Update: King County in Seattle provided updated recommendations for child care providers who identify a case of COVID-19 at their facility.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced Thursday that all public and private schools across King, Snohomish, and Pierce counties will be closed until at least April 24. It’s the latest mandate to help stem the spread of COVID-19 in the Seattle region.
With school canceled, some working parents suddenly need immediate help taking care of their kids.
Weekdays has an answer.
The new Seattle startup is coming out of stealth mode this week, offering to help parents with its marketplace for preschool and after-school child care.
Shauna Causey, a local startup veteran and partner at Madrona Venture Labs, is leading Weekdays as CEO. The mother of two kids started the company after struggling to find a daycare for her own children.
The company is looking to fill the gap in a “child care desert,” a term used by the Center for American Progress to describe the 51 percent of people in the U.S. that don’t have reliable access to child care. Weekdays matches in-home providers with parents, using its technology to power the experience for both sides of the marketplace, including communications, enrollment, payments, and more.
The startup makes money by taking a cut of tuition payments. By removing real estate costs (it doesn’t pay for physical space) and automating the director role with technology, Causey said “there’s the potential to make double or even triple the income of a typical preschool teacher salary in Seattle.” Child care workers have historically been underpaid.
During the COVID-19 outbreak, Weekdays is using an urgent text message service (425.200.5127 or firstname.lastname@example.org) to onboard parents as part of its “Home Pods” program. Each “pod” will take a maximum of three children to limit interaction amid the coronavirus outbreak.
Another Seattle child care startup, Leg Up, is also offering to help during the outbreak with its complementary matching website to backup child care services.
Coronavirus Live Updates: The latest COVID-19 developments in Seattle and the world of tech
Weekdays’ competitors include Bright Horizons, a publicly-traded child care provider with more than 1,000 locations worldwide. The industry giant posted revenue of $521 million in the most recent quarter, up 9 percent year-over-year.
“We aim to have a similar quality bar, enabled through technology,” Causey said of Bright Horizons. “As we did our own diligence, this immediately sets us apart from the other players in the market who are building more of a directory play with business support.”
Weekdays has six employees. Madrona Venture Labs, a startup studio backed by Madrona Venture Group, made a pre-seed investment in the company.
Causey previously worked at Galvanize, Simple Finance, Decide.com, Nordstrom, EveryMove, Google, Comcast, Startup Weekend, and the Seattle Mariners. She was most recently building a kids clothing startup called Relovable, which is still operating in Seattle.