The average annual wage for child care workers in the United States is $27,680. The federal poverty level is $27,750 for a family of four, leaving care workers vulnerable, underpaid, and under-appreciated. Additionally, 95% of child care workers are women and 59% of child care centers are minority-owned. This issue has led to child care shortages, which were only exacerbated during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Rebecca Karasik and Chelsea Sprayregen, Co-Founders of Pie for Providers, are tackling these problems by streamlining the process to get government funding to child care providers.
Karasik and Sprayregen began this endeavor after working at a benefits enrollment start-up that helped connect citizens with Obamacare, Medicaid, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
“Working at that job showed us how inhumane and punitive the systems are related to benefits access. We also worked directly with child care workers who qualified for these benefits, so we were inspired by them and wanted to make sure child care benefits were not overlooked,” shared Karasik.
“We believe the government is allocating money, although not enough, towards child care, but it’s not getting to families and kids or the providers who need it. Only one out of every six children eligible for the Child Care Subsidy is receiving the subsidy. That equates to 10 million eligible children across the country that aren’t getting what they need,” says Karasik.
To address this issue, Pie For Providers – a non-profit software as a service (SaaS) platform – finds revenue opportunities and helps child care businesses see their data in one location.
“We give providers revenue projections throughout the entire month and they are updated in real-time. This helps providers have control of their businesses and allows them to make informed decisions. We also help providers electronically file paperwork. We hope to eliminate the typical manual monthly billing process. And to make access to revenue simpler, we put all the requirements in the state’s required format,” said Karasik.
Another key feature of Pie for Provider’s Saas platform is its accessibility. The platform is available as a website application and can be integrated with other software.
“[Child care providers] sign up and give us basic information about the children and the business. We want to be the broker between them and government funding and directly integrated into their work” said Karasik.
To date, Pie for Providers is active in two states with non-profit organizations that pay licensing fees, which enable their care providers to use the software at no additional cost. “We’ve been piloting for one-and-a-half years in Nebraska and we made it free across the whole state for child care providers and daycare centers,” said Karasik.
Gina, a child care provider with decades of experience shared, “If the paperwork doesn’t get done … sometimes you’re a month behind getting paid.” Pie for Providers has mitigated mistakes that Gina may have made in the past. “You don’t have to worry about [subsidy management & billing] because you’re so busy,” she said.
In a recent user survey, Pie for Providers users revealed that they have increased income 4% and 100% feel less stressed.
Nothing exists like Pie For Providers Karasik explains, “Those big child care software companies don't create features related to government funding. They don’t see adding funding functions as lucrative and it’s a state-by-state customization.”
Pie for Providers is seeking to deploy their technology with larger entities in order to scale their impact. “The biggest complication is that we have proof of concept, but it does feel like the next big step needs to be integration with a government system,” says Karasik.
She adds, “We like to say that when child care providers thrive, communities thrive. You end up supporting child care providers and supporting local economies. It also means having a recognition-based world where care work is validated as real work. We’re also supporting women of color owned businesses and low-income families.”
If you want to support solutions improving the care economy like Pie for Providers, get involved with Solve now.