Early Years: In Safe Hands with Liquidlogic
Early years funding is a valuable business area and requires dependable and trustworthy software, without which underspend or overspends can have a considerable impact. Early years funding systems manage both local authority and external early years providers spend.
Liquidlogic provides a broad range of functionality as standard within the Early Years & Education System (EYES) along with accompanying Portals to support the local authority. Importantly, this software is also available to providers supporting them in making up-to-date and valid submissions for funding of all ages. By using an integrated and instant Eligibility Checker Service (ECS), providers and the local authority can make instant decisions on claims and providers are able to ensure that the type of funding is valid at the point of data entry and submission to the local authority.
Early Years providers can make use of an online portal to manage their ‘Live Register’ digitally via mobile devices or laptops to accurately record children in the 0-5 category who are starting or due to start in an early years setting, along with their funded/private (optional) hours. Providers are guided through a live registration form which validates the child's age and their entitlement. Taking this approach, providers can confidently and securely submit claims for funding via the Portal to the local authority with confidence that the claim is valid (subject to multiple claims from other providers).
All eligibility checks can be performed by the provider upfront before starting to confirm eligibility.
Reducing the Burden
With EYES and the Portal in place, the local authority can automatically receive funded hours claims for submission from providers, without the need for manual entry.
Local authorities can make swift and bulk decisions on funding submissions based on pre-validated claims and importantly, approve knowing that ECS checks have been carried out upon starting with the provider and submission to the local authority.
EYES highlights where multiple providers claim for the same child to prevent the risk of over-claims. When this occurs, the local authority is be able to review the multiple claims side-by-side to determine with the providers where the funding should be delivered/confirmed.
Approved submissions can be instantly notified to the provider via the Portal along with a remittance slip of the funding amounts approved.
Early Years: Customer Experience
Bristol City Council led the initial implementation of Liquidlogic EYES. Speaking about the Early Years element of the project, Deborah Brown, Free Entitlement Development Officer, Early Years & Childcare Service at the council says:
“I can empathise with any Subject Matter Expert (SME) who is told they will be having a new software system. It means extra work and a lot of personal sacrifice. This is how I felt when I was first told that our Early Years system was going to be ‘subsumed’ by a new system called EYES, provided by Liquidlogic. In summary, I was anxious! It turns out that I didn’t need to be. Not only was the process completely worth the effort, but I gained so much through the experience!
My specialist knowledge was always treated respectfully – I was asked how nuances worked and was involved with testing the system as well as reporting issues. I was informally integrated into the Bristol City Council project team, who had to put up with my endless questions, and got to be part of an extraordinary change to my local authority – being part of a significant project within a larger transformation program.
What surprised me most was how my perception of the ‘third party’ changed from initial suspicion to valued colleague. I was able to talk directly to the Liquidlogic team, whose patience and debating skills are fantastic. They challenged me to think about why we processed the Free Entitlement in certain ways, which allowed me the privilege of being a part of the changes we ultimately made. They understood my fierce passion for the Free Entitlement and in return created a system that I am proud to be a part of. They were as excited about go-live day as I was and were ready and available (quietly waiting in the wings) during those first tentative weeks.
Yes, of course we had moments where the pressure increased (every partnership does), but during my most poignant process (the Early Years Census), they literally dropped everything to ensure the system was working effectively; making themselves & their senior leadership team available on long conference calls day after day, all the while supporting other clients and work packages.
More than 18 months down the line, Liquidlogic continue to understand my statutory duties and having lived through more than a full academic cycle in our partnership, is keenly attuned to the government changes that impact and shape our offer – both locally and nationally. Liquidlogic is accommodating to my ad-hoc requests and forgiving when pointing out my ‘user error’. I feel honoured to have been involved with the development of EYES with Liquidlogic & the Bristol City Council project team and would advocate to any local authority considering this product that the benefits far outweigh the costs (financially and professionally).
At the time of writing this reflection, we are in the midst of a global pandemic and it is only because of Liquidlogic’s easy and quick secure online submission service into EYES, that I didn’t have to cancel any data collections. This has meant that I have been able to pay our nursery providers accurately and promptly during a time of great uncertainty. I am looking forward to the next release where even more functionality will be introduced as other local authorities embrace EYES, knowing that I am in safe hands.”
To download the Bristol City Council early years case study, click here.