One-stop care shop
Sorting out childcare is one of the banes of many women's lives. When you add sorting elder care into the mix, as an increasing number of women have to do these days, the logistics become almost impossible to manage alongside the demands of everyday life. Now imagine that you could get all these issues dealt with on one website?
In the US you can already. Care.com not only aims to reduce the cost and complexity of finding the right childcare, be that babysitters or nannies, but it is a one-stop shop for all care issues, including elder care – recently referred to by Working Mother magazine as the main reason women drop out of the workplace – housekeeping, tutoring and even pet care.
Founded in 2006, in the US, 89% of first enquiries to Care.com, are about childcare. Now it is looking to move abroad. In July, it acquired Besser Betreut, the largest online destination for care and service providers in Europe, making it the largest online care website in the world. Betreut, based in Germany, will serve as Care.com's European hub under the Care.com Europe banner.
This month the organisation, which has been operating in the UK since April, launches a series of high-profile advertisements.
Sigrid Daniel, a former investment banker, is the company's UK director. She says most people come to the site first looking for babysitters then move on to other childcare providers like nannies before seeking help with finding carers for elderly relatives. “We see elder care as a huge growth area,” she says.
The UK website is full of content which is relevant to the 29 to 43 year old working mum with children it is aimed at, including a series which will be run in the Autumn, profiling inspiring businesswomen. For Sigrid, the site's most important asset is “making people aware that there is a choice in terms of care”.
She says: “Care.com's mission is to provide families and carers direct connection and contact, making the process of finding and securing care more efficient and cost-effective. We use technology to empower families to tailor their search so that they find carers who meet their specific needs, and we enable them and care providers to communicate directly."
Sigrid, whose children are aged nine and six, left investment banking three years ago after finding the long hours meant she was not seeing enough of her children. She completed a PhD at the University of Cambridge and worked as a freelance consultant.
It was while she was doing some consultancy work on the care sector that she met Sheila Lirio Marcelo, founder and CEO of Care.com, and immediately hit it off. “It was incredibly inspiring to meet a female CEO who was working to solve some of our largest challenges as women – juggling care,” says Sigrid.
Care.com works in partnership with other organisations. It has recently, for instance, started working with a US payroll company. In the UK, it has partnered up to provide nanny screening services and other childcare advice. It also has a trained and dedicated team reviewing carer profiles for suspicious and inappropriate content, secure messaging and reference checking services.
In the US it also works with corporate firms who offer its care packages as a company benefit. It has similar plans in the UK.
“We are growing so fast in the UK,” says Sigrid, “which shows the level of unmet need. There are others out there which provide an online childcare space, but none that covers the breadth of areas we do or provides as much information and resources.”
Sigrid works mainly from home, but travels extensively. She reckons she works nine to 10 hours a day, but says that there can be hot spots of high activity which mean that she is working well into the night after her children are in bed.
She writes a lot of the content – which includes tips and advice on issues like interviewing childcare providers - to ensure it is relevant to the UK, and these content efforts are supported by staff in the Boston office, who provide insight and editorial advice. “I love working with such a dedicated and passionate team, who have all the shared values that working have. We care about the work and we care about each other’s efforts,” she says.
The aim of the UK site is to become the number one online provider of care. “We want people to know we are the place to go for all types of care,” says Sigrid. “Sheila talks of us as being a one-stop shop for the care world. We want to make people's lives easier.”