Interviews

How to sign up for an emergency

How to sign up for an emergency

In the last issue, we told you that My Family Care is looking for an additional eight thousand childminders to register on its emergency care database, in order to meet future customer demand. Here, operations manager Oliver Daniels explains how the process works for childminders

“Our platform and our processes have all been developed to make it as hassle free as possible for the childminder,” says Oliver. “It takes a maximum of 15 minutes to fill in the registration form online and obviously we then carry out all of the necessary checks.

“It’s a parent-driven choice – they log in and choose the type of childcare they want to search for. They will see a list of options based on their location – a mini marketplace for childcarers – and can then choose the option they prefer, whether that is based on price or on the description of the childcarer they read. They have to put in the date and times of the care and the reason they need that care and then the system alerts the childcarer to the request for their services.

“We put a cap on the amount each registered childminder can charge per hour, but generally speaking because this is emergency care, they would be able to charge over and above what they are charging on a day-to-day basis. If you’re in an area of lower demand right now, you may not hear from us for a month or two, but it costs you nothing to be on the system and we are working successfully all the time to widen our customer network. But if you could have just two or three days a month of caring for an additional child at £10-11 an hour, that’s got to be a big help for your business.

“Childminders joining Emergency Childcare is a fantastic way to boost short-term occupancy - we know from Ofsted that this is a major issue for a significant proportion of childminders.”

For many childminders that can also lead to permanent placements, he adds. “Often, childminders are referred to us by parents who already know them and we have seen that what we facilitate as short-term fixes can lead on to longer-term relationships with parents too.”

Last year, childminders delivered more than 30,000 hours of emergency childcare through My Family Care and that number is predicted to triple at least over the next few years. For comparison, the emergency care hours delivered by nannies and nurseries were about 90,000 hours each last year, way in excess of childminder numbers. “There is no reason why childminders shouldn’t see similar hours to these other types of childcare – if anything childminders are a more natural fit for what we do,” says Daniels.

“Within our employer network, we have a user base of 65,000 working parents, so there is plenty of demand – and for 95% of them, [emergency childcare] is an employee benefit so their employer funds the cost of care, via My Family Care.

“Our user base grows by at least 10% every year as more and more employers start to provide this key benefit.”

Employers justifiably expect that when the emergency care is required, it will be available, which is where My Family Care’s ongoing development of its systems and databases is crucial. Behind the online platform though, there is human back-up for the rare occasions when x doesn’t quite mark the spot. “We have a 98% fulfillment rate but if for any reason there is an issue with finding the care, our customer care team is on hand to find the right solution for each parent. Ninety per cent of everything that goes through the system flies totally under our radar because it gets done and dusted automatically, but it’s the other 10% that need some form of intervention and that’s where we really come to the fore.

“We also look through the feedback in case we need to respond to that. Of course, we are more inclined to be looking for the negatives, but I have to say we need to look very hard as the feedback is overwhelmingly positive.”

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