Posted by ICCRR in News on 6/8/2023

HHS increases support for business coaching tied to automation with extended payments for monthly CCMS subscription fees & additional funding to meet technology needs.

June 8, 2023

Child Care Management System (CCMS)

On October 1, 2022, Early Childhood Iowa and the Iowa Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) launched a strategy to help providers improve child care business operations. The strategy pairs financial management coaching through the Child Care Collaborative of Iowa and the use of a Child Care Management System (CCMS). Full use of a CCMS can significantly reduce provider time spent on administrative tasks. In just eight months since launching the strategy, hundreds of Iowa providers have already taken advantage of financial management coaching and the state-funded monthly subscription fees for either Playground or brightwheel. Providers are amazed with software features that save time with enrollment, invoicing, fee collection, family communication, and more. Each CCMS continues to add and improve features each month to support child care businesses.

In February, we launched a data bridge between each CCMS product (brightwheel and Playground) and Iowa’s child care subsidy data system, KinderTrack (KT). This data bridge allows child care providers to submit child time and attendance data by ‘clicking a button’ in their CCMS to receive reimbursement for children/families receiving Child Care Assistance (CCA). When talking with child care providers about the connection to KT, they are bursting with excitement about how easy the process is and how much time they are saving each month. 

Following are a few examples of what we are hearing from child care providers who are using either brightwheel or Playground.

  • “Implementing a child care management system has had such a positive impact on my family childcare business. My parents love the digital sign in/out and the automatic payments, while I love that the reports are easily managed and business records and client files are all digitized. Family childcare homes should definitely utilize this benefit!” – Natalie Short, Natalie’s Playhouse, Child Development Home – Category B, Ames
  • “It [CCMS] is basically a lifesaver. I don’t know how we functioned before. We could have been doing things a lot easier a long time ago if we had gone to a child care management system. The cost is what put me off. It never felt like a have-to. Now…it will be budgeted in…we will never not have it. The time I have saved is amazing!” – Kelsey Andersen, Director, Bluff’s Little Thinkers Educational and Child Care Center, Sergeant Bluffs
  • “When I first heard about the new financial management program offered by the state of Iowa, I was a little apprehensive to make the commitment to the financial counselling sessions. As a small business owner, mother, and college student, I have little time to spare. However, now that I have been a part of the program for a few months, I can confidently say that the program has actually saved me time. Implementing the sign-in process and documenting general observations linked to the Iowa Learning Standards in the CCMS has allowed me to meet requirements of the IQ4K program, and in turn, increase the quality of my program. I take pride in my daycare program, and am very thankful to be given these tools to improve the quality of the care I provide to the children in my community.” – Brandy Rolf, Tremont Street Daycare, Child Development Home – Category B, Cedar Falls
  • “As a small childcare business, I have been hesitant to sign on to a CCMS in the past, but I couldn’t be happier with this program since we were offered free monthly subscriptions from the state. I would encourage any facility that wants to keep accurate, timely and straightforward records to take advantage of this offer. I will never go back to handwritten paperwork again!” – Michele Shaffer, Director, Home Ties Child Care Center, Iowa City

Initially, we offered to pay for monthly subscription fees for one year. We are EXCITED to announce that HHS will continue to fund monthly subscription fees for either Playground or brightwheel through September 30, 2024. For the first year of state-funded monthly subscription fees, providers also receive individualized financial management consultation to ensure full use of the CCMS, analyze CCMS data to monitor and manage their child care programs, evaluate business practices, and access technology grants.

Contact the Child Care Collaborative of Iowa here to learn more about this amazing opportunity. Staff will share a CCMS Selection tool and help you schedule a demo with Playground and brightwheel to compare features offered in each CCMS product.

Technology Grants

When we launched the state-funded monthly CCMS subscription fees strategy, we offered providers a technology grant for up to $1,000 to help support the implementation of brightwheel or Playground. We are excited to share that providers that fully expended the $1,000 grant may be eligible for a Phase 2 Technology Grant. Contact your financial management consultant to learn more.

For providers now signing up for Playground and brightwheel, a financial management consultant will help you assess your technology needs to implement the CCMS in your program and determine a maximum Technology Grant amount.

We believe, and providers have confirmed, that implementing a CCMS with robust features and functionality is a game-changer for their child care businesses. The software is cutting edge, the financial management consultation ensures full use of the software and deeper analysis of business operations, and the data bridges allow maximum efficiencies for providers. Over the next year, we will be launching more data bridges to improve child care business operations and reduce time spent on administrative tasks.

Stay tuned!

Tami Foley
Division of Family Well-Being and Protection
Child Care Bureau
Iowa Department of Health and Human Services


Tags: hhs , ccci , ccms , eci , technology grant

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