Beautiful mother and daughter watch something funny on tablet computer, connected to wireless internet, spend free time in bedroom, have surprised happy expression. People and leisure concept

Kindyhub and Kidsoft Team Up

We’re thrilled to announce our latest API offering with Kindyhub, an innovative communication platform which enables educators to simplify and streamline documentation, enhance communication with parents, in-turn improving children’s learning outcomes.

“The decision to work with Kindyhub has come from the desire to present a best-of-breed solution for our customers.” Di Girvin from Kidsoft explains. “Partnering with complimentary software solutions and businesses will enable Kidsoft to focus on the continuous development and improvement of our product offering, allowing us to focus on what we do best, whilst still providing our customers with an unrivalled complete tech stack to deliver a best in class service to their families.”

Services using Kindyhub for their family engagement, child portfolios and planning can now take advantage of our seamless system integration; a best-in-class communication and CSS Management stack with a single API, saving you a number of hours of manual data entry.

The new integration requires services to only input child / parent information into one system, removing the need for double entry. When a new child commences at your service, and their information is entered into Kidsoft, Kindyhub will automatically synchronise the information. When you update a child’s profile within Kidsoft this too will pull through to the Kindyhub app.

For all bookings, including casual, the child will automatically be marked as present in Kindyhub on the day ensuring they receive any relevant room reports.

These initial features will be added to in time with further integration enhancements planned to achieve a more streamlined experience. 

How does the integration work?

Once the integration is live you will only need to update the children and parent details in Kidsoft, this will automatically sync in your Kindyhub account.

Names are copied over in proper casing for easy readibility.

You will see a notification at the top of your Kindyhub page to advise child profile changes must be made in Kidsoft.

The data between Kidsoft and Kindyhub sync’s every hour.

Kindyhub runs a connection in the background to match up names from both services. If a nickname is present in Kidsoft this is the name that will be displayed in Kindyhub.

If a child’s name does not match up, you can use the mapping screen to associate two child records in each system.

You will make the change in Kidsoft first and confirm the exit date. Once the child’s profile has an exit date, the Kindyhub system will automatically deactivate that child’s account.

Yes. Once a child has been confirmed as absent in Kidsoft this will automatically sync with Kindyhub, therefor Parent’s will not receive the daily updates from that day.

Interested in Kindyhub?

Kindyhub logo

Exclusive Offer - 12 months FREE Kindyhub

As a certified Kidsoft partner Kindyhub is delighted to offer Kidsoft customers, that currently do not use Kindyhub, 12 months FREE Kindyhub access.
*Conditions Apply

Kindyhub is a certified Kidsoft partner. Kindyhub enables educators to simplify and streamline documentation, enhance communication with parents, in-turn improving children’s learning outcomes. Learn more about Kindyhub and how they can assist your business by clicking here.

Dan Tehan

Government Update on COVID-19 support measures for Victoria ECEC sector

Dan Tehan announcement

Federal Minister for Education Dan Tehan has announced a new set of emergency support measures to support the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector in Victoria in light of the move to Stage 4 lockdown in Metropolitan Melbourne and Stage 3 in Regional Victoria announced 2 August 2020. 

The key measures, that are to come into effect on 6 August 2020 are confirmed as:

  • Families will be allocated a further 30 days of allowable absences to use at their service in addition to the 42 that are already in place, giving a total of 72 allowable absences available for families to use. 
  • Services will receive a further 5 per cent of reference period revenue as a further top up business continuity payment. This will be in addition to the existing 25 per cent Transition Payments that are currently in place bringing a total guaranteed receipt of 30 per cent for all services.

Importantly, a separate measure has been put in place for any service that receives Child Care Subsidy (CCS) that is equal to or lower than 50 per cent of their total revenue and that has seen attendances fall below 30 per cent. 

Services meeting these criteria will instead receive top up payment of between 10 per cent and 25 per cent depending on their specific circumstances in addition to their current 25 per cent Transition Payments.

Unpacking the latest ECEC support measures for Metro Melbourne Services

They will receive a new Top Up Payment directly from Government equal to 5 per cent of revenues in the reference period which, like for the ECEC Relief Package payments, will be the fortnight ending 1 March 2020. 

This payment will be in addition to the 25 per cent Transition Payment currently being received. 

In theory yes, but only if the child’s bookings are marked as absent and count towards allowable absent days. 

If they do this, then the service will continue to receive the child care subsidy (CCS) for their fees from the Government without families having to pay the gap fee.

Yes, it is essential. 

The whole package is based around the assumption that allowable absences are being used and that’s why in this latest package the number of days was increased by 30.

Without this part of the package the viability of the sector and all of the services, and their employees, within it are at risk. It is essential that services proactively engage families to ensure they take their allowable absences. 

That means that if a family has one child that attends 3 days a week there are sufficient absences for 10 weeks. Given the lockdown is set for 6 weeks, that should be more than enough.

Mr Tehan’s comment is based on a set of assumptions that have not been made public however by working through an example, it is possible to see that where his estimates may come from. 

Example:
A service with 75 license places and fees of $100 per day is currently at 75 per cent occupancy. The daily revenues for the service is $5,625 (75 places x $100 fees x 75 per cent occupancy). 

This service receives 45 per cent of its fees from families as gap payments, and 55 per cent from the Government in the form of CCS. 

As a result of the Stage 4 restrictions 90 per cent of their enrolled families will no longer be able to attend because they are not permitted workers. The other 10 per cent will attend as normal. 

Families that will not be attending the service use their allowable absences and in so doing enable the CCS component of their fees to be paid.

This will equal $2,531 (90 per cent of current enrolments x $100 fees x 50 per cent CCS paid). In addition to this they will receive the gap and CCS for the permitted workers (10 per cent of enrolments) whose children are attending which equates to $750 per day (10 per cent of current enrolments x $100). 

So the total fees, both gap and CCS received will be $3,281 or 58 per cent of current revenues. 

We will then need to add on the Transition Payments and the Top Up Transition Payments which are being received and are equal to 25 per cent and 5 per cent of revenue in the March fortnight reference period. 

These, assuming revenues are the same as currently, will see the service receive $1,406 plus $281 respectively. 

Combining the gap and CCS received of $3,281 and Transition Payments of $1,687 we get $4,968 which is 88 per cent of current revenues. 

*It is important to recognise this is an example and all services will have different inputs and therefore outputs but regardless of specific service circumstances the example provides an indication of the framework to be applied when considering the financial impact of this latest announcement.

This is a key point. Those services that receive less CCS from the Government would be at a serious disadvantage from those that receive more without any fault of their own. 

To address this the package includes a special provision that will see larger top up payments flow to services with less than 50 per cent CCS that have seen enrolments fall by 30 per cent. 

The Top Ups for eligible services will be between 10 per cent and 25 per cent depending on their specific circumstances and be paid in addition to the current 25 per cent Transition Payment.

Although complete details have not yet been published it is understood that the rules are similar to the existing Transition Payment scheme in place with no fee increases and employment guarantees being mandatory.

This package is only for services in the 31 designated metropolitan local government areas across.

The Sector will continue to cover announcements and policy changes as they come to light. To access all relevant statements and transcripts from the Federal Government, please see here.

Written by Jason Roberts, The Sector for Kidsoft
Jason is the founder and CEO of The Sector. He entered the ECEC sector in 2013 as CEO of G8 Education. He spent four years in senior executive positions before transitioning out of the business in January 2018. His time at G8 has given him a very valuable insight into the managing of large child care business and all the successes and challenges that come with them. Since leaving G8 Jason has continued to actively consult to the ECEC sector as an advisor, and work toward launching The Sector website.

Kidsoft New Features

New Features within Kidsoft

Kidsoft just got better!

Our new release of features have come to life based on your feedback and suggestions. Whether via Kidsoft Family forums, emails to our Customer Success team or through our daily chats with you all.

We’re excited to announce the addition of three new features which have been implemented in order to give you additional peace of mind and provide operational efficiencies in the day to day management of your service. 

We’ve developed a series of bite sized tutorial videos covering each feature. If you have further queries or feedback we’d love to hear from you.

C&K Logo

C&K confirms partnership with Kidsoft for another two years

Happy girl and teacher having fun in nursery

This week C&K (The Creche and Kindergarten Association Limited) announced their continued partnership with childcare management software provider Kidsoft, renewing their subscription across their portfolio of kindergartens and childcare centres for the 8th and 9th year.

For 113 years, C&K has cared for and educated over one million children and is Queensland’s pre-eminent provider of early education and care.

“We have over 350 kindergarten and childcare centres throughout Queensland, and as a not-for-profit, children come first in everything we do.” said C&K CFO, Mark Stones.

“C&K have been successfully using Kidsoft as our childcare management software tool and payment gateway since 2013 across all of our centres, and we’re excited to continue our partnership.  The Kidsoft platform supports day-to-day management efficiencies and assists with CCS requirements – simplifying and streamlining our operational processes.”

Australian owned and operated Kidsoft is a cloud-based CCS Childcare Management solution. The software offers a range of integrated tools including parent solutions, secure payment gateway, enrolment tools, attendance tracking and booking management in addition to an ever-increasing list of public APIs allowing customers to integrate with more platforms than just the Kidsoft ecosystem.

Kidsoft CFO, Di Girvin said, “We’re delighted that 2020 will see Kidsoft continuing to work alongside C&K. It has been a positive partnership since day one with both organisations developing over this period of time. In particular the Kidsoft product continually innovating to deliver functional features tailored to the feedback and needs of our customers.”

In the ever-changing landscape of today’s childcare sector, partnerships such as the one between C&K and Kidsoft are crucial to success. It’s imperative that to build longevity and to create best of breed childcare centres that put children first, a collaborative approach with experts in this space is necessary. It not only allows childcare centres to focus on what they do best but also provides peace of mind to both educators and families.

About C&K
For 113 years, C&K (The Creche and Kindergarten Association Limited) has cared for and educated over one million children and is Queensland’s pre-eminent provider of early education and care. C&K have over 350 kindergarten and childcare centres throughout Queensland, and as a not-for-profit, children come first in everything they do.
www.candk.asn.au

The Return to CCS Package Kidsoft

The Return to CCS Package

Kidsoft hosts online event to support ECEC sector as return to CCS package plays out

Cloud based CCMS provider, Kidsoft, brought the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector together yesterday evening in an online event designed to explore the challenges and changes 2020 has seen to date, with a focus on the recent return to CCS funding. 

Moderated by The Sector founder, Jason Roberts, a panel comprised of HR professionals, chartered accountants and customer service experts explored a range of topics including the impact of the return to Stage Three lockdowns in Victoria, the challenges in supporting families during this difficult period, and practical suggestions for service owners and managers to survive the transition back to CCS.

Over 400 registrations were received for the popular event, the first in a series of collaborative efforts by Kidsoft to enhance and add value to the ECEC space. 

Managing Victorian restrictions and the cessation of JobKeeper 

The first speaker, David Morphett from DJMIR Advisory Services spoke about the intensive impact of the return to lockdown conditions in Victoria, which have hit services just as they were eyeing a return to normal, in terms of occupancy and operation.

While the State is “yet to find the bottom” of the crisis, he added, there are a number of parents who are experiencing frustration with the continual change of restrictions, choosing to withdraw their children from care altogether, rather than to trust the allowable absence levels, or to navigate fluctuating levels of CCS payment and risk incurring fees. 

Parents are choosing instead to keep children at home until the path forward, both in terms of restrictions and their employment, becomes clearer, and this is impacting heavily on the operation of ECEC services. 

Just as the return of restrictions in Victoria is impacting parents and families, Mr Morphett said, from a national perspective, the cessation of JobKeeper for the ECEC sector, and the transitional support measures put in its place as CCS returns, is also impacting on the experience of leaders in the sector. 

Once JobKeeper ends, Mr Morphett explained, so too do the stand down measures which came with it. For services who are battling lower occupancy, who have had to move staff from one room to another, who have lost staff due to visa conditions, or who have moved staff from full time employment to part time employment, this could be problematic. 

The coming months will be a time during which services are constrained by conditions relating to the transitional support measures, and engaging in consultation with their teams about the best path forward to ensure ongoing viability, he added. 

Supporting families, maintaining relationships

Second speaker, Tom Scantlebury from Sky Blue Customer Experience Services, spoke on a topic familiar to all those working in the ECEC sector – the value of relationship based practice. 

“The most important thing to do during this period is to grow an extra ear” Mr Scantlebury said, explaining the importance of balancing compliance with empathy, and of seeking to walk in the shoes of children and families who are dealing with unprecedented levels of stress. 

While owners and operators are under enormous pressure themselves, in terms of managing the expectations of their teams and the demands placed on them by the shifting sands of policy and funding, families are looking to trusted voices for reassurance and stability. 

People, Mr Scantlebury said, will leave services because of their circumstances, such as losing their job, but the way in which follow ups from these departures are handled will determine whether or not they return once circumstances change. 

Using the example of a service following up with a family who has left in relation to unpaid fees, Mr Scantlebury preached caution. 

“When it comes to families, and our relationships with them, it’s a matter of listening, empathising, and staying as close as possible.” 

Communication, particularly in relation to any changes, is paramount in maintaining that close relationship, he continued, explaining that the return to restrictions in Victoria is likely to impact around Australia, with parents having questions about pick up and drop off, and how their child will be cared for and protected.

Leadership

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.

Concluding remarks 

To round off the discussion, Mr Roberts posed some questions to the panel, put forward by peer vote from those attending the session. 

One important question related to Family Day Care (FDC), with an audience member asking “Do you see FDC becoming the forefront of ECEC because of their smaller ratios and more flexible time scales, for families?” 

“I think FDC is so important, particularly in regional areas” Mr Morphett explained, outlining that many rural and regional communities lack the consistent numbers to sustain a long day care model. 

“A lot of parents feel more comfortable placing children in FDC when they are younger. It doesn’t receive as much support as it deserves, particularly in those regional areas. I’m hopeful to see that expand in the future” he said.  

Mr Roberts thanked the panel and audience for their participation. To view the remarks made by all three speakers, please see here. Answers to questions which were not able to be answered during the session can be found below. Please note there are a few that will be added in the coming days, so please check back if your questions hasn’t been listed.

For those who were unable to attend, but who are interested in learning more from Kidsoft or any of the other panellists please click here.

Attendee Questions

CCS Estimations are already in Kidsoft and are displaying for bookings from  Monday 13th July 2020. If you run a customer account statement from the 13th July you will see these. As long as the Guardians have an active payment schedule, the schedules will run as per your normal payment cycle.

Victorian services can put standard service and child level discounts back in. For services in the affected areas of Metropolitan Melbourne and Mitchell Shire if a child is absent for COVID-related reasons they can then waive the gap fee using the % of gap fee Discount. Additionally, for any service that is forced to close on public health advice, as a result of COVID-19, they can also waive families’ out of pocket fees using the % of gap fee Discount as the Ministers Rule has been extended from 30 June 2020 until 31 December 2020.

Yes, that is correct. The Minister’s Rule that permits services to waive families’ out of pocket fees in the event their service is forced to close on public health advice, as a result of COVID-19, will be extended from 30 June 2020 until 31 December 2020. Services using Kidsoft would use the % Gap Fee Discount to carry out this function.

The 62 initial allowable absence days per child ceased on 30 June 2020. There will be 42 initial allowable absence days in the 2020/21 financial year. Additional absence days can be claimed for COVID-19 related reasons without the need for medical evidence and are not counted towards their 42 initial days up until 31 December 2020.

We have never experienced such a time where so many of our communities have been impacted by something so serious. If you think back to the recent bushfires, I would imagine that if certain families lost their homes then there would have been tremendous levels of support and empathy extended to them. I feel we need to operate with that same mindset, to be open hearted and ensure that our families (and our staff) feel supported. How do we do that? Communicate, listen, focus on the parent’s experiences outside of the service. People can tell when you care about them so just by ensuring that this is front of mind on a daily basis will help to maintain/build engagement.

*Sky Blue CXS will soon be providing a free webinar to provide an introduction to some best practices in creating better centre experiences so feel free to connect with HERE to be included in the first round of the education series. 

Written by Freya Lucas, The Sector for Kidsoft
Freya is the Editor at The Sector. She has over 20 years experience in education and care services, with her previous roles as an early childhood teacher, primary teacher, and ECEC operations manager giving her a unique insight into the ECEC sector at all levels. Freya’s career has seen her work in private in-home care, primary schools, long day care, outside school hours care, in addition to tuition and library information and management settings. Freya’s key role at The Sector is to cover the latest ECEC news and provide insight and analysis into sector issues and developments. Freya is engaged with two sons aged 10 and 15. Freya has fond memories of the time her boys’ spent in the early education space.

Storypark app on mobile view

Storypark – New and Improved iOS Educator App

Storypark app on mobile view

We have been working hard behind the scenes at Storypark HQ, on a not so little project that is about to make things a whole lot easier for you. It is now time for the big reveal…

DRUM ROLL PLEASE…

Introducing the revamped and improved iOS Educator App! Yes, you heard right, our app has just had a huge makeover, and we think you’re going to like what you see.

We listened to the challenges you were facing and prioritised creating solutions to the things you do most often and the things you spend the most time doing. These two things are creating stories, and engaging with your learning communities. 

We put on our thinking caps, spent a whole lot of time discussing, researching, and experimenting with ways we could streamline your work, and save you time!

We then created prototypes to test with some handpicked and willing participants. We asked them questions and even watched them do set tasks to see how easily they could implement them. 

The next step was releasing our beta app, and surveying the hundreds of users for their feedback. 

They’ve told us that the new app is providing them lots of value already. Particularly during COVID-19, when maintaining close contact with our communities has become even more important, the improvements offered in the new app can better support you through this time. 

Over time you will notice even more functionality added to the app, but we knew you would find the new features to be super valuable now! There are still a lot of things we would like to add, such as giving seamless access to plans. Be assured we will continue to make the new app even greater than it already is.

What problems will the new app help you solve?

  • We know how important it is for you to be able to share stories of children’s learning the way you want to. Now, in order to make the best use of your limited admin time, you can do everything from your device! You can very quickly add photos and videos in the correct order for publishing. Stuck with finding the right learning tags for each story? Don’t worry, it is now very simple to find the right ones to include your curriculum. Tags are now organised in sets, and you can even see the descriptions that are attached to individual tags as well.
  • Particularly at this time, keeping track of conversations, community posts and responses is really important and this is streamlined in the new app, with each group you’re talking to having its own channel, with messages in chronological order. You’ll see at a glance when a new message comes in, and it’s much easier to go back and find something. Best of all, in this all-new community area, you can now create community posts!
  • Just when you think things couldn’t get any better, you will now be able to easily see individual children, finding their profile very quickly.
  • Can’t get near a computer and want to change the date of a story? You can now do this on the new app too. 
  • In the past you may have had times when you have been midway through creating a story, when your internet connection drops out and you couldn’t complete your story. Now, if this happens, your work will be saved on the device! The very next time you reconnect and open the app, you will find that your work has been saved and synced online!
  • Responding and contributing to other educators and families stories just got even better too – now, you can comment with images and videos! This is an awesome way to show continuity of learning and contribute with your different lenses of children’s learning.

What about a new app for Android users we hear you say…

  • We built the new iOS app first because our data showed us that it had significantly more users, with an increasing number of requests for new features.  
  • For team Android, feedback told us that the current Android app provides a better user experience than the old iOS app. This doesn’t mean that it’s perfect, so if you use an Android device please let us know what improvements you would like to see. Also, we would love to know why these improvements are important to you. By giving us this valuable feedback, it will help us prioritise improvements for our Android users.

So there you have it! Our newest “duckling” is ready to venture out into bigger ponds. As always, if you have any questions or hit a roadblock, our superstar support team are always here to help you. You can contact them at hello@storypark.com

What is left to say? It is now time for you to go and download the new app here, have a play, get to know it, and then go out and keep being awesome!

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.

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Kidsoft and Storypark Team Up!

Grandmother and granddaughter with phone

Kidsoft and Storypark have teamed up to help Educators across Australia!
Kidsoft and Storypark are excited to be teaming up to take the stress out of teaching. Kidsoft users can now set up a Storypark community through Kidsoft. Set up a new Storypark community through Kidsoft by 30 June 2016 and you’ll receive three (3) months Storypark FREE! A 25% saving!

Storypark is a certified Kidsoft partner. Leading educators across Australia are using Storypark to engage parents, strengthen practice, support professional development, streamline assessment and rating processes, and improve their NQS ratings. Learn more about Storypark and how they can assist your business by clicking here.

Woman with iPad and security icon

Kidsoft is Improving its Infrastructure Platform!

Woman with iPad and security icon

Kidsoft’s data is moving to a new home. We’re getting ready to migrate our Kidsoft data to a new hosting platform Amazon Web Services (AWS) housed in Sydney, Australia. Our current platform has served us well; however the new platform has been designed to allow for future growth and enhanced security. Childcare data held within FOFMS/CCMS (and potentially its replacement) is considered to be both ‘Personal’ information and ‘Protected’ information (as defined in A New Tax System (Family Assistance) (Administration) Act 1999). AWS adheres to the Australian Government cloud policy and has passed the accreditation process with the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD) and Information Security Manual (ISM).

The move to our new AWS hosting platform will be phased over the next few weeks. You probably won’t notice it happening, as we are moving data at times when customers are least likely to be affected. This will ensure little to no downtime to our customers. Should you require any further information, please do not hesitate to contact the Kidsoft team.