Relationships don’t begin and end with families, with both Mr Morphett and Mr Scantlebury outlining the importance of maintaining clear relationships and “lines of sight” with the educators and leaders within services also.
Mr Morphett spoke on the need for services to spend the next 12 weeks, whilst transition support measures are in play, actively consulting with their teams about the employment landscape post September, and to use this time to build a solid plan.
Mr Scantlebury touched on the need for leaders to be sensitive to the uncertainties faced by their employees, who may be operating from a baseline of anxiety, arising from circumstances in their home lives, such as a partners job loss, or the need to care for and educate their own children at home.
The educators affected by stand downs or reductions in hours, he added, are the “front line” in maintaining relationships and empathising with families, and if they feel “hard done by” or disengaged, the impact to the business could be ongoing.
“This is the toughest time to be a leader” Mr Scantlebury said. “You’ve got to manage the business, but also the people and the relationships.”
Practicalities around CCS return
While the return to lockdown restrictions in Victoria has had a social and emotional impact on those residing there, the timing of the lockdown, falling during the transition back to CCS, has proved problematic for some Victorian providers.
The final speaker of the evening, Kidsoft CFO Di Girvin, shared her advice for Victorian services, and for other services who may be struggling to navigate the change.
“Everyone had been ramping up to return to normal on Monday” she said. “There’s lots of questions from Victorian services about the capacity of CCMS software to waive the gap fee for those absences, and about the administrative burden of applying discounts day by day or week by week to those absences which relate directly to COVID.”
While Kidsoft is agile and has been able to rapidly respond to these challenges, not all providers have had the same experience.
Owners and managers, Ms Girvin continued, are also dealing with families who are concerned about allowable absences, as Mr Morphett outlined earlier. Occupancy levels are “plunging” as families choose the easier option of cancelling their enrolment, rather than navigating the allowable absences path.
For those outside Victoria, Ms Girvin said, it was important to remain aware of the practicalities of moving not only from a “free childcare” model back to CCS, but also of straddling a new financial year.
“It feels like we’ve been on this holiday since 6 April, in terms of functions we haven’t had to worry about or complete (to be compliant) but come Monday, we really need to look at those things which might impact our FY2020 results”.
Dealing with overdue attendances, and submitting variations in attendances up until 6 April are just two of the areas where Ms Girvin said people may have been “caught short” when free childcare was announced.
“We recommend overdue attendances are dealt with early in the piece, particularly before reports are submitted to accountants” she continued.