The Flexibility Pathway is a management resource designed by Flexible Childcare Services Scotland (FCSS), a charity which offers families the opportunity to book childcare by the hour.
FCSS was created after it was found that parents were unable to accept offers of employment due to a lack of high quality, flexible, accessible and affordable childcare services.
Families who use FCSS’s services are able to book daycare by the hour, only paying for the time they book. They aren’t subject to any up-front costs, deposits or holiday retainers.
The charity’s new software aims to allow other childcare providers to offer the same service and become more flexible by helping them increase bookings and manage staffing more efficiently.
It includes desktop and mobile applications which show sessions and rotas, as well as staff and children who have checked in, which FCSS says will give childcare providers real-time, downloadable reports and provide parents with greater transparency and control over current and future bookings.
The system, which will be available free of charge to all Care Inspectorate-registered childcare providers in Scotland, has also been developed to complement the SEEMiS Early Years system.
The Flexibility Pathway is used by FCSS-run nurseries in Dundee, Aberdeenshire and across the Highlands and Islands.
Susan McGhee, chief executive officer of FCSS, said, ‘This software is a game changer in delivering equity of access to high quality early learning and childcare to all children, families and communities.
‘It benefits families who have previously faced barriers in accessing services enabling them to source the care they need to allow them to enter employment, education or training.
‘It also allows childcare providers to fill capacity gaps thus increasing their sustainability and creates job opportunities, bringing returners back to a workforce traditionally known for employee churn.’
The Flexibility Pathway system has been developed with funding from the Scottish Government's Social Innovation Partnership, which also enabled FCSS to hold an official launch for the software on 1 February at Dundee University.
The event was hosted by BBC Scotland’s Catriona Shearer and featured an opening speech by cabinet secretary for communities and local government Aileen Campbell.
Ms Campbell said, ‘Flexible Childcare Services Scotland is doing great work to support low-income families looking to access employment or training opportunities, or to re-enter or stay in the labour market.
‘Childcare has an important role to play in our aims to tackle child poverty so I am pleased to launch the Flexibility Pathway which will allow more providers to support parents or carers who need extra support to juggle childcare with insecure work or shift work.’