Operating a successful child care business means adopting a mindset for continuous improvement. You aim to deliver the highest quality service and are always looking for ways to do things better and more efficiently. You know that when it comes to their children, parents want nothing but the best and it’s your goal to deliver.
You’ve gone to great lengths creating systems, processes, and procedures to so your team knows exactly what you expect of them in order to deliver your high-quality service.
But how do you truly know if you and your team are doing your best?
- Is your team actually delivering on the best practices and brand standards that you’ve put in place?
- Is your center operating in compliance with licensing standards on a daily basis?
- Is your team reporting Health & Safety issues in a timely manner so they can be corrected, or do they tend to get forgotten in the chaos of the day?
- Are you up to date with emergency drills, cleaning schedules, and teacher training requirements?
- Is there a way to know any of this for sure, or do you just rely on your gut feelings?
In order to have an accurate answer for these questions (and more), you need to have a system in place for tracking team compliance with your expectations, and a plan to monitor and analyze the data you are tracking so you can see trends and make improvements.
Measure What Matters Most
Measuring what matters most starts with defining all of the important tasks and procedures that you want your team to accomplish on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. These defined processes and procedures become the best practices of your brand, created to ensure that you are consistently delivering quality.
The simplest way to measure what matters most is to create operational checklists for your best practices with simple instructions for each step in your processes.
You might have operational checklists for:
- Opening and Closing Procedures
- Food Safety
- Emergency Drills
- Cleaning Schedules
- Scan and Count the Children (at specific times/activities)
- Maintenance Tickets
- Track Teacher Training
You should also create checklists outlining key compliance standards required by your state licensing agency and accreditation partners. If you want to be sure that you won’t get dinged the next time you get a surprise visit, having your team run through a checklist on a weekly basis will allow you to find and correct an overlooked issue before your licensor pops in.
Some ideas for compliance checklists include:
- Establishing Best Practices with Curriculum
- State Licensing Rules and Regulations
- CACFP Processes
- CLASS Observation Tool – to be in compliance with Head Start Regulations
- General Quality Assurance Guidelines
- Other Training and Observation Tools or Assessments
The act of creating checklists is well and good for DEFINING the standards that you want your brand to uphold. The problem is that most centers rely on paper checklists. They ask their team to fill them out on a daily basis, and then they are either filed away in a binder or tossed in the bin because they’ve been completed. Many times, they aren’t even fully completed because no one is monitoring checklist completion.
Even if you are one of the programs that keeps your checklist history in a binder, how easily can you extract data from them? Can you easily see if there has been any improvement in a specific area or if there’s an issue that needs to be addressed? The truth is, it’s hard to pull any sort of information out of them.
This is where 1Place can step in to give insight and clarity regarding the daily operations of your business.
When you set up your checklists, best practices, licensing regulations (and more) in our cloud-based system, you’ll gain instant, real-time visibility as to how well your team is in compliance with your expectations. You don’t even have to be on site to do so. You can monitor each location remotely from your regional office, home office, or vacation destination – any place with an internet connection.
Our checklist software can also be used as a training tool. For each checklist item, you can upload documents, pictures, or videos with instructions, examples, and/or refreshers for exactly how to complete each task. If your employee is ever unsure about the “how to” or the expected end result, they can just click on the training video or example photo to know exactly what to do. This will help to ensure consistency in your best practices. This also could help if an issue ever came up with licensing; you’d have proof showing that you’ve trained your team properly and they are checking off that they’ve completed tasks according to the expectation.
One key aspect of creating a culture of continuous improvement is consistently monitoring that your expectations are being met. Some have termed this concept “Inspecting what you expect.” Unfortunately, some employees might try to cut corners if they feel like no one is checking their work. On the other hand, they will tend to meet expectations to a higher degree when they know they are being monitored.
With 1Place, your team will KNOW that you are regularly monitoring their activities. To increase the effectiveness of this concept, be sure to regularly communicate your findings to the team. When this is done in the spirit of continuous improvement (rather than in a punitive way), your team will likely place an elevated importance on compliance. A team that is bought-in to a culture of continuous improvement will embrace finding ways to do better and following high-quality standards.
This can be illustrated by center owner Christine McNally’s experience when she first implemented 1Place at her newly acquired school, Under the Magic Pine Tree, in Nevada.
“When we first got started with 1Place I did a quality review for the whole center and then averaged the checklists I had completed. I did one for the director that included the lobby, curb appeal and director responsibilities, one for each of our three classrooms and one for the kitchen. …. I had a lot of D and F staff that came with the business when we purchased the facility who fought me on quality and refused to change. At that time our center had a 51% in our quality review checklist average. Since then, I have all new staff and have trained all the staff using the 1Place checklists and implemented ALL of my new systems (there is now a system for nearly everything!).
Today I did another quality review and used the same checklists as before and averaged them all the same way. Today I am proud to say our center is 88.67% for our internal review! This is on top of the perfect semi-annual licensing visit. I am so ecstatic! My goal was to be at 85% and we passed it. Now I am going to raise my goal to 95%. And instead of completing this quality review every 6 months I am going to make it a quarterly review. I just cannot tell you how happy I am to have found 1Place! It has changed my business!”
-Christine McNally, Under the Magic Pine Tree, Nevada
Better Data Equals Better Decisions
One huge benefit of the 1Place system is the ability to see trends by center, classroom, and/or individual employee on a digital dashboard as data is collected over time. For example, you can drill down into the data when you find an issue. You might discover that your toddler classroom has a low compliance score, but when you look deeper you find that one particular employee rarely completes the cleaning and safety checklists. Knowing that the low score is tied to a particular staff member lets you know that you either need to provide additional training or replace that staff member.
Being able to drill down into your data will enable you to make better decisions. Regularly monitoring your digital dashboard allows you to track improvements and act on any red flags before they become big problems.
We recently interviewed Glynne Pascal, Quality Assurance Manager for Mid Florida Community Services at Head Start / Early Head Start, who uses 1Place Childcare to monitor several Head Start sites across the state.
“The dashboard with the graphs and the visuals – I can’t speak highly enough about it.”
Glynne mentioned they found several holes in the paper-based systems that they were previously using. She loved how they could get more detailed with 1Place and create customized intelligent work-flows. For example, if the physical layout of one site significantly differed from another, they could modify the order of the opening and closing checklists in a way that made sense for each site.
She also noted that real-time visibility meant that she was able to immediately act on any red flags or worrisome areas that she saw on the dashboard.
1Place also helps Glynne work with site supervisors to know when it’s time to retrain staff or teachers, and then go out to re-monitor and note the improvements. They strongly emphasize using the tool with the intention to improve the whole learning experience for children. It is meant to be supportive in nature for teachers (not punitive), helping everyone to objectively see how they are doing and where they can improve.
This can sometimes be hard to get teachers on board with if you aren’t operating in a positive workplace culture. However, when teachers are all bought-in to a culture of continuous improvement and feel like they are part of a quality program it can actually help with long-term staff retention.
Experience the Power of Digital Dashboards for Yourself.
Let us show you how 1Place Childcare can help you save time and money, provide real-time visibility, and improve efficiencies in your centers.
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