April 2, 2019
The online child-care marketplace Care.com scrubbed its site of tens of thousands of unverified and unlicensed daycare center listings just before findings of a Wall Street Journal investigation were published on March 8, an analysis by the news outlet has determined.
Indeed, the Journal found, Care.com—which claims to be the largest U.S. digital network connecting families with potential childcare agencies and individuals—removed about 72% of the day-care centers, or about 46,594 businesses, listed on its site, before the story was posted. Those businesses were listed on the site as recently as March 1.
Founded in 2007, Care.com now connects about 32 million caregiver and parent members—focusing largely on matching families with individual nannies and babysitters. Parents also turn to the site to find and research daycare centers in their geographical areas.
The day-care center listings in question were taken down from the site March 7, according to Nancy Bushkin, a Care.com spokesperson. That was also the day of the company’s fourth-quarter earnings release.
Bushkin declined to provide The Wall Street Journal with the current and prior total number of daycare centers posted on the website—but she did say that the company had removed 45% of daycare centers in its database, a number that hadn’t been previously reported.
She said the number is different from the Journal’s analysis because the company filters daycare center listings in its database through algorithms to “optimize the experience,” adding that the Journal saw only a subset of its total listings.
An earlier Journal investigation found that hundreds of daycare centers listed on Care.com as state licensed didn’t appear to be. Some of them appeared not to exist or to be aware they were on the site.
The Journal’s reporting also showed the company’s limited vetting of caregivers on its site. The investigation found nine who had prior police records. The company has said it makes clear through its website and emails to customers that it doesn’t fully vet caregivers.
In addition to a monthly membership fee of $39, the company sells screening packages to those interested in background checks. Most daycare centers listed on Care.com aren’t paying members; the company said day-care center listings represent less than 0.5% of its total revenue.
In its securities filing, Care.com said it would no longer allow caregivers to begin applying for jobs on the site until the company had completed a “preliminary screening,” which Care.com previously told the Journal included checking multi-jurisdictional criminal databases and the National Sex Offender Public Website. The company also created a new board committee to oversee the company’s safety and cybersecurity programs.
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