An app created in Lexington could soon help parents across the country find child care, answer parenting questions and uncover local resources to help their families.
The idea for the app — aptly named the Child Care Finder app — came from the way families were using the website of the Child Care Council of Kentucky, said executive director Bradley Stevenson.
Starting in 2010, the council saw a 164 percent leap in the number of parents accessing information via their phone or other mobile device, he said.
"The data was screaming at us," said Stevenson. "We wanted to put together a product that could reach the text-message world."
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At the time, he said, "if we don't we are going to be out of business in five years."
The Child Care Council of Kentucky's main business is providing information, training and technical assistance to families and professionals who work with children. It also administers the Community Care Assistance Program for the state, which provides support for children with disabilities.
After securing a partner in Trifecta, a local Web development company, the council devoted about $10,000 to creating an app specifically for Central Kentucky.
When word about the app spread, Stevenson was invited to speak about it at the Child Care Aware of America conference held in November in Atlanta.
Interest was soon coming in from across the country, he said. So John Moore, the Trifecta designer, set about creating an app that would be adaptable for any region in the country.
Moore, a partner in Trifecta, said designing for mobile users puts the Kentucky Child Care Council ahead of the curve. Studies show that more and more people are accessing all kinds of information via their phone instead of a laptop or desktop computer.
That app has been undergoing beta testing in Oklahoma for about a year and is ready to go national.
The beta testing helped to improve how easy the app was to use and also helped developers edit the information that was available so the most commonly used data would be most accessible, Moore said.
"We had to kind of weed it down so it would be the core essentials," he added.
The council is waiting to be included in the Apple iTunes store, Stevenson said. The app will be available for both the iPhone and Droid platforms. Once it is, it will be available to consumers for free. Stevenson hopes child care councils across the country will want to buy the app so it can be customized for their location.
"We've got interest from some 15 to 20 states," he said. Moore added that once Ohio, for example, purchased the app, then towns within that state would be available.
Stevenson sees the app as sort of self-perpetuating.
"Our goal is to obviously make money off the app. But we hope to make enough money to enhance the app."