On-demand care app launches for special needs families

Chicagoland has a new way for families to find care for their children with special needs. An on-demand care app, Joshin, was created by twin sisters who grew up helping care for their brother, Josh, who had special needs.

The sisters, Melissa Danielsen and Melanie Fountaine, say they wanted to create something to honor Josh while meeting a big need they see in families with special needs. They started with Josh’s Place, which provides 24/7 care for adults with special needs in Minnesota.

After finding no childcare platforms that put special needs first, they decided to create Joshin, which matches families with special needs with professionals experienced with special needs, such as special ed teachers, social workers, therapists and nurses, who want to use their skills in a side job.

“Safety is key. Part of our mission is fun, but we can only do that if everybody knows that they are safe and vetted,” Fountaine says. “The joymakers are here for families with special needs. That’s what their passion is, that’s what their background is.

”Families can upload a care plan to assure continuity of care and can search for a joymaker who has been screened, given a background check and vetted that most meets their needs. The joymakers can provide quality care for babies to adults with special needs, they say.

Danielsen says the majority of Joshin users use it for respite, but others use it for before and after-school care and daily living skills development. The hourly rates are negotiated between the joymaker and family.

“We’re really excited about supporting Chicago,” Danielsen says.

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This article originally appeared in the Summer 2019 issue of Chicago Special Parent. Read the rest of the issue.

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