This weekend two of my fabulous friends with their finger on the pulse and a handful of Daycare Decisions followers sent me a new childcare placement website: www.aircarer.com. This is a childcare matching platform currently only operating out of Queensland which I have concerns about. They are offering both registered and unregistered childcare from babysitting through to daycare in the home of carers registered with Aircarer.com and actually that is legal but what they are not doing is educating parents about the options available and why things like early years education is important and risk assessing the location the child should be cared for in.
Aircarer.com claim to be Montessori 2.0. This not only does this underline a complete lack of understanding of the Montessori philosophy but is offensive to educators around Australia who have fought hard for respect and acknowledgement of their sector. Aircarer describes themselves as:
– “3 x better than the childcare regulations” with
-“All Carers require validation against criteria which is of higher standard than State Government”
Does Aircarer require the Family Daycare standard training requirement on asthma and anaphylaxis? Not at the moment
Does aircarer require other people in the home of the carer to have a blue card? Not at the moment
Is the carer registered with the State government and listed on the national ACECQA register? No, not according to the postcode searches I was doing on the Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority’s national register. Some maybe registered but most aren’t. This is murky water and it seems like the founders are trying to ‘uber’ childcare. It seems they have identified that parent face problems choosing childcare and very quickly have decided to develop a platform to ‘solve’ the problem. This is is not start-up land where you:
Step 1: Create a website
Step 2: Test your market, your response.
Step 3: Refine, possibly pivot the idea
Step 4: Hopefully get traction and money in the door or sign ups and then ‘Hey-Ho’ a scaleable business with global potential everyone wants to invest in.
Oh wait, what was the first pillar of Maria Montessori’s philosophy? That’s right, ‘respect for the child’. How is this platform providing the best possible care and the crucial under 5 age group? When children are being placed in a house where only the person directly caring for the child requires a blue card, but the founder states, “we are working towards the other people in the house all having a blue card”, doesn’t strike me as a safety first approach. With promises like, “you too can ‘earn a great income’, choose your own hours and be your own boss,” this language doesn’t strike me as engaging carers for the purposes of early education. Where is the requirements for enthusiasm for working with children? A dedicated passion for early years education? Not once is ‘children’ mentioned in respect to carers registering with aircarer and there’s something not right about that. Oh and then there are the verified carers on the website are offering their services at $6/hr from 6am till 6pm with a 10% after hours loading. Woah, I can’t even buy a coffee and cake for that, let alone childcare. What value are we putting on the care of children offering childcare at such a low price?
When I think ‘platform’ for matching parents and carers for childcare I think of risk minimisation and minimal service provision. Matching platforms work really well for buying or selling like in the case of ebay or booking a taxi like Uber. Not for mixing regulated and unregulated childcare allowing parents to be exploited. Who will assess or provide guidelines on the safety of the pool, the dog in the backyard, the person you share your flat with, the safety of the cot, the amount of space indoor and outdoor to run a in-home care program for children?
I don’t mind if these guys want to do a platform for babysitting and occasional care, but the minute they step over the line calling themselves a long hours in-home care service with some carers registered and some not, this is an confusing for parents and unethical. Providing insurance is not the issue for when something goes wrong. It’s preventing it from going wrong in the first place that should be the focus. Platforms don’t buy parents peace of mind. Please inform and educate parents who are choosing childcare on the importance of early learning, and safety. I think more and more we will see in early learning and care there will be those peeps thinking they can sweep in and revolutionise the sector with a simple idea and solve the 2 year childcare waiting lists. Well, good on you for thinking in this space but you haven’t done your research. Australian long daycares, family daycares and kindy’s and out of school hours care are regulated so as NOT to compromise the safety of our children and lay the foundations for quality early learning education, it’s not just a babysitting service and parents expect more. I have contacted Aircarer directly and shared my concerns, and they have provided a detailed response and I still don’t feel comfortable with their service.