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How G8 Education uses AI-based scheduling to provide stable childcare in disruptive times  

by Widget Brain, on Sep 8

 

When it comes to child care, parents want the best for their children. G8 Education is one of those trusted centers.  With more than 470 locations and 11,000 team members in Australia, G8’s mission is to consistently provide quality care each day, even in disruptive times like COVID-19.

 

We talked with Jason Ball, Chief Operations Officer at G8, about their challenges with volatile demand and scheduling efficiency at the start of the crisis and finding the solution in AI and automation to ensure quality care, meet employees’ needs and comply with regulations in their scheduling. 

 

The challenge:  Dealing with a complicated scheduling landscape

 

With our wide range of G8 childcare centers operating across the country, we realised we needed more insight and control over our staff schedules. However, like many other companies, we were then severely disrupted by COVID-19.” explains Jason Ball from G8 Education. 

 

Even before the virus struck, scheduling in the childcare industry has always been a complicated and time-consuming process. The company always has to ensure there are enough caretakers for the number of children present, qualifications match, and breaks are scheduled according to Australian legislation. On top of that, G8 also strives to improve the quality of care and education in its centers and staff more efficiently. What drives this process is the number of child care enrollments and attendances. However, this number became more unpredictable than ever when COVID-19 struck. Parents withdrew children due to safety fears and job loss, then re-enrolled with the introduction of free child care. Since the number of children in the centers differed greatly even during the day, it subsequently became harder to adequately schedule the legally required number of caretakers

 

Maintaining the quality of education and care for the children in our G8 Education centers is non-negotiable.” mr Ball explains.  And with this, G8 Education kickstarted their plan to deploy a big data and AI-based scheduling approach

 

The solution:  Utilising labour data and predicting attendance

 

To get a full picture of attendance at different points in time, predictive scenarios were made based on data about historical arrivals and departures, no-shows, casuals, and holidays. The scenarios range from all children coming back at once to possible declines in students. The output is a detailed forecast of children expected for each room in each center, every 15-minutes of the day.

 

To make efficient schedules, AI technology is used to calculate the required number of educators in each room based on staff to child ratios. From there a roster is automatically created that is compliant with regulations covering all team members’ breaks and flexible hours.

 

“Widget Brain adapted quickly and now provides ongoing support to us in our response to the pandemic, helping us understand the needs of families and their children and staff.” says Mr Ball.

 

The results: 1. Better service and care, 2. Happier team members, and 3. Improved scheduling efficiency

 

  1. Maintaining quality service and care

 

When it comes to children, we want the best for our children, and Widget Brain has contributed to that.  

Mr Ball explains: “Widget Brain is helping us to ensure that we have the right people at the right times in the right places in every one of our centers. It also meant that we could respond quickly to parents in need of last-minute casual care, confident that we would not breach the required ratios. We are now in a place where our rosters and shifts are balanced so that we can deliver the best care possible in our G8 centers.” 

 

  1. Happier team members

 

Not only do children get the best care possible, the use of AI technology also has positive effects on employees. Mr Ball elaborates: The danger of under-staffing is an unreasonable burden on the whole team while over-staffing can equally lead to job dissatisfaction. The efficiencies delivered by Widget Brain help to improve team member satisfaction.”

 

  1. Improved scheduling efficiency

 

Mr Ball said the pandemic had placed unprecedented pressure on every child care business and leveraging technology to drive efficiencies would assist long-term sustainability.

 

“Widget Brain presented the perfect solution and we planned a full-scale roster reset using their technology.” says Mr Ball. The solution was also intended to reduce the rostering burden on center managers who must assign part-time and full-time staff, including cooks, educators, teachers, and assistants following all regulations. 

 

Mr Ball continues: “We are able to use the information from their data analysis to steer the business and create unprecedented efficiency, ensuring the right number of childcare workers are present each day. They work alongside us as a team.” 

 

Want to learn more about how AI-driven scheduling automation can help you? 

 

Curious about how our technology for the childcare industry can help you solve your staffing challenges? Interested in shortening scheduling time? Do you want to relieve the burden on your employees’ shoulders?  Or do you just want what’s best for the children in your care? Request a demo today!