Kidz, Ink Academy of Early Academics operates a number of enriching learning centers across Delaware with a focus on preparing young children for kindergarten.
President Aretha Kitson started Kidz, Ink with her husband, Phil, more than 20 years ago with a vision to create an elite program that was affordable and accommodating to all work schedules.
Today, Kidz, Ink delivers quality learning experiences to 700 students, and employs 110 staff across five centers in Bear, Dover and Smyrna.
With expansion in the pipeline, Aretha knew their traditional compliance management processes had become inefficient – and increasingly expensive to maintain.
Paper forms used for numerous compliance checks at each center were becoming cumbersome and Aretha found herself continuously re-ordering costly carbon-copy forms.
“I was spending up to $1000 a month on printing. We were working with lots of paper as Center Directors were filling out numerous forms and sending them to me via scans or faxes.”
If a maintenance issue was identified, staff would log the issue in a binder and wait until the organization’s maintenance person visited their center to resolve it.
“He never knew whether something needed to be fixed immediately or if it could wait,” says Aretha.
Childcare compliance made easy
Kidz, Ink now uses 1Place’s online compliance software in each of its learning centers to carry out daily closing and cleaning, monthly curriculum and administration checks such as fire drills and lock-down procedures.
The software is used by staff at various levels of the organization, from teachers and maintenance people ‘on the ground’ to floating Curriculum Coordinators, and executive management.
“Our executive management all enjoy using 1Place. It’s so much quicker than paper processes.”
1Place’s ability to tier user access means Aretha only receives high-level alerts and organization-wide reports, while her Center Directors receive notifications relevant to their center.
Now, if a maintenance issue is identified during a regular check, 1Place prompts the staff member to log a ticket that checks off all relevant details and includes a photo, which is emailed immediately to the maintenance person.
“Staff choose the level of urgency so our maintenance man knows how soon he needs to get to the centers. That’s awesome,” says Aretha.
She says the photo feature easily illustrates the issue “so he knows what he’s in for.” It is used again once the issue is fixed as a record on the ticket.
Identifying trends through 1Place reporting
Each and every injury that occurs is also logged through the app. Staff are prompted to include all relevant details such as time of day, and which part of the body was injured.
Once completed, the Center Director receives an instant notification, and parents sign-off the incident via the app before receiving an emailed summary.
“Being able to circle where the injury happened is great, and the parents love it. Sometimes they would lose their carbon copy so having it emailed to them is making everybody’s life easier,” says Aretha.
Every week, 1Place generates a consolidated report to Aretha of all injuries across the organization.
“This is data I’ve never seen before,” she says.
“Now I can identify trends, and drill down to see when and where a lot of incidents are occurring. It means we can then talk about how we can make the center safer.”
The reporting recently identified a classroom with a high number of biting incidents, which signaled the need for an additional teacher. Biting incidents decreased as a result.
“I love the reports, because you don’t know if you’re not there. They give you a window into what’s happening, which helps us plan and train our staff better.”
Compliance beyond licensing requirements
Kidz, Ink’s focus goes beyond childcare, with an overarching vision to prepare children for kindergarten.
“We use a curriculum called Core Knowledge, which is an excellent curriculum. Our goal is to get the children reading or at least 90 percent ready, if we can, for kindergarten,” says Aretha.
They are also a five-star provider within the Delaware Stars for Early Success program, which is the state’s Quality Rating and Improvement System (QRIS) for early care and education programs.
Programs achieve up to five stars as they commit to, improve and maintain high-quality childcare.
“The [Delaware Stars] program needs to see that we’ve been in the classrooms observing interactions and environment, and we need to have proof of that to get our star rating.”
Soon, Kidz, Ink will incorporate observations into their 1Place software, which will allow their curriculum coordinators to check classroom environments more efficiently – and automatically record the data.
“1Place will help us not only meet licensing requirements but maintain our star-five level,” says Aretha.
She says the efficiencies gained by using 1Place has allowed staff to spend more time with students, and give Center Directors more time to mentor their teachers.