Integrated Technology to Navigate Childcare System
A Sault Ste. Marie entrepreneur has launched an innovative digital service that connects parents with childcare service providers. Using their mobile devices, parents may research options, register with service providers and apply for subsidies all through a single point of access, called Childcare Connect. In addition, the centralized digital platform enables providers to process applications, manage and prioritize waitlists while saving time and generating data analytics for various levels of government responsible for licensed daycare.
Childcare Connect is the creation of Darryl Buck and his team at One Human Service Network (OneHSN). In 2018, a repayable FedNor contribution of $588,000 in 2018 helped the small high-tech company to transform its software architecture and support growth in new markets. Prior to FedNor’s investment, the software only targeted a limited number of local, provincial and state governments. The technology not only has advantages for government, but also for childcare resource and information referral agencies, parent-teacher associations, as well as individual childcare operators.
“There are 138 million people in the US who fall into the 20-39 age bracket; 88 percent of these Millennial and Generation Z members access the Internet from their phones,” says Buck, President and CEO of OneHSN. “We needed to transform our technology to support that user base.”
OneHSN launched its new mobile responsive parent experience in the City of Greater Sudbury on December 5, 2019. By monitoring user behaviour and tracking analytics, OneHSN can evaluate the user’s experience, refine any issues and quickly publish enhancements in real time to ensure a positive user experience.
Buck says 24 of the 47 regional municipalities responsible for childcare in Ontario are OneHSN clients. Of those, the City of Greater Sudbury agreed to be the beta test site for the new technology. Following a two-week trial, OneHSN will systematically onboard the remaining 23 by March 2020, replacing their current software system with the newly enhanced and fully integrated version.
Highly skilled people are transforming the OneHSN team
Buck says prior to the FedNor investment, he had 14 employees. That number has grown to 19 with the addition of some highly skilled people that include programmers, a user experience designer and a platform architect.
With an eye on expansion, Buck is engaged in discussions with the Municipality of Las Vegas and the States of Minnesota and Vermont. In addition, the team has already taken the same framework and created a similar tool for social housing enabling people in a particular city, province or state to go online and research housing options. Oxford County, east of London, Ontario is already subscribing to the additional service.
“The greatest challenge to date has been advancing sales in government,” confides Buck. “Not only do they not have established policies or budgets to purchase digitized government services, we are also having to spend a great deal of time educating the market as to what we’re all about and what’s possible as far as childcare goes.”
However, Buck contends that as governments start to realize the efficiencies of an integrated service system offered via OneHSN technology, families will have equitable access to services – be they childcare or affordable housing – and streamlined administrative processes. Meanwhile for the first time, governments responsible for regulated childcare will have valuable data about parent preference trends, service gaps, and waitlists to measure true demand to support better service planning, decision-making and investments.
FedNor’s investment in this project is another example of how it is enhancing small business growth and supporting innovation through the federal Prosperity and Growth Strategy for Northern Ontario. Learn more about PGSNO.