If your trusted baby sitter is heading off to college or grandma is finding it more
difficult to manage the adventurous little ones while you're away, you may be on
a quest to find a new baby sitter. Wondering where to begin? First, formulate a
list of your expectations, says Michael Gerard, executive director of Childcare
Solutions in Beachwood, an in-home care provider placement agency. "Take off your
parent hat, and put on your employer hat," he says. "Come up with a written job
description with as much detail as possible." He also suggests having at least six
potential baby sitters. "It takes some time and energy to get your list of qualified
sitters established, and it needs to be maintained, but it can be a lifesaver when
you need it," he says. Get your list started by following these rules.
» SEARCH WITH CARE. With homework, extracurricular activities and social obligations,
it's not as common as in decades past to find neighborhood teenagers who are available,
Gerard says. Websites such as Care.com and Sittercity.com connect families with
potential caregivers, although the responsibility is on the parents to do their
own due diligence. Those sites offer preliminary checks, but details are scant since
Ohio doesn't require counties to report arrest or conviction records to online databases.
"Parents don't know what they don't know," Gerard says. Look for candidates who
are college-age or older and are CPR- and first-aid certified. Expect to pay between
$10 to $12 an hour with another $1 per hour for each additional child, he says.
» GET ON THE SAME PAGE. Before you leave the house, review your written list of expectations,
including meal preparation, media use, bedtime and even whether your sitter is responsible
for light housekeeping. Prominently display emergency contact information. It's
also courteous to provide food for the caregiver if he or she is working during
mealtime. If your baby sitter doesn't have a car, finalize transportation with the
sitter's parents. "We prefer the care provider not use bikes or public transportation,"
says Gerard, citing the safety risks. And if your caregiver uses his or her car
to take the children out, reimburse for gas costs. Never expect your sitter to pay
for caregiving expenses.
» NIX THE NANNY CAM. How do you know if your baby sitter is performing her duties
to your satisfaction? "Your children will tell you," Gerard says. "You will know
by their reaction. Are they acting out? Or are they happy to see the sitter again?"