Child Care Aware of Minnesota is a nonprofit organization that helps child care providers improve the quality of their programs and services through grants and professional development courses while helping families recognize and find quality child care.
Child Care Aware conducts a state-wide Market Rate Survey of child care providers every two years for the Department of Human Services (DHS). The survey collects information on costs, hours, ages served and core areas of child care programs. This helps DHS set child care assistance standards and helps Child Care Aware match parents with the best fit for child care.
“We pride ourselves with having the most up-to-date information on all licensed child care providers across the state,” said Karen Fogolin, Associate Director of Child Care Aware.
For many years, their surveys were stored on paper. This worked, but having to type survey results into a database created unnecessary work for their team.
“It was status quo, rather than continuous quality improvement,” Fogolin said.
DHS requires Child Care Aware to reach 65% of Minnesota’s 13,000 child care providers for the survey and to store surveys for seven years. This meant finding space for least 8,450 new paper surveys every two years. The survey was once handled by five district offices across the state but was recently centralized to their headquarters in St. Paul.
“When we centralized, we were really worried about having all of these files and where we were going to keep them,” Fogolin said.
Child Care Aware needed an efficient way to store and retrieve the surveys that would allow easy access for data clean up and for DHS to conduct data analysis.
“I’m really excited that we get to make everything electronic. I also like that we’ll have literally everything there to search. Anything I need, I can just look it up. I don’t have to dig through files.”
Erin Young | T.E.A.C.H. Counselor | Child Care Aware of Minnesota
Loffler helps organizations throughout the United States identify and implement the right document management system for their needs. Document management software facilitates convenient, automated and cost-saving solutions for turning documents electronic and improving paperless office processes.
Child Care Aware already worked with Loffler Companies for many of their office services, including copiers, printers and IT. Fogolin knew they needed a document repository, but was unsure of where to find the best one, so she reached out to Loffler to solve their document storage and retrieval needs.
“It was crucial for the system to be user-friendly,” Fogolin said. “We knew there was something out there.”
They considered using a file storage system they already had in place to store PDFs. But it required downloading PDFs before opening them, which added too much extra work. Loffler suggested they consider Square9’s GlobalSearch.
The GlobalSearch document management system provided the easy storage and retrieval Child Care Aware needed.
“It’s just a simple scan and it’s in the system,” said Deb Spaeth, Parent Services Specialist, who works with the Market Rate Survey and indexing it in the system. “A couple of touches, and you’re done.”
GlobalSearch also features KeyFree Indexing, allowing users to hover over files to view them and increase scanning efficiency. In addition, they can also use workflows to scan to their inbox and code the document. Keyword searches allow easy access to content, and they have set customized searches based on date range, county and license numbers. GlobalSearch is accessible off-site with remote desktop access, something Child Care Aware could never do with paper files stored at the office.
Child Care Aware uses GlobalSearch with its most basic functionality. Future advancements with automated workflows could help them improve their digital office even more.
With GlobalSearch, Loffler has helped Child Care Aware to transition from their time-consuming, paper-based system to one that is electronic and searchable.
“It’s been a tremendous time savings,” Spaeth said, “especially the ease of scanning the document and having it right there. I can go to the system and I can make sure what I scanned actually shows up. It is immediate. The document is there.”
The access provided by GlobalSearch will help improve the work Child Care Aware does for DHS, parents and scholarship recipients.
“GlobalSearch helps us become a better, more efficient provider of service,” Spaeth said.
In addition to using GlobalSearch for their Market Rate Survey, Child Care Aware also uses it to store and retrieve applications for their T.E.A.C.H. scholarship program. T.E.A.C.H. helps child care providers go back to school for a degree.
“I’m really excited that we get to make everything electronic,” said Erin Young, T.E.A.C.H. Counselor, who handles coordination of scholarships. “I also like that we’ll have literally everything there to search. Anything I need, I can just look it up. I don’t have to dig through files.
Young and the rest of the team also appreciate they will not have to trek downstairs to their basement storage area to find files.
“It’s a positive thing to change how we do things,” Young said. “I like the idea of being able to shake up the whole process. And we get to look at everything from beginning to end.”
With Loffler's help, Child Care Aware has been able to look at their business processes, how those processes impact their work and how to make them better, faster and easier.
“I’m optimistic that it’s going to change our whole workflow in a good way,” Young concluded.