Parents call for more flexibility in early years care

Research reveals that nurseries could significantly increase their revenues if they offered more flexible care

Research among 1,000 working parents with young children1, commissioned by flexible childcare booking platform, Pebble, finds that 86% of parents would pay more for ad hoc childcare services. More than half (54%) would pay 20-40% more than their usual rate. This means that nurseries could increase revenues by over £20 per child, per day by enabling parents to book care 24 hours or less in advance. This figure could rise to almost £30 in London, where the cost of care is higher.2 

However, very few nurseries are currently offering this type of fast, flexible service. Almost four in five parents (79%) are unable to book childcare under two days in advance. This is a real issue when increases in hybrid and remote working are making it more difficult for parents to foresee childcare needs. Half of parents (50%) say that frequent changes to their work schedules now make it more difficult for them to plan childcare ahead of time, while 49% often plan childcare the night before they need it.

Thanks to changes in the way they work, 46% of parents think that existing childcare models are no longer fit-for-purpose and 70% would like nursery care to be more flexible. 

It’s not just the amount of notice needed that’s the issue. Parents also want nurseries to provide a better level of service and be more responsive. Almost a third (32%) would like nurseries to make it easier for them to book slots. Close to one in four (23%) say that nurseries often take too long to get back to them on booking requests – and 28% have had to find an alternative childcare solution because a nursery has been too slow in confirming their booking. This tardiness is frustrating for parents and is having a tangible impact on childcare providers’ bottom lines, as 18% of parents have moved nurseries because of poor administration or communication. 

Lance Beare, chief exec, Pebble said: “Thanks to shifting working patterns and our increasingly busy lives, the demand for flexible childcare is now sky-high. Almost two thirds of parents frequently need a last minute childcare fix3, but few know where to find this. At the same time, nursery and activity providers are struggling to fill spare capacity – and losing revenue as a result. There is clearly a disconnect between parents and providers, which needs to be fixed for the benefit of both. This is what we’re doing with Pebble – a flexible childcare booking platform.” 

Pebble is causing ripples within the childcare space. The easy-to-use platform enables parents to book care with trusted providers any time of the day or night, weeks in advance or just a few hours before need. Childcare providers, meanwhile, are using Pebble to call time on wasted slots, manage staffing and maximise revenues. 

Pebble was built by a combined team from BCGDV, the corporate innovation and digital business building arm of Boston Consulting Group and Koru, the venture building arm of Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan.

Ella Rabener, managing director and partner at BCG Digital Ventures, commented:  “Pebble has huge potential to help small businesses operate more efficiently, maximise revenues, as well as give parents flexibility, choice and convenience. We’re excited to help revolutionise the childcare market through digital innovation.”

Date Published: March 1, 2022