Start-up founded to help parents find child care

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Kelly O’Halloran has thought about every detail in her baby girls nursery.

“We took a very jungle-friendly approach,” the expectant mom said. She’s due in August and has already found and researched a daycare. She’ll go back to work in January. 

“We’re really big planners and so the nursery, the child care … everything we wanted to get it done as early as possible,” O’Halloran said.

The new mom turned to a new start-up called JuiceBox Hero for some help. The website promises an easier way to narrow down the search. 

“I Googled daycare and my zip code and I came up with more than half a million results and I was blown away,” said Laurie Felker Jones, who founded JuiceBox Hero. “What was I supposed to do from there? I didn’t know how to filter and compare my options.”

The mom of two connected with an old friend and in May they launched the business. The website helps parents search for pre-k, daycare and after-shool programs. 

Parents can enter a zip code and JuiceBox Hero quickly pops up options in that area. They can then search using filters and even compare top picks. 

“I don’t think parents are looking for a haystack. They’re looking for a needle,” Felker Jones said. “What’s a Mother’s Day out program? How do I know that full-time actually doesn’t end at 3 o’clock or that it involves summer care? You can’t save — even manage — your favorites on Google.”

O’Halloran said it made a difference. “It helped bring the search down to a level that I could manage.”

JuiceBox Hero only lists places licensed by the state. Felker Jones said her small team monitors any safety violations. It’s a free service now and only offered in Central Texas.

Felker Jones said they are working on rolling out parent reviews on the different child care centers soon.

A spokesperson with the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, which overseas daycare licensing, says yearly inspections are required for licensed child-care centers and child-care homes. Additional inspections can be triggered by reports of alleged violations.

Also, the spokesperson says that if someone has been fingerprinted for employment in child care, then DPS will notify them if the person is arrested in Texas.

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