Rebecca Cole, local Austin mom of two, has recently launched a new business called Nurture My Child, a resource for local families who are searching for child care.
Can you tell us why you began Nurture My Child.
I was working at Freescale as an engineering manufacturing manager, with 2 young kids and a husband who travelled all of the time for work. I was burned out and just felt there had to be more to life than this. I decided I wanted to have a career that “meant” something and where I felt good about the things I accomplished at the end of the day.
I started Nurture My Child because I saw that there were so many families in Austin that really struggle with child care. Whether it is a 1st time mom trying to understand what types of care are available, to a family with three children who need after school-care for their oldest, preschool for their 3 year old and full-time care for their infant. I wanted to create a company that really listens to the family’s needs, educates them on what their options are and becomes their advocate to find the best solution for their child and their family.
Can you tell us what resources you use to help find the right type of child care for families in Austin?
The resources I use range from meetings with the directors at each preschool and child care center, to going to the Texas Department of Family & Protective Services for information on licensing and inspections, to calling parents who have had children in the programs, to nanny reference interviews and background checks.
That is really one of the main benefits of Nurture My Child for families…..we do all of the time-consuming research for you so you can focus on the few solutions that meet your needs and are a good fit for your child.
For a typical busy family, taking the time to find the perfect child care solution may be tough. Do you feel that many families just settle on one of the first options that they come across to save that precious time?
I do feel that is the case for many families, but not necessarily even a conscious one. I think many people just go to a center that a friend is using, or that is close to their house and don’t take the time sit down and think about if it is a good fit with their child’s personality, or learning style, or what type of school culture they want. Just because a school is a good fit for your friend, does not mean it is right for you.
I can’t even tell you how many people have said to me “the place my child goes to is OK, but I can’t imagine having to find something new or piecing a preschool and part-time nanny together to make it work with my schedule.” That is one of the key points of Nurture My Child. The worst feeling in the world as a parent is to feel that you have settled or to second guess your choices for your child’s happiness, well-being and growth. We want to help families understand that they really can have the type of child care & education they desire. A family should never regret the choices they have made for their children.
How much time do clients typically spend with Nurture My Child in the search for child care, from the beginning in-home consultation to the end process?
It really depends on the needs of the client. I have had some clients where I have done three in-home consultations, educating them on the types of care available and working with them to identify their wants, needs and priorities. Other clients know exactly what they want but just don’t have the time to do the legwork. Beginning to end of the process can range anywhere from 1 week to 6 weeks. We always keep working with the client until they are completely satisfied.
Do you or one of your employees go along with the clients to check out the recommended child care centers?
We do provide this service. For an additional fee we can arrange all site visits and drive the clients to each appointment to review the facilities. This can be especially helpful for people who have limited time or who are moving from outside of Austin and may only be here for a few days. We can also sit-in on any in-home nanny interviews.
Do you find that many of the child care facilities that you end up recommending have long waiting lists?
Unfortunately waiting lists can be extremely long and are a crucial thing for parents to understand. Long waiting lists stem from their being more demand than supply and a lack of accredited programs. Last year in Travis County, local providers only had the capacity to meet 87.7% of the estimated demand for children younger than 5 years of age. Shockingly, only 22% of the programs are accredited (an indicator of quality) and many of these programs do not provide child care that supports traditional working hours. Infant care can have over 1 year waiting lists, and quality preschools and Montessori programs can have up to 2-year waiting lists.
What is the fee for using Nurture My Child?
There is a $100 application fee per family after we do an in-home consultation. There is a $500 fee for child care and preschool packages, a $600 part-time nanny placement fee, $800 full-time nanny placement fee, and $1000 fee for a customized package where a family needs a variety of types of care.
Do you offer any assistance to lower income families who are struggling to find quality child care that is affordable at the same time?
We do not at this time, but can refer clients needing assistance to several state agencies for support.
How would you like to see Nurture My Child grow in the future? Do you have any plans to expand to different cities?
For 2009 we are expanding with business partners in the real estate, OB/GYN, and pediatric space. In 2010 we will be working with local corporations to become part of their benefits package and give them an affordable way to offer their employees cost-effective child care solutions. Expanding our services to other cities is something that is definitely in our future. I just want to always ensure that we have the right people in-place so Nurture My Child never loses that personal touch and focus on customer service.
What has it been like to go from working in a corporate environment to running your own business?
In a word, FABULOUS! The corporate environment taught me some very valuable things about organization, hard work and management, but it is also easy to become cynical. Through running my own business I have been able to see the true generosity of others. People genuinely want to help you because they believe in what you do, without expecting anything in return. That has been the best gift for me, and I love being able to do that for other businesses I believe in.
What helps motivate you to stay on target?
My passion for what I do and the families I meet is what keeps me motivated. That, and setting an example for my children to constantly be learning and creating and dreaming and going after their goals 110%.
Are you originally from Austin? If not, where are you from and how did you end up in Austin?
I grew up in Houston, Texas and my husband grew up in the Dallas area. We met at the University of Illinois and knew that we wanted to move back to Texas after we graduated to be close to both our families and to get out of the snow! We came to Austin in 1996 after getting jobs with Motorola and instantly fell in love with the city.
What do you enjoy about living in Austin the most? What do you dislike?
My husband and I love the outdoors, so the trees and greenbelt areas and lakes drew us in immediately. I love the “big city with a small-town feel” and that fact that you can go anywhere in jeans and a t-shirt. There is also such a tolerance in Austin for diversity of thought….what other city would have a motto like “Keep Austin Weird”? I love it!!
I can’t think of anything I dislike except for I-35 traffic.
If you could give out unsolicited advice, who would you give it to and what would you say?
I don’t believe in unsolicited advice. Now, solicited advice, I could give out all day long. I just feel that as women/mothers we are sometimes way too critical and judgmental of each other. We need to support one another and listen to one another and be that friend to lean on when someone needs it. Sometimes that does mean giving your opinion, but only if asked.