What is the name of your organization?
Carina Child Care
Is your organization registered as 501(c)(3) status with the IRS?
In what city, town, or region and state is your organization headquartered?Seattle, Washington, USA
Which dimension of the Challenge does your solution most closely address? [Select up to 2]
What is the name of your solution?
Carina Child Care Matching Platform
What is your solution?
Carina’s technology is an easy-to-use, safe, verified, mobile-first, web-based platform in English and Spanish that matches unionized Family Child Care Providers (FCCPs) with families needing care. Carina’s matching platform enables the owners of these small businesses, who are primarily women and women of color, to increase their income by filling empty slots. The platform also helps primarily low-income families who use state subsidies to pay for child care find care nearby. Carina complements its technology services by providing FCCPs with marketing assistance through social media ads and building partnerships with employers (e.g. Los Angeles Unified School District) whose employees need help finding care.
Carina’s technology can be used by anyone with internet access through a smartphone, tablet, laptop, or desktop computer and across different browsers. Carina has a simple three-step process for users: 1) search, 2) connect, and 3) match. Carina incorporated human-centered design by involving English and Spanish speaking FCCPs and board members of their unions in designing, testing, implementing, and evaluating the platform. Carina also conducts user testing through one-on-one interviews, product wireframes, and other design exercises and sends surveys to FCCPs and families on an ongoing basis.
Since the matching service launch in April of 2020, Carina has registered 2,400 FCCPs and 5,700 parents have messaged them in the states of California, Connecticut, Illinois, and Washington and generated $4.3 million in income for FCCPs. Carina’s platform has been featured in Stanford Social Innovation Review, GeekWire, Nonprofit Quarterly, Center for American Progress, and New York Magazine.
Film your elevator pitch.
Describe the core technology that powers your solution.
IMPROVING AND MODERNIZING LABOR’S HIRING HALLS
Over 100 years ago, unions began operating hiring halls to help their members obtain work by matching them with employers. While employers in construction and maritime industries still use them, the “gigification” of work and modern technology have made it possible to create massive labor supply platforms. Carina’s creation and work stems from labor unions representing care workers wanting to use new technology to help small child care businesses reach full enrollment and to demonstrate value in collective worker-centered solutions.
LEVERAGING TECHNOLOGY TO ENABLE FAMILY CHILD CARE PROVIDERS (FCCP’S) TO SUSTAIN AND GROW THEIR SMALL BUSINESSES
The purpose of Carina’s technology is to facilitate connections between FCCPs with open slots in their small businesses with families needing care so they can participate in the workforce. Carina launched our child care matching service in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic to help FCCPs stay afloat and to support essential workers in finding care for their children.
Carina worked with government officials and major employers to reach families. For example, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti not only provided funding for the child care platform but facilitated extensive connections to employers and frontline workers. Then Boston Mayor Martin Walsh funded a pilot for workers needing care during non-standard hours. In the early days of the pandemic Kaiser Permanente contracted with Carina to include the matching service as a part of their Employee Assistance Program. When schools re-opened in Los Angeles in April of 2021, the Los Angeles Unified School District partnered with Carina to help teachers and other school personnel find home-based child care.
TECHNOLOGY USED TO CONNECT FCCP’S WITH FAMILIES
Carina integrated the expertise of union leaders, FCCPs, and parents into designing, testing, implementing, and evaluating the care matching technology. The organization also incorporated empathy-building research into our design process to better serve those with limited technology skills and old equipment. The various forms of technology used for the platform follow.
- The backend includes databases, APIs, and related systems and is built with a modern data model and microservices architecture on a HIPAA compliant implementation on Amazon Web Services. This improves the performance of complex features like geo-matching, messaging, and notifications.
- Geo-based job and provider search, including the time it takes to travel via public transportation, is created using Mapbox.
- Customizable text and email notifications using Twilio and Amazon SES.
- Auto-populate provider training and credentials via custom APIs with training providers.
- Customer Relationship Management (CRM) integration through Salesforce.
- Language localization via Locize.
- Data collection, analysis, visualization, and monitoring through Google Analytics and Google Data Studio.
Which of the following categories best describes your solution?
A new business model or process that relies on technology to be successful
Please select the technologies currently used in your solution:
Who does your solution serve, including demographics, and how does the solution impact their lives?
Carina’s technology serves Family Child Care Providers (FCCPs) and families needing care for their children. FCCPs are small business owners who provide care ranging from infants to after-school care in small group settings in their homes. Ninety percent of FCCPs are women and 40% are women of color. Research has found that FCCPs are preferred over center-based care by families with lower incomes, needing care for infants and toddlers, who are Hispanic or African American, who emigrated from other countries, and who do not speak English as their primary language. FCCPs are often the only access point to licensed care for families who receive subsidies from the state and work non-standard hours.
Most FCCPs operate on thin margins and can only remain profitable at full capacity. In 2021, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that average annual income for all child care workers was $27,920, while the job recruiter Indeed reported that average income for in-home providers was slightly higher at $28,273. FCCPs need technology and support services like those provided by Carina to sustain, grow, and increase the resiliency of their businesses by connecting with parents. For example, the average cost of child care per month per child is $500 to $2,000, thus every slot filled could increase a child care provider’s annual income by $6,000 to $24,000 per child. Since April of 2020, Carina has generated an estimated $4.3 million in income for FCCPs.
The matching service also benefits parents and children. Parents can participate in the workforce, especially mothers who left in unprecedented numbers during the pandemic. FCCPs often serve as children’s primary caregivers for multiple years and develop close, trusting relationships with them during their critical formative years.
Explain how the problem you are addressing, the solution you have designed, and the population you are serving align with the Challenge.
Carina is working to solve the problem of Family Child Care Providers (FCCPs) earning low incomes and experiencing difficulties in filling openings in their small businesses. Child care work in the U.S. is nearly universally provided by women, largely women of color. Cultural biases rooted in racism and sexism have resulted in FCCPs being underpaid and undervalued. Through collective action, including joining unions, FCCPs are demanding better rates for providing subsidized care and new solutions to sustain and grow their small businesses. Despite historic organizing victories in some states, FCCPs remain low-income unless they are operating at full capacity. At the same time, parents seeking child care need to find a licensed caregiver nearby. FCCPs and families alike are benefiting from Carina’s free, easy to use, and safe technology tools and marketing assistance.
Carina’s technology coupled with marketing assistance is meeting the Truist Foundation’s goal of connecting small business owners to networks that will transform their ability to do business. Through our technology, Carina is enabling FCCPs to fill empty slots and thus sustain and grow their small businesses by connecting them to and matching them with families needing care. For example, the average cost of child care per month per child is $500 to $2,000, thus every slot filled could increase a child care provider’s annual income by $6,000 to $24,000 per child. Since April of 2020, Carina has generated an estimated $4.3 million in additional income for family child care providers.
What is your theory of change?
We believe if Carina can complete the following activities and outputs:
- Build a diverse team that implements equity and inclusion across all initiatives.
- Design, develop, and share technology that empowers Family Child Care Providers (FCCPs) to sustain and grow their small businesses by being connected to and matched with parents and employers.
- Partner with labor unions, state and local governments, and employers trusted by care providers and care seekers to recruit FCCPs and parents to register on Carina.
Then Carina can achieve the following short- and long-term outcomes:
- Our partners encourage care seekers and care workers to use Carina which will expand critical access to child care for parents and enable FCCPs to sustain and grow their small businesses. (Short-Term)
- FCCPs can easily reach full enrollment using Carina.org and secure work they need to increase earnings and expand their small businesses. (Short-Term)
- Parents can easily connect to licensed child care workers by using Carina.org and families receive the care they need. (Short-Term)
- By working with our partners (unions, government agencies, and employers), Carina will deepen learning on the best strategies for FCCPs to connect to and match with families needing care so they are operating at full capacity and can remain profitable. (Long-Term)
- Care providers can secure greater financial and professional stability. (Long-Term)
- The care economy strengthens communities and respects and supports workers. (Long-Term)
What is your solution’s stage of development?Growth: an established product, service, or business model that is sustainable through proven effectiveness and is poised for further growth into additional communities.
What is your organization’s stage of development?Growth: A registered 501(c)(3) organization with an established product, service, or business model rolled out in one or, ideally, several communities, which is poised for further growth and has a proven track record with an annual operating budget
How many small businesses does your solution currently serve?
CURRENT NUMBER OF THOSE SERVED
FCCPs Registered on Carina: 2,400
Families That Have Messaged FCCPs on Carina: 5,700
Number of States Where Carina is in Operation: 4 states (California, Connecticut, Illinois, and Washington)
NUMBER TO BE SERVED IN THE NEXT YEAR: 2024
FCCPs Registered on Carina:3,000
Families That Have Messaged FCCPs on Carina: 9,700
Number of States Where Carina is in Operation: 5 states (California, Connecticut, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Washington)
NUMBER TO BE SERVED IN FIVE YEARS
FCCPs Registered on Carina:$5,000
Families That Have Messaged FCCPs on Carina: 20,000
Number of States Where Carina is in Operation: 5 states (California, Connecticut, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Washington)
How do you define the community you serve, and who are its stakeholders?
Carina’s matching platform serves Family Child Care Providers (FCCPs) and parents needing care for their children. FCCPs, who are primarily women and women of color, provide care for children in their homes. They can only remain profitable if all the slots in their small businesses are filled. Because most FCCPs are low-income, they don’t have the resources to promote their small businesses. Carina’s matching service platform is offered in the states of California, Connecticut, Illinois, and Washington. To date, a majority of FCCPs and families registered on the platform live in low-income communities, including “child care deserts” where care is very hard to find. Carina’s matching service platform is influenced by FCCPs and parents who are provided with opportunities to provide input through automated surveys. Other stakeholders include unions representing FCCPs, state and local governments, and employers.
How do you build trust within the community your organization serves and among small business owners?
Carina has built trust with Family Child Care Providers (FCCPs) to help them maximize connections with prospective clients they ordinarily would not reach by:
- Ensuring FCCPs and their unions were involved in the creation, design, implementation, and evaluation of the matching service.
- Recruiting FCCPs to register on the site through their trusted unions.
- Communicating regularly with FCCP unions, sharing metrics and learnings, obtaining feedback, and participating in governance meetings.
- Conducting a wide range of marketing campaigns on behalf of FCCPs that they otherwise could not afford in communities with the greatest caregiver availability, including theme-based campaigns targeting diverse communities such as LGBTQIA+ and Hispanic families.
- Putting into place systems for sending automated surveys to FCCPs after they sign up on Carina and after making connections to ensure that Carina is doing everything possible to help them build the resiliency and sustainability of their small business.
What are your impact goals for the current year and the next five years and how will you achieve them?
GOALS FOR 2023
- Help grow the small businesses of Family Child Care Providers (FCCPs) by facilitating 800 care matches with families in California, Connecticut, Illinois, and Washington.
- Twenty-five percent of FCCPs and parents match using Carina’s child care platform.
- Matches made through Carina will generate an estimated $4.3 million for FCCPs.
GOALS IN THE NEXT FIVE YEARS
- Expand the child care matching platform to Pennsylvania, including developing a new labor partnership in that state.
- Include Carina as part of a suite of union benefits for FCCPs, including being part of collective bargaining agreement.
- Have 25,000 FCCPs and parents registered on the platform.
- Facilitate 4,000 matches between FCCPs and parents.
- Generate an estimated $21.6 million in income for FCCPs.
To reach these goals, Carina will: 1) work with six labor union partners and their employer networks; 2) improve and increasing digital outreach to promote the availability of the platform; 3) evaluate our data about the most pressing issues facing parents, especially difficulties in finding subsidized care and care during non-standard work hours; 4) build a network effect by embedding the matching service in high value programs such as workforce boards, building trades programs, and employee assistance referral programs; 5) gain traction at a critical moment (return to work) and connecting parents with FCCPs; 6) increase outreach in communities by training an in-house outreach coordinator; and 7) evaluate a train-the-trainer model to increase outreach via labor union partners and community outreach programs.
Why are you applying to Truist Foundation Inspire Awards?
Carina is applying for a Truist Foundation Inspire Award because Family Child Care Providers (FCCPs), who are a critical component of our country’s child care infrastructure, are closing their doors at rapid rates. According to a recent report published by Child Care Aware titled Demanding Change: Repairing Our Child Care System, the U.S. did not have an adequate supply of high quality child care before the COVID-19 pandemic hit. When comparing 2018 and 2019 data, 79% of states had reported a decline in the number of FCCPs. The pandemic continued to strain the child care system. Between December of 2018 and March of 2021, Child Care Aware found that 10% or 6,957 licensed FCCPs had closed their doors.
Additionally, FCCPS are small businesses that are primarily operated by women and women of color. Their small businesses provide them with an opportunity to earn middle class wages if they can fill all of their child care slots. Because of their limited resources, FCCPs do not have the technical skills or expertise to market their businesses to find families who need their services. Carina provides them with both the technology and marketing support needed to grow their small businesses and increase their resiliency and sustainability.
Funding and technical assistance from this award will enable Carina to develop its business model, increase the runway to sustainable programmatic funding from collective bargaining agreements, and to better understand and measure the impact of Carina’s technology and other support to these small businesses.
In which of the following areas do you most need partners or support?
Please explain in more detail here.
BUSINESS MODEL: Carina started our work to support Family Child Care Providers (FCCPs) and essential workers as a COVID-19 Rapid Response with seed funding from labor union partners. Carina hypothesized that the organization could use economies of scope with our existing home care matching service to deliver a similar service to FCCPs. To date, the organization has had more success in economies of scale with our technology than scope. Carina is now at the three-year mark of offering the child care matching service. While we are making a strong impact, Carina needs assistance with our business model, including how to better secure union and state funding for the matching service through collective bargaining agreements and RFPs.
MONITORING AND EVALUATION: Carina now has hundreds of matches but needs help with better understanding the quality of those matches and the ripple effects from those matches. For example, did using Carina increase FCCPs access to families enough that it made the difference between keeping their businesses open and having to close? Would hiring additional staff help create even more capacity and matches?
Ms. Nidhi Mirani Executive Director, Carina