PARK SLOPE — A drop-off evening childcare service that lets parents enjoy date night while the kids have fun is expanding to Park Slope.
For $45 per kid (and $25 for siblings), parents leave their children in the care of Project Playdate babysitters who lead a series of entertaining activities like sing-alongs, dance parties and arts and crafts. The kids chow down on a healthy dinner like pizza with whole wheat crust and end the night watching a feature film.
"Parents get to enjoy a night on the town while knowing that their kids are being cared for under quality supervision in an interactive and educational space," said Amanda Raposo, co-founder of Project Playdate.
Raposo, 23, hosted her first pajama party a few years ago as a way to raise money for PowerHouse NYC, nonprofit she started to teach homeless single moms economic empowerment skills. After hosting several successful pajama parties in TriBeCa, parents started asking when the service would expand to other neighborhoods, so Raposo launched Project Playdate as a business.
Project Playdate has retained its do-gooder roots. After paying expenses, proceeds from the pajama parties go to PowerHouse NYC, Raposo said. She's also working with nonprofit Inwood House on a partnership that could create housing for runaway, homeless, pregnant and parenting teens in Elmhurst, Queens.
"She's a very impressive young woman with an important idea on how to provide a community service that's needed and help an underserved group of young people at the same time with her nonprofit work," Kathleen Cooney Clarke, assistant executive director at Inwood House, said.
Raposo, who studied social work and social entrepreneurship at NYU, says her ultimate goal is to use Project Playdate as employment training for low-income single moms.
But for parents like Allison Bambrick, Project Playdate is an easy alternative to finding a babysitter.
Bambrick discovered the service when she had recently moved to New York from Australia and didn't know any sitters. She's sent her kids to pajama parties twice — once to go out to dinner with her husband in TriBeCa, once to go shopping with her husband at Bed, Bath & Beyond.
Her kids, 2-year-old Adelyn and 5-year-old Eric, loved the pajama parties, she said.
"They were both so excited and in the best mood when we left," Bambrick said.
Her son Eric was a fan of the gold stars that Project Playdate's babysitters hand out to kids to encourage helpful behavior. Bambrick's kids also liked the babysitters, who maintained a sunny attitude even after three hours of keeping kids entertained, Bambrick said.
"I was so impressed by how into it (the babysitters) were," Bambrick said. "Kids really pick up on that, and I think it helps them feel good that the adults feel good about being there."
Project Playdate partnered with the private playspace Kidville in early 2012 and will be hosting the pajama parties at Kidville's Park Slope location on the third Friday of every month. The service will expand to Upper West Side's Kidville at 466 Columbus Ave. in September.
Project Playdate has hosted pajama parties for up to 35 kids in TriBeCa, and maintains a three-to-one caregiver to kid ratio. Babysitters for the pajama parties are often hired from College Nannies and Tutors and UrbanSitter. If parents want to stay out later than 9:30 p.m., they can arrange for a babysitter to take their kids home after the party.
Raposo says the cost of Project Playdate's pajama parties are on par with hiring a sitter for the night, but provide a more stimulating environment than just watching TV with a babysitter.
"We have our pajama parties down to a science," Raposo said. "The night is packed with educational activities for kids."