Why HopSkipDrive is not “Uber for kids” (or “Lyft for kids”)

Many people ask if HopSkipDrive is like Uber or Lyft for kids.

And in an age where companies often say they are “Uber-izing” a particular field, we can see why this is a common misconception. And it’s one we want to correct.

There are many reasons why HopSkipDrive is not an “Uber for kids” or a “Lyft for kids.” First and foremost, those solutions are designed for adults, while our platform is specially designed to arrange transportation for children ages six and up.

And because we provide a solution for youth transportation, we use completely different — and far more rigorous — safety technology and processes.

There are numerous other key differences between HopSkipDrive and Uber or Lyft, some of which are outlined below. Read on to find out why, when it comes to a safe youth transportation solution, HopSkipDrive gets things right.

HopSkipDrive? That’s like Uber or Lyft for kids, right?

The short answer: no. Uber and Lyft provide a convenient, on-demand rideshare solution for adults. HopSkipDrive is uniquely designed to arrange transportation for children ages six and up, who ride by themselves with trusted, thoroughly vetted CareDrivers.

The longer answer: HopSkipDrive is a safe, reliable transportation solution for children and anyone else who needs a little extra care. Transporting children and other vulnerable populations (like senior citizens) is an enormous responsibility — and it’s one we take very seriously.

Parents, caretakers, schools and county agencies place a huge amount of trust in us when they use the HopSkipDrive platform. Which is why the how of everything we do — from our innovative technology, to our Safe Ride Support team, to our 15-point CareDriver certification process, to our COVID-Safe Ride Standards and more — has been specifically devised with a laser focus on the most important thing of all: safety.

I heard that you have extensive background checks for CareDrivers but Uber and Lyft background check their drivers, too. How is HopSkipDrive different?

Uber and Lyft both require background checks and vehicle inspections for their drivers. Because our platform is used to arrange transportation for minors, however, we have many additional layers when it comes to the driver vetting process.

CareDrivers must pass a comprehensive 15-point certification process to access the HopSkipDrive platform, the requirements for which include at least five years of caregiving experience, fingerprint-based background checks using FBI and DOJ databases, vehicle inspection (to be repeated annually), and alerts set up for DMV and criminal record monitoring.

We also meet every CareDriver in person or virtually, and provide initial onboarding information and additional resources related to safe driving, trauma-informed care, best practices for transporting Riders with special needs, and more.

How is HopSkipDrive’s pickup process different than Uber’s and Lyft’s?

HopSkipDrive’s service is intended for kids and other Riders who need extra care, so we prepare CareDrivers in many different ways to ensure Rider safety.

When picking up Riders, CareDrivers use a pre-established multi-factor authentication to verify they have the correct Rider, which also serves to confirm for the Rider that they’re leaving with the right person. Ride Organizers on the HopSkipDrive platform can also fill out extensive Rider profile notes to inform CareDrivers about any special needs Riders may have. And if a child needs a booster seat when being transported, CareDrivers who have approved booster seats already in their vehicles are available.

Do CareDrivers know anything about kids? What makes them more qualified than Uber or Lyft drivers?

Yes, CareDrivers DO know a lot about children! Not only do CareDrivers go through an in-depth background check in order to access the HopSkipDrive platform but they also must have at least five years of caregiving experience. This requirement can be met if they are a parent or if they have caregiving experience in a professional capacity such as work as a teacher, a nanny, a nurse, a counselor, a babysitter or a daycare worker.

The caregiving background CareDrivers have helps to improve the overall ride experience for children. CareDrivers are used to working with kids, and therefore know how to engage with them and make them feel comfortable. They also understand boundaries when it comes to appropriate topics of conversation, age-appropriate music, and other things that may come up along the way.

On the other hand, children driven by CareDrivers enjoy getting to know these trusted adults who are interested in them and invested in their education. 

“My daughter is comfortable with all the CareDrivers who pick her up,” says one HopSkipDrive parent. “She even has her favorites! I’m thankful for this service as a mother who works too early to get her to school. I am stress-free knowing she makes it to her destination every day, on time and safe.”

Another example of how CareDrivers’ experience with childcare makes a difference: They understand that even the smallest item can have a high sentimental value to kids. Which is why they make an effort to ensure Riders have all belongings before they exit the vehicle when being dropped off. HopSkipDrive, of course, is also able to easily follow up with individual CareDrivers if something is left behind on a ride. 

Can I track my child’s HopSkipDrive ride while it’s happening? And what is your Safe Ride Support technology?

Our Safe Ride Support technology — a key part of our safety procedures —  is totally unique to HopSkipDrive. Through the HopSkipDrive app, parents and Ride Organizers (such as school district staff members) can monitor a student’s ride in real-time and receive alerts as the ride progresses.

Salliejo Evers of Spokane Public Schools in Washington says: “We love that HopSkipDrive utilizes technology to communicate simultaneously with families and with Spokane Public Schools Transportation so that we know exactly where students are in the ride process at all times. With HopSkipDrive, student safety is a priority! The technology provides for accurate and timely communication, which we love.”

In addition, HopSkipDrive works with a leading industry partner that has developed software used to detect certain unsafe driving patterns. Through this technology, the HopSkipDrive platform records events of risky driving behaviors like hard braking or speeding. 

CareDrivers receive weekly safety reports, along with tips and resources to support and encourage safe driving behavior. “It’s nice to get a weekly safety report,” says one CareDriver. “It helps me know what I can improve on as a driver and what to be more mindful of.”

Ride tracking, careful vetting of CareDrivers and a relentless obsession with safety will always be central to HopSkipDrive’s mission — even as we continue to expand.

Is it true your rides are scheduled ahead of time, and not offered immediately like Uber or Lyft?

Yes, that is true. HopSkipDrive is not an on-demand rideshare service like Uber or Lyft. HopSkipDrive rides are booked at least eight hours in advance.

There are many reasons for this advance scheduling requirement but one reason is that it allows CareDrivers to review the pickup and drop-off notes ahead of time. It also provides adequate time for Ride Organizers to show Riders a photo of the CareDriver who will be driving them and to practice the procedure for pickup, including the two-factor authentication.

Another reason why planning ahead is key: HopSkipDrive ensures that a member of our Safe Ride Support team will be available to live monitor every ride in real-time.

Our team will always do our best to help in any given situation, but planning ahead to book regular rides is the ideal way to use the HopSkipDrive platform.

I’m concerned about having a driver at school pickup. I’m not sure if my school will allow it. Are CareDrivers able to comply with school pickup criteria?

Some schools have rules against Uber or Lyft pickups on campus. Since HopSkipDrive is a youth transportation solution designed for kids, however — and we work directly with many schools and school districts — our CareDrivers are welcome at many campuses in the areas we serve.

You can share specific pickup and drop-off notes with HopSkipDrive, including any details the CareDriver may need to know about campus procedures. CareDrivers can and will follow any relevant instructions such as checking the child out of the office, collecting a child from a particular adult, etc.

If your school has specific criteria for staff that extends to CareDrivers, we can help there, too. For example, many schools require anyone who works with their students to have specific vaccines or health certifications.

When we partner with such schools, districts or counties, we limit access to CareDrivers who meet the criteria. For example, TB-certified CareDrivers must provide medical proof of a negative TB test in order to access relevant rides. This test isn’t required to be a CareDriver, but a negative TB test result is required to claim trips where schools mandate it.

Is there anything else I should know about HopSkipDrive and safety?

HopSkipDrive is proactive, innovative and relentless about safety. We go above and beyond in our efforts to not simply meet but to exceed safety standards.

CareDrivers are not just drivers — they’re caregivers on wheels. HopSkipDrive is able to ensure a consistent experience for Riders thanks largely to the pool of qualified CareDrivers who can access the HopSkipDrive ride marketplace.

CareDrivers must have safe driving records and adhere to stringent industry regulations. Their route is monitored every step of the way. They are caring professionals who will engage your child and get them where they need to go, safely and reliably.

Parents, school districts and social service agencies across the country rely on HopSkipDrive to safely transport students to and from school and other activities every day.

HopSkipDrive currently has contracts with more than 300 school districts and county government agencies. To date, HopSkipDrive CareDrivers have safely driven over 20M+ miles with 1.4M+ Riders.



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