NewKids.tech, the new way to identify how we can meet the child care needs of families now and in the future.
NewKids.tech was developed following an analysis of new and future child care policies across Australia.
The Child Care Fund (part of the Child Care Safety Net) was of particular interest to us as this policy specifically provides funding to increase the supply of child care places in areas of high unmet demand.
We also found in Melbourne:
Over 800,000 children aged 0-14 years old
More than 417,000* families who could be eligible for the Child Care Subsidy
Approximately 120,000* families potentially eligible for the Community Child Care Fund.
*according to income based eligibility criteria
This is at odds with the numbers advertised on mychild.gov.au where there are just 120,000 funded child care spots available across Melbourne, demonstrating a severe deficit of child care places across the city and surrounding areas.
Academic literature has highlighted this deficit could mean it is more difficult for people who are unemployed to get into work, there are losses in tax revenue, missed business opportunities, less attractive real estate prospects and ultimately there is a negative impact on families’ social mobility and a child’s academic attainment and well-being.
We see progressive policy makers, child care businesses and property developers as being in a position to change this deficit and advocate for new services and funding to increase child care availability in Melbourne.
We decided to make this tool focused on this audience, rather than parents, as the My Child platform and Child Care Subsidy Estimator currently provide a range of information to this audience.
NewKids.tech provides our key audience with a tool which they can use to identify:
Where more child care centres need to be built or spots funded
Where business opportunities exist and
Where more thought needs to go into property planning
NewKids.tech helps progressive policy makers, child care businesses and property developers do this through a dynamic rating system.
This system shows where there is a need for more child care services, especially in disadvantaged communities. It also shows how many additional child care services are needed now and in the future.
The rating system is as follows:
Dark red - Extreme need child care
Red - Higher need child care
Amber - Moderate need child care
Green - Slight need for child care
Light green - Limited need for child care
NewKids.tech provides ratings at postcode level through a search which shows localised need. Users can filter the data by child's age and view forecasts for the next 5 and 10 years.
Development of the rating system
The dynamic rating system uses a unique algorithm taking into account a range of factors which have historically driven the need for childcare services including:
Property price changes
Current child care services available
Age of child
Ratings were developed by looking at how each postcode performed in relation to other postcodes on each metric. In order to select the relevant metrics, binary regression models were developed against school performance scores, this was used as an indicator of inadequate childcare services in the area and each school was separated by their SEIFA decile in order to ensure a balanced view of the school performance scores.
Once the regression models were developed we used the findings from these models to narrow down our list of variable inputs and to provide weightings for each of these. We also included metrics that are known to drive these variables in the modelling in order to determine the likely requirements for child care in both five and ten years.
Once we had the list of variables and weightings, these were combined to develop a score for each postcode. Postcodes were then ranked into quintiles which gave us a rating.
NewKids.tech can be accessed through a web platform. Future development of this would ensure it is WCAG 2.0 AA rated and accessible across mobile, tablet, Chrome, Firefox, Safari, IE9, 8, 7 and 6.
NewKids.tech’s unique approach gives progressive policy makers, child care businesses and property developers a practical way of identifying where the greatest need for childcare services is in Melbourne and what factors affect this availability.
We can develop this tool further in the future by integrating it with other government services such as My Child, refining data sets to include more environmental, planning and travel data, to assess communities' needs further.
Another variation is the inclusion of NAPLAN scores in order to continue to monitor need and access to the SchoolBuilder website so we can include where developments are currently being planned for new schools or child care centres which will help planners understand more fully what is currently under way.