How to find an occasional babysitter
How to find an occasional babysitter is a common question posted to parenting message boards and websites. Some people suggest posting on craigslist.com or indeed.com. In fact, at the time of the writing of this article, indeed.com had five pages of families in the Pittsburgh area looking for everything from an occasional babysitter to full-time nannies, and many of these ads were reposted from care.com.
Care.com claims to be the largest care website (with over 15 million members) who has “your perfect babysitter”. The way their system works is it pairs caregivers with people who want jobs as such. Basic registration is free of charge. Then you create a job posting and care.com guarantees you will be contacted within three days by potential caregivers whose profiles (many complete with background checks) you can review. Then you interview and hire the caregiver and pay that person for services rendered through care.com’s payment center. Categories parents can choose include under the selection of “care of kids”: nannies and babysitters, special needs, date night sitter, tutors and lessons, after school sitter and daycare centers.
Similar sites to care.com include urbansitter.com, sittercity.com and the babysittersregistry.com. Urbansitter.com (both a website and an app) “takes the guesswork out of finding a sitter,” according to their corporate motto. Urbansitter.com has a full listing of potential summer babysitters, part-time or full-time nannies, date night sitters, last minute care and mother’s helpers, and it can pair parents with sitters with whom they already share connections, but might not know it. How Urbansitter.com works is parents create an account and then they can search for a babysitter based on the specific date and time needed, or they can post a job to the site. Parents can browse sitter profiles, book a sitter and then pay them online or with cash.
Sittercity.com claims that the “best sitters are here”, according to its website. The company also has an app in case you need a sitter while on the go. It is free for parents to register and to post jobs to which sitters reply. Sittercity.com encourages parents to screen applicants, conduct phone interviews and meet favorite choices face to face and to then conduct reference checks and to run in-depth background checks. Sittercity.com has been connecting families with sitters and sitters with families since 2001. (They also link parents to special needs care, companion care and pet sitters.)
If you prefer not to find a sitter online, advice from the news board of circleofmoms.com to a posting asking how to find an occasional sitter included: ask friends or their teenaged children, ask co-workers and ask at your church.
Babysitter Kelli Korducki recommended in an article for Canadian parenting publication Today’s Parent these other options: to advertise in local college campus newspapers or post fliers around campus, to post on local library message boards or in retirement center newsletters and to talk to local teachers, guidance counselors, coaches and principals for recommendations.
Regardless of how you search for an occasional babysitter, through word of mouth, online or through some phone calls and leg work, interview the babysitter and make sure he or she is the best fit for your family. Isabella Rossellini told a story once that included this quote, “Food is a big part of my culture, so everyone knows how to cook. When I came to America and asked a babysitter to softboil an egg for my son and she didn’t know how, I was shocked.” This is one example of why it is important to know what you need and what your kids expect before you interview potential babysitters. Then ask questions that pertain to those needs.
And if you are hiring a stranger (or someone who hasn’t come from a friend or colleague’s personal recommendation), spend the money that it takes to run a background check. VeriFirst, a risk management and background screening company, says that background check providers charge the following prices:
- $2-4 for identity verification, social security number trace, and address history
- $7-15 for national criminal background check
- $0-5 for national sex offender search
- $3-10 for a driver’s license search
This is a small price to pay for the safety of your child.
Jill Ferguson, originally from Pittsburgh, is a national writer, author, blogger and artist.