Glenwood doc’s app pairs parents with baby sitters | VailDaily.com

Glenwood doc’s app pairs parents with baby sitters

Caitlin Causey
Post Independent Contributor

Finding last-minute child care in our area just got a little easier.

Nanny Nearest, a new mobile app created by Glenwood Springs doctor and father of two Jason Collins, works to connect parents with local babysitters in just minutes. The app launched Oct. 19.

"The idea behind this, first and foremost, is simplicity," Collins said. "When a parent needs child care quickly, and maybe their regular sitter isn't available, they often aren't left with many options. My hope is that Nanny Nearest will become a tool that families can rely on in those moments."

Too often, Collins noted that he had found himself in those same situations. Collins manages the busy schedule of a physician and had recently opened Roaring Fork Gastroenterology last year when an immediate need for child care arose.

"About a year ago, I remember standing in my kitchen just kind of overwhelmed with work. My new practice was only about 6 months old — I was running the business in addition to providing patient care — and I just needed some help," he recalled. "It turned out that neither of my usual sitters were available. So then I went online to search, but I couldn't find anyone. At that point I just realized that there was an immense need to make finding a babysitter easier, because I knew I wasn't the only parent out there stuck in this type of scenario."

From there, Collins remembers that the wheels started turning.

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"I thought, 'What kind of platform will I need? How can I make this work?'" he said. "So I started brainstorming ideas, and pretty soon I had something cohesive in mind, which ultimately became the app, Nanny Nearest."

From there, Collins took his vision to his niece Lucia Martinez, a designer living in Argentina, who then created graphics and helped form the app's overall functionality. Collins also contracted an Argentinian development company called Southapps to help bring Nanny Nearest to fruition.

"Now that the app is finally available to the community, we're ready to see where it can go," he said.

How it works

Users can download Nanny Nearest on their mobile devices for free via the Apple App Store or Google Play.

"Parents can get started by answering a few quick questions about themselves and about what kind of child care they're seeking," Collins said. "They can then create a request for a certain day and time, and available sitters in their area will be notified."

Parents also set a pay rate they are willing to offer, and can review the profiles of babysitters who respond to their requests before choosing and confirming one. Sitters' profiles include basic information, recommendations from other parents and any certifications they hold, such as CPR.

"Again, the goal here is simplicity. Most parents are always on the go, and they don't have time to wait around to get something scheduled," Collins explained. "With the app, their child-care requests are pushed out immediately."

Babysitters, he added, are a crucial component of the app's success.

"We are encouraging local sitters to take advantage of the opportunity that Nanny Nearest presents," Collins said. "Whether you're a teenager looking to make some money on the weekends, or a college student with a flexible schedule or an adult who loves working with kids and you're seeking supplemental income, the app is an easy way to be instantly connected with parents who want — and need — your help."

Collins noted that safety and integrity amongst Nanny Nearest users is also a high priority. All who sign up are screened against the National Sex Offender Registry as a preliminary safety precaution, and every user has the opportunity to rate and review others with whom they have worked.

"This just encourages honesty, and a higher level of transparency," he said. "Both parents and sitters should feel safe using the app."

For the next three to six months, Collins hopes to focus on growing the Nanny Nearest usership locally in the Roaring Fork and Vail valleys. From there, he envisions marketing the app statewide and possibly in cities around the country.

"Right now, it is all still very new," he said. "I can't wait to receive feedback on what's working, what's not, and how to improve to make the app even more useful."

In the early stages, the app and its use are free. In time, if the app proves popular and spreads, he might add a fee for use of the app.

In a community where child care is notoriously difficult to obtain, Collins says he would love to see Nanny Nearest become a trusted resource for parents.

Does he plan to utilize the app himself?

"Oh, yes, of course," Collins said with a laugh. "With two young kids of my own, I will use it as often as needed — and I hope others will try it out as well."