PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – With what’s sometimes called the new “gig economy,” 55 million Americans are now freelance workers. By the year 2020, Forbes estimates half of the U.S. workforce will be freelancers.
But, freelancers know it’s hard to find child care that’s as flexible as their jobs.
Now, two local moms created a special website because of their own frustrations and needs for flexible child care. They both work freelance jobs and needed care, but not all day, five days a week.
Priya Amin and Jessica Strong started the free service called Flexable, at FlexableCare.com. Think of it like Air B&B, but for connecting parents and caregivers.
“There are parents looking for on demand or last-minute child care all the time because child care falls through or they have random schedules and need care a few days a month. On the other hand, there are child care providers, whether brick and mortar spaces or women who are nannies or sitters who watch kids in their home, and they have excess capacity. They have room to watch additional kids. So, we’re creating a way for those two to find each other,” Strong said.
Here’s how it works:
Parents and caregivers go to the website and fill out a profile. Parents write their needs, and caregivers write their availability. Technology does the rest.
“Based on the criteria, the system can match the parent with the caregiver and hopefully help them find the care they need,” Amin said.
Right now, most of the caregivers on the site are smaller, in-home caregivers like Danielle Tharp. She runs Family Tree Daycare out of her home in Murrysville. Like many other in-home daycares and some nannies and sitters, she can watch kids on snow days or delays, holidays, at the last-minute and even when kids are sick and the parents can’t miss work.
Teacher Kristen Morton’s son, Mac, is at Family Tree Daycare because of the flexibility. Morton will also take her older son periodically, like when she has an in-service day and needs to work but he does not have school.
Morton could not find this type of care at traditional day care facilities.
“We had hard a time finding drop-in or add-on days. A lot (of traditional day care facilities) required a certain number of days a month,” she said.
Flexable will help parents find places like an in-home daycare that may be able to help them on random days or snow days or even a few hours here and there.
Meanwhile, caregivers like Tharp hope that Flexable helps her business as well.
“They have the resources to advertise on a broader scale in Pittsburgh,” Tharp said.
Flexable hopes that once they prove the concept, larger daycares will jump on board too.
“I think daycares are interested in helping parents find that flexibility they need. They just don’t have the tech tools to know who’s coming in and when, so if we can build those tools for everyone from the women watching kids in their homes to the big brick and mortar national chains, it benefits families everywhere,” Strong said.
Flexable was just created this summer on $25,000 in seed money at Alpha Lab.
There are only 100 caregivers and 150 parents on the site now, so they’re working to get more parents and caregivers to sign up so they can make more matches.
They have a fundraising IndieGoGo campaign to raise $30,000 to help with that.
You can read more about Flexable and advice on how to find quality child care and to pay for it on Kidsburgh.org.