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 programmes Greener Minds, in which nature is explored, valued and looked after in daily activities, and their sensory-rich Bush Kindy, which gives children the opportunity 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 organisation has 220 employees and is licenced 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 when we got 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 doing manual processing of forms. It was really 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 realised 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.
The centre and assistant managers at each centre have elevated privileges to close out incidents via the app.
Maintenance issues, which were previously texted or called through 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 the newfound visibility he has across the organisation.
“Previously, I would’ve been absolutely clueless on the current maintenance issues. Now I can go into 1Place and search by date, centre or priority, see the ones that are open 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 are tracking in their compliance.
“Previously I wouldn’t have known. Now I get it daily, and I like the fact 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’s 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 programme, 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 are confirming that this essential physical check has taken place.”
He says 1Place Childcare compliance and best practice software has improved the way they operate, freeing up time for their educators and had a positive environmental impact.
“The investment is definitely worthwhile. It is a niche; there’s no other software solution that I’m aware of that does all of this specifically for childcare. It has to be quite specific, and it is.”