Creating a Digital Child Care Attendance System
Tracking attendance of children participating in Washington’s child care subsidy program is currently done on paper forms, creating a complicated and confusing process for families, providers, and the State. It can also result in incorrect payments to providers. Now, the federal government is requiring us to improve our attendance records for child care subsidies.
DEL is purchasing a digital attendance system to simplify and improve how we track children’s participation in child care. The digital system will work on smartphones, tablets, and computers in a child care provider’s place of business. The system will track, store, and report on child attendance to support provider billing. The digital system will be easier to use and more accurate.
The goals of the Attendance Project are:
- Replace the manual paper attendance system used by most providers with a modern, off-the-shelf, cloud-based software.
- Reduce the amount of time that providers and State workers spend tabulating attendance hours.
- Reduce billing inaccuracies and overpayments with internal controls over child care payments.
- Implement the new system in a manner that supports providers’ different comfort levels with technology.
Project Timing and Major Activities
Full implementation won’t start until February 2018 at the earliest!
DEL does not yet have a set date when all providers must begin using the new digital attendance system. DEL does plan to have a phased roll-out whereby some providers will start using the system earlier than others. DEL will have more information about implementation dates by November of this year.
The digital attendance project has three main phases:
Planning and Procurement
This includes reviewing various off-the-shelf products with child care providers and parents to get a better sense of the options, and surveying providers on their current systems and access to technology. A formal Request for Proposals and procurement process is how the final product will be chosen. This will include an evaluation of how easy the systems are to use. We're pleased to announce that DEL has signed a contract with a company called Controltec to provide us with our system!
Configuring the System at DEL
Even though we are not building a new product from scratch, it will take some time to make small adjustments to suit DEL’s needs, to coordinate the digital attendance system with the child care subsidy programs, and to ensure that DEL staff and trainers understand how to use the program well.
Training Providers and Deploying State-wide
DEL understands that a new process and technology can’t be simply handed out without any supports. In phases, DEL will train providers on the new system, ensuring that trainings are delivered in a variety of ways and languages. Beginning in January 2018 we will start with an "early adopters" phase of the system roll-out. This will give us the opportunity to test out our training and deployment methods with a small cross-section of providers before the full roll-out. Then, with lessons learned from the effort, we'll conduct training and make the system available to all providers from late February through March. Keep an eye on this page for information on how to volunteer to participate as an early adopter.