Technology Usage Survey for the Australian Early Education Sector – Towards a (un)sustainable future
Being a new childcare software provider in Australia we embarked on a journey to find out how was technology being utilised in the early education space to manage the operations of centres and what were the attitudes of those working within the sector.
But before we jump into the statistics, here is a brief background about the Industry and the compliance requirements as prescribed by the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA).
In 2012, ACECQA introduced a new framework known as the National Quality Framework (NQF) which aims to provide a national approach towards regulation, assessment and quality improvement within the early education sector.
A move that was not quite welcome by the early education sector as it increased the burden of completing compliance-related paperwork on them.
A news article published by news.com.au in 2013 right after the National Quality Framework was introduced cites that educators spent 4 hours a week on compliance-related documentation, this costed centres and ultimately parents up to $2000 per child per year.
To put things into perspective here is a list of compliance paperwork that needs to be completed within a childcare setting on a daily basis; Centre Opening and Closing Checklist, Sign In and Sign Out Times, Food, Nappies, Sleep, Toilet, Educator Room Log, Observations, Critical Reflection, Incident Reports, Medication Requests, Head Counts, Meal Plans, Room Ratios, Child Record Management including Immunisation Records and the list goes on and on.
This lead to another problem, the dependency of the childcare sector on paper. Starting 2015 technology companies started to notice the problem and rolled out customised software to meet the business needs of childcare and Outside Of School Hours (OOSH) centres.
Cubsta is one such software, we started developing Cubsta after experiencing the Industry in late 2016 as a parent of a 1-yr-old. There is way too much paper being used in the Industry and it is simply not sustainable in the long run.
Being a new childcare software provider we wanted to understand the attitudes of the early education sector towards going digital and developed a series of surveys that were posted out on various childcare Industry groups on Facebook with a total audience size of more than 120,000 members. And also asked some of our early adopters to complete these surveys.
- Enrolment: From a total of 196 respondents, approximately 82% of the respondents said that they undertake Enrolment using paper-based applications.
- Daily Sheets: When asked about reporting a child’s daily routine including meals, nappies, sleep, bottle feeds and toilet runs, 65% of the respondents said that they undertook this type of reporting on paper and 26% respondents said that they had adopted a digital medium to report daily routines.
- Checklists: 85% of respondents said that they are using paper-based checklists.
- Incident Reports: A staggering 90% of respondents said that they use paper at their centre to report incidents to parents.
- Curriculum Planning: Curriculum planning and programming is an area that leads when it comes to digital adoption by centres with close to 49% of the respondents said to be using software to undertake this function.
- Quality Improvement Plan: Quality Improvement Plan (QIP) comes second in terms of digital adoption with approximately 44% of the respondents claiming to undertake this reporting requirement using a digital medium.
- Cost of Paper V/s Software: It cost a centre with a strength of 75 children $9.33 per month per child to lease a printer complete with Ink and paper. The cost of a software (Cubsta) is $2.20 inclusive of GST.
- The top 3 reasons given by early education workers for not going digital were as follows; Technology can crash, Technology can be overwhelming and it is impersonal to use digital devices on the floor while working with children.
While there have been software solutions available in the market for close to 4 years now but as the results of the survey indicate, the Industry has been slow to adopt a newer way of managing their operations. This can be attributed to a number of reasons including, lack of information/education on how the technology operates, lack of time and confidence to actually make the change and most importantly the change of mindset.
As we see it change will come slowly but surely however it is important that the Industry is educated on the benefits of the using technology over using paper because the current levels of dependency on paper by the Industry is simply not sustainable in the long run. As we at Cubsta like to call it “Educate to Eradicate”.
Cubsta has been designed and developed by a parent, Divij Mehta, after first-hand experiencing childcare services in 2016. After about 3 months of experiencing daycare services, Divij started noticing a problem from an operational point of view. There was too much paper and there was doubling up of records, which was creating inefficiencies. And to add to the problem there was not a single software provider in the market offering an all-in-one integrated solution.
Given his professional background, involved in web development, Divij decided to embark on the journey of creating Cubsta.
Cubsta currently offers 6 functions with more on the way. For more information on the software, please visit our website.