Circle Case study

West Sussex early childhood service

Barcode attendance input saves time

The challenge

There are 43 Children’s Centres in West Sussex where families with children under the age of 5 can access a range of services such as breastfeeding support, high quality childcare & early learning information, parenting advice, and back-to-work schemes.

West Sussex County Council Early Childhood Service was faced with the daunting and time consuming task of entering over one million attendances a year into their Children’s Centre Manager (CCM) system, supplied by CACI. The service typically captured session attendance by using paper-based signing-in sheets completed by the parent or carer and entered manually into CCM by staff, who had to cross-reference details to their database. This process was proving to be time consuming and prone to error.

With increasingly limited resources, they decided to pilot CACI’s new CCM Barcoding module to help speed up attendance data entry and free up staff to spend more time supporting families.

The solution

West Sussex now issue membership cards to their families which contain up to six individual CCM barcodes, each representing the unique identification of each family member. The CCM database also holds barcodes for each session that has been scheduled and allows a Children’s Centre staff member to scan the member’s ID, along with the session ID, in seconds. It now takes less than two minutes to download up to 600 daily attendance records into the central database.

All barcodes are produced by CCM, and are issued with a plastic holder to keep the card safely protected. Issuing membership cards creates a feeling of belonging and each card can include up to six barcodes on one card, plenty for the majority of families.

The results

As Laurence Green, Information and Data Adviser for West Sussex Early Childhood Service explains:

“After the Barcode Module was demonstrated to us we sat down and did our sums. We calculated how long it took to manually add an attendance in the traditional way, compared with the average time taken to scan and download barcodes in batches. To be honest, it was a no-brainer. If we collected just 10% of attendances via barcodes this would free up an equivalent of 10 full-time staff per year across the service, meaning that all staff have more time to spend working with and supporting families. We currently log up to 30% of attendances using the barcode scanner – some 300,000 per year! – so we have already seen benefits from the investment we made in this technology.”

“I’ve particularly noticed the huge difference it has made during the summer holidays. With staff on leave I would sometimes be full time on getting attendances logged! Now, we scan attendances as people arrive, and spend a short time at the end of the day downloading the attendances straight into the database. I’ve far more time to spend with families and getting involved in sessions.”
Emma Hughes, Family Information Support Officer at Chichester Children’s Centre