Flexible Childcare Services Scotland (FCSS) has officially launched Flexibility Pathway Connect that will enable parents to easily book ‘slots’ of childcare to match their own new working routines.
The pandemic has thrown our daily routines completely out the window. Many parents over the next couple of months may find it more difficult to access childcare as they adjust their working life to this new environment. The new system, which is free to use, means that parents can return to work seamlessly without the worry of having to adapt to previously rigid childcare services.
Now, more than 300 key workers in Scotland have signed up to the new flexible childcare system. It has been very quickly 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.
There are more local authorities that are currently trialling the new system.
Flexibility Pathway Connect was developed with funding from The Innovation Fund. The fund is collaboration between the Scottish Government and venture philanthropy, The Hunter Foundation.
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.
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.’
The new system is part of a much bigger and broader digital solution toolkit for the childcare sector which includes desktop and mobile applications that show sessions, rotas, and staff and children checked in, giving providers real time, downloadable reports. It also delivers transparency for the parents over their current and future bookings.
‘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.’