Winnie’s new daycare and preschool search helps parents in the Bay Area find quality child care. We appreciate their sponsorship of 510families.com today.
Finding the right preschool can be tough.
When I was pregnant with my second child, I returned to work and needed full-time childcare for my baby and toddler. After visiting a local preschool fair and talking to all my moms' group and book club friends, I found a place — walking distance from my house — that would take us if we waited a few months. While the intervening months were challenging, it all worked out. We remained in our preschool community for nine years. Not everyone finds the right fit so easily.
Spotlight on Winnie preschool search
When Anne Halsall, a local mom of 2, started looking at preschool options for her oldest son in Berkeley, she was at a loss for where to begin. She was new to the area and didn’t know other parents who could give personal recommendations. Her limited transportation options exacerbated the problem. She needed a great childcare place within walking distance from home.
“I really had no idea where to begin. Here I was in Berkeley, this big, vibrant city,” said Anne. “I knew there had to be tons of great preschools all around me, but I just couldn’t find them.” Google was no help, as it only brought up the big, popular schools that had long waitlists. In the end, she learned of a great school in her neighborhood from a local nanny. “If I hadn’t met her at the park that day, I never would have heard of it.”
This experience inspired Anne — a software engineer and one of the co-founders of parenting tech startup Winnie — to make the daycare and preschool search process easier for other parents by bringing it online. “At Winnie, we feel strongly that both children's and parent's lives are enriched when they have access to quality childcare and early education opportunities. We want everyone to be able to find this information. That’s why we are making it accessible and free to use.”
Anne's team recently launched winnie.com/childcare, a comprehensive, searchable and free directory of all the daycares and preschools in San Francisco and the East Bay. Listings include detailed descriptions, photos, tuition information, availability data and more. Winnie also contains reviews from parents whose children have attended the daycare or preschool, so we can all get the inside scoop.
What's so great about a sophisticated search?
One of the reasons we love Winnie’s new daycare and preschool search is that it is more than just a listing of all the providers — it’s a powerful, fully interactive search tool. You can refine your search with keywords like “montessori” or “bilingual” to find the programs that match exactly what you’re looking for. Working parents can even choose to only see daycares and preschools with 8+ hour days — thank goodness! The interactive map that allows you to zoom to a very specific neighborhood and find providers close to your home or work.
In addition to all the large daycare and preschool facilities, included in the results are smaller home-based daycares that are otherwise hard to find online.
Safety stuff: licensing, complaints, and more!
If you want to go really deep, Winnie includes links to the licensing database on a daycare’s Winnie page under the “Contact Information” section. Click on the license number to be taken to a full report from the California Department of Social Services. Dang. All licensed child care providers are inspected regularly and these inspections, along with any complaints filed against the provider, are public information. You can even subscribe to updates so you’ll know if a complaint gets filed or its licensing status changes.
Anne tells us that they want to get the word out about Winnie because when you have child care, you have options. Whether you utilize it or not, just knowing what your options are is very powerful. You can check out the childcare options available to you at winnie.com/childcare. Right now Winnie’s childcare search is available for every city in San Francisco, Alameda, and Contra Costa counties and is rolling out soon to the rest of the San Francisco Bay Area.