Connect Childcare has launched its free childcare tool, foundations™. The software is aimed at childminders, after school clubs, and smaller nurseries and has been developed to help drive towards a paperless future – minimising admin time and enabling further prioritisation of child development.
The solution has taken approximately two years to develop and aims to save childcare professionals circa 22 days per year usually spent on paper-based administrative tasks.
The foundations platform will allow practitioners to digitise paperwork and log individual and group child events, such as meals and sleep, communicate easily with parents – via Connect’s ParentZone app – create bookings, track drop-offs and pick-ups, and take cashless payments.
ParentZone is already used by over 460,000 parents across the UK.
The tech aims to help early years (EY) professionals dedicate more time to children and equip settings with the tools to foster extended learning inside the home – also helping to create a safer way for providers and families to communicate, especially in the current climate.
Commenting on the rationale behind the development, Chris Reid, Connect Childcare’s CEO, said: “We’re passionate about helping EY sector professionals to be able to focus on what’s most important and what they love the most – child development.
“And with many smaller sites having paper-based systems in place, this not only takes time out of their day to create and locate documents, but data can easily be misplaced, whereas housing confidential information in one centralised system helps to streamline operations and safeguard sensitive details.
“Physical safety is also a key benefit of the software. By automating more tasks and reducing parent-practitioner contact, this will play a vital part in helping to reduce the transmission risk of Covid-19.”
A study – conducted by research specialist Ceeda – recently found that approximately 31,000 nursery and pre-school staff and almost 3,000 childminders have tested positive for coronavirus since the start of December 2020.
And Early Years Alliance survey results also revealed that ‘ensuring the safety of children and practitioners at their provision’ and reducing viral transmission were the second most cited causes of stress among sector professionals.
Commenting on the findings, Chris concluded: “Smaller providers often feel even more left behind an already ‘forgotten sector’, and we want to make savvy tech solutions accessible to all providers – empowering and supporting them in their day jobs.”
Following the news of its £4m investment from Mobeus Equity Partners and the latest product launch, Connect Childcare is aiming to grow its 3,500 customer base – which includes 70% of the UK’s top 25 nursery chains – to over 10,000 in the next five years. Longer-term plans include exploring how it can expand its operations globally.
The product has been under a beta-testing phase for 12 months, during which time, it has received positive feedback from its 130 users.
Childminder Deborah Foster commented: “Connect’s foundations platform is very time-efficient for me. I don’t have to recall what happened earlier in the day because I can record things in real-time – allowing me to spend more minutes with the children instead of on lengthy admin tasks. It’s been a game-changer in how I run my business.”
The tech can also save settings up to £5,000 per year, based on in-house research discovering some customers spending this amount on ink cartridges alone, annually.
To download the free app and find out more, visit: www.foundations.software