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Tyson and Citizens Bank donate new computer system for Gingerbread House

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Thanks to the generous donations of area businesses, Gingerbread House of Storm Lake will save up to 20 hours a week with a computerized check-in system for children at the center.

Gingerbread Community Relations Director Mark Shea said a $2,500 donation from Tyson Fresh Meats, Inc., and $1,000 from Citizens 1st National Bank helped pay for the new ProCare software program that went on-line this week. A donation from the Storm Lake Rotary Club and a spaghetti dinner fund-raiser at Gingerbread House in May helped raise funds for the computer hardware. Shea said the fund-raising dinner was so successful it will likely become an annual event. "It was a pretty successful fund-raiser," Shea said.

Before, parents would have to write times in when checking children in or out. Sometimes, that could involve multiple lists. Now, parents just enter in an assigned password to check in children. The program also has memo messaging capabilities for parents. "This will make sure all the parents are getting the information," Shea said.

Other features provide for staff check-in and payroll and food system transactions. Parents can check the amount of their bill or receive contracted schedules.

Shea said the new system will help greatly in generating attendance reports. He said his last report took about eight working days, and now it will just take the click of a button. Billing is particularly expedited.

"It's just going to really help in a lot of ways," Shea said. "It will also help with security. We'll be able to check who's allowed to pick up children."

Just in case, there will be a written check-in and check-out sheet in each room to help daycare workers double-check on children coming and going.

Parents seem pretty happy with the program so far, Shea said.

"A lot of people have said it's a lot easier than they thought it would be," Shea said. "No one had a problem, with it, really."

Parents can't exit the system until they read messages that have been posted to them. That helps assure workers that parents have been notified that they need to pick up an incident report or contract.

Shea said parents who regularly bring their children to Gingerbread House were sent letters in advance informing them of the new system.