Startups

Boston-based NeighborSchools Raises $3.5M Seed For Affordable Childcare

Working parents need childcare that isn’t going to cost more than their little one’s future college tuition. Care providers need a way to navigate the regulatory and logistical challenge of opening a daycare in their homes without losing their minds (and getting paid a fair amount). Therein lies the sweet spot for Boston-based NeighborSchools.

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Using a software platform to make childcare easier and accessible, NeighborSchools has raised $3.5 million in a seed round led by Accomplice. The Boston-based startup will use the money to expand within Massachusetts.

NeighborSchools was founded in 2018 by Brian Swartz, Bridget Garsh, and Cedric McDougal. I caught up with Garsh, who is also the company’s COO, after she put her son to sleep Monday evening.

Garsh explained that the company’s tech platform and support team “work with each caregiver to guide them through the state licensing process, business setup, home setup, marketing, and on-going operations.” The company makes money by signing a revenue-sharing agreement with each caregiver they support, and according to the website, caregivers can “earn up to $90,000 a year doing what you love.”

So let’s click over to the company’s website, where you can “start” a home daycare center. A profile of one daycare, Little Sunshine Home Daycare, includes days and times the sitter is free, as well as certifications and ideal age groups.

While the platform doesn’t cover the costs of certain child care certifications, Garsh said that NeighborSchools walks caregivers through the complex process.

“Just like you wouldn’t read the IRS regulations to do your taxes and you would use a system like TurboTax to walk you through step by step, we’re taking regulatory requirements of childcare and making them digestible.”

Garsh added that beyond this tech platform, “we help parents discover daycares in their neighborhoods, learn about the programs, set-up tours and enroll their children.”

One of the company’s main competitors is corporate childcare facilities, which Garsh said are “not affordable and not accessible.”

“One of the things that doesn’t get talked about is why and what is making [corporate childcare] so expensive.” She pointed to how corporate centers often charge a lot because of space, operations and support teams.

The NeighborSchools team. Photo Credit: Devin Dobbins

“Unfortunately, that means that parents are paying a lot of money, and that money isn’t going into the caregivers pockets.” That’s where, she said, they found the idea for a model like NeighborSchools. Keeping childcare in-house through the home daycare model is “more affordable for families, and provides caregivers with more money.”

As a babysitter back in the day, I never got to the world of truly professionalizing my babysitting set ups with various families around my New Jersey suburb. That said, my friends spent summers creating make-shift daycares (and made a good bit of money, too).

If NeighborSchools pulls off creating a professional, replicable way for a trustworthy person to start a childcare daycare, that could be a huge win for many involved.

 

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