By Shannon Carabajal | AFIMSC Public Affairs
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas — The Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center is testing a mobile app designed to centralize and streamline the subletting of short-term slots at military child development centers this summer.
The app, called Kinderspot, helps Department of Defense families on Air Force installations sublet child care spots at their home station or find spots at a location they will visit temporarily.
“The concept is similar to what you would use for Airbnb, but instead of subleasing your house or apartment, you’re subleasing your child’s spot at the CDC,” said Maj. Jacque Vasta, Air Force Personnel Center headquarters section commander and app originator.
During pilot testing, set to begin at Malmstrom Air Force Base, Montana, on June 28, parents can download the app to establish an account and begin offering or renting child care spots, starting on a weekly basis.
After launching at Malmstrom, the app will roll out to seven additional test bases:
• Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Arizona
• MacDill AFB, Florida
• Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, Washington DC
• Joint Base Andrews, Maryland
• Schriever AFB, Colorado
• Peterson AFB, Colorado
• Luke AFB, Arizona
Vasta came up with the idea for the app several years ago after unsuccessful attempts to sublease child care spots at her local CDC. The process wasn’t standardized and CDC users were subleasing in an ad hoc manner on social media.
“I vented on Facebook and soon learned that many other families using the CDCs had the same problem,” she said.
After losing money through one TDY and unsuccessfully trying to sublease a spot at the CDC during maternity leave with her second child, she started working on Kinderspot.
Vasta pitched her idea at the 2020 AFIMSC Innovation Rodeo where she earned first place and $333,000 for the app. The project then secured an additional $1 million for development through a price-matching Small Business Innovation Research contract.
To design a tool that would benefit military families, the AFIMSC Ventures innovation office partnered with Oddball, a digital services team specializing in transforming government software, and worked closely with the Air Force Services Center to shape the app and processes to align with other child and youth program priorities and efforts.
“The team did a lot of user interviews and customer discovery. We requested feedback and received over 500 responses within a few weeks, demonstrating a clear need (for the app),” said Emilie Miller, an innovation program analyst with AFIMSC Ventures. “Human-centered design is a key part of our app development efforts, and we had a strong user base (with Kinderspot) from the start.”
AFIMSC is taking steps to ensure a smooth rollout at CDCs this summer, Miller said. Staffs are being trained to manage the app’s web portal and, thanks to centralized management, families won’t have to worry about paying more than they normally would for child care.
“The best part about the app is that the family who leases their spot will not have to pay for the time the spot is sublet, and the family who sublets the spot will pay according to the standardized military child care cost chart, which is based on total family income,” Vasta said.
For example, a junior enlisted Airman subletting a spot from a senior NCO or officer would pay the rate based on their rank and family income, not the rate for a senior NCO or officer.
AFIMSC Ventures is working on an Air Force-wide rollout plan that will follow the initial pilot phase, Miller said.
“It’s awesome to see how quickly this app has come to fruition and we are very excited to support our military and families through a secure, easy to use platform,” she said. “There is still some room for refinement and feature enhancement as we learn from these test bases and users, but we have a solid app.”
Kinderspot is available for both Apple and Android devices. For more information, visit http://carewecanshare.com/.