Corrinne Cloake

Corrinne Cloake, Dennison Street Early Learning Centre

The childcare industry has a number of beautiful people that have made a career out of what is clearly a passion; the early education and care of children. For many this extends into relationships with students that span from childhood into early adulthood. Corrinne from Denison Street Early Learning Centre is one such person. A career spanning some 22 years her very first students, who are now in their early 20’s, are now sending their children to be cared for by Corrinne and the team at her centre. Kidsoft caught up with Corrinne to get an insight into some of the highlights of her career over the years.

Corrinne Cloake

What initially attracted you to a career in childcare?
If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life – as the quote goes. I found my calling with children and couldn’t imagine another career.

Tell us a little about Denison Street Early Learning Centre and your role there.
I have been with Denison Street for 20 years this year in October. I have worked my way through the ranks from room leader, to Director over a five year period, and studied my Bachelor of teaching to allow the centre to increase occupancy from 38 when I originally started to the 58 that we have today. I have been involved in building a community which I am proud of, I’ve worked through building and backyard renovations, changes and extensions as well as management and software changes.  

Gosh – that’s a lot of children over the years, some 1,000+! Do you still see any of them within your community? Your first year students would be in their early adulthood now.
This year we have 90 families and 120 children in our care. I am still in touch with a number of my children. One of the little girls I had in my first toddler room is now sending her daughter to Denison Street, so I’m now looking after her. Another family of ours is sending their sixth child to Denison Street. The children from when I first started are turning 18-21 this year!

I suspect this is rare for you, but if you had a full day off what would you do with it?
(insert laughing face!)  Try to link it to a weekend and have a weekend away.

What’s been taking up your days of late?
COVID – emotional and anxious educators and families. General chaos. 

How do you feel moving back to CCS will go, how are you preparing as a service?
I have to say everything Kidsoft is doing in the back end has been incredibly helpful as it saves us valuable time. I was talking to our operations manager and we were discussing how it had taken away a lot of things we would have previously had to worry about. 

We don’t have a crystal ball which is tough for planning as we’re not sure if families will come back as per their days pre COVID or if we should plan for a worst case scenario which would see 5-6 spots per day free. The questions that then come up are how does that affect us from a staffing level? We could be lucky and it all goes back to normal.

What is the most difficult part of your job?
Balancing all the roles (different hats) throughout the day depending on the given situation.

And what is the most rewarding?
Having amazing relationships within the Centre (children, families and educators) as well as the wide network I have within our local area. 

What drove the decision for Denison Street Early Learning Centre to look at changing CCS software providers?
Now that’s a long story! We originally had Squirrel and found it too hard to use and the software clunky. We then had a change of management companies and changed software providers to Qikkids. Qikkids did what we needed. We then had another management change, where I took on the role as Director and had the choice to change to Kidsoft or stay with Qikkids. I was initially opposed to Kidsoft knowing and having worked with the previous version. After some very in depth conversations with Peta from the Kidsoft team, and a trial we made the switch and haven’t looked back.

What has been your favourite thing about working with Kidsoft?
The people behind the product. They make it! Peta and Cassie (in recent years) have been amazing to work with. I am also happy that changes are made to suit the users, and that the Kidsoft team (whether it’s the developers or the rest of the team) are on track with current requirements and ease of use. 

How would you describe your upbringing?
Happy. I was raised in a nuclear family, my parents are still together and will be celebrating 43 years of marriage this year. I didn’t have things handed to me, I had help when needed but worked for what I wanted and that made the success all the better. 

43 years, that’s amazing, and such an achievement! Are you married? Do you have children?
Yes, I’ve been married since 2011 and we have a daughter. Our baby turns eight this month. She was in our care at Denison Street as I went to work full time from when she was five months old. She did a day to two days a week before school and as you can imagine is now part of the family.

Who would you say was your role model growing up?
Growing up – definitely my parents, and their strong work ethic.

And today, has it changed?
I gained a mentor in the industry when I started at Denison Street, he was the owner. Wolfgang inspired me to not only do better but to be better. To take challenges and learn from it, and to search for answers if I couldn’t find them elsewhere. He had a business sense that I haven’t seen rivalled and I learnt a lot from him.

What inspires you?
Loyalty and doing good for good sake. 

What’s your vice…
Sweet or savoury – Sweet
Caffeine, wine, Netflix binge and a good book trilogy.

Corrinne Cloake is the Director at Denison Street Early Learning Centre, a customer of Kidsoft since 2015.

Kidsoft-Blog_More-CCM-Solutions-with-Childcare-CRM

End of Financial Year 2020 Help

We’re here to help with your end of financial year…
We know this end of financial year is a little different, and we want to help you feel prepared for whatever is around the corner. Kidsoft’s CFO, Di, sat down with Cass, from our Customer Success team, to compile a list of tips and advice to get your business end of financial year ready. Watch the video and review the summary of tasks below.

Tip #1
Review your parent debtors for those that may have become “bad debts” (families that you are not going to be able to get to pay at all), ensure you look at both your “active” and “inactive” debtors for those that you might need to write off, you can do this by accessing the Aged Balances Report within Kidsoft.

Tip #2
When your accountant or bookkeeper asks you to give them your financial reports for the year, for instance your financial summary report or your financial detailed report, we would suggest waiting until after the 13th July 2020 when free childcare ends before running those reports as you may have unsubmitted attendances that weren’t submitted by the 6th of April, when the Federal Government brought in free childcare.  Additionally, you might have attendances that may need adjustments and require a variation to be submitted. Once you are happy with your attendances and you have submitted them all, you can then run a Financial Summary or Financial Detail Report within Kidsoft.

Tip #3

The Federal Government have put transition payments in place from the 13th July to the 27th September 2020, as a result services are unable to increase their fees in July as what has become common place. However, if you wish to increase your fees post 27th September 2020, you can do this now ahead of time in Kidsoft by pre-populating changes to your fees with a scheduled go live date in the future.

Tip #4
The 2020/21 financial year rates for CCS have already been released and these have been updated within the Kidsoft platform to apply from the 13th July 2020. If you wish to give your families their Customer Account Statements in advance so they know what their gap fee payment will be post Free Childcare you can estimate this by running a Customer Account Statement in Kidsoft now.

Tip #5
It’s that time of the year to remind your families to put their new income estimates into their MyGov accounts for the 2020/21 financial year.  Families also need to confirm their income for the first time for CCS for the 2018/19 financial year, this is done by either having lodged your tax return for that year or by going onto the MyGov portal and letting the ATO know you don’t need to lodge one, if this is not done  by the 13th July 2020, CCS payments will cease.  Once a family has estimated their income for the new financial year there is a possibility that their CCS entitlements may change, if their circumstances have changed. A good tip is to look out for the CCS entitlement notifications on the front screen of Kidsoft, you can see these in more detail also in the CCS Entitlement Variation Report. Further also remind your families that CCS balancing will occur once their 2019/20 financial year income tax return is lodged comparing their actual income to their previous estimate.

Tip #6
It’s a great time to start thinking about budgets and what KPIs you would like to set for your business for the new financial year. The Kidsoft KPI Report will help to provide reporting on these key metrics including utilisation, revenue, debtors, and much more.

Tip #7
One of our favourite settings in Kidsoft is Balance Lock, this setting “Locks” your transactions to a particular period, and prevents new transactions been entered once the period has been “Locked”. This is to ensure that reports you use to assist things like End of Month reporting or lodging your BAS Statements and your income tax return, your numbers won’t change.

For more advice, or assistance on preparing your business for the end of the 2020 financial year please don’t hesitate to reach out to our Customer Support team.

Children play Tablet on white background

How can we better understand and support young children’s digital experience through play?

Children play Tablet on white background

For two decades I’ve talked, explored and tried to better understanding the role of digital technology in children’s lives and how that relates to early childhood education. And, over that time the presence of digital technology in all of our lives has increased exponentially. I think about what that must be like for a young child coming to grips with the world they live in.

Everyone has a phone in their pocket. Even babies watch as every adult they come in contact with stares and taps and weaves some magic with the miniature computer in their pocket. Our houses, our shopping centres, our waiting rooms are full of screens. And, our interactions whether that be clicking a like, sharing a post, scanning a FlyBys card or tapping one of our many pieces of plastic are collecting and collating huge datasets on who we are and what we do.

This is the world young children experience. This is what I think about.

How do we, as early childhood professionals charged with supporting young children’s learning and development so they can continue to grow and function in the world, help children make sense of all this?

It is our responsibility to prepare them and teach them about the world and part of that now requires us to teach them and help them understand what a computer is, what the internet is and how it works. Not in deeply complex ways, but in ways that make sense to a 2-year-old or a pre-schooler.

And, the way we do that, and always teach young children is through play. So, how do we bring those things together?

I ask myself questions like:

  • What do they think Siri is when it talks to them from their parents’ phone?
  • How do young children understand GPS or Google maps sharing directions as they sit in the back of the car?
  • What does a three-year-old make of UberEats, or messaging photos, or video chat?

New resources to help children learn about the digital world through play.

Playing it safe banner

Playing IT Safe is a web-based resource that offers activities and ideas about how to use play to teach children about the basic concepts of technology and digital networks. It is designed for use across all early learning environments for children aged as young as one and up to school age.

Playing IT Safe was developed closely with a collective of early childhood educators who tested activities and approaches with children in their pre-schools and childcare centres. It was informed by academic advisor and leading thinker in the space, Professor Susan Edwards. It also provides some digital interactives that educators can point parents to, so they can play and participate in their children’s growing understanding about technology.

Playing IT Safe is for educators who are concerned or struggle to work out how they best manage teaching children about the digital world. It requires no technology. It requires play-based learning and your practice. There are also resources for parents and carers to help young children learn about the internet, that you could share.

Free Training Opportunity for Educators

And, if you are interested in learning more we have a great opportunity for you, at no cost to you or your service.

Supported by Gandel Philathropy, the Alannah and Madeline Foundation is working with Early Childhood Australia to deliver a pilot program that will offer educators targeted training in using the Playing IT Safe resource. Participation in the pilot is free, along with access to the resources. The first workshops will be run online in August 2020. Want to participate? Register your interest here.

 

Written by Dan Donahoo for Storypark
Daniel Donahoo is the Senior Advisor, Innovation at the Alannah & Madeline Foundation. His work there explores the intersection of play, narrative and technology specifically as it relates to the lives of children and young people. Daniel is the author of Idolising Children (UNSW Press, 2007) and co-author of Adproofing Your Kids (Finch, 2009). He has worked for two decades in creating, exploring and understanding technology in children’s and families lives.

Storypark, a certified Kidsoft partner, allows you to record and communicate learning as it happens within a secure online environment. Learn more about Storypark and how they can assist your business by clicking here.

Little boy with goggles in pool

7 parents reveal what made them choose their child care centre

2006_kidsoft_blog_choose_childcare_article_

When it comes to finding a child care centre that your families will love, location is always going to be a deciding factor. A centre that is close to home is always desirable – nobody wants to be driving all over town twice a day.

The second factor that many parents discuss is the ‘feel’ of the centre when they walk in. What the educators are like, and how welcomed they felt can be a huge deciding factor in the decision to book in for child care.

But for these parents, other factors played a role in making the decision to book their child in for care at a particular centre. Toddle spoke to seven different families to find out what it was that tipped them over from a ‘maybe’ to a ‘yes!’

1) The school drop off

For many parents, the child care drop off isn’t the only stop they need to make before they head off to work. For Jodie, the fact that her child care centre was across the road from her older child’s primary school was a huge plus. 

‘I can park the car and walk my oldest to the school gate, and then cross the road to take my youngest into child care,’ she explained. ‘It makes my mornings so easy, not having to stop twice.’

2) Lower fees

The fee that a child care centre charges can vary from suburb to suburb, and has a lot to do with how many other centres are in the area. Each family also has their own government rebates that can also bring the fees down. 

For Hugh, being able to save some money each week helped him make the call between two equally good centres in his suburb.

‘We really liked them both, so in the end the fact that one was a fair bit cheaper really did come into it,’ he shares. ‘We can use that money for fun family activities, like milkshakes at the cafe on the weekend.’

3) Proximity to support people

It’s not always possible for a parent to finish work in time for pick up from child care, and that’s where other family members can help. 

Jenny’s parents offered to pick up her twins from child care, as the centre closed before Jenny finished work. This gave her the idea to choose a centre close to her parents, rather than one close to her own house.

‘I have to drive a little longer in the mornings to drop the kids off,’ she explained. ‘But it’s worth it as it means my parents can collect them in the afternoons and walk back to their house. 

They love having the time with the boys, and it means I don’t have to rush across town to pick them up before they close.’

4) Near a parent’s office

In a similar way, centres near a parent’s place of work can also be a good option for some families.

‘There aren’t many child care centres in our area, as it’s a newly built suburb on the outskirts of the city,’ shared Shaun. ‘So we made the decision to find care within the CBD, right near my office. 

My son comes to work with me on the train twice a week. I drop him off and go to work, I call in and see him at lunchtime for a cuddle and a play, and then I pick him up when I finish work and we head home together. It works for us.’

5) Extra-curricular activities

For many families, having a child care centre that offers something extra is of huge benefit. Not having to pay for extra-curricular activities, and also not having to drive them to another location for these activities is a big plus.

‘We loved the fact that this particular centre offered everything from yoga to Spanish lessons included in the fees,’ shared Steph, a mother of two. ‘It really helped us when we were deciding which centre to go with. It’s such a great added benefit.’

6) Longer hours

Centres have different opening hours which may or may not suit parents. For parents that start work early, have to commute, have a specific train to catch, or finish late – the hours that a centre offers can be the deciding factor.

‘In order to get to work on time, I have to be on that 7.05 am train,’ shares Alex. ‘So the fact that my son’s centre opens at 6.30 am was the final box ticked for us when we were choosing care for him.’ 

7) Availability

Plain and simple, sometimes you have to take what child care is available at the time. For Frankie and her daughter, it was about what care she could get after moving house on short notice.

‘My partner got offered a job and we needed to move quickly,’ Frankie shared. ‘Leaving behind our beloved child care centre was hard, but Toddle made it easy to find a new centre – fast.’

What would be on your list? What about other little perks like this centre that offers families a take-home meal each week? 

Free for parents to use, Toddle has every child care centre in Australia on the platform and promises to revolutionise the way parents search, interact with and ultimately choose a child care centre.

Australian Children Books Celebrating Diversity

Australian Children Picture Books that Celebrate Diversity

Australian Children Picture Books that Celebrate Diversity

Books play an important role as mirrors for children: these stories and characters will affect how they see themselves and the world around them, their motivation to read, and their aspirations for the future. In a country as multicultural as Australia, it’s vital that we offer children an opportunity to see realities and experiences different from their own.

The National Centre for Australian Children’s Literature introduced Australia’s first database of culturally diverse children’s books in June last year. The collection has been curated by experts and judged on the quality of writing and illustration, the readability and the strength of content. Stories selected for the database encourage readers to “walk in another’s shoes” and gain an understanding of cultures other than their own.

Included in the database are picture books, nursery rhymes, plays, short stories and novels. Key story concepts include empathy, family, kindness, resilience and respect. Here are some of our favourites.

girl getting temperature taken

Top 10 Illnesses Keeping Children Absent From Childcare

girl getting temperature taken

We’ve swiftly reached this year’s winter months which is typically a time when infections, viruses and bugs become most prominent. During last year’s winter months (2019), KindyNow tracked and recorded over 11,000 childcare bookings that were marked as absent due to illness, as well as the illnesses that were contracted.

From common viruses to irritating symptoms, there were over 70 different illnesses and symptoms of illness recorded for absent bookings. KindyNow have since reviewed this data to identify the top 10 most common illnesses that prevented children from attending their childcare service.

The top 10 most common illnesses recorded were:

1. Common Cold
2. Fever
3. Cough
4. Conjunctivitis
5. Influenza (Flu)
6. Viral Infection (Other)
7. Hand, Foot and Mouth
8. Ear Infection
9. Gastroenteritis (Gastro)
10. Vomiting

Collectively, the top ten accounted for up to 61% of the absent bookings.

Why it’s important to identify infectious illnesses early.
It’s incredibly important to identify in advance which illnesses are likely to impact your service so you can effectively prepare your staff and resources. When you’re better prepared you can successfully work towards minimising potential health risks and preventing an outbreak, which could force your families into being absent from childcare.

Over 150,000 childcare bookings have already been notified as absent with KindyNow in 2020 and as we navigate through unprecedented times with the recent outbreak of the coronavirus there has been a huge spike in absences and this figure continues to grow.

Now, it is more important than ever to ensure you have strong control and prevention strategies in place and your families are familiar with your strategy so they too can help you minimise the impact and spread of infectious illnesses.

For advice and tips on how you can ensure your service is meeting the National Quality Standards in minimising risk and protecting children from infection read the full article from KindyNow here.

KindyNow, a certified Kidsoft partner, is Australia’s most used childcare booking App, helping centres increase their occupancy and efficiency while improving their service offering. Learn more about KindyNow and how they can assist your business by clicking here.