When I first heard about apps describing themselves as uber for kids, I was dubious. Calling a random driver to pick my kids up from school just didn’t feel safe, and I thought I’d probably be a nervous wreck the entire time my kids were being transported.
Then again, plenty of moms I know hire teens from our school to drive their kids home, and the experienced, background-checked childcare providers who work for these companies are probably much safer than they are (sorry, teens).
Now, these apps are really only available in a few select cities right now (and none yet in mine), so I wasn’t able to personally try them. But, after I spent some time talking to the people behind the kid transportation app Kango, I learned a lot more about how these apps works and have a few thoughts to help you decide if these services are right for you.
Interview the driver
When you’re considering whether or not to use one of these apps, find out whether you’ll have a chance to meet (and interview) the driver at your home before they take your kids anywhere. Obviously, I want to make sure they’re going to take good care of my kids, and letting my kids meet them first will make any confusion over “never get in a car with a stranger” easier for them.
As it turns out, that these types of apps are more like a nanny-on-wheels. These sitters will run your carpool for you, get your kids from school if you have a last-minute work meeting, or even bring your kids home and get started on homework.
Ask lots of questions. And get the answers you need.
Do the companies run background checks? Do they examine their driving record? Are there specific requirements for their vehicles? What kind of insurance do they carry? What happens if they get in an accident? The list goes on. In talking with the folks at Kango, I discovered that they require their drivers to have a minimum of three years’ of childcare experience. And, some services also offer updates on your kids while they ride, which is just an extra layer of comfort.
While it’s certainly similar to you taking an uber or a Lyft with your family, in this case, your kids are riding alone, so you’ll want to be able to breathe more easily knowing the driver’s qualifications.
Try them out as a family first
Honestly, I still have some reservations about using a service like this, because anytime I put my kid in a car with a relative stranger there are risks involved. One suggestion would be to use one of these companies instead of Über for your next family outing. Their cars will likely be equipped with booster seats or car seats, which many Über cars won’t have. And you’ll have a chance to meet and test a driver before sending your kids off alone.
Then, this way you’ll know the driver more personally, know their driving habits, and perhaps will feel more comfortable sending your child alone the next time.
We’re definitely intrigued by these services, because so much of our day, at least for many of us parents, is spent in the car. We can imagine many instances where a service like this would be a huge lifesaver. We’re excited to see what happens as these apps grow and reach more cities (and more families). We’ll definitely keep them on our radar, and give them a try ourselves so we can report back.
Parents in the San Francisco Bay area can try the Kango app for iOS or Android, which we’ve featured in the screen shots shown here. Other options are Hop Skip Drive (also in the LA and SF Bay area, pictured above right) and Kid Car in the NYC area. Have you tried a service like this? We’d love to hear from you. Leave us a comment about your experience.