Deciding about Child Care or School? There's (now) a Tool for That.

A Partnership, with Maven

Bonus post!

A few weeks ago, I got an out of blue email from someone at Maven Clinic. “Hey,” they said. “How about if we build an app to help people decide whether to send their kids back to schools amidst COVID-19?” They suggested we work together — their expertise in serving women and families, the information from COVID-Explained, my thinking on decision-making and, of course, their ability to build apps.

I said I thought it sounded great. They told me they’d get to work on a prototype. I expected to hear back sometime in early 2021.

Instead, a week or so later, they sent a prototype. “Let’s get moving!”

And so we did. And today, it’s out! You can access it here, or at COVID-Explained. Or hopefully everywhere, soon, since we’re very much hoping many people will find and use this.

What is it, exactly? It’s a decision tool, an interactive site designed to walk you through decisions around whether to send your child to in-person school, or keep them at home. It asks a lot of questions about whether you think your child will benefit from in person care, and what kind of home circumstances you have that might put your family more at risk. We link to other resources, to other information you can use in this decision.

Once you answer the questions, the tool pulls together your answers and gives you a sense of which way you seem to be leaning. And there’s a gut check at the end - how do you really FEEL about the decision?

I’m really excited about this and I hope many of you use it. I’ll just give two pieces of advice.

First: I think for many of us this decision is occupying all of our mental space. We think about it all the time. That’s not good! (For your mental health, or decision-making). One hope I have is that providing this tool will give people an opportunity to sit down, think about the decision with all the information, make it, and move on.

Second: if you have a partner, or a second family decision-maker, my strong advice is that you each do the tool separately and compare answers. There’s a lot of conflict around these choices, and seeing your responses side-by-side may help you figure out why.