Over 300 key worker parents are first to sign up to new transformational childcare system

  • Scottish charity launches flexible ‘slot booking’ system as childcare providers reopen
  • New system will help parents return to work following major changes in work practices due to COVID 19

More than 300 key workers have become the first parents in Scotland to sign up to a new flexible childcare system that will allow them to book ‘slots’ of childcare to match their own new working routines meaning they can return to work without the worry of previously rigid childcare services.

The new system, developed by Flexible Childcare Services Scotland, has quickly been adopted by Aberdeen City Council – after testing – and is already supporting 48 childcare providers to care for 403 children with 302 Key Worker Parents now registered for the service.  Other local authorities are currently trialling the system.

Developed with funding from The Innovation Fund – a collaboration between the Scottish Government and venture philanthropy, The Hunter Foundation – the software, known as Flexibility Pathway Connect, is free to use and ‘connects’ parents looking to book slots of childcare with providers with extra capacity.

The software also includes staffbank functionality, matching childcare workers to providers who may be facing staffing issues.  120 childcare staff are now registered on the staffbank from across Scotland.

Flexible Childcare Services Scotland, the only charity in Scotland to champion flexible childcare provision, has launched the new software to support childcare and early learning providers as they prepare to reopen from Wednesday 15th July.

Susan McGhee, chief executive at Flexible Childcare Services Scotland, said:

“COVID 19 has brought massive disruption to the whole of society and consequently a huge change in new work regimes.  Changing the way we work without looking at a change in how childcare is delivered puts lots of families at risk if working parents cannot find a suitably flexible service.  Our new Connect service matches parents with childcare providers and allows them to book time slots that match their own new work practices.

“We understand, as providers ourselves, that many providers and parents are worried about how they will be able to organise and manage the suggested cohorts of different children within the setting.  Without change there is a real risk parents may not be able to return to work and for childcare providers there is a real opportunity to grow their own businesses by utilising their resources better.”

Gary Mollison, a parent using the service, said:

“Me and my partner are key workers and we used the Flexibility Pathway Connect Service to find childcare. We found the registration process really simple and straightforward and contact with the team was excellent. We now have all of our working hours, and overtime hours covered with childcare, and we are delighted to be back at work.”

According to Dale McKinnon, project lead in the ELC Academy at Aberdeen City Council,

“Key worker parents found the system intuitive and easy to use. Weekly reports listing the names of children registered enabled Aberdeen City Council to validate and cross-reference data. The Flexible Childcare Services Scotland Team were always on-hand to provide support to staff and colleagues.”

The software is part of a broader digital solution for the childcare sector, which includes intuitive desktop and mobile applications that show sessions, rotas, and staff and children checked in, giving providers real time, downloadable reports as well as providing parents with greater transparency and control over their current and future bookings.

With ever changing guidance, and services having to reduce their capacity, this software will be pivotal for the successful reopening of childcare and early learning settings.

Susan McGhee, chief executive at Flexible Childcare Services Scotland, said:

“The Flexibility Pathway Connect system has been designed specifically to address this issue, and it will help providers to meet to Scottish Government guidelines, easily booking the right number of children and ensuring that they have the right amount of staff to support them.

“We’ve tested the system extensively and are excited to be able to roll it out nationally so that children and families across the country receive the care, early learning and support they so desperately need.”