Sub_In Australia – an opportunity to support front line health workers, manage lost income
Born from necessity is the simplest way to describe Sub_In Australia, a free community connection service which allows health care professionals on the front line of the COVID-19 fight to find qualified early childhood education and care (ECEC) educators who are willing to step in and help out with home-based care in the event that their children are unable to use their regular childcare options.
Sub_In Australia volunteer Jeanne Bardin was driven to create the site, which relies heavily on support from an army of dedicated volunteers, after speaking with her father, who is head of a major Monash hospital, about the looming challenges the health system would face in retaining staff during the pandemic.
Foreseeing a time when ECEC services remained open only to service those children who had parents in the front line of health care service, Ms Bardin became very concerned.
“Services staying open to cater exclusively to health care workers children is a crazy scenario,” she said.
“That would mean that front-line parents would inevitably infect their children who could transmit to their peers to then infect other health care workers (parents) who are working in hospitals and in close contact with sick patients, prolonging the virus in the community, and endangering lives.”
The solution to this scenario, as proposed by Sub_In Australia, is simple – see a need, fill a need. Health care workers such as doctors, nurses, pathologists and other allied carers visit the Sub_In Australia site and create a profile, sharing what they need from an educator or carer.
Educators, many of whom are not presently working due to lower enrolments, are able to create a profile (which includes information about themselves, details for payment, and their prefered hourly rate) and then afterwards create a listing (which talks about their experience, prefered age groups, availability and location).
Presently, families using the service are not able to access the child care subsidy (CCS), but Ms Bardin is hopeful this will change. Sub_In Australia are lobbying state and Commonwealth governments extensively hoping to see CCS applied to all those working in frontline healthcare positions.
Currently CCS is only available for services provided in registered childcare centres, many of which may soon be forced to close, and for in home care in specific circumstances. The financial impact to the Government would be minimal, Ms Bardin said, while the effect it would have on the healthcare sector would be profound.
Sub_In Australia is a not-a-profit exercise. Currently, the costs of operating the platform are not being covered, with a multitude of professionals working behind the scenes pro bono, from lawyers to recruiters, vetters and communications managers. Finnish company Sharetribe has provided web services for free, offering round the clock support. Tech savvy volunteers from the Swinburne University arm of Random Hacks of Kindness are also supporting, along with Amazon Web Services..
When asked about the best case scenario here, in terms of how the platform would be used, Ms Bardin said her ideal outcome is the platform’s redundancy. “The ideal situation is that no one would use it because we got control of the virus, and no one got sick.”
Supporting health care workers – how can ECEC educators become involved?
Given the importance of having healthy and safe educators working with all children, but especially those who are providing front line health care support to the community, there are a number of points which educators need to meet to be eligible to participate:
- Under 50 years of age
- In good health
- Hold a qualification in early childhood education and care, or teaching
- Current working with children check, relevant to your state
- Up to date First Aid qualifications
- Have current references which relate to your work with children
- Willing to care for the children of healthcare workers in the health care workers home.
Those meeting the criteria above are able to sign up to participate here. Currently, educators are paid directly by the family, and are able to set their own desired rate of pay.
Educators are also able to set their prefered location, ages of children to work with, and hours available to work, including nights and weekends. Health care workers will then confirm directly with educators.
Payment is made at the time of booking by the healthcare worker, and then goes directly to the educator 24 hours after the appointment date has passed and the job completed.
Ms Bardin is hopeful that the active work being done by the Sub_In Australia team will mean that those health care workers signed up to Sub_In Australia will be able to transfer their usual claims for CCS to care at home, in social isolation, for their children. Ideally, she said, this would have no cap.
For more information, please see here.