Flexible childcare- Women’s Agenda article

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Womens agenda
Flexible childcare until 11:30pm? It’s now reality at one centre thanks to this female entrepreneur
Angela Priestley
We love seeing innovation in the childcare sector. Particularly when it comes from female entrepreneurs who are tapping into their own experiences raising kids in order to create something better.
Last week I wrote about the chain of Sydney-based childcare centres offering $5 dinner boxes for parents to pick up, along with their kids. That idea came from Lilach Weininger, co founder of Learn and Laugh Children’s Centres, who learnt firsthand how exhausted working parents can be after a long day at work.
Over the weekend I heard about a new kind of service opening altogether: the Ferntree Gully-based Kindoo!, which is offering fully flexible care and half day options.
The centre comes in response to the realities facing working parents, that go beyond just exhaustion. We don’t all work nine to five. In many cases we work nights and ‘out of office hours’. A number of us work weekends, and we don’t all need (or want to pay) for a full day’s care.
So launching this week, Kindoo is offering morning, afternoon and evening ‘sessions’ for three to six year olds, as well as options for care on Saturday nights — along with regular full day options.
The evening sessions mean kids can be cared for until 11:30pm, six nights a week. They’re particularly aimed at those doing shift work like nurses, chefs and emergency workers. A segment of the workforce that’s typically been overlooked when it comes to formal care.
The best bit? If you only need half a day, you only pay half a day. They also offer casual, permanent and emergency bookings, as well as a service to drop off and pick up kids from one of the 19 local kindergartens.
The idea came from Kindoo CEO Martina Dunkel, after facing her own difficulties managing care and work.
As a widow with two kindergarten-aged children, Dunkel was unable to return to work unless her kids attended a kinder program at a long day care centre. “They were already attending community based kindergarten, which I didn’t want to remove them from. But I did need the flexibility of someone picking them up and caring for them until I could return,” she told me.
Dunkel asked a broader group of mothers and found that while their circumstances all differed, they shared a common need for longer, “wrap around care”.
“I also discovered that there were no centres catering for families that had parents working or attending events in the evenings,” she says. “While it takes a village to care for a child, the village that we could once rely upon is no longer there.”
Dunkel says that interest in the centre has been high, with parents sharing a wide range of reasons for why they’re keen on booking their kids in for ‘sessions’ over full days, including parents looking to study, work part time, work on their own businesses and even to train for major sporting events.
Work no longer (did it ever?) fits into neat, nine to five boxes occurring five days a week, nor does it align perfectly with school days. It’s good to see an increasing number of services that support working parents adapting and innovating in order to meet the needs of the modern workforce.

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