Friday, May 22, 2009

KidCareYears is Can Do!

Have I already said that I am really proud to be raising my family in The Heights? I’m sure I have since I talk about it all.the.time. I just can’t imagine bringing up my boys in any other part of Houston. I hope they enjoy the eclectic neighbors, quaint history and quietly urban life they’ll live here. I hope they absorb the openness, friendliness and acceptance. I also hope they pick up some of the old “Can Do” attitude that pervades The Heights.

That “Can Do” attitude exists a lot of places, I know. I'm told it’s a very Texas thing, this attitude (I think it is a fundamentally New England thing as well, but I will digress on that point). In The Heights, the thing that makes “Can Do” different is that it also come with a “Will Help.” People here like to do things to help other people. This can lead to all kinds of ventures. is just such a venture.

Holly Mitchell is a mom, a Heights resident and a "Can Do-er" with a psychology degree. All these things meshed perfectly in the formation of her internet-based business. Holly didn’t have any trouble getting her kids in to daycare. She knew where she wanted them to go and wasn’t up against that dreaded “wait list.” However, a couple years later when some of her friends were ready to send their kids, they weren’t as lucky. Holly’s kids were in a school they adored. Her friends wanted the same for their own, but-ugh-the wait list and the red tape. They started to look around and it made their heads spin. Why was there no one resource? No comprehensive website to help them manage their search?

Holly thought she could help. She saw so many parents she knew “wasting time looking and not getting anywhere or going to the first place” they found. She knew she wanted better for her own kids and she knew that her friends did too. First time parents she knew were frustrated by the process. She knew she could help based on her own experience.

So, KidCareYears was created. Holly enlisted the help of two other mothers, and they started to get organized. Holly used that Psych degree to put together a rating form for daycares and preschools. She thought about what she looked for as a mother and also what, clinically, she knew was good for kids. She and her Mom partners started hitting local daycares and seeing how they stacked up. Holly first had another mom go to the school her kids attended. She used what she already knew about the school to prove up her rating form and found it was very accurate. After they knew their evaluation criteria was reliable, they started taking tours and fleshing out information about other area schools. They toured anonymously to keep the results honest.

Now the site has over 220 daycares and preschools listed- all over Metro Houston. They are continuing to expand and are even looking toward DFW for expansion. I have to say, as a mom, I am impressed by the site. This is “Can Do” and “For You” at its best. There is nothing out there, no single resource, where you can get all this information. Holly and her team dig through State records and look for violations that aren’t always the obvious ones. Holly says “a daycare can get away with a lot before their license is pulled.” She digs for things other parents may not even know to look for. Wow.

There are a lot of home-based businesses in The Heights. Most of them are crafty and artsy and creative. Holly’s is practical. So, what has her experience been with her business and local families? “The Heights is our total foundation,” she said. They beta tested with local families and used their feedback to create KidCareYears as it exists now. It was the word of mouth and help of local groups/civic organizations that allowed the business to spread out of the Loop and help families all over Houston. Holly sees this as a business but also as a way to help the community, by keeping the steps clear and the organizations accountable. This helps parents. This especially helps new families in The Heights, whether they relocated here or have their first child, navigate the maze of childcare easily and become more comfortable with their decision.

Holly loves living and working in The Heights. Whether it’s going to the little park by her house or roaming the streets of the neighborhood, she loves to be in a place where she feels you can glimpse all kinds of lives and experiences that you don’t see outside of the city (i.e., in the suburbs). She hopes that her business can help people relax and make one task in life easier so that they can enjoy the neighborhood as well.


To tag on the end of a family related story, some of you might recall my mentioning I was pregnant in past posts. On May 2, our little boy became the newest resident of The Heights. His big brother is so proud of him and he is just a doll.


  1. Aaaahhhhh! He's so cute!

    And what an amazing resource Holly has created. Thanks for sharing, Viula!

  2. This post couldn't have come at a better time. We're moving to the Heights from overseas (along w/ our 11 month old son) in a few weeks, and this resource is exactly what we needed.

    Oh, and congrats on the sequel. Looks like a keeper. ;)