Creating an Electronic 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. In response to state audits regarding billing accuracy, DEL is implementing an improved attendance system.
DEL has purchased an electronic attendance system to simplify and improve how we track children’s participation in child care. The electronic system works on smartphones, tablets, and computers in a child care provider’s place of business. The system tracks, stores, and reports on child attendance to support provider billing. The electronic system is 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.
Attendance System goes live for Early Adopters
On February 1, 2018, DEL launched the Electronic Attendance System for about 200 Early Adopters. The Early Adopters is a group of volunteers who are representative of the subsidy child care system across Washington. This launch marks an on-time initial release of the system after months of development by DEL and software company Controltec. With the goal of a successful rollout for Washington providers, DEL will work to refine the training materials and delivery methods in advance of the full rollout of the system in March 2018 for all subsidy providers.
This initial release of the Electronic Attendance System is a significant accomplishment for DEL and Controltec and puts the Department on track for an on-time rollout. Trainings on the new system will open to all subsidy providers in March. You can keep updated on the latest information on the Electronic Attendance System on the DEL website: http://del.wa.gov/Attendance-Project.
Project Timing and Major Activities
Starting July 1, 2018, all providers who accept child care subsidies will be required to keep attendance using an electronic attendance system. Trainings for the DEL Electronic Attendance System will be open to all subsidy providers beginning March 1.
The electronic 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 electronic 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.