In July 2007, we implemented a computer-based check-in and check-out system, called Parent Pager at our Pelham Road campus, and have since implemented it at our Powdersville and Downtown campuses. Previously, our attendance tracking consisted of a printed roster attached to a clipboard in each classroom. Parents would sign-in, and then a volunteer administrator would check the numbers during the service. There are a number of advantages to our electronic check-in/out system, over the old system, including:
- Security. Each weekend, we have over 600 children on just the Pelham Road campus, around children at our Powdersville campus, and around 150 children at our Downtown campus. We cannot expect every volunteer, and especially not classroom substitutes, to know every parent and adult who is authorized to pick up every child. We have never had an issue of someone trying to get a child that he or she is not authorized to pick up, but we want to be proactive in this area, since we are growing so fast as a church.
- Safety. Accurate tracking allows us to be able to find a child quickly in case of an emergency. Additionally, we can add comments to the child's information if their parents are serving, so we can find them if needed. The photographs can help if we need to find a parent in the worship service. And we can easily update and identify allergy information with this system.
- Parent-Teacher Connection. Soon after we began using this system, we received a comment from a veteran Camp Grace leader, who said that with this system, he's met more parents in a few months, then he had in the few prior years. Parents have to bring their child to class (versus letting them go on their own), which giving an opportunity for the Small Group leaders to meet and talk with them.
- Class Sizes. With Parent Pager, we can set maximum numbers on each class. In the past, we've had preschool classes with up to even 18 kids, which creates a less safe and less meaningful environment. Additionally, because we can close classes, most of any bit of 'chaos' is focused in the main hallway, not near the classrooms.
- Administration. It is now much easier to update class rolls (just a few clicks of a button). Tracking attendance requires much less man power. Three years ago, it took a staff person from 8AM until past lunch on Mondays to count up all the numbers and enter into a spreadsheet; now, we can run a report in just a few minutes, and the numbers are much more accurate. Being able to accurately track numbers helps us to plan for growth.