How Did KidsPark Begin?
Debbie Milner, Founder and CEO
In 1988, KidsPark was the original “disrupter” in traditional childcare in California. I introduced licensed, hourly-care. Why? Quite simply, because I needed it. An advisor told me to find the service or product that was missing from my life. I needed childcare on demand, without reservations, when you need it days, evenings and weekends. It became my niche and passion.
Was I the only Mom that couldn’t juggle it all? (Let me know – send an email.) I was new to California, didn’t have any family in the area, worked full-time as an Information Systems for HP, my husband traveled a great deal and I had Rita, a 2-year old. Yikes! I just needed a few hours here and there to take care of errands, get a haircut, see a doctor, or have some down-time.
I tried finding a babysitter, but I never remembered to schedule one early enough and couldn’t find one on the spur of the moment. Plus, I felt better leaving Rita with an adult than a teenager and I wanted her to have other children to play with. When my research confirmed it wasn’t just me,
other families needed hourly care, I moved forward. I spent a year figuring out how it could work and raising some capital.
Creating a company was very important to me. I wanted to control my work life. I was a latchkey kid, so my hot button was to be home in the afternoon with my daughter. My version of life-work balance was to work before she got up, while she was at school, and then when she was in bed. When she was little, she came to work with me. Remember, this was back in 1988, before flex-time and job-sharing.
Being able to control one’s schedule resonates throughout KidsPark. Three times a year, we ask our teachers when they want to work. We build our schedule around their requests. This way a mom can work days when her children are in school and switch to evenings for the summer when school is out. Or college students can change their schedules each semester depending on their courses. I think this has helped us build a strong team – we have teachers who have been with us for 20+ years!
Picture – My daughter, Rita, at age 3 – the first KidsPark-er. Stylish from the start!