Member Spotlight: TOOTRiS On-Demand Child Care
Tell us about your company.
TOOTRiS is the first and only touchless technology service provider that connects parents with high-quality Child Care in real-time. Using the web or mobile applications, parents can find, vet, tour and enroll their children into a program that meets their scheduling and budgetary requirements, using pay-as-you-go options. TOOTRiS gives parents tools for contactless exchange of information with providers, sign-in & sign-out of children, and provides online visibility into the care of their child. Behind the scenes, TOOTRiS is creating the new Family Child Care Provider economy, providing online resource tools and automation to develop Safety-First Standards of Care and Early Child Care & Education programs that incorporate play-based learning curriculums in small groups not to exceed 10 children. TOOTRiS enables parents – especially women – to reintegrate into the workforce, particularly after COVID-19, with complete peace of mind, knowing that their children are safe and enjoying fun, high-quality Child Care and education. Working alongside federal, state, and local organizations, industry experts, early childhood program directors, and most importantly, parents, TOOTRiS delivers an invaluable service that matches the needs and expectations of today's digitally empowered families in the “new normal.”
What products or services does your business provide?
TOOTRiS has developed an online technology platform that allows parents to find, vet, tour, and enroll their children in high-quality Child Care programs while making it affordable and flexible through pay-as-you-go methods and financial assistance from our early education investment fund. Parents can secure Child Care around the clock based on their real-time location, scheduling, and budgetary requirements. TOOTRiS is also reinventing Child Care by creating “universal enrollment” so that parents can easily place their children in any program within the network of TOOTRiS-verified, licensed providers that meet our standards for curriculum-based early education. Parents can have peace of mind with secure payments – without the hassle of cash, physical checks, or wires – and multi-factor authentication for ultimate account protection and security. Prioritizing the needs of working parents and Child Care providers, the TOOTRiS platform has visibility into enhanced features that meet the specific needs of families, such as languages, food allergies, and cognitive or physical disabilities. TOOTRiS also has different enrollment options for parents, including recurring, drop-in, and non-standard hour care. Not only does TOOTRiS give parents access to affordable, high-quality Child Care, but the TOOTRiS Education Center also serves as a reference database for parents looking for subsidies, and Child Care providers looking for training and certification information. Other resources include licensing by state, careers in Child Care, and Child Care assistance for corporations, nonprofits, colleges and trade schools, first responders, and military or government organizations. The dedicated employees at TOOTRiS gathered and collected all this valuable information and structured it on the platform in an intuitive way for anyone to find.
What was the most memorable or successful moment in your business' history?
One of the most memorable milestones in TOOTRiS history was when the company made its platform live and officially launched its technological capabilities. That same day, we received our first customer: a military mom, an essential worker. Her two children were originally enrolled full-time in a Child Care program when it closed unexpectedly due to COVID-19. Desperate to find a new, nearby Child Care provider for her one-year-old and four-year-old, she autonomously navigated the TOOTRiS website when she came across Adventure Point Early Learning Center in the search results. She then explored the TOOTRiS Education Center (tootris.com/edu) for military subsidies, such as NACCRRA, and contacted Adventure Point Early Learning Center to see if they accept it. Since they do accept NACCRRA and the subsidized cost of Child Care was affordable for her, she moved forward with Adventure Point and scheduled a tour with the Child Care Center Director. When our Child Placement Coordinator, Cynthia, checked in to see how the tour went, she responded: “Everything worked out! The children will be starting on Monday.”
Tell us an interesting fact about your business.
Like many well-known startups, TOOTRiS started out in a three-car garage where we all worked very closely together for several months. When the garage was no longer able to accommodate the size of our rapidly expanding team, and we found the perfect headquarters in Sorrento Valley – the tech hub of San Diego! The new Sorrento Valley headquarters, which will grow to 40 employees by the end of 2020, is located at 6170 Cornerstone Court East in the new 40,000 square-foot Cornerstone Plaza building. The office also includes a state-of-the-art Family Child Care showroom exhibit designed by Child Care industry veterans as a turnkey solution for providers looking to start their own Family Child Care program. This model will outline prospective providers on how to design, operate, and grow their quality Child Care and early education programs. Child-safe furniture options and decorating ideas are displayed in addition to dedicated learning spaces such as a literacy corner, block areas, and group play settings. Having a well-designed layout is one of the greatest tools for building the perfect environment for learning and development, and the TOOTRiS model will ensure that providers have the know-how and necessary resources to set up and operate a safe, fun, and educational program for children.
What tips/advice can you offer that is related to your business' industry?
Raise your hand if you have children of your own, or if you know someone else who has kids. Child Care impacts EVERYONE, whether you realize it or not. TOOTRiS is resolving the $47 billion Child Care crisis in our nation today by tackling all avenues of the problem through our technology platform and unique value proposition. During the first five years of a child’s life, the brain develops by 90%, yet during this critical window in our youth’s development, there is a 44% deficit in age 0-5 Child Care in San Diego alone, either because there isn’t enough availability or because parents simply cannot afford it. If not exposed to high-quality early education programs, children do not develop the cognitive, social, or motor skills needed to reach academic readiness by Kindergarten, and schools will have to exert more funds and effort trying to catch the student up. Children who are exposed to high-quality early education and academically prepared by Kindergarten are more likely to continue their higher education and become productive members of society. San Diego households making $75-100k a year fall into the median income bracket and are therefore unable to receive financial assistance. Because of this, working parents pay an average of 36% of their annual income on Child Care. To put this in perspective, Child Care is considered affordable by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services if it does not cost more than 7% of a family’s household income. Employers lose 1 in every 4 employees that go on maternity leave due to lack of Child Care, and 80% of the time it is women who sacrifice their careers and either reduce hours or drop out of the workforce completely to stay at home. The dual-income soon becomes single-income, lowering the family’s spending power even though the family’s expenses are increasing with the new child. This creates a domino effect on businesses, employers, and the local economy. On the provider end, Child Care and early childhood education professionals are opting out of the industry because of the low wage level, despite their positions playing a vital role in society. Employers need Child Care to restore the economy and help parents reintegrate into the workforce, particularly after COVID-19, with complete focus and peace of mind knowing that their children are safe and enjoying fun, high-quality Child Care and education. TOOTRiS is enabling that by empowering businesses and employers to extend Child Care benefits to their working parents.
Do you have any upcoming events or information you want your fellow Chamber Members and the community to know about?
When COVID-19 eventually tapers off and Governor Gavin Newsom re-permits gatherings of more than 10 people, TOOTRiS will be announcing its ribbon-cutting ceremony and hosting a launch party, while observing safety precautions in the “new normal.” This event will be attended by San Diego officials, Child Care directors, regional partners, and Child Care advocates. We are eager to share our success as a small technology startup despite the current health and economic crisis, as well as the impacts we have already made in the lives of parents and Child Care providers throughout San Diego County.
For more information on TOOTRiS please visit https://tootris.com/.