Owning a small daycare or childcare center can be chaotic. Between planning activities, making sure your kids are safe, and keeping up with Department of Human Services Regulations, it can often feel like the work never stops. Add bookkeeping to the mix, and it may often feel impossible to stop work at a reasonable time at the end of the day.
If your accounting is keeping you at your childcare center late, here are 4 tips that can maximize your efficiency and ensure you have time for your own family at the end of the day.
1. Make sure you’re compliant with DHS regulations
Whether you offer family child care or operate a childcare center, you have important legal obligations to meet. These FAQs for Child Care Center Providers can help you ensure you’re compliant with Minnesota regulations. Staying up to date with these regulations will eliminate bookkeeping headaches down the road.
If you serve families who qualify for Minnesota’s Child Care Assistance Program (CCAP), make sure you have this clearly documented in your books. Keep in mind that families’ copays can vary drastically depending on their income level.
2. Separate billing by child age and type of care
If you serve a variety of age ranges, you probably have a graduated tuition system that may include infants, toddlers, and school-aged children. Make sure that these different groups are separated in your billing system.
If your childcare center offers summer camps or other short-term programs, you’ll want to designate a separate bookkeeping system for this in advance. Keep in mind that offering these short-term arrangements can be profitable if you have the space and resources to hire seasonal staff, but that it may detract from your capacity to accept families with year-round needs.
3. Don’t forget to bill for extras
You bill for childcare, of course. But if you care for younger children, do you have a regular system for billing for extras like diapers? If your center offers seasonal programs like summer camps, do you bill for activities like field trips, or special supplies? Make sure fluctuations in expenses are absorbed into your billing.
4. Consider hiring an accountant
No one knows better than you do that caring for children is a time and energy consuming task. You need to be able to devote your time to the children in your care, not crunching numbers. And since childcare providers are often open for extended hours, it’s especially important that you can go home to your own family when you shut your doors for the day.
You don’t have to do it alone. And when it comes to accounting, in the end, it’s often less expensive not to. The right accountant can help you stay up to date with tax code and help you avoid costly penalties. Since accountants deal with numbers every day, they can also quickly spot trends in your bookkeeping, and help you keep track of your spending and cut costs.
A monthly accountant can provide the ongoing, real-time advice to help you make smart financial decisions throughout your fiscal year. If you go this route, though, it's important to find a provider with expertise in the childcare industry.
By hiring an accountant, you’ll be able to plan for a successful financial future. Plus, you'll have more time to devote to the children you care for, your own family, and other things you enjoy.