Mom launches parent-friendly website
What if there was a website that gave parents detailed reviews and feedback on the Island’s child care providers, extra-curricular activities and babysitters?
A website that gave advice on the best obstetricians, paediatricians and dentists, that parents could access before wasting time and money on shoddy service. Wouldn’t that be great?
Well thanks to mother-of-one Simone Ebbin, such a dream site does exist.
Launched this summer www.weereview.com is steadily becoming a go-to location for parents to voice their concerns and appreciation for child-related services in Bermuda.
Ms Ebbin, who is mom to two-year-old Preston, started the site after encountering her own nightmare experiences with child care providers on the Island.
One carer would take her baby to different parts of the Island without telling her; and another took issue with Ms Ebbin’s request to change her son’s pickup and drop-off times by 15 minutes to accommodate her work schedule.
“The idea for the website came after the first child care provider. I said ‘there has got to be a better way’.
“I tried to complain to Family Services and the Department of Health, but got bounced back and forth between the two and pretty much I didn’t know who to tell.
“I thought ‘there has got to be a way to inform other parents to be prepared even if they have a nice, pretty contract, it doesn’t mean something will be done throughout the day’,” said the 30-year-old.
Ms Ebbin, a computer analyst programmer at Fidelity International Ltd, spent the next 24 months developing the site.
“The design and development took two years to actually push it out there. Something didn’t feel right [at first].
“I was scared it was not going to look right and people weren’t going to take it seriously, but really I was mainly concerned about other parents because I understood what parents were going through.”
The site allows parents to post good and bad reviews of childcare services around Bermuda.
They can also blog about child-related issues or download application forms from certain day care centres and preschools, rather than going from school to school to fill them out.
Since its launch in July, the website has been growing in popularity through word-of-mouth and social media like BlackBerry Messenger.
She said the number of unique visits this month reached 2,500; in addition 61 people have become fans of the site on Facebook.
“What I eventually want is for loads of parents to use the site to share good or bad experiences, because you never know who is going to look up these child care providers and you want to let other people know.”
Despite her good intentions, Ms Ebbin has had some negative feedback on the site from people upset with poor reviews.
“Some people were like ‘what about the childcare providers?’. But then I thought children do not have a voice at this age, they are newborns to two years old.
“I just want this website to be the central location for every parent in Bermuda and even those relocating to Bermuda.”
The mother has since consulted with two lawyers to make sure the website is legally sound. She had to “tweak a few things” but admittedly doesn’t want to end up hindering anyone’s freedom of speech and voice.
“I am there to moderate comments but not so much so the website is ineffective. That is the whole point to make parents aware,” she added.
Though there was a happy ending for Ms Ebbin and she was eventually able to find the “perfect” sitter for Preston throughout the day she wants to avoid parents the stress of getting it wrong.
“Everyone has had a different experience. I thought I must have been losing my mind because my child had been to three child care providers.
“I thought I must be picky, but some just hit the nail on the head and find the right child care provider right away. I wish I would have found my [third] lady right away.”
She said: “I just needed someone who would love my son and take care of him in a clean and safe environment and where there is a mutual respect for us [parents] and we have respect for her [the caregiver].
“Our son was with her for 23 months and there were no complaints whatsoever.”
She wants to help others limit such negative experiences and said: “Childcare services of quality are difficult to come by, so I hope that Wee Review will be the main avenue for parents to share their good and bad experiences.
“This will assist other parents to use their discretion with the information provided to locate excellent childcare services.”
To view the website visit www.weereview.com or for more information e-mail info[AT]weereview.com. You can also donate to PayPals to help keep the website up and running.