By Katrina Wilson
Sponsored by Kid Care Anywhere
Kid Care Anywhere is a childcare service available for corporate and social events in the DMV, allowing attendees to enjoy the event – especially weddings.
Shonna Smith is the owner and founder of the business. Smith’s background is in software engineering. After the birth of her daughter, she noticed that it was not easy to attend tech events. There were not many conventions that provided onsite childcare. She also noticed a lack of women panelists at these events and realized an absence of onsite childcare may have affected these events.
In 2012, she started Kid Care Anywhere to help women in any profession, especially tech, to have more opportunities to attend events without the worry of childcare.
She started the business with the intentions of allowing convention goers the opportunity to attend knowing their children were nearby.
It started as childcare for corporate events, but she noticed that people planning social events like weddings were interested in her services and started reaching out to her more.
Kid Care Anywhere will come to the venue, entertain children with games such as arts & crafts kits, music and movement games and more. The age range is for children six months to 12 years of age.
For someone to book Kid Care Anywhere services, they can complete the intake form on the website first, then a follow-up email will be sent to schedule a 30-minute intake call where Smith will go over the particulars needed to draft an agreement.
For example, the intake call is where Smith asks questions like:
- When and where is the event?
- Approximately how many kids will come (this warrants a certain ratio of Group Activity Providers to the number of children)?
- Age range of kids?
- What do the kids like to eat? This is where she inquires about the meal plan for the children and the event timeline.
“This allows us to know when to expect food services; we also arrange vendor meals for our team of providers,” Smith said.
The third step is where she will put a quote together based on the information gathered. From there, Smith will send an agreement for the client to sign electronically. This is where the client ensures the contract is accurate. A fifth step in the process is when she sends an invoice for a deposit; the client must make a 50% down payment. The final step in the process is when the final payment is due. Smith usually says the payment can be made a few days before the event or the day of.
Thirty days before the event, she asks for a final headcount for the number of children that may attend. She understands that 30 days before the wedding, or even the week of, she may need to adjust the terms of the agreement to allow for changes to expected number and ages of children or other logistical and timeline changes.
“We stress the importance of working with an event planner/coordinator so that the Month-Of and Day-Of arrangements can be handled smoothly,” Smith said. “Our intake process does ask about whether the couple is working with a planner. If the answer is no, we need them to at least identify a contact for Month-Of and Day-Of Coordination. We also ask if they’re open to us referring an event planner. We strongly encourage all couples to never skip hiring a wedding planner.”
Smith said all these details are needed for the children to have a fun and safe wedding experience as well.
“This is not just kid care, this is a part of the event experience,” Smith said. “Adults get to enjoy certain parts of the wedding, but kids deserve a fun, leisure experience as well.”
Like many other businesses, Kid Care Anywhere was also impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. “We received the order March 14 to stop gatherings,” Smith said. “I have not worked a wedding since March 14.”
Because of COVID, Smith’s wedding bookings were not cancelled, but postponed to the next year.
Prestige to the Childcare Profession
When the time comes to get to work, Shonna brings in her team, The Group Activity Providers (GAPs). These are usually individuals who are daycare providers, teachers, retired teachers or social workers. GAPs ensure the kids have fun, have what they need and are safe.
“I tend to hire people who already have experience with kids or similar, because a lot of our events are on the weekends and this may be their weekend job,” Smith said. “Also, I need people who have different skillsets – not just babysitting or former nannies. I need people who can manage different behaviors and different energies within a group of kids.”
Smith said she realized early on that childcare workers are very important and wanted to bring prestige back to the profession.
“This is a very important job where people do not receive all respect,” she said. “Daycare providers or teachers are underpaid, and it is hard for people to figure how to pay them well. That is why I usually pay the team above the average wage of the childcare industry.”
She said when managers take care of their employees, the employees will take care of the managers and bring their best work to the table.
Smith explained that she takes care of her team when they have events. She is usually the runner. She handles the drop-off period and collects the waivers parents must sign. If her workers need tissues, certain food for the kids or grab a parent, she handles it.
She said she wants to make sure her workers have a peace of mind and focus on the kids, while she handles the small stuff.
“I have no business without my teams,” Smith said.
She said often she will have different weddings back-to-back weekends and in different locations. She has Group Activity Providers in different parts of the DMV. For example, if she has weddings in Northern Virginia, she will have GAPs who reside in that area to assist her with a wedding.
If she had a wedding in Baltimore, she has a GAP team in that area to assist her with a wedding in that area.
Kid Care Anywhere provides childcare services for a variety of events, so that both parents and children can enjoy their event. For more information about Kids Care Anywhere, check out their website here.
Katrina Wilson is a Carolina Girl new to Northern Virginia. She enjoys reading, writing (no shocker) and laughing. You can find her on Twitter as KatrinaMWilson_.