices.asp)
- Used at another center and recommended to us.
- Does not offer a hosted model. Must provide your own server hardware. I'd prefer not to go this route as it doesn't seem to be far and away better than any of the others listed here.