Getting around San Francisco with kids is an riddle wrapped in a mystery inside the funk of the weird guy on the bus. MUNI is an option, but it can be slow and crowded. UBER works, but you have to haul your own carseat or go without (because for some reason SF doesn't have UBER Family yet-lame!). Walking works if you have the time, but if one thing goes wrong getting out of the house, you're late. Of course there's driving, unless you don't own a car or share one for your household and don't always have access to it, like me. KangaDo has a solution for us with their new sitter-driver service.
KangaDo has been around since 2011 to help parents arrange playdates and babysitting by neighborhood, has stepped into fill the family transportation gap. That's right, in addition to hiring a sitter you can hire a driver to get your child around town safely. KangaDo's sitter-drivers can pick your child up at one location and take them to your house or another place and watch them until you get home. Caregivers can track their progress and location all via the app.
Mia and I tested the service heading home from music class—our driver and babysitter Amy met us outside with a front-facing car seat already installed, and in minutes we were on our way home. Had I not been able to take Mia to class that day I could have hired Amy to do the whole thing—pick her up, take her to class and then drive her back home.
Sara Schaer, KangaDo's CEO, told me she added this service based on demand from users, and that the response has been outstanding.
"So far we've gotten requests for preschool, elementary school pickups, activities and sports and then back home," Sara said. While other services like Shuddle focus on older children, Schaer said their youngest passenger was five (until Mia at 2 years old, although since I was with her it doesn't really count)!
Schaer, a mother of two living in Bernal Heights with her family, including the two sons that inspired her to start KangaDo five years ago, said safety is built into their system to ensure the sitter-drivers are properly vetted. They are each put through a premium background check that covers criminal records, the sex offender database, and a multi-state DMV check, along with multiple reference checks, in-person screening and interviews, a phone interview and an on-boarding session.
Getting home with Amy was a breeze, and I got live updates on my phone that corresponded with where we were during the 10 minute ride home, so if I wasn't in the car I still would have known when they left one place and reached their destination. Once we returned home Amy stayed for a while to get to know Mia and was on her way, but again if I wasn't there I could have hired her to babysit until I got home.
The sitter-driver service is currently in beta testing, and users get one free ride or a free babysitting session to test the new version. After the first time additional rides are $10 each across SF for up to two kids going to and from the same place. If you're already a KangaDo user just select 'Driver' when you open the app to set up a ride. Sara recommends booking early to make sure you can find a driver available when you need one.