Finding trustworthy, affordable child care can seem more competitive and time-consuming than getting into grad school. The problem isn’t just a shortage of good help; it’s the lack of a comprehensive search tool, says the developer of a new web app aimed at streamlining the process.
“After a little research we found there wasn’t a local solution that prevented parents from having to make dozens of calls to find a provider with an open spot,” says Malisa Lieser, a mother of two who has experienced the stressful process firsthand.
So Lieser and her husband, Martin, began developing Daycare Detector, a web application that makes searching for child care providers easier. The application officially launched in March and features a searchable map where parents can locate licensed providers and centers near their home or work, using filters to find providers that meet specific criteria.
“Millennial parents want to know more information up-front, such as meal plans and whether there are pets, and that information is impossible to find right now,” says Lieser. Although the state offers an Excel spreadsheet that lists all licensed providers in Minnesota, it isn’t very functional or informative, she adds.
Taking the state’s list a step further, Lieser created basic profiles for each licensed provider, listing names, phone numbers, and addresses. Providers can then claim their profiles and add a photo and their hours of care. For a more robust profile, providers can pay a $9.99 monthly fee or pay $100 for a year-long subscription. Paid profiles include space to list openings, add a description and additional photos, and a calendar to show drop-in care availability.
“Day care is a business and should be treated as such,” says Lieser, “and today, businesses should have a web presence—it’s where most people look for information.”
Daycare Detector has yet to turn a profit, but Lieser is optimistic. She says once they have more claimed and paid profiles, those profiles will start to show up higher in the map’s search results.
“Right now, we’re in our awareness phase,” she says, “but this tool is going to shake up an industry that is stuck in the ’80s.”