Unable to get away from her full-time commercial production job in Santa Monica, Jennifer Heath was struggling to provide reliable transportation for her most precious cargo.

She attempted to organize a carpool to have her young son picked up from school. She tried coordinating with other families on a shuttle service. She even enlisted the help of the local learning center where he goes at the end of the school day.

“It was an everyday battle,” Heath said. “It wasn’t once in a while. It was always an issue.”

Heath said her scheduling nightmares were solved by HopSkipDrive, a Los Angeles-based ride service designed specifically for children.

Launched last year by moms who were having problems getting their own kids to a variety of after-school activities, the company has become an ally for parents in Santa Monica who can’t be in multiple places at once.

“Kids are really busy these days, and we make it easier for families to get them where they need to go,” said HopSkipDrive co-founder Janelle McGlothlin, whose son was the first rider. “They’re with a caregiver who understands the needs of kids.

“When one has a recital and the other has baseball practice, there are all kinds of pressure points. We were trying to solve that for ourselves. For tons of families in Santa Monica, this is changing their family dynamics for the better because there’s less stress and more quality time.”

McGlothlin and the two other HopSkipDrive co-founders knew potential users would be most concerned about safety, so they’ve taken extensive measures to put parents at ease.

All of the company’s 300-plus drivers have at least five years of childcare experience. They have gone through fingerprinting and background checks, and they’ve met company officials in person. Their driving records are evaluated monthly.

In addition, children are given personalized passwords so they can identify their proper drivers. And parents can use the company’s app to track their children’s rides in real time.

“As a parent, it’s never comfortable having someone else drive your kid, so it’s been a gradual process,” Heath said. “It’s so hard to determine who we felt lived up to our safety needs. To have someone else who thought of every concern that we had and to have each of those completely covered was just a huge relief.”

Since the start of the school year, HopSkipDrive has regularly chauffeured Heath’s second-grader from Ocean Charter School in West Los Angeles to Realm Creative Academy in Santa Monica.

The service has come in handy for parents of children who visit the Pico Boulevard youth center, which offers classes and after-school activities as well as workshops and camps.

“We had several families who were forever in serious frustration about trying to find reliable transportation for their kids,” Realm co-founder Victoria Forsman said. “They were using things like Nanny.com or Care.com, but when this came it really took the pressure off a lot of those families because they could rely on a service that was focused on that one particular thing.”

Forsman said the presence of HopSkipDrive could help her academy attract more business. She added that she knows several teachers who drive for the company to make extra money.

“Parents oftentimes have incredibly sophisticated schedules for their children’s activities, and it’s hard to do with work life,” Forsman said. “The need of our families was definitely expressed.”

Added Heath: “I’m so appreciative. It’s made such a huge difference in our life.”

Contact Jeff Goodman at 310-573-8351, jeff@www.smdp.com or on Twitter.