A California startup’s app makes it easy for parents to get their employers to pay for backup childcare — even when the people providing it are the workers’ friends and family members.
The challenge: It’s almost inevitable that a working parent’s Plan A for childcare is going to fall through at some point — the nanny will call off, the baby will be too sick for daycare, the daycare may close for COVID-19, etc.
Often, Plan B involves asking a relative or friend to watch the child for the day, but if that’s not possible, parents might have to choose between scrambling to find a new babysitter or missing work.
Backup childcare benefits: To help parents get through these emergencies, some companies now offer backup childcare as an employee benefit. The plans vary, but they usually include a few days of free or subsidized childcare at a daycare center or in the employee’s home.
About five years ago, childcare industry veterans Kasey Edwards and Becka Klauber Richter launched Helpr, an app that helps parents find vetted babysitters and pay them through employer-provided backup childcare policies.
“You can stop asking your sister-in-law for favors.”Kasey Edwards
In 2019, the duo took the platform one step further, making it easy for working parents to add their babysitting friends and family members to the Helpr platform so that they could be paid through backup childcare policies, too.
“Everybody has some sort of village that they lean into, and we try to help those folks see that you can stop asking your sister-in-law for favors,” Edwards told the 19th, “and you can put some money behind the transaction and formalize that relationship around that caregiving need.”
“That way it’s more reliable, it’s more punctuated, and it’s more helpful to both parties in the transaction,” she continued.
Looking ahead: Helpr currently has partnerships with about 30 businesses, including Vice, Clorox, and Snap (Snapchat’s parent company). Now, its founders are pushing to make backup childcare the norm for employees rather than a novelty.
Early this year, they helped draft a bill that would require California companies with more than 1,000 employees to offer up to 60 hours of subsidized backup childcare to workers every year.
“We envision a future where … child care should sit alongside [employment benefits like] vision and dental,” Edwards said. “It shouldn’t sit alongside the perks program. We’re not talking about discounted tickets to the Lakers game or whatever.”
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