Greater understanding will lead to greater solutions

by Nic Thomson

Over the last few months, we have been working on an incredibly important project here at Flexible Childcare Service Scotland. 

In partnership with our friends at Ember Technology, we responded to a CivTech challenge we believe our team had the capability of solving. 

“Tell us more” I hear you say… 

Who are Civ Tech? 
They are a team within Scottish Government that drive innovation in the public sector by collaboratively solving challenges to make people’s lives better—and in doing so, creating generations of sustainable, high growth businesses. At the heart of this is their Accelerator Programme, where innovative teams are invited to solve challenges public sector organizations have set. 

Who sets the challenge? 
In our case, it’s the Early Learning and Childcare Directorate team at Scottish Government, however we are one of just 12 challenges!  

What was the challenge? 
Our challenge is to better understand supply and demand for school-age childcare in communities across Scotland. 

So, now you know a bit more about everyone involved, I’ll tell you a little about what we have been up to! 

The first thing to note is throughout the process, we have been fortunate to attend some fantastic workshops organised by the team at CivTech. We discussed at length the importance of our Mission, Vision, and Values – and how it is essential we weave that through every decision we make. We have learnt about how to quickly grow our buisiness; how to recruit the best people; been provided countless marketing tips from industry experts, and much, much more. 

All these things have been critical to us executing on this challenge, and they will also provide us with a fantastic platform moving forward. 

In terms of the challenge itself, it is safe to say we have moved at a rate of knots! 

The first thing we needed to understand was how people involved felt about the topic.  

We wanted to understand if parents felt they had access to the services they need for their school-age children? Do providers have availability for school-age children? Were there any reasons for either side, why things are not working? Or, are things working perfectly as they are? 

We also had to understand what our challenge sponsor wanted to get out of the project, and ensure we met their expectations.  

The team at Ember did a phenomenal job speaking to over 50 people in less than three weeks, and from these conversations, we were able to begin building our solution. 

Throughout this period, we quickly learnt that everyone was happy to get involved if it was going to improve their current situation – be it a service provider, an activity organiser, or a parent. This positive feedback really helped shape the development of the solution. 

So where are we now? 
We are currently in the process of developing a series of web pages that will allow people to tell us about their needs, and enable us to build a system that can serve to solve this. 

We are building a data dashboard that will help identify gaps in provision, areas where there’s high demand from parents, areas where there’s low demand, and plenty more. 

Flexible Childcare Services Scotland are on a mission to develop a platform where parents can find information and book services for children of any age. We are also passionate about helping providers find new families to work with when capacity allows, and provide them with insight into potential growth opportunities.  

Our vision is to provide every family better visibility and access to what exists in their local area – meaning they can focus on their own employment, education, and any other priorities in their personal life. 

Thanks for reading, I hope you have a wonderful Christmas – keep an eye for more developments next month!