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As many of my readers know finding a babysitter has been quite the headache for me. I have since found a babysitter but it was quite the road to getting there. I don't take these things lightly since I babysat for a woman who lost her first child to shaken baby syndrome. After learning about that horrible incident at the age of 14 I have always been extra vigilant with my kids. There are many things I have learned along the way.
Hiring a babysitter brings with it so many anxieties and frustrations and makes us have to think about worst case scenerios and we should. Don't be in denial that things can happen be as proactive as you can be. Do your research!
Remember The Babysitter Club books. What I wouldn't do to have a group of girls like that to hire. What a dream that would be.
How cool would it be to just pick up the phone and have a reliable group of girls that were organized and brought their little kid kit.
So this is what I learned on my journey to finding a babysitter.
First and foremost if you are looking for a babysitter ask your family. You know them and they know you.
So How to do you find and Hire a Babysitter if you have no family to help?
Ask around at your playgroups (music class, Little Gym, Gymboree). I even have asked the program directors.
Go to local colleges and universities and look at the boards in the Elementary Education and Preschool programs or you can even call the university. (again, these are strangers so be vigilant!)
There are also online resources:
Care.com allows you to sign up for free and do searches for babysitters and nannies. However, in order to contact them, look at references and background checks you need a Premium Membership for $35 a month.
Searches- You can be as general or as specific as you want to. You can search for a certain age range, smoking preference, those that have background checks on file, first language preference, etc., etc.
Post a Job- Instead of searching you can also post a job and find babysitters or nannies that way.
Profiles- Once you search and find a potential list of babysitters according to your needs you can read in depth profiles that talk about their babysitting experience, education and any other details and qualifications (including CPR and special needs). The profile also tells you their schedules.
Background Check- If a caregiver has a free background check on file you can request to see it and once they okay it you can see a basic check for free that verifies the person's social security number and checks the national criminal database (which also checks the National Sex Offender Registry). However, if you want a more enhanced one that checks court documents which include arrest and warrants you have to pay for it and they have to okay it. Now remember just because their background check is clean...that does not mean there will not be a first time and it does not mean they have never done anything wrong.
References- Care.com offers a service that they will call and record their interview with references. I did not use this feature but it is offered as your monthly membership.
Contacting- You contact caregivers through care.com and it gets sent to your email. They do not know your email address.
Reviews- People can post reviews about how they like the caregiver, etc. and rate them. So that you have more knowledge about how they are as a caregiver.
Care on Call- They have a service that you can use if you need a babysitter quickly. Say you have an unplanned date and need a sitter for that night, you can search for babysitters that are part of care on call.
other things- Care.com now has a new feature that lets you chat with your "favorited" caregivers if they are online at the same time.
You can also find caregivers for adults and seniors, pets, personal assistants, housekeepers and they have a special database for military families.
Sittercity also offers a free membership for one week. You can post a job, but that is basically it under the free program. In order to communicate with those that answer your position you will need a premium membership. This is the pricing for the other membership options and what they include
On Sittercity you post a job and those that are interested respond. It will show you their profile and they will send you a message
If they have a background check on file, if it isn't up to date, you have to pay for them to get even the standard one (care.com offers that one free) or like Care.com you can pay for a more enhanced one, as well.
You have to privately ask for references and they do not have a feature like on Care.com where they will call for you.
They have a rate calculator for you to use to find the best rate in your area. Although I found the rates to be slightly low for my city.
You can also communicate with the babysitters though private messages that are forwarded to your email address.
This is my take on the whole babysitter search online and in general.
BE CAREFUL and VIGILANT. I personally would probably not ever use the care on call service and just have anyone come out and watch my kids without properly interviewing and watching them for a certain period of time with my kids. I would do the enhanced background checks, phone interviews and in person interviews and even then I would do trial runs with you in the home. Anytime you invite anyone into your home to watch your children you are bringing a whole new set of circumstances. Don't take any strange attribute lightly. If you feel uncomfortable get rid of them. Parental Instincts are very important!
I also don't like that on Sittercity you can't search for a sitter on your own and do your own searches. I felt like it was like Craigslist and anyone and anybody could respond to a job posting.
I am not posting the following stories to upset you or scare you from using an online resource. I am posting these to show you that things can happen to anyone and you shouldn't ever let your guard down no matter who they are.
Penn State Scandal Lesson Leads to Molestation Charges Against Babysitter (abcnews.go.com)
Babysitter Hired Through Sittercity Charged With Child Porn, Sex Assault (chicago.cbslocal.com)
This can happen with any babysitter you bring into your home though. Even if they have had great qualifications from your friends. Even if they have had fingerprinting done and are teachers. It can happen with a neighbor or even a highly qualified person with great references. It can happen with anyone.
Finally, I suggest to you to read the book Protecting The Gift by Gavin DeBecker. You can read my review of it here. It will horrify you and enlighten you at the same time. He has an entire section about hiring a babysitter.
It is important when hiring a babysitter to not be in denial about what can happen but to educate yourself and to take all of the measures to providing a safe and secure caregiver for your children.
When in doubt don't hire the person!
These are the steps I took when hiring:
- First I did a phone interview. Make sure you ask questions about how they discipline, if they have reliable transportation, background experience. During the phone interview I asked them if it would be ok to do background checks and they had to sign off on that (make sure you know how to legally do a background check!)
- I also got a list of references that I called. I called each one and plainly just asked how they liked them as a babysitter. I wanted to see how much or how little they spoke....how excited they seemed by hearing the person's name. Any clues!
- Then I had them come to the house for a trial run to see if it fit both them and us.
- Then they were hired, but in the first few weeks I will be home to see how things go.
Here are some additional resources you might find beneficial:
This is also a great resource: It outlines in detail what steps you should take in hiring a sitter http://www.med.umich.edu/yourchild/topics/babysit.htm
if you plan on hiring a teenage babysitter this is a great resource for them:
Learn more about the America Red Cross Babysitter Program http://www.redcross.org/flash/bst.html
Here are some printables you might find useful: