By Karen Antonacci Daily Times-Call, Longmont, Colo.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) The idea behind "Family Village" is to provide a new space for parents -- and especially moms -- to spend a few hours, take a class, use the WiFi and have their children supervised. The company will run on a cooperative model, sidestepping requirements for child care licensing by requiring parents to stay on-site and be reachable by cell.
Daily Times-Call, Longmont, Colo.
In 2016, Longmont resident Melanie Piazza found herself in an impossible situation and was about to come apart at the seams.
Piazza had a toddler daughter and an infant son and she was trying to provide end-of-life care for her mom, who was sick.
"I was a new resident of Longmont and I didn't have a network of people to connect with," Piazza said. "I just thought that it's not right for it to be this challenging to be a parent and if something terrible happens and you haven't built that village around you, you're just stuck."
During that time, she found refuge at Family Garden, a nonprofit family resource center that offered birth classes, yoga classes and support groups. But when Family Garden closed, Piazza felt it left her without a place to go and she decided to create her own facility.
Piazza plans to open Family Village at 350 Terry St. in June in the first floor of the co-working space CoSolve.
The idea behind the business is to provide a space for parents -- and especially moms -- to spend a few hours, take a class, use the WiFi and have their children supervised.
Her plan is unique in two aspects -- it would run on the cooperative model and she would sidestep requirements for child care licensing by requiring parents to stay on-site and be reachable by cell.
Members of the cooperative would pay a monthly membership fee, tiered based on usage, as well as do a certain number of service hours per month. For members who have more disposable money than time, $50 per month can be given in lieu of the service hours.
Members can work out of the coworking space CoSolve on all three floors of 350 Terry St., while the first floor will be used for classes, therapy and social events. Piazza said there will be space for classes, therapy sessions and a meditation room where harried moms and dads can meditate and take a nap, if need be.
"There will be a room where you can sit in a chair and stare at the wall -- which sounds like a fantasy to me on some days -- and take a nap if you want," she said.
The cooperative model "seemed to be the best fit for what we were looking for -- owning a business together and operating it together," Piazza said. "A lot of moms sort of isolate themselves in a way because there's this idea that you have to be perfect and put together and do everything the right way."
Piazza said she wanted to create a low-stress, drop-in space that members would feel comfortable coming to when they needed a moment.
Additionally, she wanted a place where parents could take a class or sit in a therapy session without having to hire a babysitter or pay for day care.
Members will be allowed to drop their children off with a child care professional for a maximum of three hours and parents or caregivers remain legally responsible for the child while they're there. If there's an issue or a child needs a diaper change, then the parents will be contacted via cell.
Those rules allow Piazza to be exempt from the sometimes-cumbersome licensing requirements for a child care facility. Additionally, she has reached an agreement with the Moriarty-Moffitt School of Irish Dance to use its space during the day for child care.
"They aren't using the space during the day, so we'll transform it into a day care when we're using it," she said. "We'll be moving our stuff every day and putting in into storage, so it'll be interesting."
Piazza said at first, there will only be a few paid positions, but one of them will be a child care director, while all the support will be from parents volunteering for their service hours.
"I didn't want it to be a mess of people trying to figure things out. There needs to be someone there to organize activities and make rules and procedures," she said.
As a co-op, Piazza plans to use members' inherent skills to her advantage, whether it's accounting or teaching a class, watching children or cleaning up.
"It's this idea of a village," she said. "It's not OK anymore that we're expected to do all this on our own. There are so many skills and specialities that people have and money is not the only way to get things done because it's very limiting."
Piazza plans to launch a fundraiser next week on I Fund Women, a crowdfunding website that features female entrepreneurs.
Piazza said that when Family Village opens, she hopes that it allows parents -- and especially women -- who are the primary caregivers for children to reenter the workforce and network with each other. Piazza has been a stay-at-home mom since her daughter was born in 2012.
"I always had an idea that I wanted to work again, but I didn't know what I wanted to do," she said. "That's part of the reason I'm excited about this project. There are a lot of moms who left the workforce and don't know how to get back in and can't because they're watching kids full-time and they can't afford a nanny or full-time day care ... I feel like moms need to have the time to just breathe and start to remember that they're people and not just moms."