27 May 2019
SMS: Great for childcare, great for parents!
Like any industry, the childcare sector is subject to changing trends.
Greater competition and rising standards for childcare facilities are putting pressure on the industry. Expectations regarding communication are greater than ever before. Where once the fortnightly newsletter was adequate, parents and carers now want centres to use technology so they know what their child is doing throughout the day. Some centres even offer videostreaming of children for this purpose! This expectation of more instantaneous communication will only increase as tech-savvy millennials make up a larger proportion of parents.
Increased populations and women returning to work in greater numbers are driving the growth in the childcare industry. However, quality of service is still paramount in parents’ minds as they choose a centre for their child.
A robust communications strategy using SMS helps meet many of these challenges.
Keep up with regulatory compliance requirements
Childcare requires compliance with regulations in many areas, with information regularly required from parents, such as vaccination records, documents pertaining to childcare subsidies, and other forms. Send an SMS to remind parents quickly and easily which information is required when.
Maximise capacity. If a space becomes available – for example, when a child is away – offer the spot to another family via SMS, which will catch their attention in the busy rush of the morning. Parents can quickly confirm their acceptance, meaning you find out quickly when the place is filled.
Confirm via SMS which children are returning to care at the start of each year ahead of formal acceptance to help with planning.
Provide regular updates that keep busy parents informed
A good childcare service not only provides exceptional care but also conveys that to the child’s carers. Parents will love a quick text that confirms that an upset child has settled quickly and is enjoying their day. They will also appreciate a welcome text at the start of each year, or an enquiry about the child’s health if they have been away unwell.
Raising small children is a very busy time and parents will appreciate any efforts by their childcare centre to help them keep on top of things. Remind parents about incursions, public holiday closures, fundraisers, dress-up days, working bees, and other events.
Cut the burden of administration
Reduce the time your staff spend leaving voicemails or writing emails trying to contact parents.
In this case study, Central Kids Early Education (Central Kids) in New Zealand says this about SMS, “Using such a simple system has reduced workloads, especially the administrative burden on staff generating emails or letters to parents or chasing up responses. Staff are not required to make time-consuming phone calls to parents that may or may not be received or returned. A text ‘says it all’ and parents know why they are contacted when they receive them.”
Using SMS via a web portal offers even greater functionality. Messages can be sent to all families, or just those in a certain group. The portal also keeps a complete record of all communication, which shows both sent and received messages.
Parents love it!
Parents love any system that helps them stay organised and keeps them in touch with their children.
For Central Kids, proof of the system’s success is the feedback from the parents, with comments such as: “I feel more connected with the kindergarten and my child knowing they [the centre] can message me at any time”, “The reminders are invaluable”, “Quick and easy, love it”, and “I’m able to reply straight away”.
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