Choosing the right software can make or break your business in this progressive, highly competitive time. This stands true even for childcare organizations, like daycare centers, nurseries, preschools, and similar child-centered facilities.
Technology helps in bridging the gap between children and parents, keeping them safe and connected while separated. This way, the child care centers can focus exclusively on the children since they can rely on their childcare management software to take care of the rest.
The development and progress the childcare management software has experienced shaped the new childcare era. It's not just another app that looks good on paper but will actually make the parents' and administrators' lives more complicated. On the contrary, the right software improves crucial areas like handling office administration, attendance, staff management, analytics, and physical security even.
As with child care systems around the globe, not all childcare management software are the same. They all come with a variety of features, focusing on the ones that best serve their market. Still, most of the more prominent ones boast similar features:
- Staff scheduling and management
- Classroom occupancy management
- Contactless check-in and -out
- Attendance tracking
- Billing and payments
- Daily reports
- Development reports
- Instant messaging
- Photos and videos sharing
- Child profiles
Deciding on the right solution can be challenging with so many childcare management software options, especially in the not-so-tech-prone sectors. Getting distracted by the bells and whistles or feeling a bit threatened by the tech-talk is easy.
Children are our future, and we must ensure they get all the quality care we can offer. Before we dive deeper into the different solutions, let's look at the childcare management software market.
The Childcare Management Software Market
As care centers are trying to get back to normal, we recognize the COVID-19 pandemic facilitated a dramatic shift in the childcare management landscape. In March 2020, many child care organizations were forced to close temporarily, and some had to close permanently.
While most child care centers have reopened, the virus is still a major concern. So are maintaining enrollment and staffing. Like many other businesses, chances are not every child center will prevail. That’s why monitoring attendance rates and keeping up with the latest childcare industry trends is essential.
This turbulent environment stimulated the development of the childcare management software market growth. According to Technavio Research Analysis, it is expected to increase by USD 62.21 million (from 2019 to 2024). The market’s growth momentum will likely accelerate at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of almost 7% (2021–2025).
Childcare Market Size
The U.S. childcare market was valued at USD 54.3 billion in 2019 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 3.9% from 2020 to 2027. The increased number of working parents, hence the subsequent demand for child care, is expected to drive the child care market in the years to come.
A new BestColleges survey reported that inadequate child care access has hindered 32% of parents/guardians achieve their career goals and prevented or postponed some career-related activities for more than half of them (56%). Two-fifths of the respondents (40%) reported having to sacrifice something in their life because of it.
The rising awareness about the link between parental employment, economic growth, and access to childcare is expected to boost the child care centers' availability.
The increased number of daycare and early education centers in the US contributed to the dominion of these segments in the market.
Pre-pandemic, the demand for early education was quickly growing, with 1.4 million and 3.7 million students enrolled in prekindergarten and kindergarten in 2019.
Childcare Market Trends
The child care market is expected to grow by USD 153.63 bn between 2020 and 2025 at a CAGR of 12.78%, according to Technavio. Factors like low enrolments in developing countries will hinder while the growing parent awareness and the rising number of nuclear families will drive the market growth.
North America, led by the US and Canada, will be the dominating region, expected to account for 35% of the market growth during this period.
Given the market fragmentation, the vendors are deploying various growth strategies to stay competitive. Choosing the right childcare management software or upgrading the existing one can be an excellent growth opportunity.
Childcare Management Software Players
North America accounted for the largest child care management software market share. Here are the top global childcare management software market players sorted by market share:
- Lifecubby (~12% market share)
- Procare Software (~12% market share)
- EZ Child Track (~10% market share)
- Jackrabbit Tech (~10% market share)
- iCare Software (~10% market share)
- Childcare Sage (~8% market share)
- Hi Mama (~8% market share)
Childcare Management Software Map
A different ranking seems to emerge when childcare management software are plotted against usability and customer satisfaction. Sandbox, Famly, EZ Care, and TimeSavr are at the top.
15 Best Childcare Management Software 2022 List
Child care centers can't afford to run without reliable childcare management software. The plethora of options on the market make deciding on the right one for your organization more challenging.
To help you in the process, Kisi made a thorough childcare management software list. Scroll down to read the short description, reviews, and pricing for each.
Kangarootime cloud-based childcare software allows for connectivity and communication between care centers. It enables care centers to focus on growing their business by offering in-depth reporting, automatic billing and invoicing, an all-in-one parent app, and much more.
Aa Kangarootime’s CEO Scott Wayman says, “Kangarootime is the premium solution for childcare centers, offering sophisticated features for every type of childcare provider without sacrificing hands-on customer support. The newly-redesigned software comes with every feature childcare providers need to thrive”.
This easy-to-use platform makes the care center’s staff’s jobs easier while saving administrators hours weekly and increasing parent communication.
Thanks to the Kisi integration, Kangarootime also creates a safe and synchronous security system within care facilities. You can read about Kisi’s integration with Kangarootime here.
Kangarootime Positive Reviews
“I have loved Kangarootime from day one. How can we pick what we like best when there are so many amazing benefits. The parent portability, ease of communication, signing children in and out, and billing for tuition are our favorites. We also love the rooming feature because our facility is unique in that we provide therapy services onsite. As a result of the rooming feature, therapists can pull kids out of their classrooms and "room them" to the therapy room, which helps keep track of location of all children.”
Kangarootime Negative Reviews
“We notice that, at certain times in the afternoon, it seems to run pretty slow and it takes a long time for the pages to load.”
The Kangarootime pricing starts at $8 per class. They also offer a 90 days free trial and a customized enterprise package.
HiMama is a cloud-based child care management solution that helps childcare providers streamline operations, delight families, and improve program quality!
Communicating with parents, center management, automated billing and payments, running assessments, staff training and development, and creating lesson plans are just some of HiMama's childcare app useful features.
Parents and teachers can work together to support children's development at home and the care center using HiMama's parent communication, child portfolios, and observations and updates.
They also offer a bunch of quality resources in their HiMama Academy, curriculum planning, and educator resources to help care providers grow and develop.
HiMama Positive Reviews
“We have been using HiMama for a couple years now and have loved it. Our parents love the pictures and information they receive. We love that we're able to add the standards to our lessons so our families can see what we are working on with their children. The standards are already programmed into the software. We love this program at our childcare center. They have more than stepped up to help us during COVID and families being home. They now provide daily lessons to send to our families, more data features to store temperatures, and they support team is beyond compare.”
HiMama Negative Reviews
“I would really like to see improvement on the milestones tracking. It doesn't let you get as detailed as needed. It will let me choose the name of the milestone that we're working on (like fine motor skills), but doesn't get down to the details of what specifically I saw that day. It also takes so many clicks to track something that we just don't even bother. Luckily, we don't have so many kids that it's hard to remember who is able to do what.”
HiMama is highly customizable, and its pricing seems to vary depending on the care center's size and needs. You can request a quote here.
Sawyer is a cloud-based camp and activity management solution that offers booking and scheduling services for children’s after-school class providers, camps, and events. Sawyer aims to help businesses streamline their tasks and workflow by keeping customer information and business tools in one place.
Scheduling, payment processing, real-time reporting, class management, software integrations, and customer experience are some features of this all-in-one solution. Sawyer also supports providers in growing their business by joining the Sawyer Marketplace for children’s activities, camps, and classes.
Sawyer Positive Reviews
“We love using Sawyer! It is easy to set up our programs and registration for our programs. Parents love the UI and it is optimized for mobile, making it very user friendly and easy to register their children for our programs from their phones. We love that our coaches can easily check rosters from their mobile phones and are able to track attendance. Great product. Excellent support. Highly recommend!”
Sawyer Negative Reviews
“The hardest part is not having quick access to a live person when I am having an issue that is not on your training rubric. When money is involved, the anxiety gets high. So, having customer service people we may actually talk to would be my biggest hope. Or not waiting 24 hours for a response for help.”
Sawyer offers 4 pricing plans based on the current and potential business needs. Small businesses can choose the affordable 'Launch' plan for $109 per month if billed annually. You can check the whole feature list or ask for an enterprise quote here.
Famly is an all-in-one, cloud-based childcare management solution for childcare centers, daycares, preschools, and kindergartens. It helps staff manage day-to-day operations such as child check-in, activity tracking, payments, invoicing, and parent communication.
Famly's primary focus is parent communication, so end-users can send instant messages, pictures, and updates. This is also supported by their parent app centered around a unique personal news feed.
They support their customers by having a person at the end of the support phone line and a training academy to explain their features.
Famly also offers over 300 articles, guides, and webinars, covering various topics. They ensure their customers' opinions are heard by providing feedback sessions and a specially designed roadmap.
Famly Positive Reviews
“Really positive. Easy to use, invoicing no longer the slog that it was. Staff like the learning journeys. Increased parental engagement. More or less everything in one place for me in my role, for parents and for staff.”
Famly Negative Reviews
“The financial package is over complicated and it logs out too quickly”
Famly offers three pricing plans with various features for care centers to choose from depending on their setting. Their 'Starter' pack is £69 per month. A free package suitable for smaller settings and childminders is available and includes the Activity Library, learning journals, parent and staff communication, cohort tracking, and daily logs.
Parent is a childcare solution that allows childcare center management and streamlining administrative tasks while keeping parents connected to their children throughout the day.
In terms of communication, Parent offers instant messaging, daily news, and calendar. Features like room planning and overview, staff scheduling, daily reports, and inspirations library are set to minimize the administrative paperwork. The child's progress is tracked with the help of observations, curriculums, and EYFS. Billing and invoicing is covered with product management, schedule periodic plans, customize packages, and subsidies.
For the care centers looking for in-depth analysis and reporting, take a look at Parent’s advanced features: Surveys, check-in app, activities, document center, meal planning, and holiday feedback.
Parent Positive Reviews
“Parent is a great communication tool for nurseries and parents. It is making the process of sharing information with families so much easier and faster. There are a lot of great features on the app. The daily reports, event planning, the calendar, etc. The more I work with it the more hidden treasures I find. One just really needs the training to understand all the features and be able to use them.”
Parent Negative Reviews
“The most important "SEARCH" is missing from the app. The app is also not user friendly for staff to share data among themselves. They have no options to share information, articles etc without enabling the send message option( which also gives parents to send messgae directly). The latest updates have been really annoying and has led to lot of disappointment from staff and parents.”
Parent's pricing policy is based on the number of children. You can easily calculate your Parent pricing here. They also offer a 14-days free trial with unlimited access to all Parent App functionalities without a contract or credit card.
Xplor is a cloud-based solution designed to help child care centers handle student enrollments, subsidy management, session bookings, and other administrative processes on a centralized platform.
The 'Office' module presents the highest-rated child care subsidy software, helping with enrolments, digital attendance, and CCS submission. Professionals can monitor children's activities, learning, and safety using the 'Playground module.' It covers observations, programming and planning, nappy and sleep checks as well. While the 'Home' product supports parents with bookings, photos and videos, paying statements, and provides them with key health information about their children.
Xplor Positive Reviews
“Xplor has allowed our center to better communicate with parents via the app as well as control our finances. It has a been a great experience. I like that this child care software has everything we need to help parents feel more secure with leaving their child at our center every day. All of our contacts/updates are in this system as well as forms such as evacuation forms, medical forms, etc.”
Xplor Negative Reviews
“The softwares inability to correctly estimate families child care subsidy for more than 2 weeks in advance.”
Care centers can choose from Xplor's 'Office' (starting at $169 a month) and 'Playground' (starting at $50 a month) products. The 'Home' product comes free with any Xplor plan.
ChildcareCRM is the leading provider of cloud-based CRM software for childcare organizations. It helps childcare companies grow by capturing and managing leads, so they can effectively move through their enrollment funnel.
Using Childcare CRM's digital forms (ChildcareFORMS) for daycare registration, wait lists, etc., childcare providers don't have to waste time on paperwork, like sending reminders or deciphering handwriting. ChildcarePAY, an add-on to ChildcareFORMS, provides a smooth experience for parents to pay fees online.
ChildcareCRM Positive Reviews
“Childcare CRM ensures that prospective leads don't fall through the cracks. It helps our team stay on task and move each family through the pipeline at a reasonable pace.”
ChildcareCRM Negative Reviews
“sometimes it doesn't always sync and there are sometimes problems when parents send the forms and they we are not able to print them. It looks on our side that they have not been filled out but on the parent's side they are filled out”
ChildcareCRM's CRM is $150 per month per location and is suitable for 1-2 centers. You can call for a quote if you are running more than 2 centers or if you are interested in their ‘Forms’ or ‘Pay’ product.
Brightwheel is a quick-to-set, easy-to-use, all-in-one platform built to save childcare organizations and their staff time. This complete preschool and childcare management software system integrates automated billing and payments, real-time communication, center management, lesson plans, attendance tracking, and daily activity report.
Brightwheel Positive Reviews
“Brightwheel has been a game changer for us. The ability to pick and choose who we bill and the ability to print daily sheets. As well as the kiosk to check in and out. I loved that brightwheel was willing to customize for our small center and our unique situation. It was not just a one fits all. They listened to my situation and problem solved how to make it work here.”
Brightwheel Negative Reviews
“Brightwheel is great for small centers but not centers that are continually growing. Receiving payments had been very difficult. Using the billing for parents has not been seamless.”
Brightwheel needs additional info to provide pricing. You can request a quote here.
Procare Solutions is an established child care management software supporting child care businesses for over 30 years.
Offering features like contactless check-in and -out, integrated tuition collection, and business management tools, it lets childcare providers focus on what matters most.
Childcare organizations can automate billing and payment collection through Procare’s payment processing platform, which includes next business day funding, fee transparency, and live support.
Parents can enjoy the child care mobile app and stay connected on activities, milestones, curricula, contactless check-in/out, etc. The staff can easily use the app to share milestones in real-time to engage parents in their children’s ongoing development.
Procare Positive Reviews
“I like that everything I could possibly need to run a childcare setting is found under one app. As records need to be kept procare has a spot and record keeping is easy breazy! It's easy to maneuver around and easy to teach others to use as well. Our company switched over to this program over a year ago and using it has never been an issue for me!”
Procare Negative Reviews
“Limited functionality and very basic. Even with a DEBIT card, Procare charges a 2% transaction fee. Can't set up an autodraft from the parent portal and therefore can't set the date of when you would like an autodraft to be completed. No support resources from the parent portal. The parent portal is VERY basic and there isn't much functionality. We can't add or remove contacts; I guess the daycare center has to do that.”
Procare states to offer an all-in-one price regardless of the number of children. You can request the pricing here.
Educa is child portfolio software and an end-to-end educational solution. It is a secure online Learning Story platform that helps teachers in early childhood settings share children’s learning with families on all devices.
The result is an authentic assessment, written in language everyone involved can understand – families, children, and teaching peers. The Learning Story process creates thoughtful observation and reflection into a teacher’s day, shining a light on each child’s unique story. It leads to a better understanding of each child, teaching decisions, and authentic collaboration with families.
Educa is a full data cycle platform, helping care centers streamline documentation and create a circle of learning.
Educa Positive Reviews
“Incessant and time consuming paperwork and record keeping are dramatically and easily reduced. Staff are extremely helpful and pleasant.
Ease of use for documentation and sharing with parents and other educators. Integration with existing business methods was a non event because this easily replaced the numerous other things I was using.”
Educa Negative Reviews
“Only maximum on one video file per child story. Story editor is terrible when it comes to placement of media (video & picture).”
Educa offers per child pricing for access to all features. You can request pricing here.
Tadpoles is a cloud-based solution designed to help childcare centers streamline various administrative processes, manage their program's operations, and stay connected with families.
Professionals can use the Tadpoles® dashboard to receive real-time updates on classroom counts, attendance, and family communication. They can also send daily reports, photos, videos, notes, school closure notifications, and emergency information to families via email or text without third-party services. The administrative dashboard supports creating custom billing plans, sharing invoices with families, and reporting on revenue.
Tadpoles' functionalities allow teachers to spend more time with children and less time focusing on attendance, lesson plans, and filling out daily reports.
Tadpoles Positive Reviews
“Tadpoles really makes it easy to communicate with parents of their child's school day quickly and efficiently! I can jump on and log information or follow up with school start time concerns or just let them know what they are learning!”
Tadpoles Negative Reviews
“The interface is not the most impressive. It is very simple, and it can also be a little confusing to edit and enter times for naps or diaper changes.”
You can start a free trial on Tadpoles, or contact sales for pricing details.
Sandbox is an all-in-one child care software helping thousands of daycare owners and educators simplify their daily tasks. It allows care professionals to manage their daycare and grow their business while engaging the parents.
Daycares can go paperless because Sandbox lets them electronically track attendance and manage information, like child and staff profiles and online registration. Features like classroom activities, photos and updates, and instant messaging keep parents engaged and well informed.
Sandbox also automates the daycare's time-consuming tasks like invoicing, subsidy tracking, and tax receipts, supports online payments, and provides detailed reporting.
Sandbox Positive Reviews
“Wonderful, reliable, easy-to-use software overall! Sandbox Childcare Management software is great all around! From the web-based system, to the easy attendance and billing, to helpful reports, Sandbox truly excels in childcare support.”
Sandbox Negative Reviews
“No ability for parents to respond to posts made by teachers therefore very hard to receive feedback on our programs. App often glitches. Updates often don't work (released before bugs are worked out).”
Sandbox's pricing depends on the number of children. The plans start at $59 per month for 0-24 children. All plans include all features as well as unlimited users and devices, customer support, and automated data backup.
Parenta is a specialist in all things related to childcare in the Early Years. They are one of the UK’s leading providers of apprenticeships in childcare and are constantly expanding their range of nursery software products.
Parenta’s software solutions include: Abacus nursery management software, parent portal, the daily diary - Dayshare, fee collection, Footsteps 2 EYFS tracker. All these products are included in their all-in-one, easy-to-use, cloud-based Early Years software package.
Parenta has no setup fee and only one pricing plan. The monthly price is £120 if paid monthly and £99 when paid yearly.
KidKare is a cloud-based childcare management solution designed to help daycare centers and sponsors manage operations related to meal planning, admissions, and Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) claim processing. The three solutions KidKare offers are the KidKare Food program, KidKare Accounting, and KidKare sponsors.
The Food program makes independent centers' tracking and paperwork easier regarding menu planning, attendance, meal tracking, monthly CACFP, etc.
KidKare Accounting is built specifically for home childcare providers. It offers food program management, no-hassle expense tracking, paperless billing, track income, daycare experts, and access on all devices.
KidKare for sponsors aims to empower sponsor teams and participants with electronic CACFP recordkeeping.
Kidkare Positive Reviews
“I truly enjoy using kidkare. It's very user friendly and helps me keep track of what the kids ate, who's all here, and the monthly calendar is a great tool too. I was a little intimidated by it at first but one I learned the ropes it was easy!”
Kidkare Negative Reviews
“It can rearrange the list either alphabetically, or date of birth, or the created date. Can be made more user friendly. It often has technical issues and takes time to load. A couple of times caused error, which delayed the payment.”
Both KidKare Food Program for Centers and KidKare Accounting are priced $99 per month for a 12-month commitment.
Smartcare is a cloud-based childcare solution that simplifies the process of managing a daycare, preschool, and other programs. It helps care center owners and directors develop deeper relationships with both children and parents, ensuring long-lasting collaboration and a successful business model.
The mobile-friendly Smartcare software allows flexibility through data access, real-time reporting, parent communication, kiosk check-in and -out, attendance tracking, and detailed reports. Staff key-tag time clock, secure data management, managed class ratios, secure record keeping, store medical records, and automated tuition billing are the features that boost safety and security. When it comes to convenience, there are various payment options, online billing, agency payments, tracking prospective families, and a multi-site dashboard.
Smartcare Positive Reviews
“I have tried 4 different childcare software programs over the past 20 years, and Smartcare continues to be the best choice for my childcare needs. Smartcare automatically calculates daily fees based on children's attendance which is critical for me. It also keeps great track of employee's timecards which makes payroll a breeze for me.
Billing, admissions, not user friendly, can only be used with Chrome-many parents use Safari or other web browsers. Very slow if any turn around on development ticket items, so many glitches, not user friendly, not capable of billing for the current month.”
Smartcare Negative Reviews
“very difficult to use, information is disorganized. Simple tasks are super hard.”
Smartcare offers 4 different pricing plans: In-Home Centers, Smartcare, Preschool2Me, and Smartcare + Preschool2Me. You can request pricing here.
How Can Daycare Centers and Preschools Choose the Best Childcare Management Software?
Having too many choices can be a double-edged sword. Without much differentiation and a plethora of available childcare management software options, you might find yourself postponing the buying decision or sticking with the old ways. The positive side of the many alternatives on the market is that you have the opportunity to choose one that best suits your specific business needs and budget.
Most childcare management software aim to help care centers focus on their core - taking care of the children. They support this by automating the basic administrative operation, improving parent communication, and stimulating development.
So what is the best childcare management software? That depends on your care center's size, needs, and budget. They all have pros and cons but will streamline your care center management. Having that added layer of security, like mobile door access control, is a game changer for us. Parents like to keep up with their children daily while having the peace of mind that they are safe and secure at the daycare facility.
How Can Software Providers Win the Childcare Management Software Race?
Thriving in the saturated childcare management software market is not a walk in the park. Competing on price is rarely a good idea. Differentiating from your competition, on the other hand, can facilitate your solution’s growth trajectory.
Adding value always helps in retaining current and attracting new customers. And when it comes to children, there’s nothing more important than safety and security. Have you considered incorporating an access control solution like Kisi into your offer? Contact us to learn more.