Little Locals is an environmentally-conscious early education provider in Queensland, Australia dedicated to nurturing future generations, supporting modern families and building communities.
With five established centres, and growth in the pipeline, the family-owned and operated group takes a collaborative approach to the learning process by observing and adapting teaching techniques to support the individual needs of each child.
Environmental and sustainability education is incorporated into their learning programs Greener Minds, in which nature is explored, valued and looked after in daily activities, and their sensory-rich Bush Kindy, which allows children to explore diverse natural environments every week.
Little Locals is also the first early learning group in Queensland to be a certified Carbon-Neutral Business so, when a review identified vast amounts of paper being used and time wasted using such paper-based processes, Director Jacek Gajewski was desperate to find a solution.
A software solution with the environment in mind
Before finding 1Place, Jacek says team members would use paper for most regulatory procedures; printing forms, scanning them, saving them “somewhere” on a computer, and physically filing them.
The cumbersome process not only took educators away from doing what they should be doing, “which is looking after, playing with and educating the kids”, but also failed to align with their environmental values.
The organization has 220 employees and is licensed to educate 900 students across its five large centres. They had already made changes to reduce their paper use by moving their 28-page parent handbook online but it was still adding up.
“We were going through close to 100,000 pieces of paper per year. This would have doubled when we got to 10 centres, and tripled to 15 centres,” says Jacek.
He says the scanning and saving system “was a mess” and made it difficult and time-consuming to find specific files.
“As we grow, we’ve got all of these educators spending all this time manually processing forms. It was problematic. That’s what prompted us to look at what solutions are out there in the marketplace.”
He found 1Place Childcare by chance while visiting the Kidsoft website and organised a demo with centre managers.
“We realized it was going to help us in terms of time, efficiency, and environmental impact,” he says.
Reduced paperwork and streamlined processes
1Place Childcare is now available via an iPad in every room for educators to carry out regular checklists, log incidents, and create maintenance tickets, helping them stay on top of their day-to-day responsibilities.
“If there’s an issue, they’ll take a photo of it, and that comes through to the centre manager and they review it,” Jacek says.
Each centre and assistant manager have elevated privileges to close out incidents via the app.
Maintenance issues, previously texted or called ad-hoc to another business partner, are now identified in daily checks and logged through 1Place with a photo to assess.
“Now he can assess and coordinate what needs to be done with the centre manager,” says Jacek.
Such issues had never been tracked, and Jacek is excited by his newfound visibility across the organization.
“Previously, I would’ve been clueless about the current maintenance issues. Now I can go into 1Place and search by date, centre or priority, see the open ones and which have been resolved.”
Online compliance brings peace of mind
As an offsite director, Jacek receives a daily report for each centre in his inbox, telling him how they track their compliance.
“Previously, I wouldn’t have known. Now I get it daily, and I like that it’s in my emails. It’s there in the morning, I can see it, and it takes me 30 seconds to follow up.”
“If there are more red crosses than green ticks, I’ll send a follow-up to the relevant centre manager to remind them to stay on top of the checklists,” he says.
Because excursions are part of their Bush Kindy program, the bus checklist is one he pays particular attention to – which must be signed by two people.
1Place Childcare makes everyone accountable, he says.
“If they’re signing it, they confirm that this essential physical check has occurred.”
He says 1Place Childcare compliance and best practice software have improved how they operate, freeing up time for their educators and positively impacting their environment.
“The investment is worthwhile. It is a niche; I’m aware of no software solution that does all of this specifically for childcare. It has to be quite specific, and it is.”