Koru Kids is looking to branch out into childminding and to expand outside London as families move outside the capital amid changing work patterns.
Amid all the turmoil in the childcare sector, with providers closing and many struggling to get staff, a childcare service is looking to create 9,000 new nanny and childminder jobs across the UK by the end of 2021.
Rachel Carrell founded Koru Kids in 2016 and it has grown fast. Over five years, it has built a team of around 40 people. Originally it offered part-time nannies to parents, but it is about to launch a childminder agency and is just in the Ofsted registration process which is taking longer due to Covid.
To support this, it is setting up a new scheme which will cover training and set-up costs to help new childminders run nurseries in their own homes that, it says, could see them earning £70k a year. This includes covering training and registration costs of £3,000, Ofsted registration, providing a £500 grant for set-up costs, on-hand support at every step and help to find nearby families.
“What we are doing will help parents and childminders,” says Rachel. Childminders currently face what she calls “a thicket” of form filling and more when they start up. “I did it over the summer to test it and it’s almost impossible to understand what is required. The guidance is very difficult to follow and I have a PhD,” she says. “There’s definitely a need for support and guidance in the initial stages.”
Like their nannies, Koru Kids childminders will have access to a community of support, including practical, social and emotional support. “We are bringing what we have done with our nannies to childminders,” says Rachel. That includes an onboarding programme with information for both childcare providers and parents, for instance, what questions they should ask when seeking childcare and support with becoming an employer. “We offer a seamless process, including a draft contract. Parents can approve hours over the phone in one click. We make the employment process really simple,” she says.
She adds that parents, who employ Koru Kids childcare providers, will have access to a quality flexible source of childcare, she adds, which will be more important as flexible or hybrid working increases. Koru Kids’ current nannies – all of whom are DBS-checked, a process which can be done remotely – include actors, artists, university students and others who bring additional skills.
After much demand from parents, Koru Kids is also expanding its existing service outside London to Bristol, Hertfordshire and Surrey, with the rest of the UK due to follow later in the year. Partly this is a response to more parents moving out of London following the pandemic and more remote working. The company is currently interviewing and vetting nannies in those areas. It says part-time nannies can earn up to £600 a month while keeping time for another career, hobby or studies.
Koru Kids has been very busy throughout Covid, particularly when schools and childcare were closed to all but vulnerable and key workers’ children. Rachel recognises that it has been a very tough time for the childcare sector generally. “It has been very paradoxical. Parents were struggling with a lack of childcare and childcare providers weren’t able to fill their spaces,” she says. “It has been one of the toughest times the sector has seen and it was a disrespected and fragile sector before the pandemic which makes it more difficult to weather the knocks.”
She would like to see more government investment in childcare and contrasts the support for sectors like hospitality, for instance, the ‘eat out to help out’ initiative, with what childcare has received when it is, she says, “more important and an essential part of our economic infrastructure”.
Her aim is to help bridge some of the gap in childcare cover by offering high quality, reliable, flexible, seamless childcare that can be used when it is needed and is keen to attract mums to the childcare profession.
She says: “We’re seeing the ‘Motherhood Penalty’ impact our sector in a number of ways. The first and most obvious is that without high quality, flexible, and affordable childcare, mothers – and it is overwhelmingly mothers – cannot return to their jobs as the UK reopens. The second impact is female talent being lost from the childcare sector itself, as many childcarers have their own children and can’t afford to work.”
She says providing flexible new jobs and vital childcare infrastructure is “the Holy Grail”. “It’s really hard to achieve, but every day we are getting closer,” she states.
*If you are interested in becoming a nanny or childminder can register their interest here:
Nanny – korukids.co.uk/nanny
Childminder – korukids.co.uk/content/childminding/become-a-childminder