After-school childcare crisis
Managing the school run alongside a full-time job has always been a challenge.
The standard 9-5 working day does not sit well with primary school hours - an 8:30am drop off, a 3:30pm pick up, and some form of commute in between.
The reason that this is an issue for primary school parents in particular, is because they are likely to have previously been sending their child to a nursery, where the hours are more like 8am-6pm.
In addition, they are no longer entitled to their 30 hours of free childcare so alternative solutions need to be considered. In some cases the cost of these options prohibits parents from returning to work at all.
Up until now, many parents have relied on after-school clubs to provide them with the additional childcare needed to finish their working day. However, these are being restricted by the regulations around COVID-19, which is creating the following issues.
- If schools run after-school clubs they are required to keep children in their bubbles. This will limit the choice of activity available.
- If start times are staggered, only the children finishing school at the time the club starts will be able to attend, as there will be no-one to look after them between school finishing and the club starting.
- Some schools do not have the space to offer these clubs at all, given the social distancing measures that they have had to put in place.
- Where they can adhere to the guidelines, independent after-school facilities are allowed to operate, but the guidelines mean that numbers are reduced in many cases.
- Independent after-school clubs are allowed accept children from a number of schools, and some parents are concerned about exposing children to a wider group than is absolutely necessary.
The most likely outcome is that after-school clubs in schools will be oversubscribed, as parents attempt to return to the office. It appears that independent clubs will struggle whilst the virus is still present, as parents who are still able to work from home choose to collect their children at the end of the school day.
We have already seen this over the summer months where, despite still having to work, over 75% of parents kept their children at home rather than send them to any kind of holiday activity.
That said, we know that looking after children whilst working has been one of the biggest challenges created by lockdown. Many parents are still working from home but, even with the schools going back, many will still struggle to do their jobs in a shorter working day. Stepping out to do the school run is easy; getting back to work once the children are home is not.
The Fetching app offers a solution. It allows parents to share the school run amongst a chosen group of friends and family that they trust. By picking up a friend’s child as well as your own, you earn credits that you can use at a time when you need your own child collecting.
Only parents that you know and connect with on the app are approved to collect your child from school. They then look after them in their home until you are able to collect them after work. People who have your phone number or email address can invite you to connect - no-one can find you on the app without this information.
Provided you put in as much time as you take out, the app is free. This means you will need to collect other people’s children once or twice a week to earn the credits you need to cover your childcare on the other days.
Maybe you can finish work early one day or maybe you have the day off. Collecting a friend’s children on these day will not only keep you in credit on the system, we hope your child will enjoy having a playmate for a few hours as well.
Our product is built around school communities and networks of friends helping each other out. That's why we also have a platform for the school so that they are kept fully informed of all collection arrangements.
We understand that we are new, and the safety of your children is not something that you take lightly. However, we have taken every possible precaution to ensure that only people you know and trust in real life are allowed to collect your child from school.
Our vision is to stop childcare from preventing parents doing the things they love - whether you work full time or not. You can read more about our vision here and, in the meantime, please do try the app and let us know what you think.