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How-to Guide: Adding a care circle to your childcare plan (Part 2)

Welcome back to our 2 part series on care circles. In part 1, we went over the different types of care circles that we typically see people using. In part 2, we will go into the details of how to successfully organize a care circle in your community.

How to organize your first care circle in your community

Does a care circle sound like a winning strategy to help you gain some time back in your week? Follow our action plan to help you get started right away. Download Carefully for free on iOS or Android to start building your network in an easy way.

Gather your circle:

Find parents within your community (park, school, etc.) to begin your group. 5 families is a great number to aim for in most circles, but having a few more allows for more reliable care to make sure you have enough alternative options when someone in the group has conflicts. Check out our video tutorial on Instagram to help you get started with Carefully.

Create your group: 

  • Create your group and send the group code to your friends. 

  • Choose a group name, a fun picture, and an easy-to-share code to send to other parents in your circle. They can use this code when they sign up to get added to your group, so you will all  be connected. Groups help you set up events within your circle, ask for help, chat and share pics from your playdates, manage members, and sync with your calendars. 

  • Check out our group invites that you can download, print, and have the kids color in to give them some personality then hand out to their friends.

Get organized:

Once everyone has joined the group, set up an initial meetup event in your Group so all the parents and kids can come together and finalize any details. Decide on any guidelines for helping group work together. If you are setting up a recurring playgroup, you might want to decide on regular days for each family to host and talk about changes when someone is not available. 

Plan your care dates:

Each parent can create a recurring event within the group for the day & time they selected to host. You can see who’s accepted each week, send messages to the group if you need anything special for the playdate, or send pictures to show everyone how much fun the kids are having. I know that I love getting pics and updates of my son when I’m not able to be there with him. When you need occasional or last minute help, just post a request to the group and see who’s available.

What if you are new to the area or just don’t have a lot of friends with kids?

  • Connect with people through our Carefully Hubs or Community finder. Our community support team is also available to help you build your community if you need some extra help or suggestions about how to get started.

  • Background check or not? Trust is a critical part of any childcare arrangement. People can build trust through a variety of mechanisms - regular interactions over time, referrals or word of mouth, family or community ties, and, finally, background checks. When two people have built trust via multiple mechanisms, they will likely feel more comfortable entrusting the care of a loved one with the other person. If you are looking to vet your caregivers with a background check, it’s also helpful to understand what they can provide as well as their limitations. Background checks can provide valuable information about people that you are getting to know, so you can feel more safe as you build trusted relationships. Most background checks do have limitations in that the information on an individual may be incomplete, inaccurate and racially biased due to things such as missing data, unreported crimes, and underlying issues with how the crime was prosecuted. Far too often, violent offenses, such as domestic violence, go unreported or end up with the victim being arrested. Trust and privacy is a personal decision for each family, and there isn’t a right answer as we all work to find a safe place for our kids. Source

Pro Tips/Benefits

Some tips for making a care circle work

  • Appoint a “leader” to make sure that the rules you agree to are followed, to keep the group engaged, and to address issues that may arise through the process. Have someone who is comfortable with this role or dividing/rotating responsibilities to help the group remain committed. 

  • While your initial reaction might be to form a group with your closest friends, finding people that are 2nd or 3rd degree connections can actually be a more successful strategy because it minimizes the personal expectations and focuses on the goal of creating a trusted but also balanced group.

  • This approach can also encourage more diversity in the group by reaching beyond the people that are in your inner circle - diversity of race, ethnicity, and life experiences might be important for you, and having people with different jobs, schedules, and social circles is very helpful with varying scheduling needs. (e.g. shift workers, remote workers, stay at home parents, etc will provide coverage for a variety of times that people need and are able to help.)

  • Use Carefully to stay organized, making planning simple, stay in touch with your network, meet new people, get support, and find resources with ease. Carefully allows you to easily connect with people nearby, organize your care circle and plan events, and find people in your network when you need help. The app also ensures people in the community are giving and receiving help through Karma Care Hours, so you don’t have to worry about tracking it.

Additional Resources

Did you miss part 1 in our series? Read it here.

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