The pandemic has brought with it unprecedented challenges for individuals, businesses and countries alike. The Childcare Sector as a whole, whilst continuing to be an essential part of the foundational economy, providing crucial services to support parents/carers and children across Wales, faces an uncertain future and an anticipated significant drop in take up. The impact of Covid-19 on employment levels, affordability issues, a significant period where many families have not been paying for childcare and more employers considering home-working/ agile working as potential long-term options all have the potential to detrimentally impact the Sector.
Whilst this sounds bleak, it is important to remember why you do what you do. Although Out of School Childcare Clubs have clear benefits in supporting working/training families and the Welsh economy, for many Playworkers, the answer to this question often revolves around the benefits that play and the experience offered by Clubs has for children. PLAY MATTERS and as Playworkers you are excellently placed to ensure that your Clubs offer the best possible opportunities and experiences for children, letting themsimply be children, pulling away from the focus on ‘missed education’ and focusing instead on the immense benefits of play in all its muddy, exuberant, creative, explorative glory.
Comments from a Social Worker about the benefit to two vulnerable children of attendance at a Holiday Club during Summer 2020.“[Things have been] very bleak for them throughout lockdown, lots of disruption and isolation. The girls fed back to me that they absolutely loved it [at the Setting], they have talked about the new friends they have made and all the things that they do there (outdoor play, toasting marshmallows and all sorts). I have seen an improvement in self-confidence, and both parents have fed back how it has helped the girls develop interest in other things again (after spending months on electronic devices), they are now wanting to do arts and crafts, go out for picnics etc. So overall improvement in their general wellbeing, back to the happy and enthusiastic children that they once were.”
The changing landscape of the workforce and working patterns across Wales calls for innovative ways forward to support the survival of the Out of School Childcare Sector and all the benefits it has to offer. Historically, marketing by Childcare Providers has tended to focus on the parents and on what their reasons for using childcare were likely to be (working/training). However, does the way you advertise your Setting get across the passion that you and your staff have for play, and the varied opportunities/experiences/activities you offer? Marketing is central to the success of any business, and with the evolving economic climate, it is essential to ensure that information about the fantastic play opportunities and experiences you offer children is being disseminated to all potential service users.
Are you advertising on a wide enough basis? And are you doing so in a way that will attract parents/carers and children themselves, so that they want to use your services even if parents/carers are continuing to work from home? Are you using social media effectively? How is social media being used by other Providers who have high levels of attendance? Are you promoting wider than your own Social Media and making links with community influencers such as schools and community groups? Have you explored different mediums of promotion, such as ‘video tours’, photographs of activities, testimonials from children/parents and open days? Have you explored ‘themed weeks’ and colourful freely-chosen activity plans ahead of holiday periods? Would ‘themed nights’ pique more children’s interest in attending After School Club?
We know the benefit to children offered by Care Inspectorate Wales registered Out of School Childcare Clubs, with qualified Playworkers who are passionate about play – make sure your community knows about these benefits too! With the changes brought about by Covid-19 to working patterns, now is the time to have an overhaul of existing marketing strategies and bring things back to basics: as Playworkers, why do we do what we do?
We have a host of marketing resources available on the members area of our website, and remember our Childcare Business Development Officers are here to support you with any marketing queries you may have.
Written by Naomi Evans
South East Wales Regional ManagerTweet