Childcare today is an essential part of our daily lives, societal and economic infrastructure, and even business. The single parent doesn’t function in society without childcare, and neither do the families with two working parents. Society has changed, childcare has become the very cornerstone on which business, economy, and the continuation of the species rests. I’m joking, but only a little. It’s about time that online scheduling for childcare went digital and caught up with the rest of society’s demands.
It’s a strange situation that while we try to keep the kids away from screen time on the iPad, we want to book the babysitter on that same device.
Technology and Childcarers
Online scheduling for childcare should be the norm. We do everything else from our phones and computers; we should be able to do the same with our childcare arrangements.
The same is also true for those who provide childcare services. Why shouldn’t they be able to arrange their schedules, capacity, and commitments online? Why should they have to set aside time for responding to calls and emails when they could fill their timetables just as quickly with an online scheduling system? And surely, wouldn’t we prefer it if they paid full-time attention to our children, rather than arranging their next appointments?
Disclaimer: I’m not for a moment suggesting any parent would find a childminder online and book them to take care of their children without doing research and meeting them. I wouldn’t.
The Scheduling Needs of the Childcare Professional
There are so many types of child care around. Whether it’s an individual registered childminder, a bustling Montessori, or special needs centre, childcare providers require a vast amount of assistance in helping parents and their children get the care and attention they need.
Childminders, Family Nannies, Occasional Sitters
As an individual childcarer, you are in the exciting position of dictating your schedule. The irregular schedules of shift workers, medics and a whole range of other professions mean that traditional nursery and school timetables don’t fulfil the needs of the job. Childminders who can collect children from school (or after-school clubs) have long filled this need, but longer hours and shift work no longer cut it.
What a self-employed childcarer needs is a schedule that will let you:
- Set their available hours,
- Alter as necessary (even childcarers have personal demands and commitments),
- Arrange buffer/travel time between appointments,
- And lets their clients book them without lengthy phone calls and email trails.
- Allows for short “meet the parents & child” meetings as well as specifying a minimum and minimum time for the childcare service.
- Enables them to dictate the number of children they can look after and the prices for their services
Nursery, Preschool, Playgroup
Childcare on a larger scale requires different scheduling and organisational tools from the individual childcarer. When there are more significant numbers of children, of varying age groups, it’s necessary to ensure that they follow all safety protocols. Specifically, the number of children per staff member.
As a general rule, nurseries and preschools have a predetermined capacity, which is dictated by the size of the premises and the number of childcare staff members. How much time do you spend fielding calls and emails about spaces?
The nursery or preschool needs a scheduling tool that:
- Lets parents schedule the times when their children will need to be in “class”,
- Allows for scheduling interviews and tours around the facility for newcomers,
- Shows interested parents whether there is space available for their child or children’s age group,
- Displays childcare staff profiles for the benefit of the parents
- And display prices for attendance, age groups, nappy-wearing etc.
Special needs and requirements
Some children need additional attention and unique requirements. Sometimes you work in a specialised care facility; other times, you will take care of the child in their home. Your needs for a scheduling system will be extensive. Depending on your specialism with caring for children with additional needs, you may well need a scheduling system that:
- Allows you to schedule hospital or therapy visits with a child,
- Lets you limit bookings to a single child,
- Allows for group sessions with children of similar needs
You might not be providing childcare at all, but working with the parents to meet their child’s needs.
If you work in or manage a specialised facility for children with special requirements, you might also need to schedule compatible timetables between doctors, specialists and trained childcarers.
For all childcare providers, an essential component of their online scheduling system is security. Parents need to know that their children’s data is secure.
Collectives and Cooperation.
As many individual childcarers are self-employed, it is becoming increasingly common for groups of compatible childcare providers to combine themselves into a collective.
This practice has benefits for both the childcarers and the parents who want to engage their services.
For the childcare provider who wants to go digital and get their services online, the cost of implementing all the features they need could be prohibitive. However, if a group of 10 or 20 childcarers pay the subscription fees for the online hosting of their services, it works out better.
On the other hand, parents who need childcare for a specific date and time have the option to choose another childminder if their usual is already busy.
Going forward with Digital Childcare Scheduling
It is not a huge leap to say that the need for online scheduling for childcare is not going away. Work schedules that require cover 24/7, professional services requiring flexibility like medicine, and longer working hours mean that flexible childcare, bookable online, is almost essential to any family with young children.
More parents need the flexibility to book childcare at strange times when they start or finish work, can’t wait for a response to an email, or can’t rely on a positive outcome from a missed call. Childcare providers often need to pay very close attention to their charges – especially the toddlers – to keep them out of mischief.
Parents don’t want their childcarers glued to their phone or email trying to ensure they book the next slot in their calendar. However, these same childcarers also need to fill their schedule and pay their bills. Online scheduling for childcarers works for everyone.