Finding a good babysitter can be tricky. These days, parents might find themselves understandably wary of the posted advertisements with tear-off numbers on the grocery store bulletin board. This is where the internet, not always known as a bastion of trustworthy information, can help.
Over the past two decades, online companies have popped up to make the hunt for a reliable babysitter easier. These include locally run agencies such as A New England Nanny and the Capital District Child Care Coordinating Council, to franchises that have branched out across the country, such as SeekingSitters. That’s not even including casual websites like albanybabysitter.com and care.com, which give parents a chance to browse Facebook-like profiles and choose a babysitter at their leisure.
Parents can access the Capital District Child Care Coordinating Council online at www.cdcccc.org or by calling 426-7181. More information on the Albany SeekingSitters can be found at seekingsittersalbany.com or 649-8200. For more information on A New England Nanny, go to www.anewenglandnanny.com or call 348-0400.
“(Babysitting) has changed because it has become easier for families to find reliable and safe babysitters, rather than posting an ad in the local paper. Likewise, it has become easier for babysitters to find safe jobs,” says Liz Pirtle, marketing director of SeekingSitters.
What all of the established companies have in common is an assurance of safety. These companies perform extensive background checks – some even using their own private investigators – and they ensure that CPR certification and first aid knowledge is kept up to date every two years.
They also offer a variety of services that go beyond traditional babysitting. SeekingSitters, which has offices in Albany and Saratoga counties, also offers pet sitting, tutoring and house sitting.
To find a babysitter, or to find a job, through SeekingSitter, one must fill out an online application and undergo a background check to ensure safety for both the children and the babysitter. Sitter applications require they be over 18 years old and certified in CPR and first aid, says Pirtle.
“We are an on-demand sitting service,” Pritle says. “We refer sitters out to families with us.”
SeekingSitters matches sitters up to families based on schedule requirements, the age of the children, location and whether a family needs a sitter full time, part time, or long term. Once representatives pick a handful of qualified sitters, in-person interviews are set up with the family, which then chooses a sitter.
“We match based on availability of the sitter. Sitters can accept or decline (a job),” Pirtle says. “We have many families who sign up for service last minute. A lot of times, they’re worried they won’t get someone and call into a local office.”
Pirtle says the sitters that are a part of her company’s network do more than just sit.
“Our sitters like to get the children active,” she says, adding the activities depend on the sitter. When weather permits, outside activities are popular, as well as arts and crafts, Pirtle says.
Similar to SeekingSitters is A New England Nanny, which strictly services the Capital District.
“We interview our candidates directly,” director Melissa Schoonmaker says. “We provide babysitters, nannies, house keepers, mother’s helpers, senior care and household managers.”
A New England Nanny runs its services much like SeekingSitters, with both families and sitters needing to fill out applications and undergo background checks. Once the technicalities are out of the way, Schoonmaker says, “We have a software that matches (families and nannies) based on criteria.”
Schoonmaker says that once families and sitters are matched, the company remains available for support.
“We do backup care in case their regular nanny is sick,” she says.
A New England Nanny also has a large temporary sitter program and gets “a lot of requests for backup care.”
For both SeekingSitters and A New England Nanny, the placement time for sitters varies. Placement for full-time sitters can take up to four weeks, but last-minute sitter needs are fulfilled within the same day.
There are other sitter sites that operate without the strict background checks and vetting required by A New England Nanny and SeekingSitters.
Care.com, a free resource, and albanybabysitters.com allow families to have access to babysitter profiles quickly. Albany Babysitters still requires a membership fee for families, but it also includes reviews from other parents and references directly on sitter profiles for you to see.
Although not a strictly online source, the Capital District Child Care Coordinating Council is a free service that recommends before- and after-school programs and daycare to parents.
“We provide information on parent education, as well as what to look for in a quality program,” says Parent Services Director Tricia Howland. “Referrals for childcare are given to licensed childcare centers, registered family childcare providers, licensed group family childcare providers and registered school-age programs, as well as summer camps.”
The Council works to assist families in making informed decisions when it comes to childcare providers.
“We inform parents of asking about the family’s role and to make sure the provider has an open door policy. We give them information on how to check complaint history,” Howland says. “Parents are educated on group size, health and safety, caregiver education and average cost.”
Parents can access the Council online at www.cdcccc.org or by calling 426-7181.
More information on the Albany SeekingSitters can be found at seekingsittersalbany.com or 649-8200. For more information on A New England Nanny, go to www.anewenglandnanny.com or call 348-0400.