Even with the rise of flexible work and increasing popularity of caregiving benefits, many working parents and other caregivers are still struggling to find work-life harmony. Nearly a third of caregivers had to reduce their work hours in 2023, and a similar number had to take an extended leave of at least 30 days, twice the rate of non-caregivers, according to a December survey from Guardian.

And just as some workers have turned to AI to help streamline their professional lives, many caregivers are starting to do the same at home. Over three-fourths of women with children under 18 now use AI in their personal lives at least once a month, according to survey results from The Female Quotient and Harris Poll. While there are no shortage of caregiving-focused uses for popular chatbots like ChatGPT, Bard, and Claude (Stephanie LeBlanc-Godfrey, global head of inclusion for women of color at Google, has written about many of them—from creating school supply shopping lists to researching care providers—in her newsletter, Mother AI), there has also been an explosion in AI-powered tools targeted directly towards working parents and other caregivers.

In this edition of Work Tech, we’ll broadly cover the AI tools attempting to make care work easier for those balancing their professional responsibilities with caring for children, an aging or sick relative, or a loved one with a disability. (Apps targeted directly towards children, such as Microsoft’s Reaching Coach, which teaches literary skills, or detection and monitoring tools—such as Mercury Alert and Littlebird, are not included in this overview.)

AI tools that provide support, resources, and coaching

This category provides resources for advice and recommendations related to the work of caregiving—responsibilities that take up 26 hours per week, on average, for working caregivers. Using chatbots trained on research and medical recommendations, caregivers can ask for and receive specific recommendations in conversational tones, rather than poring over web pages or waiting for the next doctor’s checkup. Currently, most tools in this category target parents: Bottel and ParentGPT by Oath Care, for example, are both chatbots powered by ChatGPT that draw on credible resources, like peer-reviewed academic journals, to answer users’ questions about children’s health, learning, and development. Ema App offers a similar service focused on a broad range of women’s health issues, including fertility, prenatal care, parenting and childrens’ nutrition, and menopause.

Some of the tools in this category are tailored for specific uses, such as Onoco AI, a nap time predictor that turns user-entered sleep data and pediatrician recommendations into personalized schedules for wake windows and nap timing; Era by Parent Lab, which delivers daily recommendations and exercises for parents to cultivate secure attachments with their children; and PaidLeave.ai, a chatbot that assists New York state workers in understanding and accessing their full public paid leave benefits.

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Platforms for finding and navigating professional care

Digital care marketplaces have long been essential tools for caregivers looking to simplify their search for day care, babysitters, long-term care facilities, and other providers. Platforms like Care.com and Wellthy, which provide tools to facilitate search, communication, and payment, have now also integrated AI to improve the search and communication process.

The goal of these new AI features is not to replace human connections between families and their paid caregivers, but to facilitate them, Brad Wilson, CEO of Care.com, explained at a panel at last year’s CareFest conference. He previewed some of the newest AI features on its platform, including using generative AI to help users build out their profiles and communicate with providers faster and more easily.

Similarly, Wellthy Copilot is a series of initiatives to apply AI to improve messaging, communication, and onboarding experiences for Wellthy members and the organization’s team of care coordinators. By mid-2024, Wellthy also anticipates implementing an AI summary feature in the provider search process to automatically generate summaries of the options available to families, a task that currently falls to care coordinators who manually prepare those summaries.

Both Care.com and Wellthy offer enterprise subscriptions for employers, as well as services for individuals.

AI tools for household management

A separate suite of tools provide a virtual AI assistant to manage household tasks, medical and health documents, and care plans—tasks that currently, largely fall on women, creating an unequal “mental load” that has been associated with higher rates of burnout, depression, and anxiety. The industry leader is Milo, created to reduce parents’ invisible loads. “It is possible to build something that has our backs, that can do all the administrative kind of stuff so that I can spend the time doing the human stuff, which is being a parent and spending that time with my kids,” founder Anvi Patel Thompson said at CareFest. She gave the example of getting birthday-party invitations via email, WhatsApp, and other channels: Milo automatically scans the invitation, adds it to the calendar, notifies parents of any scheduling conflicts, and even adds buying a birthday present to the user’s to-do list.

Earlier this year, Care.com founder and former CEO Sheila Lirio Marcelo launched Ohai.ai, a competing service that similarly can help families create calendar events, manage tasks, book appointments, and manage household schedules. For now, a team of human assistants completes more complex tasks, such as booking appointments by phone, but AI completes most of the tasks Ohai.ai offers.

Both Milo and Ohai.ai are currently in beta, and while signup is open for Ohai.ai, users interested in Milo must join a waitlist for the service.

Dashboards and databases to manage care plans

These AI-powered tools help users manage all the details related to caring for an aging relative or loved one with a disability—workers with these responsibilities now make up 22% of the workforce, according to a Guardian survey—including creating personalized care plans and recommendations, managing medication lists and document storage, and building a centralized calendar and daily to-do list.

Caring Village offers AI-generated personalized care plans as a is a multi-seat service that allows users to invite friends, neighbors, and relatives to share in the care plan, with a wellness journal that allows users to track trends or notify others with new updates. Eleplan similarly promises to simplify the caregiving experience with AI-generated prompts and checklists to help users through transitions such as applying for government benefits, transitioning to a new school, applying for government benefits, and moving to long-term residential care.

A note on privacy: For many working caregivers, the greatest barrier to using these kinds of tools is a concern about sharing personal details, location data, and medical information for themselves and their loved ones. Anna Steffeny, executive director of the technology association FamTech, which provides resources, support, and a community for start-ups focused on the care economy, has worked with founders within the FamTech network to build data management and security protections within their products, but she warns that any international AI standards, like ISO/IEC 42001 from the International Organization for Standardization, are voluntary. “There are no real consumer protections or regulations, and so proceed with caution and what you share in general,” she says. That includes not sharing personal identifiable information like social security numbers or dates of birth when using general AI chatbots, and doing research on a service’s security protocol before signing up.

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated that no ISO standard had yet been created. In December 2023, the International Organization for Standardization released its AI management standard, ISO/IEC 42001.

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