HopSkipDrive CareDrivers: Caregivers on wheels
Written by Aylin Cook
HopSkipDrive requires five years of caregiving experience in order for CareDrivers to gain access to the platform. This is because we’re working with populations — children and older adults — which require a little extra care.
While some transportation partners don’t require caregiving experience, we find that it is critical to providing a positive experience for the groups we serve.
Why we require caregiving experience
Caregiving experience engenders empathy, understanding and knowledge of best practices for working with all populations. We require it — in fact it’s the first piece of criteria we ask for — because we want to promote a safe, positive ride experience.
Requiring caregiving experience ensures CareDrivers start with a basic understanding of service-oriented work.
Around 27% of CareDrivers come from education backgrounds, while many have worked with children in another capacity (such as nurses and social workers). Eighty percent of CareDrivers are parents and 74% of CareDrivers are female.
In addition, we provide access to informative resources in order for CareDrivers to be best set up for success in their transportation care services. These resources cover working with children with special needs, as well as children experiencing homelessness and in foster care. Trauma-informed care resources and explanation of the responsibility as a mandated reporter give CareDrivers a greater understanding of some of our core Rider groups.
One CareDriver says:
“I’ve had many foster care kids as riders; they are a unique and special group of kids who often just start telling me about their experiences with their foster families and how much they miss their Mom or parents, I always listen and let them express themselves.
I always offer positive reinforcements and make sure I’m extra nice to them. Some of the kids have been to multiple foster homes during a year span, I always remember their names, and tell them I picked them over the other rides because I enjoy them talking about different topics… These kids complete my day.”
The importance of consistency
Daily routine helps all children feel safe, gain independence, and develop positive habits. It is especially important for some of the groups we work with.
Youth in foster care and those experiencing homelessness, go through many destabilizing changes in their home environments. This is why remaining in their school of origin is so important — despite their home situation, they see the same teachers, friends and supportive adults.
CareDrivers often become another consistent face on the ride to school or home each day. Though we can’t guarantee the same CareDriver each time, on average a Rider only gets rides from up to three different CareDrivers in a 90-day period. CareDrivers report building empathetic, supportive relationships with Riders.
Tina Garcia of Los Angeles Department of Children and Family Services says:
“The transportation needs of foster youth can change frequently and HopSkipDrive has consistently and timely helped to meet those needs. HopSkipDrive has been an invaluable partner in supporting the educational stability of our foster youth…
Being able to continue attending their school of origin is often the most stability they have in their lives and that would have been impossible for many of them without HopSkipDrive.”
Our Riders with special needs and/or transportation requirements in their IEPs, also need consistency. This group responds well to routine, which helps them work on mastering activities of daily living — resulting in increased self-confidence.
Going above and beyond
HopSkipDrive CareDrivers often go above and beyond. We love hearing stories from CareDrivers and happy clients.
Here are some amazing stories…
“I love being a CareDriver! I really enjoy being able to connect with the Riders and hope to be a bright spot in their day. I have driven all kinds of riders, ranging from young children going to school to the elderly going to doctor appointments. Sometimes it is heartbreaking, and other times it is truly inspirational.
“Once when I was driving a boy to school, he told me that he had been removed from his home the day before, and he started to cry quietly. My heart went out to him. I told him that he was strong and that “you got this”! He thanked me and smiled. I shed a tear as well after I dropped him off.
“Just this week I drove a man home from his chemotherapy appointment… he went on to say how getting cancer had also saved his life… he repaired family relationships, and he was so thankful.
“The people that I meet every day inspire me and I try to make them feel like they are more than just a ride.”
Another CareDriver says:
“I’ve had many kids in foster care as Riders last year and this year, they are a unique and special group of kids who often just start telling me about their experiences with their foster families and how much they miss their Mom or parents, I always listen and let them express themselves. I always offer positive reinforcements and make sure I’m extra nice to them.
“Some of the kids have been to multiple foster homes during a year span, I always remember their names, and tell them I picked them over the other rides because I enjoy them talking about different topics. I treat them like my own kids
“All the foster kids I’ve picked are super kids! I’ve met some of the foster parents and they are awesome and caring toward the kids. I love these kids, they complete my day.”
This CareDriver says:
“What I love most about being a CareDriver is getting the opportunity to help those that need and depend on our service. It gives me a sense of responsibility, and a feeling that I am doing something of purpose. I enjoy seeing some of the same riders on a continual basis and having a good friendship with them. In addition, the flexibility of the job gives me the opportunity to do the other things I enjoy doing.
“Being able to have a good conversation with my riders is a delight. I recently drove one of my regular Riders and we had a great conversation about the books we like to read and our experiences traveling.”
We’ll end with this must-read holiday season story that got us teary-eyed:
A senior Rider wanted to keep a holiday tradition going but couldn’t go to the store. After dropping her at home, one of our CareDrivers went to the grocery store himself to gift the Rider the few things she needed to keep her New Year’s tradition going. He left the groceries on her doorstep with a little note. She called HopSkipDrive to let us know what he did and how she broke down in tears.
HopSkipDrive CareDrivers are truly caregivers on wheels. We’re continually inspired by how they give back to their community.