Reducing paperwork

Childcare professionals are busy people! You may be working long hours with children and preparing for the next day during the evenings. Being really clear on what you actually need to do, and what is not essential, will help you keep your head above water.

There's no doubt that the world is becoming more digital - and childcare is no exception. There are several ways that you can use online tools to help you manage the records you need to keep for your business. 

An online learning journal or accounting software, such as Kinderly Together, is a great option for saving you time on recording learning progress, accounts and invoicing. PACEY works in partnership with Kinderly in England, so you can be certain that the features are designed to work for all childcare settings. Plus, there's 20% off a subscription for PACEY members after your free trial.

You can see a handy guide of what to put in the learning journals – with examples of learning outcomes broken down by age group – here.

Read more about how one childminder is benefiting from using Kinderly Together.

You might also consider employing an accountant to do your business accounts, particularly if you run a larger setting.

Day in, day out

Maintaining a childcare setting can be hard work, so planning and organising your time is essential to help you keep on top of it.

Daily

  • Register
  • Children’s journals or daily diaries
  • Fridge and freezer temperatures
  • Recording allergens

Weekly

  • Test smoke alarms
  • Record any additional hours or fluctuations, make invoice adjustments.
  • Advertise any vacancies

Monthly

  • Check all invoices have been sent and all payments received
  • Look ahead to new starters and planned leavers and do necessary admin
  • Undertake relevant CPD - have you investigated PACEY's free training for members yet?
  • Practise your emergency evacuation drill
  • Update your resources wish list
  • Update your records of spend: mileage, receipts, food shopping, outings. The PACEY accounts book can help.

Quarterly

  • Review accounts and other essential records
  • Review existing and new advertising options
  • Check and update your useful contacts, including Local Authority Designated Officer (LADO) or Safeguarding Officer details

Termly

  • Newsletters home, sharing news of what you've been up to in the setting, and looking ahead to planned activities.
  • Planning and progress reports
  • Submit funded children information and invoices to your local authority
  • Seasonal risk assessment. Please see the risk assessment template (England) and risk assessment guidance (Wales)
  • Emergency contact update reminders
  • Identify and review your training needs and plan your CPD and those of any staff
  • Dietary requirements and menu planning

Annually

  • Review toys and resources in use and consider how they support children's learning
  • Complete your annual accounts and tax return and do a comparison of year on year accounts, including profit and loss and annual projections. Review competitors' fees and the blend of Early Years provision in your area. Take a look at the national picture and Early Years workforce as a whole to help inform your business planning. 
  • Renew your membership and insurance with PACEY
  • ​Renew your registration with Ofsted or CIW and the DBS update service. Remember as well to include family members, including youngsters as they reach 16
  • Renew registration with the Information Commissioner's Office
  • Renew your car and home insurance and MOT - childminder specific
  • Plan holiday dates for the coming year and let parents know - childminder specific
  • Review the impact of the rising cost of living and inflation on your business.
  • Evaluate the benefits of and renew annual memberships – Merlin pass, cash and carry card etc.

Items on a rolling schedule – to be diarised with individual reminders

  • Review contracts of all families (usually annually based on when they started with you)
  • Renew your first aid training (usually every three years)
  • Children’s birthdays
  • Health and safety checklist to record dates of purchase and expiry of equipment and toys, for example, highchairs, travel cots, car seats, pushchairs, reins, play equipment
  • First aid box contents and medications expiry dates
  • Fire blanket

Don't forget, though, that an annual checklist is no replacement for keeping on top of maintaining your setting and paperwork in line with your risk assessments and incidents as they occur - policies and procedures are working documents and must be adapted in line with your setting and how it's used. 

Think really carefully about what you keep on paper - a computer can safely contain thousands of files worth of records, freeing up your shelf space. Bear in mind the requirements for retaining records to meet insurance obligations. You'll also need to be sure that you can get hold of your registers etc in the case of an emergency evacuation.

Get everyone involved

If you work with staff, involve them with planning. For example, put a planning timetable up on the noticeboard and get everyone to fill in ideas for that month’s theme.

If you send a newsletter, consider using a newsletter hosting site such as GroupSpaces or MailChimp. They are easy-to-use, quicker and often look more professional than using a Word or Publisher document. Read more about sending effective emails in the Marketing section of Business Smart.

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