A consistent driver isn’t the only part of a consistent experience
Written by Aylin Cook
Studies show that daily routine helps kids feel safe, gain independence and develop positive habits.
This is especially true for more vulnerable populations. For children with special needs, routine helps them manage their time and behavior, and work on mastering ADL (the activities of daily living) — resulting in increased self-confidence.
For children in the foster care system or students experiencing homelessness, consistency and routine provide a sense of stability that may not be found at home.
So it’s understandable that we’re often asked if HopSkipDrive Riders can get the same CareDriver every time. The short answer is: We can’t 100% guarantee this. Our model works on individual CareDriver availability, which is also why our solution is flexible and cost-effective.
That being said, CareDrivers often select rides that are familiar to them and so Riders often get the same CareDriver, especially when they sign up for a recurring Ride Series.
HopSkipDrive Riders ride with an average of one to three different CareDrivers every 90 days — Riders get to know a small group of trusted CareDrivers.
The CareDriver and Rider relationship is extremely important, but the HopSkipDrive experience is composed of multiple touch points, which remain consistent across all rides.
While some youth transportation services promise a consistent driver, that person could quit, be let go or call out sick at any time. Buses are the same: the bus driver shortage is rampant and one result is frequent call-outs. Different bus drivers and transportation staff pitch in, meaning a child will see different bus drivers.
The same goes for any facet of education: children change teachers with each grade. During the school year, a teacher may call in sick one day or leave during the school year for various reasons.
Change is inevitable, and being exposed to different adults is not necessarily a bad thing. It can actually build self-confidence and allow kids to practice their social skills.
We focus on the consistency of overall experience because, while a CareDriver may change, consistency is holistic.
Here’s how we create and maintain a consistent experience.
Easily connect with CareDrivers
All Ride Organizers on the HopSkipDrive platform have access to a marketplace of experienced CareDrivers, otherwise known as “caregivers on wheels.” CareDrivers meet multiple criteria before they have access to claim rides booked in the HopSkipDrive app. Every CareDriver has a minimum of five years of caregiving experience.
Many CareDrivers are parents themselves, or have built a professional career working with kids as teachers, social workers, nannies, coaches and more.
Take, for instance, HopSkipDrive CareDriver Mishelle Sharp: “I used to be a social worker for foster children, and I eventually will become a foster parent. . . . I believe this is why I typically seek out rides for children who are part of DCFS. I want to help support their current lives, even if it is just helping them get them to a school they attended before they moved to a new foster home.”
A consistent experience
Educators have maintained consistency in the classroom for decades, and the helpful routines don’t need the same instructor each day to continue.
Every single day the bell rings at the same time, classes begin at a set time, and scheduled breaks and activities break up the day at the same times. Children who perform better with a set routine benefit from this, and a well-managed classroom can run on routine even with a substitute instructor.
These types of consistent experiences are important, and the HopSkipDrive application is designed to provide them.
A "Ride Series" can be booked daily for the same departure and pickup times, and often the same CareDriver will claim a majority of rides in the series.
Even if rides are claimed by different CareDrivers, the ride process is always the same, which should provide comfort to kids who prefer consistency. Additionally, interactions with a variety of adults help with independence and self-sufficiency in a safe setting. Every CareDriver will always provide the secret code word and confirm the Rider’s birthday so Riders know they’re leaving with the correct person.
When booking a ride, you can enter pickup and drop-off notes for the CareDriver. For example, if a Rider needs to be met at a specific pickup spot or signed out of an after-school program, that can be added to the notes. Kids can wait in the same designated spot each day for their CareDriver.
Consistent experience vs. consistent driver
For many kids, a consistent experience is not only ideal, it’s necessary. We completely understand that, and agree that it’s beneficial to provide for kids in special education or on an IEP.
Other providers don’t have the same kind of direct, ongoing contact with drivers and Ride Organizers that the HopSkipDrive platform provides. Many providers subcontract with other fleet providers and have no insight into driver qualifications or even the rides themselves.
In school districts where other providers were used, parents complained about the services, alleging drivers showed up without proper identification, no safety seats for children, and no logo on their vehicle. CareDrivers on the HopSkipDrive platform will always have the Rider’s information in their app, and they have decals with logos per TNC regulations. These provide a sense of safety and reassurance that parents and Riders can visibly see.
Communication with CareDrivers helps each trip to be as consistent as possible. The pickup procedure and overall experience should be very similar day-to-day, helping kids feel safe through routine.
HopSkipDrive builds ongoing relationships with CareDrivers
The format of the HopSkipDrive platform means we continue to engage with the CareDriver community after they’re granted access to the app. CareDrivers have continuous access to resources on driving safety, working with youth in foster care or students experiencing homelessness, non-crisis intervention, and other tips to ensure each ride goes smoothly.
HopSkipDrive also works with an industry-leading third-party application that uses sensors in cell phones to detect risky driving behaviors during rides. The safety software records events of the six riskiest driving behaviors, including speeding, hard braking and device use.
This helps provide a consistent experience on the road.
Some of the largest companies in school transportation serve as dispatchers sending rides to drivers, but it’s difficult to know how much contact they have with their drivers. Some companies broker with third-parties to add more drivers to their fleet — but they have no ongoing communication with these drivers.
In HopSkipDrive’s case, we maintain consistent contact with the marketplace of CareDrivers using the HopSkipDrive app. Through our proprietary technology, we’re available to assist CareDrivers, Riders, and Ride Organizers throughout the process. For example, if a CareDriver is at pickup and has not met up with their Rider after several minutes, the HopSkipDrive platform can help bridge that gap. Communication with HopSkipDrive and the Ride Organizer is just a click or call away.
Our level of transparency and access helps us create consistency and proactively resolve any potential issues.