In its ‘Progress Barometer’, Credit Suisse identified childcare as one of the most important issues to be addressed and resolved. More recently, the Covid-19 crisis has proved more than ever: childcare is not only nice to have, but that it is systemically relevant to our modern society.
Regardless of their work model – from a traditional 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule, a flexible schedule, to home office and of course irregular working hours – parents of pre-school children must be able to rely on a safe and dependable childcare solution. In addition, more and more families are also looking for flexible care, which they can book at short notice depending on their needs. This is of central importance for their work-life balance and has a direct impact on our society and 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 commit themselves to a minimum of several months with minimal to zero short-term flexibility. Provided, of course, that they were initially able to find a crèche or another care solution that would meet their needs…
At Kitaclub.ch, we’re convinced that a smart digitalisation can radically change this situation for the benefits of parents, society and the economy. And for the children.
A parents’ journey
If we take a look at the childcare-related issues parents face, the first topic is of course finding a suitable crèche that meets their quality and time requirements. Some parents will want multilingual care, others will demand a well-known pedagogical method, some will prefer mixed-age groups, some will need full outdoor care,… The list is endless. And of course, many parents will simply be happy to find a place in a nearby crèche that matches their schedule.
But then, is it a closed case? Not quite.
Depending on the job and/or family constellation, most parents will have different needs, such as:
- Short-term bookings at the crèche – Going on an unplanned business trip? Have to spontaneously stand in for a colleague? The flexible booking of an additional day at the crèche becomes a must. What if the crèche doesn’t have capacity on that day?
- Emergency care at home – If a child is sick and can’t be brought to the crèche but the parents have to go to work, a nanny can step in.
- Babysitting at home – Even the best parents sometimes need to take a break.
Later, with school-aged children, other needs will arise, especially regarding holiday care and activities. Weekend activities will also be on the agenda soon. And as the Covid-19 crisis shows, many families try to organize ad hoc childcare or home-schooling with friends and neighbours. On top of that, all families are confronted sooner or later with piles of almost new clothes and shoes that no longer fit, toys that are no longer played with, unused sports equipment, etc. A sound second-hand market can help the ecological footprint and the amount of waste and at the same time offer more opportunities to low-income families. Some services are already accessible online, some still require more efforts, and some are still unresolved. However, they all have one thing in common: a highly fragmented market and no clear overview of what is available where, which makes it quite a burden for parents to organise their family life and maintain 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 work more, provided that good and more manageable childcare solutions were available to them. This would significantly increase the available workforce potential, as highly qualified women are often willing to return to their careers on a part-time and/or flexible basis. (Read more on this topic in an article from the Arbeitgeberverband)
- Flex-Work: As mentioned by the Work Smart Initiative (WSI), flexible working models increase employee satisfaction and commitment. But for families, flexible work clearly requires good and reliable childcare, and the opening and closing scenes of the WSI video shows: Mom and Dad are most productive at work when they know their children are in good hands or when they know they will have time for them.
The corporate world has realized: The better the life balance of their employees, the more committed they will be to their employer and the more productive they will be. And since childcare is the basis for the life balance of families, it is at the top of the list of problems to be solved.
Call for a nationwide solution
Despite the inherent fragmented political landscape in Switzerland, improving access to and management of childcare must be addressed at a national level. That will allow us to define standards and implement solutions for the whole country, instead of having a different system in each canton.
Kitaclub.ch already offers a unique nationwide and multilingual directory of all Swiss crèches, making it easier for parents to find a suitable option. After several years of experience in the market and being well accepted and recognized in the sector, we are now in a position not only to propose new solutions but also to define and set new standards. For example, we have already introduced a possibility for parents to publicly review their crèche, and despite some initial scepticism, this functionality is now widely accepted and even embraced by crèches. More radical new concepts are alos in the pipeline now.
Kitaclub is therefore ideally positioned to take a big step forward and become a hub for all things related to childcare by integrating various services in one platform, thus contributing to a better life-balance of many families with young children.
With our ‘Kockpit’ project, we are paving the way for seamless integration of the various childcare services into a single online dashboard for families. On the one hand, Kockpit will make the existing functions and future developments of the Kitaclub easily accessible, while on the other hand it will simplify access to external services (emergency care at home, babysitting, holiday activities, etc.) with different levels of integration.
Employers play a key role
More and more companies of various sizes are already supporting their employees by subsidizing part of their childcare costs and/or 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 with regard to emergency care services by external organizations. They could also pre-select preferred crèches for their employees, pre-book or reserve a certain number of places in different crèches and manage them as a pool, etc.
To make Kockpit a reality, we need to work closely with a wide range of partners. Contacts have already been established with Swiss and international manufacturers of special software solutions for crèches, and many of them are in the starting blocks and ready to integrate into our hub. As far as emergency care is concerned, we are in close contact with the Swiss Red Cross regarding a possible integration of its services into Kockpit.
Further discussions with major companies are underway, and the Swiss Federal Railways SBB have shown great interest in acquiring Kockpit as part of their efforts to improve the work-life balance of their employees. In order to start implementing Kockpit and make it accessible to families and employers on a broad basis, we are looking for other major players in the Swiss business community to support us. We’re mainly searching now: Medium to large companies that want to improve the life balance of their employees by supporting them in childcare.
Are you interested in childcare? Join us and let us solve the problem together! Contact Pierre Moret, firstname.lastname@example.org