UC Berkeley launches child care support website tool CareBubbles

Kids at Daycare
Grant Barrett/Creative Commons
The CareBubbles website aims to help UC Berkeley students, staff and faculty form small socialization groups, or bubbles, to meet child care needs during the COVID-19 pandemic. (Photo by Grant Barrett under CC BY 2.0.)

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UC Berkeley launched a parent-to-parent website tool called CareBubbles to help students, staff and faculty find options for dependent care and support.

The website, created in collaboration with the UC Berkeley Chancellor’s Advisory Committee on Work and Family and the Chancellor’s COVID-19 Dependent Care Working Group, is a resource open to anyone with a CalNet account. People can find other families for socialization, tutoring services or child care swaps in order to meet their child care needs during the pandemic.

According to Amit Asaravala, the independent web developer who helped build the Berkeley CareBubbles website, the project was based on Berkeley Parents Network, an existing nonprofit that connects Bay Area families looking to exchange advice or find child care.

“I really liked that this was a service that would benefit the community right now while everyone’s trying to organize child care and tutors and whatnot while schools are on lockdown,” Asaravala said.

Berkeley CareBubbles was built and launched in only three weeks in order to make it available to parents who were already in need of help when school began.

The goal was to make it easy for users to post a message and to see the list of messages, and one of the main challenges was ensuring the user experience of the website would be “seamless,” according to Asaravala.

Director of the Office for Faculty Equity and Welfare Karie Frasch said this service also aims to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

“Social bubbles are a recommended means of reducing the spread of covid,” Frasch said in an email. “Many parents are hoping to share or trade care within a small social circle.”

According to Associate Vice Provost Sharon Inkelas, soon after CareBubbles was announced, 350 community members have visited the site, 62 users have registered and there are already 11 posts.

One post, for example, is looking for families with children ages 4-8 who are interested in weekend hiking. A second post mentions an opening in a Spanish-immersion child care pod to support distance learning. Another post seeks a nanny for an 18-month-old.

Asaravala added that he, along with campus officials, will be monitoring the CareBubbles website to see how people are using it. After receiving some feedback from users and stakeholders, they will go back and see if there are any changes to be made or features to be added.

“We hope that the website will help students and employees to fill some of the gaps in their dependent care,” Inkelas said in an email. “We are hoping many more students, staff and faculty will start using it in the next few weeks!”

Contact Catherine Hsu at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @catherinehsuDC.