Drawing on their own experience with their brother, the founders of Joshin have developed the first-of-its-kind disability care booking app platform—focusing on children and adults with special needs and disabilities.
“If you are a parent of a child with special needs, you likely experience greater challenges than you ever imagined,” explained school and clinical psychologist Dr. Mary Volgman in a statement. “There may be days when you feel overwhelmed and alone. Yet the guilt and anxiety associated with leaving your child may keep you from reaching out and asking for help.”
Available on both iOS and Android for users in the United States, Joshin’s network of “Joymakers”—caregivers trained to address the needs of clients with disabilities and special needs—are highly vetted and screened through background checks, motor vehicle reports and social media profile reviews. Joymakers typically have backgrounds in special education, social work, nursing and direct care, and they often have experience with individuals with developmental disabilities, physical disabilities, autism, epilepsy, mental health, down syndrome and other conditions.
Once approved for the platform, Joymakers are offered continuous education in disability care. They are also given “engagement bags” for all of their care dates; full of personalised sensory tools, toys, books and other supplies for children and adults with special needs, the engagement bags help the client have a fun time with the caregiver.
“Joshin is such a groundbreaking technology because until now, there haven’t been the trusted resources readily available for families to get a break for selfcare,” Dr Volgman continued. “It may seem selfish, but getting away to focus on yourself can be the best gift you can give your child. Not only will you be more present when you are with your child, but the active engagement with the Joshin Joymakers provides the opportunity for healthy social interaction—not to mention fun. It is a win-win proposition.”
Families interested in the platform need to choose a subscription fee and schedule an in-home care interview with the company. After the interview, which Joshin uses to create a personalised care plan, users can then book caregivers and care companions directly through the app.
When ready to book a Joymaker, families need to set an hourly rate and send a “care date request.” Then, the caregiver is sent the request, hourly rate and care plan to accept or decline.
After the care date, Joshin processes the joymaker’s payment through Stripe, which the worker will receive in one to three business days. Families that are eligible for Self-Directed Medicaid funding can use the programme to pay the caregivers, paying the subscription fee to the platform directly and compensating their joymakers through Medicaid.
Twin sisters Melissa Danielsen and Melanie Fountaine were inspired to found Joshin based on their family’s experience with their older brother, Josh.
“Our brother Josh taught us that you can have special needs and continue to live a life filled with joy, fun and adventure,” the duo said in a statement. “We’ve devoted our lives to carry this philosophy on and we’re thrilled to be able to bring Josh’s joy to more people through Joshin.”
The company raised $1.55 million in a funding round led by Anthemis, with additional participation by M25 and Sure Ventures. Disability care activist Michael Kutcher has also joined the company as an advisor.
“Caregiving is important now more than ever, and this strong statement of support for our mission from Anthemis and our other investors validates the work that we are doing,” Melissa Danielsen, CEO of Joshin, said in a statement. “As America tries to reopen the economy and overcome the disruptions of the COVID-19 crisis, helping families with special needs find qualified, vetted caregivers is essential to helping parents get back to work and helping the economy recover.”
Joshin is currently available in Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York City, Chicago and San Francisco, with plans to further expand throughout the United States. Over a dozen cities will receive access to Joshin in the upcoming months, and additional cities can be requested through the company’s website.
Robert Scott Lazar
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