A new not-for-profit community childcare and virtual education service has been launched by travel industry leaders.
Childcare Connect will enable key workers to source childcare and assist parents preparing to return to work once social distancing measures begin to be lifted.
It has been co-founded by Ruth Hilton, director of commercial at The Appointment Group and former Trafalgar and Insight Vacations’ sales and business development director; Jane Williams, former head of finance at MYTravel and ex-Travelocity financial controller; and Steve Endacott, co-founder of Holiday Taxis and former On Holiday Group chief operating officer.
They say childcare is already in short supply for NHS and key workers, and estimate 25% of NHS hours are lost as a result of childcare restrictions – and believe traditional support mechanisms like grandparents will not be available during the slow emergence from lockdown due to the ongoing risk of coronavirus spreading.
Hilton, Williams and Endacott hope the new Childcare Connect service will tap into the resurgence in community spirit by providing a network for parents to connect with qualified carers, fellow parents and students offering childcare services for individual or small group care.
Anyone who registers will be asked to submit or apply for a DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) check. A ‘social qualifying’ programme will also be introduced to provide parents with more detailed and personal insight to help them make informed decisions.
Registering carers will be asked to share recommendations via the Childcare Connect Facebook page from peers, family members and a child they have looked after previously, which can then be ratified by the prospective parent via a direct contact. The use of digital technology will also be encouraged using video interviews and monitoring.
Should the government introduce ‘Corona Free’ certification, this information will be shared on the Childcare Connect database.
Childcare Connect will be lobbying the government to raise the priority of antibody testing for the network of child carers so they are able to support people as they return to work and help rebuild the economy.
Community Leads will be appointed to take responsibility for mobilising their local child carer community while Childcare Connect will provide the website, carer database, operational framework, and advice as well as help setting up Facebook and WhatsApp groups of people willing to donate childcare services.
Co-founder Ruth Hilton said: “We have seen so many inspiring people step forward to help during the Corona Crisis and every week the whole country unites in stepping out to #ClapForTheNHS. As we emerge from lockdown and try to adjust to the new ‘normal’ we need to embrace this wonderful community spirit and take it to the next level.
“Like many people, I have been placed on furlough by my travel business employer and it is difficult to say when working life will resume, but what I can do now is help other parents who need support as they venture back into the working world. I am throwing myself into mobilising a ‘People’s Army’ to offer practical assistance to get the country back on its feet.”
Visit the Childcare Connect website here.