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Babysitters: Experts say do your research when it comes to child care

Posted at 6:21 AM, Apr 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-18 07:42:37-04

CANTON, Mich. (WXYZ) — Parents have busy lives, but there is no cutting corners when you have children at home.

Erin Rawlings is a mother of two and has used several babysitters over the past few years. She tells 7 Action News that finding a personality match is a must — she meets possible candidates out of the home to ensure they’re not around her kids until she feels comfortable.

“Doing that allows us to feel like we have a personality match,” said Rawlings.

The experts who deal with babysitters double-down on that advice, saying always give yourself time and don’t forget to dig into someone’s background.

“When you’re looking at background checks, there’s all different types,” said Lynn Perkins, CEO of Urban Sitter. “When you’re a parent, you want to get a check to make sure they’re going into court records from the states and cities where they’ve lived. I also highly suggest if this is someone who is going to drive your child, you may want to go the extra step and make sure their driving record is clean.”

Urban Sitter does those types of background checks for their business — they also give you profiles and background information on whether parents have asked babysitters back into their homes. If you’re interested in seeing whether other people in your child’s school, church, etc. are using the same babysitter, you can dig into those details too.

But what if you’re going it alone?

Sharon Raglan-Keys runs College Nannies Sitters and Tutors in Canton, Michigan. She points out that there’s a checklist of things you should go over to make sure you’re getting the right fit.

  • Plan Ahead: Raglan-Keys said that you need to give yourself enough time to sort through the candidates to find the best one.
  • Determine Your Needs: Next, she recommends thinking about your specific needs; the hours you’ll need nanny’s help, are you open to hiring a “manny”, will the nanny need their own transportation, and do you envision this person as mainly a care provider or do you want them to be more of a role model as well?
  • Be The Boss: Once you determine your needs, Sharon advises parents to “be the boss”. Create a job description as though you are the boss of your own company, and you’re hiring an employee. Figure out what you can afford to pay per hour including what benefits you’ll offer. Make sure your expectations about things like specific duties, vacations and sick days are made clear from the start. Or hire an expert like College Nannies, Sitters and Tutors to do those very important first steps for you.
  • Get a Second Opinion: Do background checks. Sharon says just doing an internet search won’t cut it - even if it’s someone you know. Check all of their references, including running state criminal, national sex offender and social security number searches. If you don't know how, there are companies who will run these checks for you.
  • Go with Your Gut: Remember, you can ask all the right questions but if you still don’t feel 100% confident about a potential nanny, move on.

Perkins added that you shouldn’t fear moving on from a babysitter, pointing out that as your children grow-up their needs and the services offered by a trusted babysitter may change.

For parents like Rawlings, the hope is that you can find the people that make you most comfortable to leave your children at home. She said her go-to resource has been family friends, but that she’s also found a number of babysitters that have worked well through her children’s school.

“That was such a great experience,” she said, referring to finding older teens while at school activities, “and I’ve also asked teachers in our school because I trust them, and if they have someone they recommend that’s also a great resource.”