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  • Community Spotlight: Tracey Breeden and Michelle Pelton

    Trust and Safety are core values at Carefully. Trust and Safety mean working diligently to create a secure environment where children and families can flourish. This month, we are highlighting our work and the people behind it so our community can better understand how we are weaving Trust and Safety into our platform. (Learn more about Carefully's core values here.) Trusted Advisors: Tracey Breeden & Michelle Pelton Michelle and Tracey have been working with Carefully over the last six months to provide their expertise, advice, and guidance. These two trusted advisors have helped integrate trust and safety into the platform through Trust+ ID verification and Safety Screening while continuing to create an inclusive platform that supports communities that are too often underserved and marginalized. Their support has been instrumental in helping our team learn about the deeper nuances of trust and safety while building out a critical feature that helps our members feel more confident connecting with new people to build relationships and trust. Tracey Breeden: Thought Leader, Coach and Advisor Tracey Breeden is a thought leader and queer activist, author, coach, advisor, speaker, and former corporate executive. She has over two decades as a safety and inclusion expert working in public safety and leading efforts in the tech industry. Known as a fearless people leader, she has led and created safe, inclusive, and empowering spaces for both, consumers and employees. Breeden has a vision of building authentic, equitable, and respectful communities, free from harm. She is relentlessly committed to the expansion of that vision, empowering and igniting people to be better, more powerful versions of themselves, unleashing their inner superhero through self-development and activating collective power from the margin, all toward creating a better world. A former law enforcement officer and Medal of valor recipient, Tracey led efforts in the tech industry as Uber's first Head of Women's Safety and Gender-Based Violence, creating Uber's first global team dedicated to the safety of women and other vulnerable populations. She was the VP, Head of Safety and Social Advocacy at Match Group, the parent company of Tinder and Hinge. While there she was named one of the top 50 LGBTQ women and nonbinary innovators in business and tech. She’s now the CEO and founder of Disrupt the Landing, providing speaking, coaching, and advisory services for individuals and organizations. Michelle Pelton: Consultant, Advisor and Multi-Media Artist Michelle Pelton brings two decades of legal and employee relations experience to her consulting work, as both outside and in-house employment counsel supporting some of the most notable global and domestic brands in retail, transportation, and tech, leading teams with her values-based focus. Most recently, as the Global Head of Labor and Employment at Match Group, she significantly impacted all aspects of the business that involved people by, for example, creating support programs providing employees access to reproductive healthcare and as well as trauma-informed resources and expanding employee policies and benefits to be more inclusive and compassionate. In addition to consulting, Michelle is a dedicated mother to two awesome kids and a passionate multi-media artist, where she explores themes of the experience of being a woman and the divine feminine. Tracey and Michelle took the time to share more about their work and family life. We appreciate having them as part of our Carefully Community and are grateful for their knowledge, expertise, and support. What do you love the most about being a parent? What’s your biggest struggle as a parent? Tracey: What do you love most…the unexpected adventures and the opportunity to influence future changemakers! Biggest struggle… My biggest struggle has been becoming a new parent and navigating the role of a stepparent. Michelle: I think the best part, the part I love the most, about parenting is watching the kids grow into who they are. They are at this great age where I can really start to see not only their personalities emerge strongly, but also ways in which I can tell that we’ve impacted them. It’s getting that confirmation that what you are doing is making a difference - that they’re really listening! For me, the biggest challenge is not interfering with their journey.  Sure, I will support, encourage and guide, but I also try my best to remember that growth happens on a personal level and the kids need their personal growth to achieve who they are and what they choose to do. "I also try my best to remember that growth happens on a personal level and the kids need their own personal growth to achieve who they are and what they choose to do." Tracey and Michelle: Working together, we already connect and collaborate on pretty much everything so we find that this connectedness and collaboration pretty seamlessly extends to everything involving the kids. Tell us a bit about how you worked with Carefully and why you chose to work with us. What’s one thing you love about the app? Tracey and Michelle: We have the privilege of choosing who we work with, and it’s important that the companies we work with share our values. We chose to work with Carefully because we believe in supporting women, parents of all types, and families, and we believe in the mission of Carefully. "One thing we love about the app is it provides a platform to build community and safe spaces." One thing we love about the app is it provides a platform to build community and safe spaces. It supports a solution for one of the single biggest impacts on women in their educational and professional pursuits. What does community mean to you? How do you find and connect with new people in a new/unfamiliar place? Tracey and Michelle: To us, community means a trusted network of people that empowers, inspires, and creates safe spaces for those in the community and beyond. We find and connect with people in new spaces both, in person and online. We choose those spaces based on our shared values and interests. We also have become much more intentional about choosing to only invest in businesses and platforms that are women- and marginalized-community-owned or that are genuinely supporting and elevating those groups. Tell us more about ‘Disrupt the Landing.’ As parents, how has it been balancing your business with the demands of parenthood? Tracey and Michelle: Finding the right balance between work and family is never easy! It takes continual communication, grace, love and support. We also leverage a relationship coach. We believe in proactively building a healthy relationship and seeking support along our journey rather than being reactive and waiting for something to go wrong. You also host 'The Disruption Podcast'  together. Can you share a little more about the podcast? Tracey and Michelle:  We started The Disruption Podcast to share our stories and the stories of others creating big, bold changes. These changes were through the disruption of systems and institutions that cause harm to others and through disruption in your personal life, leading you to find pathways to your purpose, freedom, and power. We believe that disruption in these spaces activates transformational impact across society. One of the personal disruption journeys we share on our podcast is about our blended family and parenting journey.  We’ve chosen to be authentic and vulnerable about what that journey has been like - and we’ve had the honor of being joined by friends who have been authentic about their journey. We dive deep into our family journey and the journey of another queer couple and close friends of ours on Episode 23 and Episode 24, (Episode 24 is in two parts.) Listen in to learn more about our story - and you may find a community you need too! Tracey, You’ve worked with organizations to develop apps and tech for sexual violence prevention and safety. Do you have any tips and advice for parents and caregivers? Tracey:  There is no silver bullet in safety for preventing harm. I can give you lots of tips on online and in-person safety, and tell you to make sure you are using all the safety features platforms provide. But, you can do everything right and harm can still happen. Just know, it's not your fault when it does and leverage the help and support that is out there. "One area where I believe parents and caregivers can make a difference is in educating our youth. It is so important to teach physical boundaries and consent early, not when it is already too late." Sexual violence continues to be a global epidemic. We all can play a role, and we all should be doing everything we can to prevent it, disrupt it, and respond with belief, empathy, and care when it happens. One area where I believe parents and caregivers can make a difference is in educating our youth. It is so important to teach physical boundaries and consent early, not when it is already too late. I’ve found working with youth and in research from dating apps, that young people often still have misunderstandings and misconceptions around consent and do not respect it.  We can do our part to change that. We have loved working with Leslie and Carefully, and we hope to continue to support their efforts at creating a safe and inclusive platform. Of course, the feeling is mutual. Want to join the Carefully Community and help connect with other caregivers/parents? Sign up for our newsletter and download the Carefully app to get started.

  • Introducing Trust+: Create New Connections with Confidence

    Trust and Safety are core values at Carefully. We’ve worked diligently to create a secure environment where children and families can flourish through our reliable support network. Introducing Trust+ We've heard from our community that members want more ways to build trust as they connect with others on the platform. We also understand that each person approaches trust in their own way, and safety is critical when we talk about our kids. This is why we’ve introduced Trust+. Trust+ is our identity verification and safety screening process designed to enhance security within the Carefully community and instill confidence as you connect with other caregivers. Trust+ adds to the tools parents and caregivers have as they build their network for care and the feature is designed to balance the different needs of our members. We also believe authenticity and accountability are critical to building trust and fostering a safe community, which is why we will continue to adjust and adapt to feedback as we grow and evolve. 🔐 Activating Trust+ Activate Trust+ on your profile to unlock these features: Join public hubs in your area, public groups, and channels Find and connect with parents nearby with Community Finder Attend public events hosted or curated by Carefully Trust+ is an opt-in feature, and you do not need to activate it if you don't wish to use any of these features. Once approved, a Trust+ badge is added to your profile. Try it out today and start connecting with confidence. It takes less than a minute to activate! 📢 Your Voice Matters As we continue to refine and evolve Trust+, your insights will be invaluable. Message us on Carefully or email care@carefullyapp.com to share your thoughts about trust and safety when it comes to childcare. TRUST AND SAFETY Our company is committed to fostering a fair and inclusive environment. The purpose of our vetting process is to maintain the safety and integrity of our platform and emphasize mutual trust and care among members. TRUST+ FAQs Our aim is for our community members to be able to trust each other. Although no identification process is foolproof and we cannot guarantee someone’s identity, we take steps to help everyone feel confident that members are who they say they are. TRUST & SAFETY PARTNERS Know someone who could use a little extra help with childcare? Invite them to get started sharing care on Carefully.

  • Trust+ FAQ

    What is Trust+ ID Verification and Safety Screening? Our company is committed to fostering a fair and inclusive environment. The purpose of our vetting process is to maintain the safety and integrity of our platform, emphasizing mutual trust and care among members. We do not intend to sideline individuals for minor past discrepancies. Our aim is for our community members to be able to trust each other. Although no identification process is foolproof and we cannot guarantee someone’s identity, we take steps to help everyone to feel confident that members are who they say they are. This is why we have procedures in place to attempt to verify the identity of our users. Trust+ provides the following benefits for our members: Promotes trust and connection within the community Helps us identify and remove bad actors Limits access to public spaces to members who have activated Trust+ To ensure the authenticity of our users, we cross-verify personal details with external sources or assess official government documents, such as government IDs, passports, or national identity cards. For members based in the US ONLY, we examine select public state and county criminal databases, alongside state and national sex offender registries. Decisions regarding removal are based on the gravity of the criminal record. Minor violations like disorderly behavior or marijuana possession do not warrant exclusion. How does Trust+ work? Activating Trust+ is easy. We partner with Persona to verify your identity. Follow the steps to upload an image of your preferred identification and take a real-time selfie with your phone. For US-based members only, we take an extra step to review available public records (US Records only). Once verified, we use your exact name and date of birth to perform a background check with our approved provider, Tessera Data. We check certain databases of public state and county criminal records as well as state and national sex offender registries. After Trust+ has been activated for your profile, you will receive a badge that is visible to members in your trusted network letting them know that you have completed the Trust+ process. Members in your network will be able to view your full legal name that was submitted for verification in order to help ensure they know and trust the person who they are interacting with for care events. How secure is Trust+? Background checks aren’t the only factor to consider when deciding whether to trust another member because they do have a number of limitations. While they may help identify past criminal conduct or other red flags where records are available, there are many reasons they may not identify or flag a potential issue as outlined below: Completeness The databases that TesseraData relies on are not necessarily complete and may not include records of prior criminal conduct. Online databases might only be updated periodically by local governments There may be gaps in public record searches due to the way certain databases are maintained As determined by applicable law, public records databases may be limited to records of conduct that took place a certain number of years prior to the date of the check, ex: The prior 7 years in certain US states. Unknown household members - We also don’t conduct background checks on other people who may be living or visiting a member’s house during a care event, so it’s up to the parents to communicate with each other and make sure that the kids are safe and know who is around during the care date. Frequency We may only conduct a background check once per user, which means their most recent check may have been a while before you connect with them. You can alway see the date that Trust+ was activated by tapping the badge on their profile to see when the screening was completed. Accuracy of user information These checks only work when people give us their full, correct legal names and dates of birth. Even if they provided all required information, we can’t guarantee it’s accurate or that it even really belongs to them. Criminal deceit People may find ways to circumvent even the most sophisticated database or search technology. As a result, these database checks may not reveal comprehensive or recent criminal record activity. Continue to use your own judgment as a parent or caregiver. What are some extra precautions I can take to verify members outside of Trust+? Do your own research Consider doing a web search and checking public government databases, such as US federal or state sex offender registries, for the name(s) of anyone you’re interacting with offline. Do a Paid Background Check -  for a more complete result that you can share with your group. This may include checks with other agencies including DCPS. Do a Google search: Search the person in question's name and information they provide you on Google. Look for pieces of information (i.e. city of residence, location of work, profession, school) from conversations and messaging you have had with the person that you can use to search to build a more complete picture. Do a reverse image search: A reverse image search will reveal other places online where photos have appeared. Take the person's profile picture or another such photo and do a Google reverse image search and see what results you get back. You will more than likely get additional results and information that may have not have appeared from the name search alone. Pay attention to social media accounts: If someone has social media accounts connected to their profile and/or the Google and image search turns up social media accounts, look closely at those accounts, paying attention to what they say in their profile and messages. People put a lot of details about who they are and their view of the world online. Look for shared interests and shared friends. In addition, look to see if the activity and posts seem consistent in behavior and messaging or do you see inconsistencies? Does their story seem too good to be true? Inconsistencies and profiles that seem too good to be true or real are signs someone may not be genuine. Request a Video Chat: One way to confirm someone's identity is to ask them to do a video chat. You can also also ask for someone to show you documentation like a driver's license over video. This allows you to see the person in real-time. It could be a red flag if someone refuses or hesitates to do a video chat. Follow your gut. Our most important #1 safety tip no matter the situation is to follow your gut. If something feels off, it probably is. Trust your intuition. Don’t brush off or talk yourself out of how you feel. Always prioritize your safety and trust your instinct. What do I do if there is an emergency situation during a care event? If there’s an emergency in progress, please contact local emergency services or law enforcement authorities for assistance. Here are some additional resources where you can find help and support: National Sexual Assault Hotline 800.656.HOPE (4673) https://www.rainn.org/resources National Domestic Violence Hotline 800-799-7233 or Text START to 88788 https://www.thehotline.org The Trevor Project (offering 24/7 crisis support services to LGBTQ+ youth) https://www.thetrevorproject.org NO MORE Global Directory (a collection of US and international sexual and domestic violence resources) https://nomoredirectory.org 1in6 (an organization offering support and resources for men who have been sexually assaulted or abused) https://1in6.org Cybercrime Support Network (offering resources for those impacted by romance and confidence scams) https://fightcybercrime.org Crisis Text Line Text HOME to 741741 about any type of crisis

  • Community Spotlight: Nueva York Kiddos, Yne Leal

    Nueva York Kiddos is a Spanish School for kids that has the mission to offer a warm, happy environment where students learn through creative and fun hands-on projects. We expose our students to different cultures and embrace diversity, kindness, individuality and teamwork as well. Nueva York Kiddos is a Spanish School for kids that has the mission to offer a warm, happy environment where students learn through creative and fun hands-on projects. We expose our students to different cultures and embrace diversity, kindness, individuality and teamwork as well. Let's hear from the director and lead teacher Yne Leal of Nueva York Kiddos.What do you love the most about being a parent?I absolutely love spending time with my daughter, seeing her evolve as an independent, kind and creative individual, going to places and having fun together. My favorite moments are the ones when she is affectionate. She is a pre-teen and it does not happen as often as it used to be.What’s your biggest struggle as a parent?Nowadays my biggest struggle as a parent is working from home and being fully present for my daughter at all times. I often have a long "to do list" in the back of my mind and it is challenging to disconnect from responsibilities. Mindfulness is a work in progress...How is Carefully helping you as a parent and/or as a small business owner?Carefully has helped me and my business connect to parents and families in a very safe manner. We use Carefully Groups to organize our after school classes and connect parents with each other for pickups and playdates.What does community mean to you?Community is what makes you feel that you are at home. I love how engaging, diverse and kind the North Brooklyn community is! I love getting recommendations from people that are part of my community, since we belong to the same place and have things in common in most cases.How do you find and connect with new people in a new/unfamiliar place?Visiting new places, participating in classes, community events and forcing myself to be as social as possible.Tell us about your business, Nueva York Kiddos, and how people can participate locally and virtually if they aren't in NYC.Kids can join our after-school classes, summer camp, "at your home" private and semi-private classes in Greenpoint and Williamsburg. We offer online private and semi-private Spanish lessons as well. We only promote our programs through community media channels. Our school has grown a lot because of the word of mouth of families within our community. I am deeply grateful for it. Find out more about Nueva York Kiddos: https://nuevayorkkiddos.wixsite.com/spanish

  • 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.

  • How-to Guide: Adding a care circle to your childcare plan (Part 1)

    Care circles come in many shapes and sizes, but what they all have in common is bringing families together for mutual support with childcare through a bartering system that allows families to save money while having a trusted connection care for their kids. In part 1, we will go 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. Care circles come in many shapes and sizes, but what they all have in common is bringing families together for mutual support with childcare through a bartering system that allows families to save money while having a trusted connection care for their kids. In part 1, we will go 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. All about Care Circles As part of our collaboration with Mirza, we are publishing a two part series on Care Circles. There are so many choices in determining which type of childcare to use once you have kids. It is easy to be overwhelmed with all the options along with the additional burden of the high costs associated with childcare. From nannies to au pairs to in-home daycares and child care centers as well as bartering with friends and neighbors. With so many available options combined with varying needs and budgets for each family, it can be hard to make a decision. What’s right for you? Carefully is working to make the world better through mutualism, community, and care. Our top priority is supporting families who are looking to organize Care Circles (also referred to as Babysitting Coops, Swaps, or Friends, Family, Neighbor Network  FFN) as a way to barter or exchange services with people in your circle. This care is typically provided in the person’s home or at a nearby location in your local community like a park. Some families are able to budget for formal childcare, such as a daycare or nanny during the work day, but it’s difficult  to budget additional money to hire a sitter for additional hours. Having time for self-care and grown up activities is also essential for our emotional well being and helps us to be better parents. Additionally, many families simply have a hard time finding someone or somewhere they trust during the hours they need at a cost they can afford. Whatever your situation, a care circle can be a great way to expand your childcare options. Benefits By setting up a neighborhood care circle or FFN network, parents can save money while also creating a stronger sense of community. By swapping care for date nights or short errands or even just time alone, parents can watch each other’s kids at different times without spending additional money from their childcare budget. Parents can also create stronger friendships with neighbors while kids get to know each other better. Since you already know these individuals, you have more trust in leaving your kids in their care. This type of care is also great for odd hours or occasional babysitting. Types of Care Circles Friends, Families, and Neighbor (FFN) networks provide a critical type of care for families that many prefer to formal daycare services. Care is provided in the child or caregiver’s home by a person who is a relative, friend or neighbor, or a babysitter or nanny. These programs typically are legally exempt from regulations and may not be required to meet health, safety, and training standards unless they care for children who receive government child care subsidies or vouchers. FFN based care relies strongly on existing relationships & shared values of people who know each other, and the caregivers who are accepting children into their homes on a regular basis are providing an invaluable service to their network. Source Playgroups or Playdates are possibly one of the most popular options because of the flexibility in cost. If you work mornings and your friend works afternoons, offer to watch her child/children in the afternoon if she watches your child in the morning. You can also talk to other parents at your child’s school and take turns watching the children after school. If your schedule doesn’t allow you to watch others’ children, perhaps you can offer a different service, such as music lessons or meal preparation in exchange for child care.” Source Care Circles work great for flexible needs (including Date Night swaps) - A more informal version of a babysitting co-op that might just be between 2 or 3 people, so keeping track of hours or points isn’t necessary. Just a pick a regular activity or day for the swap and get started. Source Cooperative Care (Babysitting Co-op) - Babysitting cooperatives allow parents to equitably exchange baby-sitting services so they can enjoy a night out or travel on business trips. These cooperatives are less formal and involve relatively short-term arrangements. When parents take care of a child(ren) from a member family they earn points or hours that can be “spent” when they need baby-sitting services. Carefully supports babysitting co-ops by helping to keep track of karma care hours for each member. Source Employer-Assisted Cooperative Childcare - This cooperative model can be a useful model for on or near worksite childcare. In the employee model, parents at the worksite are the members and elect the board of directors. The center operates almost identical to the parent childcare cooperative described earlier. The employer may assist the cooperative by helping with start-up expenses, contributing financially or by providing in-kind assistance like utilities, use of buildings and outdoor space, duplicating, secretarial, and/or other goods or services. Source How it works The size of a care circle can vary from 2 to 3 families to even more depending on the number of kids and parents in the local area. We have seen a lot of benefits when 5 families come together to organize an after school playgroup, so each family has one day where they are watching the kids and the rest of the week is covered by other families. This set-up allows coverage of the after school care gap when parents still need to work, but the kids are out of school and want to play. Be sure to check out part 2 of our series.

  • 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 How to Start a Babysitting Co-op How to Create a Neighborhood Babysitting Co-op How to Start and Manage a Childcare Co-op Build a Child-Care Co-op (tailored to Solo Moms) Did you miss part 1 in our series? Read it here.

  • Group Invite Download

    Grow your network and entertain your kids with our group invites. Trying to grow your network? 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. Create a Group - Make sure you have a group set up and remember the Group Code you created Print Invites - Download and print as many pages as you like (3 invites per page) Fill in the Group Code - Fill in the invite with the You & Your Child’s Name and the Group Code Color, Cut and Hand out - Color in the picture, cut the invites along the dotted lines, fold and hand out to friends and family to get them to join you on Carefully for more playdates, events, and opportunities to share care.

  • Our Post-Pandemic Playdate Circle: Part 1

    A two part series about going back to school after a year of being remote and how we've learned to adapt and how Carefully is helping us get our playdate circle off the ground so parents and kids are able to get the most out of their days without feeling like they are making a sacrifice. After a year of learning how to survive on our own, our lives have flipped yet again in the blink of an eye. I remember getting the notice that we could opt back into in person classes at the beginning of April, but ignoring it for the most part because it came with so many unknowns - blended learning meant we were only going back to school 2 or 3 days a week, classrooms were still shutting down on a weekly basis when positive tests were detected, and we had finally settled into a routine that worked for our family. However, when my son came to me saying he wanted to go back to school a few weeks later and hours later I received an email that the opt in period was extended, it seemed like the universe was telling us it was time. The pieces began falling into place when we learned that he would get to go to school full time and we could actually plan for a reliable school schedule. Back to school in April...let’s do this!!! If nothing else, we have learned to adapt to whatever came our way, so having a week to get ready to change our entire schedule again seemed totally doable this time. While Aidan was getting excited about the prospect of going back to school and seeing friends all day, I quickly began to wonder how I was going to manage with less time in my week. Doing some rough calculations of how much work I would be able to get done between drop off and pick up each day, knowing he would be dragging me to the playground for a few hours of well deserved play time, the stress began to set in. When we were at home, we had a routine, admittedly it might have involved too much screen time, but it let me get my work done. Survival mode set in and I started talking to other parents and most were in the same position - with some having to go back to the office, parents still working and juggling and now having to figure out school pick up and after school play time. After some casual 1:1 conversations, I realized that we weren’t in this alone, of course. Even better, we had enough people to organize a playdate circle with 5 families, which meant that we only had to commit to one afternoon in the park and could continue with our work and other commitments on the other days. The parents asked if I was going to make a big google sheet to keep it all organized, but, hah, we could do it all on Carefully (easier and way more fun).  We got organized and breathed a sigh of relief. In my next post, I'll tell you more about how it all came together and some tips for anyone who is thinking about how you could get started on this (and if you aren’t thinking about it yet, maybe you should be?)….

  • Our Post-Pandemic Playdate Circle Part 2

    Now that our playdate circle is in full swing, I’ve had time to reflect a bit, enjoy the time back and the time with the kids, and appreciate some of the magic. Enjoy Part 2 in our series about creating a playdate circle for sharing care among a group of parents. Setting up the circle My biggest piece of advice is to not overthink the process and get started in whatever ways you can because once you start the energy will drive it forward. You work out the kinks out along the way and improve things with each day and each week as you find what works for you, your group and especially, the kids. A few things i learned about setting up my playdate circle: The introduction The parents didn’t all know each other, but once I planted the seed, the parenting reflexes kicked in and not a lot of effort was needed.  We tried to organize a meet and greet but even that was difficult to coordinate so people ended up meeting each other more ad hoc and that was fine too. The scheduling We have 5 families to cover 1 day of the week each, and as we ease back into school, it’s been pretty easy to get this sorted as parents are excited to get some time back each week instead of being on pick up duty every day. Being flexible has definitely been critical as people have schedule changes, school days off, and various other things that pop up and the group is able to adapt and cover. For us, having a strict group would probably not work. The kids I was joking with one of the parents that I did an in-depth personality profile when pulling together the circle (I did NOT), but we have been lucky that our all of our kids are so perfect :P In all seriousness, it's been amazing to see how well the group of 6 kids gets along, plays, and helps each other out each day. Very subjectively, my observation is that having a mixture of genders and also ages has brought a nice balance to the group. The app (Carefully!) Getting people on the app was a huge help! The app was an all-in-one coordinator for our group. It got us all talking easier, allowed us to get the weekly events set up, get notifications on what’s happening and keeps us coordinated as schedules change or we need to coordinate pickups. We love to send/receive pics of the kids every day because they are so darn cute playing together. We can do all of this just on Carefully, so we’re not toggling between email-calendar-text to get it all done. The magic moments Now that we are in our second month of the playdate circle, we’ve had some amazing magic moments as the kids are loving being back at school. Also, they are enjoying the camaraderie of the group and the chemistry has been truly amazing. We decided early on to start bringing snacks and starting the afternoon with homework. We were worried that it would be a challenge because homework is always a challenge at home, but WOW the kids actually just started doing it every day together and helping each other. Such a relief for all the parents to have this done when we pick them up and it’s a nice bonding time for the group to unwind from the day. As a working parent, I rarely get to experience these after-school moments. While I couldn't sacrifice every afternoon, being able to connect with other parents, with my son’s friends, and watch them enjoying their childhood, especially after such a tough year, is truly priceless. Watching him making mud soup in the park with his friends is the kind of nostalgic moment I could only hope for and what I will always remember!

  • A Year in Review - Time is Relative

    304 days since my last blog post and so much has happened, yet so little has changed. It’s hard to believe that we’ve been living in a state of quarantine for nearly a year, but it’s true. As I prepare to receive my first shot of the vaccine that promises to take us into the next phase of the post-pandemic world, it seems appropriate to reflect on the past months before jumping ahead too quickly. (TL/DR we struggled, we survived, we thrived, we learned, and we grew.) Feb 2020 - Our Beta Release In the carefree days of February 2020, we were ready to start user testing our updated app with our newly added Groups feature to help people easily grow their network for sharing care. Little did we know, a few short weeks later the world would start shutting down and playdates would be the last thing on anyone’s mind as we all focused on survival and safety. March 2020 - The Quarantine Begins As days turned to weeks and then months, we looked for ways to support parents working at home with kids, kids trying to learn at home with parents, and people needing a break in general. A common theme emerged for many working parents, one of overwhelm, stress, and burnout. April 2020 - Virtual Events We added virtual events to allow brick and mortar small businesses offering kids activities in the community a way to give parents a break and connect with a wider community. We’ve had thousands of people attend and view our events since launching them in April. August 2020 - Safety and Trust Verified social profiles were a light touch approach for helping our community ensure people were being truthful in their descriptions. We will continue to balance and prioritize trust, privacy, and security by introducing features that allows our families to feel safe and secure when they are engaging on our platform, building their network, and inviting people they trust to join it. Jan 2021 - Equity & Access As we have seen the world evolve over the last year, we know that childcare is not only essential for our world to recover, but also we must develop options to support and uplift those who are underrepresented and underserved in their communities. We envision a future where childcare is equitable, accessible, and affordable to all who need it. We want to build a platform for everyone, but especially for the people who need it most and can share in its success. Releasing our Android app this year was one step towards ensuring that our platform would be accessible to everyone whether they have an iPhone or an Android device. We are also excited to join the start.coop program in March 2021 as we work to develop a cooperative ownership structure that ensures the platform we build provides opportunity for our members to have equity, ownership, and a voice in our decision-making process as we grow and scale the Carefully platform. Feb 2021 & Beyond - Looking Ahead With almost 2000 people installing our app, we continue to see people searching for ways to fill the childcare gaps in spite of the challenges of the pandemic. As people start to think about childcare in the coming months, we know that Carefully will be an important option for providing affordable care within communities. While it’s reassuring to know we can survive and come together stronger, we will be happy (and lucky) if we never go back to this place again. I hope that lessons we have learned individually and collectively will help ensure that we build a better future for our next generations. As we continue to grow the Carefully community, product, platform and ultimately the cooperative ownership model, the insights we have learned from growing Carefully during the pandemic will be invaluable in driving us forward efficiently and effectively as we all eagerly anticipate and move towards the light.

  • Times are tough, but so are we

    We are parenting. We are working. We are surviving. As we’ve evolved through the stages of quarantine from #schooliscanceled to #shelterinplace to #wearmasks, we’ve been learning and adapting each step along the journey. We are wearing wrinkled clothes from the laundry basket. We are crying in the shower and throwing tantrums on the floor. We are eating frozen foods and running the dishwasher nonstop. We are watching too much TV and playing too many video games. We are staring at our screens and ingesting too much news. We are drinking too much coffee and pouring ourselves one more nightcap. We are staying up too late, and then starting the cycle again in the morning. We are laughing as a family and enjoying each other’s company. We are baking bread and cooking soups to gain an ounce of comfort. We are puddle jumping in rain boots and looking for rainbows in the backyard. We are pulling out the unfinished art kits and digging out forgotten toys. We are connecting virtually through classes, happy hours, family dinners, drive-by birthday parties, and game nights with friends. We are supporting each other through group text messages filled with homeschooling advice, funny memes, recipes, and pictures of our kids. We are cuddling on the couch and living a slower-paced life. We are surviving with our own coping methods, though we may not have found a perfect balance between the positive and negative ones. Some days we play and then work, and some we work, then play. We have school sprinkled in there somewhere too. We are fighting and making up. We are screaming in the background of Zoom calls or breaking up a wrestling match on the couch. We are working in short bursts with the kids crying or playing nearby, or we are shutting ourselves into makeshift home offices bracing for the inevitable interruption. We keep going, unsure of what’s to come, but life continues. We are feeling guilty for not being enough of a parent or employee or husband or wife. We are trying to parent, work, and maintain our sanity all at the same time. We strive to do it all, when we could barely do it before. We are staying busy without accomplishing our to-do lists. We have all the time in the world, yet somehow there is not enough time. It’s the neverending staycation of our lives. We hope it will get better, but know the worst is yet to come. Inhale. Exhale. Try to embrace the challenges, at least for the moment. Maybe it goes without saying, but I’ll say it anyways. I realize that we are in a place of privilege to be safe at home. We are able to work from home, and our kids can attend school from home. We can go on walks around our neighborhood and can have most necessities delivered to us. We are ever grateful for all of those essential workers putting themselves at risk outside their homes to help others. We are insulated from the harsh conditions of the people fighting on the frontlines, being treated in a hospital, suffering in their homes, or living quarantined from their families. We don’t take that lightly. Today we are watching with a mixture of fear, hope, and trepidation as cities attempt to reopen, and we wonder if it’s really safe to go back into the world or if people are being too hasty. Even though staying home is a struggle, it’s a struggle that feels worth it for the safety of our families and communities. Thoughts are from me, Social Media Manager at Carefully App. I’m the mom to the three girls pictured in the article. Just trying to figure out this parenting thing each day. The stories I share are loosely based on my life, sometimes no filter needed, sometimes edited and adapted to protect us all…

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