Itavi, Because It Takes A Village!

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We are living in unprecedented times and when the conversations shift to “when will things go back to normal”, it’s very clear that no one knows. As life takes new form, there are more people working from home now more than ever and children have taken to their computers for learning. Parents who are required to go back to an office are now faced with childcare challenges as many places are closed until further notice. In looking for assistance to navigate these new norms and schedules here enters the latest platform in childcare, Itavi.

Itavi, an acronym for ‘It Takes a Village’ is a childcare service that provides heavily vetted, childcare professionals who employ the Itavi method in their approach to caring for your child. These professionals are schoolteachers, nurses, and childcare professionals that are committed to providing the most thoughtful and engaging experience for your child. It also provides specialized professionals for infants and children with special needs.

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Haute Living sits with Founder and Miami native, Ayana Rodriguez-Boucher as we discuss parenting in the time of COVID-19, what the Itavi method is, what you can expect and why finally you have a solution that will provide parents with real peace of mind.

HL:  This has been a really interesting time in our country, and I think everyone wants to know how they are managing. You have launched a platform during a time where it’s probably most needed. And people are a little nervous about allowing other people in their homes or exposing their children. What are the biggest struggles, you’re seeing for parents to during COVID-19?

Ayana: It’s running the gamut right now, as a mom, I have three children ranging in age from 18 to 5. So, I completely understand the current challenges that we’re faced with. Parents are not meant to be 24-hour parents, and on top of that, educators, while running a household and working from home. We are being pulled in so many different directions on top of understanding the current landscape with COVID-19 and what those precautions are and outcomes while watching people we love get sick – It’s really, really challenging. We’ve really done a lot of due diligence and lots of research in order to have something comprehensive, engaging, and fun that parents can trust. Now with COVID-19, there’s a whole different process to that of course. During this process, we thought of a call to action. We really understood how the demands on parents are unprecedented and we understand that parents still need a break. So, what does that mean with COVID-19 and bringing somebody into your home? We follow CDC rules and protocols and we have our childcare professionals tested 24 hours out prior to any session. And we ensure that they’re safe, first and foremost, and also that the children that we’re spending time within the families that we’re seeing are safe because that’s a priority to us, which is about trust and building trust in that process.

HL:  How did Itavi come to be and what is the Itavi Method?

Ayana: Itavi was originally launched as a service to hotels. Initially, we partnered with major hotels in Miami and San Francisco like Fontainebleau and the St. Regis. We offer childcare to guests and we offer childcare in a very different way than it’s ever been presented. We have done a lot of research, surveys, and understanding that childcare has been an industry and an area that’s challenging for all of us to navigate pre-COVID-19. What we came to is that childcare generally boils down to what is trust? How do you define trust as a parent? Trust comes back to our own background and our upbringing. No one in this industry has ever put standards and uniformity to what trust should look like, whether you’re in Miami or San Francisco, and we’ve done that. We’ve done that by implementing different benchmarks, tools, and resources to help parents know what trust looks like and what that means. If you go to www.Itavi.app and you want to use our services, everything is there. You complete our intake form which helps us know more about your child. Do they have allergies? If so, where will the EPI pen be? Anything we need to know, we lay out right there to help us empower our childcare professional. Providers who come into your home or hotel guest room know what to expect and what to do to make sure that the session and the time spent with your child is fun. We mitigate a lot of risk by going in ahead and getting all the data and information prior. Another key point to our service is we’ve been incorporating the Itavi method, which is a five-pronged approach to childcare. Gone are the days of childcare or babysitters coming to your home, being on their phones on social media, while the kids are watching TV, videos, or playing video games. We said, ‘That’s not an experience.’ Nobody gets anything out of that, and we know that it could take just one positive experience with a child, five minutes, four hours, to have a long-lasting effect that you leave with that child. Our goal is to always make it positive and the Itavi method allows you to do that. How? Arts and crafts, yoga, exercise, reading, learning, and this really helps us to engage the child and give us that one on one experience that I believe we’ve gotten away from. The Itavi method is one that we have worked on with industry professionals, educators, pediatricians, Montessori teachers, and yoga experts.

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HL:  With numbers rising in Miami and across the nation, there has been a lot of talk about what will happen with schools. What do you think will happen if kids can’t go back to school in the Fall and at-home learning continues?

Ayana: Well, it’s looking more and more like a reality. It’s very stressful for the children. Itavi understands this. We understand it’s also based on experience. How do we make things better based on experiences that we can try and provide tools, resources, and protocols to make better? So, we see this as an opportunity for parents to have childcare professionals. We have registered nurses, teachers, and especially in this environment where a lot of people who are really good at their job of taking care of children that are in need of work. We’ve pulled from the best of the best in the industry. Our vetting process is extensive from background checks, drug testing, and training, training, training. Itavi really works at empowering this group to do what their job is. I can’t teach somebody how to be empathetic, but I could give them the tools and resources to be better and by making them better, then they’re offering a better service and making that child better so then the family feels better.

HL:  You’re bringing your childcare workers into homes in Miami, what kind of safety measures are you doing to ensure safety?  Besides getting them tested, will they be wearing masks when they come inside the home? Are you equipping them with some sort of kit? How does that work?

Ayana: Testing is number one because that’s safety and peace of mind. Besides that, we have a lot of other protocols; masks for sure. All of our childcare professionals arrive to the home with the Itavi bag which has all of the Itavi method tools and resources so when they come they’re ready to start your experience and in addition to that, with the current landscape of COVID-19 we have masks, hand sanitizers, hand wipes. We ask that they take their temperatures prior and we will ask the family on the intake form as well. Have they been exposed to COVID-19 or anybody in the family? Are they feeling sick? We basically are protecting not only our childcare professionals but through our platform, we’re able to really address a lot of that before the session even starts, it starts with peace of mind. Additionally, each childcare professional arrives with a company phone.  We wanted to get away from professional caretakers being on their phones or on social media. With a company phone, they’re able to do FaceTime, and one on one calls directly with the family and also are equipped with all the tools and resources that they need. We really checked a lot of boxes with this platform and this service because it was needed. It is needed, and it’s going to be needed even more now. There are so many unknowns and we can only ask for so much and this is our opportunity to share and help everybody in this to be better, together.

HL:  Trust looks a little different for every parent. What would you say to parents who have a little harder time bringing someone new into their home during this time? 

Ayana: I understand the concerns, especially when we’re getting information that might be conflicting day-to-day, and we barely trust ourselves going to the grocery store. Everyday errands that we were used to doing four months ago before we all had a lockdown. I do believe that with our protocol and us staying on top of what protocols look like, as things shift, it is a peace of mind for parents. Nothing is 100% guaranteed, but what I can tell you is that we’re going to do everything within our power with the tools that we have at our disposal to ensure that we are checking a lot of boxes and sharing that information with parents. Ultimately, they have to feel okay. It has to feel right to them. And I think with parents, our gut instincts will always prevail.

HL:  Is your service available in Miami and other places? Where can someone find you?

Ayana: Our service is available in Miami and in hotels, but also at your home. You can use our service just by going to www.Itavi.app. All the information is there and you can book directly, and again, we have an extreme vetting process that once you are on the platform it will take you directly through it, and then you’ll get a live person who will actually call to ensure that all the information is correct. The process is very easy, takes five minutes to go through the online intake form. One of the other things that I just like to mention is that we found that, with a lot of other services, if you had a question, it was hard to find somebody to help you resolve. One of the key reasons why we have so many tremendous partnerships with hotels is because we take ownership; we take responsibility. One of those is being insured. We thought, as a partner, we needed to cover insurance with our hotel partners, as well as if we’re going to go into your home because that way you’re protected, we’re protected, and our childcare professionals are protected. And that’s just another benchmark of what trust looks like in our book.

For more information about Itavi please visit: www.itavi.app

About Ayana Rodriguez-Boucher, Founder of Itavi:

A longtime business development and brand strategy veteran, Ayana Rodriguez worked in corporate strategy for Perry Ellis before launching her own successful children’s clothing boutique. Rodriguez is a passionate entrepreneur and mother of three, who has combined her business acumen and firsthand insights into the children’s market to launch Itavi – the first trusted service that provides a premium childcare experience for luxury hotels and residential. Itavi empowers its childcare professionals with the tools and resources they need to deliver amazing experiences, resulting in the highest quality care possible. Rodriguez graduated from Pitzer College and obtained an MBA from the University of Miami. Outside her profession, she supports organizations including Honey Shine, Junior League of Miami, BauuxArts, Guardian Ad Litem, and O’Miami. Rodriguez currently resides in Miami, Florida.

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