According to a recent report from the advocacy group ReadyNation, the lack of quality and affordable childcare is a major issue hampering employees, mostly women, from returning to the workforce post-COVID. A new company just launched in the Phoenix marketplace, called Caribou, is focused on alleviating the childcare challenges, like a lack of qualified caregivers and long wait lists at daycare centers across the Valley, by matching fully-vetted stay-at-home moms with families looking for childcare.
During the pandemic one third of the state’s licensed daycares or child care providers were forced to close, according to the Arizona Early Childhood Alliance. That’s created what experts are calling a “childcare desert” – meaning children are outnumbering spots open at licensed and affordable daycares close to their homes. The issue of a childcare desert has been exacerbated with the global pandemic.
Caribou is focused on alleviating these childcare challenges. It’s an online service matching stay-at-home moms with families looking for childcare.
“As parents contemplate a return to in-person work after the global pandemic, new problems arise,” said Caribou founder, Jordan Kong. “Having a baby during the pandemic was a blessing and a curse. On one hand I was thankful to be able to spend time at home with my family, but realized quickly that childcare options were severely limited as I planned my return to work. That was my impetus to start Caribou.”
With more than 21,000 Arizona children under five for each daycare facility in operation, finding a daycare with room is only the first obstacle for working parents. Even in cities where childcare is readily available, it is often unaffordable. Childcare costs have increased annually for the last five years, with parents often pending more per month on childcare than it costs to rent a one-bedroom home.
Started by working moms, Caribou’s mission is to provide high-quality childcare that’s easy to set up, affordable and customized for each families’ individual needs. Caribou provides the highest quality of care for a fraction of the cost of a nanny.
Caribou is an online matching service focused exclusively on childcare, connecting stay-at-home moms who have a child of their own with families looking for high-quality care at a reasonable cost. It offers a personalized approach and support, including easy-to-use online booking and payment tools, so users can take care of scheduling and more, whether at home or on the go.
“At Caribou, we remove the stigma that a stay-at-home mom is not a ‘real job,’” added Kong. “Stay-at-home moms can provide a valuable service and earn an income for their hard work.”
Caribou has a dedicated team that conducts interviews and scrutinizes all care providers including an identity verification check and extensive background check prior to starting care. On average, Caribou care providers have 10 or more years of experience in the childcare space. Online matching is essential to connecting families with caregivers who share common ideas and strategies for child rearing.
“I am a new mom so I understand the challenges of leaving your child in someone else’s care,” said Stephanie McAlpine, Caribou’s local ambassador. “For me it is important for my daughter to socialize, which is why I joined the Caribou community. It has been wonderful meeting like-minded mothers and giving my daughter the opportunity to play, and learn, from other kids.”
Since launching Caribou, nearly 100 stay-at-home moms across Metro Phoenix are providing safe and personalized in home care for children. Caribou childcare services are currently available in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert, Glendale and Peoria.