In its ‘Progress Barometer’, Credit Suisse had ranked childcare as one of the top issues that have to be addressed and solved. More recently, the Covid-19 crisis has proved it more than ever: childcare is not only nice to have, it actually is systemically relevant to our modern society.
Regardless of their work-model, from the traditional 8-to-5 schedule over a flexible one to home office and of course irregular work-schedule, parents of preschool kids have to count on a safe, secure and reliable childcare solution. In addition, more and more families are also looking for flexible care they can book on a short-term basis according to their needs. This is central to their (work-)life balance and directly impacts our society and our economy.
Up to now, the childcare sector has mainly been stuck in traditional models where parents have to book fixed days at the crèche (Kita) and to commit for at least several months with minimum to zero short-term flexibility. This of course assuming they have first been able to find a crèche or another care solution that fits their needs…
At Kitaclub.ch, we're convinced that a smart digitalisation can radically change this situation for the benefits of the parents, the society and the economy. And for the children.
The issues - A parents' journey
If we take a look at the childcare-related issues parents are facing, the first topic of course is finding a suitable crèche that fits their quality and time requirements. Some parents will want multilingual care, some will request a well-known pedagogy method, others will prefer mixed-age groups, some will need fully outdoor care,... The list is endless. And of course, many parents will just be happy to find a slot in a nearby crèche that matches their schedule.
But is it then a closed case? Not quite.
Depending on their work and/or family constellation, most parents will have other needs, like:
- Short-term bookings at the crèche - Going on an unplanned business-trip? Have to spontaneously jump in for a colleague? Booking an additional day at the crèche in a flexible manner is becoming a must-have. What if the crèche doesn't have capacity on that day?
- Emergency care at home - When a child is ill and can't be brought to the crèche, but the parents have to go to work, a nanny can jump in.
- Baby-sitting at home - Even the best parents sometimes need to take a break.
Later, with school-aged kids, other needs will arise, especially regarding holiday care and activities. Weekend activities will also soon be on the table.
And as the Covid19-crisis is showing, many families try to organize ad hoc childcare or home-schooling with friends and neighbours.
On top of that, all families will sooner or later be confronted to piles of almost new clothes and shoes that don't fit anymore, to toys that aren't played with anymore, to unused sporting goods, etc. A sound second-hand market can help reduce environmental footprint and waste while giving more opportunities to low-revenue families.
Some services are already accessible online, some still require more efforts, and some haven't been solved yet. But all have one thing in common: a very fragmented market and no clear overview of what is available where, thus making it quite a burden for young parents to organize their family-life and to keep a healthy and reasonable life-balance.
Meanwhile, the economy has started to acknowledge these issues as well. Two key points are being raised:
- Mother-power - Many women would like to go back to work and/or to work more, provided they would have good and more manageable childcare solutions available. This would increase the available workforce significantly with often highly-qualified women eager to go back to their professional career on a part-time and/or flexible basis. (See this article from the Arbeitgeberverband and this study from Pro Familia)
- Flex-Work - As the Work Smart Initiative (WSI) mentions, flexible work models increase the employees' happiness and their commitment. But for families, flexible work clearly requires good and reliable childcare, and the opening and closing scenes of the WSI presentation video shows it: mom & dad are the most productive at work if they know their kids are in good hands or if they know they'll have time for them.
The economy has recognized it: The better the life balance of their employees is, the better they'll commit to their employer and the more productive they will be. And since childcare is the fundament of the families' life balance, this puts it on the very top of the priorities to solve.
A nationwide solution is required
Despite the inherent fragmented political landscape in Switzerland, improving access to and management of childcare has to be addressed at a national level. That will allow us to define standards and to implement solutions for the whole country instead of having a different system in each canton.
Kitaclub.ch already provides a unique nationwide and multilingual directory of all Swiss crèches, making it easier for parents to find a suitable one. After several years of experience in the market and being well-accepted and recognized in the sector, we are now in the position where we can not only propose new solutions, but also define and set new standards. For example, we've already introduced a way for parents to publicly review their crèche, and despite some initial skepticism in the sector, this functionality has now been widely accepted and even embraced by the crèches. More radically new concepts are now in the pipe-line as well.
Kitaclub is therefore ideally positioned to go a big step further and to become the hub for all things related to childcare by integrating various services into one platform, thus contributing to a better life-balance of many families with young kids.
With our project 'Kockpit', we're paving the way to a seamless integration of the various childcare services into a single online dashboard for families. On the one hand, Kockpit will make Kitaclub's already existing features and future developments easily accessible, and on the other hand, it will simplify access to external services (emergency care at home, baby-sitting, holiday activities, etc) with various levels of integration.
This screenshot of our prototype gives a more concrete overview of the foreseen features.
For the employers
More and more companies of various sizes are already supporting their employees by subsidizing part of their childcare costs and/or by giving them access to emergency care services.
With our dedicated dashboard, these companies will be able to have a clear overview of these costs and of the current situation, especially regarding emergency care services provided by external organizations. They might also pre-select preferred crèches for their employees, pre-book or reserve a given number of slots in various crèches and manage them as a pool, etc. More developments will of course be defined and implemented according to the companies' needs.
To make Kockpit a reality, we'll need to work closely with a wide range of partners. Contacts have already been established with Swiss and international makers of dedicated software-solution for crèches, and many are in the starting-blocks, ready to integrate with our hub. Regarding emergency care services, we're in close touch with the Swiss Red Cross about a possible integration of their services into Kockpit.
More discussions with major companies are on the way, and the Swiss Federal Railways SBB have shown a big interest in adopting Kockpit as part of their effort towards a better work-life-balance of their employees.
Now, in order to start implementing Kockpit and to make it widely available to families and employers, we're looking for additional significant players in the Swiss economic landscape to support us. We're now mainly looking for:
- Medium- to big-size companies willing to improve the life balance of their employees by supporting them with their childcare needs.
By working closely together and with a shared financial effort, we will tailor our "HR Dashboard" to their needs and make "Kockpit" a reality.
Joining forces will speed up development, share the costs and help spread the word and the acceptance.
Do you care about childcare? Join us and let's solve it!
Contact: Pierre Moret, firstname.lastname@example.org