Interview with Caresquare: Redesign and Expansion

Caresquare launched last year as a social site that connects child care professionals with parents. The site’s differentiating factor is it’s social approach to its system, connecting professionals and parents directly. Though Caresquare launched in the midst of several other established sites that offer similar services, Caresquare has made several changes to its site in order to become more competitive. Below is an interview with Caresquare’s Ariel Ford, who speaks on some of these changes:

Kristen Nicole of Social Times: What’s the story behind Caresquare? How did you come up with the idea?

Ariel Ford: Necessity is the mother of invention – Caresquare was born entirely of need. The two founders – Ariel Kleckner Ford and Alex Kaplinsky – are parents of young children, and saw nothing online to help them solve last-minute childcare dilemmas. We have also both been the primary caregivers of older family members in our lives, and quickly saw how much the need for both a social network around childcare and home health care/senior was needed.

Kristen Nicole: In terms of your initial offering, you started with helping people find care for children. Why expand to care for elders?

Ariel Ford: There were two events that occurred after our initial launch that made us realize the need in the senior care space.

After a successful local launch into the childcare space, we saw senior caregivers coming into the site and “jiggering” the system to create profiles for themselves. That is when we realized there was no vehicle online anywhere for any caregivers to truly promote themselves. They had to rely on agencies – whether online of offline – to get their name out there. So we saw a need to empower the caregivers to promote themselves, and in doing so compete for jobs. This competition for jobs ends up benefiting hiring families as they can choose from a number of qualified applicants, rather than just get the one caregiver assigned to them by an agency.

Secondly, a local municipality and a larger county public authority both contacted us independently asking for this exact application to serve the needs of their seniors and senior caregivers. We knew then we were onto something.

Kristen Nicole: You mentioned that you’re also redesigning the site. What changes are you making to Caresquare?

Ariel Ford: We have recently redesigned our entire back-end engine to allow the site to scale to millions of users. Our next round of development includes the launch of private label services – we intend to offer our application in a private label version to the tens of thousands of existing home care agencies across the United States and Canada. These agencies will all of our services on their own websites, with their own caregivers.

Kristen Nicole: In regards to the social networking components of Caresquare, what are some of the highlights?

Ariel Ford: The best hires in the area of care always come from personal referrals. Caresquare allows hiring families to connect directly with caregivers their friends, neighbors and community are using and referring. Once a family has decided on a pool of potential caregivers, reference-checking becomes the most important tool for determining who is the best fit for the job. The existing online agencies check references on their caregivers but never share those references, or the people who left them, with the hiring family. Families must trust the character-vetting of a caregiver to an agency-employee. References for caregivers are posted right on the site, and families can read the references and directly contact the families who have left them.

Kristen Nicole: Why did you decide to focus on social networking components for Caresquare?

Ariel Ford: The social network that Caresquare has created care allows for a completely hands-on, direct approach to finding care. It also allows for automation of the offline process a family already goes through when looking to place care – they ask their friends and neighbors.

Kristen Nicole: Should the act of searching for childcare and elderly care be left to a self-regulating user network with no intermediating from Caresquare?

Ariel Ford: Caresquare equips users with all the tools any intermediary would use – namely references checking and background checks. There is nothing else an intermediating agency offers – we fundamentally believe our users want to do this work themselves, and should not have to pay for it. Additionally, the intelligence of the community allows the best caregivers to shine, and to gain access to the most jobs. No intermediary could be as intelligent as the community.