If you need a babysitter, you’ve probably been putting off finding one because you can’t find a recommendation and fear searching online for a babysitter. After all, you’re not looking for an apartment or a piece of furniture. You'll be leaving your child(ren) with this person! Well, I’ve got news for you: you may be safer with someone you find online than with your friend’s neighbor’s cousin’s daughter.
Why? Two words: Background. Checks.
SitterCity.com and Care.com are the two most popular sites; I find SitterCity more intuitive, with friendlier customer service.
SitterCity is free for military families, which is just plain cool. I also dislike the ads that Care.com runs in which they brag about caregiver “reviews.” I loathe this concept. Can you imagine being given a 0-5 stars rating at your job? If you want to know whether or not I am a good nanny, call my references.
These caregiver search sites used to be free for babysitters and nannies
Parents pay a fee to contact us and pay for background checks, etc. I now pay for my own background checks. I’m willing to do that–it puts a little badge on my picture and makes it more likely that parents will contact me. The background checks expire after a few months. It’s very simple: when you see my little yellow badge, you know that I have not been convicted of a crime, and that my identity has been confirmed. There are now more expensive, special, done-by-hand background checks as well as driving background checks, but don’t let the absence of one of these fool you into thinking that a sitter is untrustworthy. These are expensive, and we don’t make much money. If you want these checks run, offer to pay for the extras.
Featured Options Beware
One thing I do find creepy is that sitters are also now paying to be “featured,” which simply means that they pay the site in order to show up closer to the top in parents’ searches. I don’t know how transparent that is (I’ve never actually seen the parent view), so just in case they are not telling you: the sitter who shows up first is not necessarily better. “Featured” = $$$.
Once you join SitterCity, you can just search for sitters you like, or you can place an ad for a job, or both. Everyone sends messages within the website, so no outside-the-site contact information is revealed until you decide to share. The number of sitters you see in your search, the average pay, experience, education level, etc., depends heavily on where you live. I get paid less now that I live in Connecticut than I did in Manhattan.
Next up, how to narrow down a list of sitters you’d like to meet and conduct an interview: which questions to ask and how to tell in an hour if someone is good with your kid(s)!
Latest posts by Anne-Marie Lindsey (see all)
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