Publication: The Sector
When popular early childhood education and care (ECEC) specific loyalty rewards platform Nurch launched in 2018, the premise was simple… families are paying substantial fees for ECEC services, so why not reward them for their loyalty and spending?
With Nurch, families earn points on their gap fees, which are then redeemable at over 100 leading Australian retailers. By giving back to families through Nurch, approved providers increase the satisfaction of their families, and retain enrolments, which is not only better for children’s outcomes but which supports the business to be sustainable through retained enrollments and a boost in goodwill.
Given the success of the platform, which has attracted more than 42 services to the fold so far, the Nurch team have kept their eyes and ears open, looking for ways to enhance their offering, and capitalise on their extensive experience in the ECEC sector to create, shape and refine a product which meets the needs of services and families.
Changes now in play
The latest opportunity for the sector was announced in the Federal Government’s most recent Mid Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook. A number of changes relevant to the sector were put forward, with the most significant being that from 24 January 2022, ECEC providers can choose to offer a discounted fee to employees with children enrolled at one of their services without impacting the eligible subsidy.
“As soon as we heard the announcement, we recognised what an amazing opportunity it represented, not only for our existing Nurch users but for the sector as a whole,” Kara Smyth, Cofounder at Nurch explained.
Under the new measures, ECEC providers can choose to offer a discounted fee to employees with children enrolled at one of their services and report the full fee. The savings on the new structure of these discounts, Kara said, are new savings for all providers which present as an opportunity to give back and reward the most valuable families on their books – the educator parents.
From 24 January, ECEC providers can offer staff discounts to those who work as educators or early childhood teachers in centre-based long day care or outside school hours care settings and who have children enrolled in the same provider network.
Providers can choose how much of a discount they want to offer, but it must be structured in such a way that the educator parent still pays at least a five per cent gap fee.
It’s in this window where Nurch represents a real value add for savvy providers. Here’s an example.
Jane, Aaron and the great value add
Jane is an early childhood educator who has one child in care. She works at a service in St Kilda, and her son Aaron attends a service just down the road, in Windsor, which is also operated by Jane’s employer.
Jane’s employer has always offered all employees a 25 per cent discount on their fees. Before the changes, the service had to report Jane’s discounted fee in session reports, and her CCS was calculated based on the discounted fee.
From January 24, Jane’s service still offers all employees the 25 per cent discount but now they can report the full fee in session reports – now Jane’s CCS entitlement is not affected by the discount, and her fees are reduced, reflecting substantial savings for Jane and her childcare provider.
Using Nurch to take it one step further
Her family income of $110,000 combined means that her CCS rate is 71.67 per cent. With daily fees at Aaron’s service of $106.50 for a ten-hour session, Jane was paying around $100 in gap fees for the three days Aaron was in care.
Under the new changes, and with her discount, she’s in a much better position financially, but her service didn’t stop there. Enrolled with Nurch, Jane, and all the other educator parents at her service, earn a minimum of one point for every dollar they spend on childcare fees. 300 points mean $10 to spend at well known Australian retailers like JB Hi-Fi, Woolworths, Coles, Bunnings, K-Mart, Myer and many more.
Givers are grinners
By providing Jane with a 25% discount, she will receive around $80 a week in staff discounts which makes her total weekly gap fee $236 per week. Jane will also have her Christmas shopping sorted as she will earn a minimum of $400 a year in rewards through Nurch too. The childcare centre will receive an additional $2800 a year in funding revenue for Jane. A win-win for everyone.
Why educator parents are such treasures
Those educators who wear two hats – caring for children at the service, whilst also being service users – are some of the most valuable assets an ECEC approved provider has, with their perspectives, views and experiences offering all parents in the service a unique window into how the various systems and processes in play work, Kara explained.
More than just staff members, parents who are educators offer a unique “Mum to Mum” (or Dad to Dad, or Dad to Mum) perspective on the inner workings of a service, and can add a layer of credibility and trust to the experience of all enrolled families.
“Parent educators are like gold,” Kara said. “They are the biggest advocates for what’s working well in your service, and should be your first port of call when it comes to making changes to benefit your community.”
Rewarding educator parents
“The Nurch program is a great way to recognise and reward loyalty in all families, but especially those educator parents,” Kara explained.
For Nadine Ross, Nurch user and Head of Operations at Imagine Childcare, the announcement in relation to staff discounts represented a real opportunity to work with their team and come up with an offering that sets them apart from other providers – something which is essential in the challenging recruitment environment of ECEC today.
“We talked with our team,” Nadine explained, “and soon learnt that they were interested in learning more about how this discount applied to them, and what it would mean for their weekly fees.”
Now that both the Nurch platform and the discount policy is clearly understood by her team Nadine is confident that her educator parents will stay with her service and do what they do best – deliver high-quality education and care.
At a time where the sector is battling staff shortages, employee retention has never been more important, and the most valuable employees to retain are those who understand ECEC like no other, experiencing it right alongside the parents and families they work with every day.
The Nurch team is ready to provide advice and support to services who are looking to maximise their offering to educator parents, and to all families. To learn more, contact Nurch.