Procare Solutions is the Heartbeat of Childcare Centers — And It’s Growing Every Year

Thirty years into its existence, Procare Solutions is bringing advanced fintech concepts to the childcare industry. Built In sat down with three leaders in DevOps and payments to learn how.

Written by Jenny Lyons-Cunha
Published on Jun. 01, 2023
Procare Solutions is the Heartbeat of Childcare Centers — And It’s Growing Every Year
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Peace of mind. 

There is nothing more valuable to a parent who has just dropped their child off at school. Childcare centers and schools go to great lengths to nurture this sense of safety, investing in check-in processes, biometrics, apps for communicating with parents, scanning technology, secure learning devices and more. 

At the center of it all is Procare Solutions, an all-in-one childcare management software.

“It’s the heartbeat of these centers and these schools,” said Executive Vice President of Payments David Schielein.

“Our software streamlines the administrative functions in their childcare center — from registration, attendance tracking, staff management and lesson planning to family engagement, tuition collection and reporting, we help ease the challenges faced with running a childcare business. There are many layers to childcare.

“When you layer on our fintech capabilities,” he added, “we’re really enabling centers to fully communicate with families and provide them the flexibility to make digital payments online, via our childcare mobile app or EFT. This makes tuition collection a seamless experience for childcare providers since they can spend less time on manual billing and tuition collection and focus more on the education of the children.” 

Procare Solutions’ impact is expansive — serving over 37,000 childcare centers with its integrated payment processing, technology and services.

The scale and meaning of that impact drives its burgeoning DevOps and fintech talent, who work to place the power of Procare’s platform in the palm of its users’ hands — literally. The company’s mobile services empower parents to instantly receive photos, daily event logs, check-in and check-out alerts, academic progress reports, payment reminders and make payments. 

Serving both childcare providers and families means that Procare Solutions’ services need to be instant, secure and reliable. 

“We’re storing millions of account numbers, enabling transitions that happen in a matter of seconds, completing payments 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Schielein said. “Our services need to be seamless to keep these centers running smoothly.” 

Ultimately, Procare Solutions is about making life easier on both sides of childcare. 

“A parent can be running around — working, running errands and so on — and still be a part of their kids’ lives,” said Schielein. “Parents can make sure their kids are safe and having fun, all from the palm of their hands.” 

 

WHAT PROCARE SOLUTIONS DOES 

Procare Solutions provides software and services to handle administrative tasks for early childhood care providers, so teachers can focus on their students. Serving childcare centers, before- and after-school programs and youth organizations, it aims to be a leading provider of childcare management and parent-engagement software, as well as integrated payment processing, technology and services.

 

Photo of Procare Solutions’ office wall with logo and colorful circles
Procare Solutions

 

Legacy Company With the Heart of a Startup 

Procare customers are loyal, said VP of Product Management Jessica Flitcraft. The company invests in maintaining its popular legacy programs right alongside cutting-edge tech.   

“We bring customers along when they’re ready,” said Flitcraft. “We cater to customers all across the spectrum, and they love us for it — they stick with us.” 

Procare Solutions owns all of its products from end to end — including its payment stacks, which affords it the flexibility to meet its customers where they are. This strengthens the company’s unique position in the crossroads of fintech, payment acquisition and childcare. 

“In owning our own payment stack, we’re only limited by our imagination, our budget and our time — not by our providers,” Flitcraft said. “We’re in direct conversations with Visa and the other card providers to say, ‘What should we be thinking about next?’”

 

“In owning our own payment stack, we’re only limited by our imagination, our budget and our time — not by our providers.”

 

Procare’s mobile-friendly payment platform circumvents the traditionally lethargic pace of payment acquisition, keeping company eyes trained on the horizon. While Procare maintains its balance on the bleeding edge of tech, it heavily weighs the time and efforts of its customers in the decision process. 

“It’s up to us when we decide to dive in, so we’re very deliberate about what we choose to implement,” she said. 
 

SAFE AND SOUND PAYMENTS 

“Quality is key when you’re talking about childcare centers: They operate at such a low margin that payment delays of any kind become a barrier to taking care of the kids,” Beckman said, adding that security and compliance surrounding family and child information are vital. Beyond carefully monitoring quality, Procare is proactive when it comes to security certifications. “We’re SOC 2 and PCI DSS Level 1 certified on our software and payment platforms,” said Flitcraft.

 

Since launching a payment acquisition solution in 2003, Procare Solutions has ramped up to support 3 million transactions per month, said Director of Software Engineering David Beckman

This exponential growth is the result of Procare’s dynamic, customer-centric DevOps culture, along with its proprietary code and the adoption of AWS as its cloud provider — which creates a low-latency experience for its customers. 

“We’re bypassing that middle step of transition to containers and going straight to a serverless model to make sure that we are providing the level of uptime and response that is necessary to meet our customers’ needs,” said Beckman. “We have the opportunity to leverage a serverless architecture to build out AWS-native technologies.”

 

 Photo of Procare Solutions’ booth at an expo, featuring Tucker the penguin
Procare Solutions

 

Another key to Procare’s agile development processes is its polyglot development structure. Each team utilizes its own coding language, depending on the product it’s working on, unlocking the opportunity for niche expertise within each part of the organization. 

“We have to be able to take payments online, take payments in person, take mobile payments,” said Beckman. “We want to make sure that experience is rich for all users involved in the transaction.” 

Here, Schielein chimed in: “We’re a 30-year old company that operates like a disciplined, fast-paced startup.”

 

HYBRID CULTURE 

When it comes to work-life balance, Procare Solutions has found “the happy middle,” said Beckman. “We have focus, robust communities and lots of growth opportunities — we’re small enough that people matter, but big enough that we have resources,” he said. Some perks include its Denver, Oregon and Rochester Hills offices, Ecopass access, book clubs and team lunches, said Beckman. A lesser-known perk is the appearance of Tucker, the company’s unofficial penguin mascot, in the form of an endearing plush. “Our customers love him: We once trimmed him down and had to plump him back up in our iconography per customer request,” Flitcraft said, holding her Tucker up to the camera.

 

Photo of a person dressed up as Tucker, the penguin mascot of Procare Solutions
Procare Solutions

 

For the Kids

When Schielein started working at Procare Solutions, he realized it had been a quiet presence in his life as a parent all along. 

When I mention I work at Procare Solutions at any event, everyone pulls up their phone, opens our childcare mobile app and shows me pictures of their kids,” he said laughing. 

 

“When I mention I work at Procare Solutions at any event, everyone pulls up their phone, opens our childcare mobile app and shows me pictures of their kids.” 

 

“I have four young kids and I never had a clue about the sheer logistics behind childcare until I began my work with Procare Solutions,” he added. 

Beckman nodded in agreement.

“The expanse of childcare is surprising — there are so many bits and pieces from infant care to preschool curricula and after-school programs,” Beckman said. “The use cases are endless.” 

For Flitcraft, her foray into childcare tech has been a rewarding oasis within the fintech world.

In another life, Flitcraft worked for large fintech and banking entities. “Companies where you barely know the mission and just tackle your tasks for the day,” she recalled. Flitcraft found herself burnt out and uninspired. But at Procare Solutions, the mission is easy to hold on to. 

“The focus is quality: What’s the quality of care? What’s the quality of teaching? Are the kids safe? Do they feel good when they go home at the end of the day?” said Flitcraft. 

“It’s such a pure industry,” she added, smiling.

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images via Shutterstock (header) and Procare Solutions.

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