Scheduling and Pay Calculations in Daycare Facilities: Easy as ABC?

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In our modern world, where most women are increasingly taking part in the workforce, daycare centres become fundamental to a healthy work-life balance; without them, some of us could not make ends meet. Daycare employees have the great responsibility of taking care of our youngest citizens, preparing them for school and life. MyTimeNews has recently investigated the issue of workforce fairness in scheduling and pay calculations within the American and Canadian childcare sector, to shed light on daycare professionals’ work conditions. We offer solutions in hope to optimise or improve their time tracking and management.

Portrait of daycare centres in the United States and Canada

In 2013, the US Census Bureau published a study stating that about 37,7 million of American children (ages 0-14) were in regular daycare (provided by either their relatives, organised facilities, parents, other nonrelatives, or other arrangements). Of this number, 38%  of them were taken care by organised facilities, such as: daycare or child care centres, nursery schools, preschools, and Federal Head Start programs. Also, the study demonstrates that nearly 2,2 million Americans work in child care facilities for around 15 million kids under the age of 6.

According to The Moving Child Care Forward Project, in 2016, 2,076,240 Canadian children were aged between 0-6. In a recent publication by Statistics Canada, it is estimated that more than 54% of Canadian parents use childcare services for their children between 0-4. In 2012, there were 503,229 regulated Canadian daycare centres for 0-5 year children, including both full-day and part-day spaces, which accommodate 22% of Canadian children from 0-5 years.

With such an important role in our society, what are the main issues and concerns in making sure that a daycare offers ideal and convenient  schedules to accommodate its employees’ diverse lifestyles and needs?  How can childcare facilities optimise their staff's time tracking to help them provide excellent care to the youngest among us while also adapting to the many unforeseen circumstances and last minute changes needed?

Main Scheduling Issues: Fairness in Time and Tasks & Pay Calculation

Working in a day care can be stressful as it requires irregular hours and last minute shift modifications. Fairness in time and task repartition is one of the main issues that daycare educators and assistants face on a daily basis. In the majority of the cases, daycare managers or head educators create schedules manually with pen and paper, and/or spreadsheets.  The scheduled tasks should be distributed fairly among the daycare employees, depending on their hierarchy and availability. The same fairness should also be implemented in recording the employees' breaks and lunch hours, which are often staggered and irregular. Many regular duties (e.g., caring for the kids, changing dippers, etc.) and sporadic tasks (e.g., cooking, cleaning, waiting for parents who are late to pick up their children, etc.) performed in a daycare require different shifts, depending on the kids' age. This leads us to the following question: How do daycares manage to create such irregular schedules? The larger the daycare, the more complex the scheduling.

Many daycare schedules are structured around a series of shift rotations. For example, on Week 1, Educator A starts working at 7:00am, Educator B at 8:00am, while Educator C begins her shifts at 9:00am.  On Week 2, these 3 educators rotate their starting time, and, in some cases, the age group they are attending to, which requires different tasks and schedules. Also, on some occasions, educators need to stay an extra hour because of an unpredicted last-minute task or shift change. They would often forget to inform their manager of this change of shift, or when they do, the manager would forget to log it, resulting in the employee working for free.  On last minute sick days and other unforeseen circumstances that require replacement, the manager has to manually call substitute educators or teachers. This process is time-consuming, tedious and, stressful. When replacement is not possible, kids from different age groups merge into one class, which increases the workload for the educator in charge. How do daycares keep track of all these irregular scheduling components to maintain fairness in pay calculations?

When shifts display irregularities in terms of length, scheduled breaks, unpaid sick days, unpredictable tasks, etc., not only would pay calculations become more complex and time consuming to manage, but they would also have the very high potential of becoming unfair and inaccurate, consequently penalising the more accommodating and committed employees. Is there a way to keep track of all of these shift irregularities and particularities in an efficient, affordable, easy, and optimised manner? Are there any tools available on the market to allow daycares to keep track of their employees' real working hours with efficiency and precision ?

MyTimeNews believes that a dynamic, flexible tool in the form of an application is the solution to save American and Canadian daycares time and money, while insuring fairness in scheduling and pay calculations. Take a look at our recent post, Optimise Your Work Flow with Intelligent Scheduling Tools: A Review, for a list of intelligent scheduling tools available on the market. These state-of-the-art apps present an excellent solution for this pressing issue experienced by many American and Canadian daycare employees.