Finalist for the region South-West
Matching daycare places and children more effectively through an innovative ranking system
The allocation of childcare spots brings several problems with it.1 Due to the great amount of demand and the complicated allocation process, daycare facilities lose orientation and are over-challenged. Further, many parents are unhappy, and children are often refused a spot without a reason although there would possibly still be vacancies in daycare. Not rarely, discrimination takes place, and social criteria are violated.
How can we allocate the daycare spots more efficiently?
Parents create a ranking of their preferred daycare facilities.
Daycare facilities hand in a list of criteria they would prefer their children to have.
The combination of the Gale Shapley algorithm and our ranking system matches the children with their best possible daycare facility.
The interests of parents and daycare facilities are satisfied.
To optimise the allocation process, we developed the ranking system:
First, the daycare facilities send a list of criteria to the central allocation service. The criteria are individual to every daycare, and the children who meet these criteria would fit the respective facility best. The daycare facilities need to prioritise these criteria by assigning a number to each of them. A child that meets these specific criteria scores the corresponding credit(s). The daycares are free to assign any number to any criterion; e.g. a very important one may have ten credits while one not as significant may have two. They are also free to hand in as many criteria as they want. These criteria and credits only need to be made up to later make a ranking list of the children for the specific daycare place and are completely independent of the numbers of other childcare facilities.
Why is this list of criteria required?
In order to be able to apply the Gale-Shapley algorithm – the best-developed allocation system – two lists are required: one of the children and one of the daycares.2 The list of the children contains the favourite daycare facilities while the list made by daycares contains the best-fitting children in the respective order. With the help of these ranking lists, the daycare places are allocated in the best possible way. Until now, the daycares needed to create the ranking by hand, and they had to analyse every single child. With our ranking system, a lot of time and effort is saved. From this saved time other children in the facility would profit because the educators have more time for them. At the same time, the creation of the ranking list is more transparent since the central allocation service can see which criteria were involved. Using the ranking system makes daycare place allocation more efficient, more transparent, lowers discrimination and both – daycare facilities and parents – will be happier!
1 Fugger, N., Klein, T., Riehm, T. (2017). Dezentrale Kitaplatzvergabe ohne Warteschlange: Ein Leitfaden. ZEWpolicy Brief, 4. doi:http://ftp.zew.de/pub/zew-docs/policybrief/pb04-17.pdf
2 Osipenko, A. (2019, May 26). Gale–Shapley algorithm simply explained. Retrieved July 14, 2020, from https://towardsdatascience.com/gale-shapley-algorithm-simply-explained-caa344e643c2