23 May UW Student Story: ‘GrowthChart’ aims to replace busy work for childcare providers
By Tori Carter-Story
Parents expect child-care providers to focus on the ever-changing needs of their children. What they do not know is that providers are often distracted by record-keeping.
Child care providers are now able to document children’s daily report using a hands-free technology software called GrowthChart.
Patricia Wooldridge, co-founder of GrowthChart and owner and director at Mariposa Learning Center, has created a voice-recognition device for teachers to record and document students’ progress.
GrowthChart is a hands-free documentation tool for in-home, childcare and preschool teachers that uses the Google platform.
Mariposa Learning Center is a nationally accredited bilingual child-care center in Stoughton. Wooldridge noticed the school’s teachers spending a lot of time on documenting student progress during school and after school hours.
Wooldridge, along with her husband, used their 19 years of combined child-care experience to come up with a solution for faster documentation.
“We could not find a program for my own school, so we decided to build our own product,” said Wooldridge. “One of the founders saw an Alexa commercial on TV and that was the company’s “Ah-ha” moment.”
GrowthChart can document how each child spent his or her day and is able to communicate that with the parents. It is a form of software used on the Google Home platform that translates the voice message onto the website where the information is logged.
“We are just using the Google platform right now so once you say, ‘Hey Google’, it will ask you what you would like to do, and you respond with the child’s name, the category and what the event was. Essentially you would say something like ‘Dylan diaper wet’. It will log and timestamp it so that it is done at that exact moment,” Wooldridge said.
Research suggests that documented plans, records of children’s assessments and evaluations can be effective ways to support and extend children’s thinking, learning and development.
Teachers take a lot of work home in the child-care industry. Typically, teachers can spend eight to nine hours per day with the children and even with these long hours, teachers have to do all of the documentations after work, according to Wooldridge. “We want to alleviate some of that pressure. We want to solve the time management component,” she said.
Time management difficulties are present in all types of child care facilities regardless of size.
“In-home providers are some of our biggest clients and also preschools and childcare centers,” she said.
The size of the facility is an important factor to consider when the price of the software is concerned.
“We priced GrowthChart a little bit lower than what our competitors are at,” said Wooldridge. “We want it to be affordable…So we have priced our monthly subscription at $2 per child per month” A facility with eight children would cost the child care providers $16 per month, for example.
Even for larger facilities with 30 students, GrowthChart is still very affordable. This software saves on paper, ink and time used to log the info.
With plans to expand in the future, only a small number of customers can attest to the GrowthChart software.
“Right now, we have 22 paying customers and depending on how we’re growing we’d like to be around 100 to 150,” she said. Achieving this goal is somewhat difficult given that the company is small, and all four employees work full-time jobs. With the help of investors, the company will be able to expand and hire more people to fulfill the company’s needs.
Currently, GrowthChart is seeking $500,000 to provide 18 months’ runway to increase marketing, cover operating expenses and to build a team.
“GrowthChart is currently operated by four founders with other full-time jobs plus four night and weekend employees. The primary use of seed money will be to build the team and bring the following individuals on full-time: CEO, CTO, CSO, sales associate and two additional full-time programmers towards the end of the year,” said Wooldridge.
Down the line, GrowthChart’s main goal is to become the first electronic education record.
“We want something that carries from the time they are born with all of that information on how they are developing and how it will translate in their current age into adulthood said Wooldridge. “We want this to be something that can show the trajectory of that growth of that child into adulthood.”
GrowthChart will present as part of the “Diligent Dozen” during the 2019 Wisconsin Governor’s Business Plan Contest, part of the June 4-5 Wisconsin Entrepreneurs’ Conference in Milwaukee.
Carter-Story is a student in the UW-Madison Department of Life Sciences Communication.