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Building Community with Families First & Carefully

Sparking Joy, Adding Value, and Continually Learning

Over the last 6 months, Carefully has been working with Families First to onboard their staff and parents to Carefully. Carefully was chosen to support Families First as their technology partner for connecting families from their childcare programs for communication, coordination, and care. Working with at-risk and developing children and their families in Cabarrus County, NC, their approach focuses on nourishing children, empowering parents, and strengthening families. While we only started the technology roll out recently, our relationship with Families First started back in 2021. Spencer Swain, Executive director of Families First Cabarrus County and I were introduced through Joe Waters of Capita back in May of 2021. Since being connected, we immediately bonded over a mutual pursuit of helping communities in need of affordable, accessible childcare. Over the years, we developed an understanding of our respective offerings, the unique needs of the Families First community and how Carefully could benefit them. Today, we want to share some of our initial wins and learnings.

Families First's Viewpoint

Carefully is a technology that resurrects the reality that belonging to one another is essential to families' overall health and development. Ironically, technology used the wrong way is what is stealing our children from us. I suppose when you can't beat'em, join'em, and then you better beat them at their own game.

Vanessa understands this. She moved here from Peru only months ago and enrolled her child in our bilingual preschool, trusting her daughter with someone else for the first time. Vanessa was the first to join Carefully and is recruiting others. When asked why, she said, "I am so thankful a new friend in the community referred me to the bilingual preschool. This technology is like migrating to another country and speaking another language, but let's face it, we parents need help, and Carefully is the next step for me."

Two-thirds of the children in our county are not in any childcare, and parents struggle daily, lonely and isolated with no help. We know this intimately through our home visiting program and are excited to finally have a solution, a home they can call Carefully, where they will experience new friendships, positive interactions, and mutual respect and desire to provide a healthy community for their children.

Carefully’s Viewpoint

Families First is aiming to establish robust infrastructure through technology, tools, processes, and expertise that enable existing informal Friends and Family Networks to grow into a reliable and resilient alternative to paid-for care that is often inaccessible, unaffordable, and exclusive to underserved and marginalized communities that they serve. Having a proven method and trusted, existing relationships with these communities, Families First is now positioned to scale their reach and deepen their impact through Carefully - a technology platform that allows them to more easily connect, coordinate, and support community members who need childcare and early learning assistance. Furthermore, the infrastructure will provide additional benefits beyond what a Families First specialist can provide alone, as members will be able to easily connect with other Families First members, so they can have more options available for shared care and playdates as well as mutual support in the community.

As the founder of Carefully, delivering real value to parents and to organizations is what gives me the most joy. That value comes when people connect and support each other through the product that we have built, but even more so when we see families who are struggling in any way, get a little relief through the network they are able to access on Carefully. Partnerships like Families First are a critical element of our vision, as we know that trust is the spark that helps people embrace their vulnerability and ask for help. Families First has spent many years building trust in the community they serve and learning what their community needs to survive and to thrive. 

Families First has also put their trust in Carefully, and we couldn’t be more honored to be on this journey with them as we find ways to help families connect and support each other. We know that their members, like many of us, need more childcare, more support, and more affordable options. In a world where we are constantly presented with new technologies, we know that it takes something special to stand out from the rest.

Through the work that we’ve done with Families First, we’ve taken away some small but important lessons that will help us as we move forward

Sparking joy is how we win. Parents love to know what’s going on with their kids, so any way that we can create a sense of joy and excitement is so important in helping them see the value of Carefully. We’ve seen how the magic happens when group hosts send pictures of kids in the group, so parents get a little spark of joy when they open the group chat. 

Once parents have opened their minds to Carefully, we have to follow up with VALUE. That means we need to show them how Carefully can make their life easier. We see that sharing events that they can go to on the weekends, sharing knowledge and resources, and letting them know that we are there to support them when they have questions are great ways to keep building trust with us and with our platform. The more they learn about how they can use the platform to connect with other parents, to find events to do with family, and to organize care with their network when Families First isn’t available, the more successful everyone will be.

We realize that it’s hard to imagine a different way of living when you never have enough time, support, or enough money. Our hope, our mission, and our reason for being is to create a new reality for parents and family. Carefully will be here when you have the time and will help you get time back in your week, your month, and your life.

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