It appears to be easier to find a mechanic or reliable plumber than it is to find a trustworthy babysitter, however, often due to time constraints, throughout background and reference checks may not be feasible. Finding someone whom parents can trust in their house and with their children is often a challenge, as it can be hard to determine if the information provided via word of mouth or online regarding babysitter reviews, are indeed factual. The horrible events that land on the media and news outlets involving babysitters are enough to lead many parents to be quite wary or even decide on becoming stay at home parents in order to meet the needs of their children without inviting strangers into their houses. However, there are some steps parents can take to decrease the likelihood of becoming fodder for the news outlets.
Hiring a Sitter
When looking for a quality and trustworthy child care provider, it can seem like an uphill battle, as often children are the most cherished belongings, and finding someone who can be entrusted with the responsibility is no small fete. However, there are a few tips that can make the process easier.
How to locate babysitters: There are a variety of ways to go about finding sitters, from references from friends and family, to scouring the internet want ads. However, one place that often goes underutilized is the local college campus, particularly if the school offers degrees in childhood development.
Background checks: While it may seem like an invasion of privacy, it is advised to conduct an in-depth background check prior to having anyone performing any work inside your home, let alone someone who you will be leaving your child with while you are outside of the house. Background checks can be performed quickly, and for a small a fee, parents can hire a reputable company to do the screening to make sure that there are no areas of concern in the background of the person you will be inviting into your home.
Values: While many parents don’t necessarily expect the babysitters they hire to teach their children life skills, it is important to assess if the potential caregiver’s values align with yours. Values such as punctuality, discipline, use of the television, and dietary restrictions are aspects to consider when interviewing sitters (Fothergill, 2013).
References: When screening potential child care providers, it is suggested that parents ask for at least three child care references from each applicant. Some parents think that they can “read” a person, basing their judgement on the face-to-face meeting, however, looks may be deceiving. By talking with previous employers and family members of the prospective babysitter, parents can gain a better insight into the person they have before them, thus being able to make a better and well-informed decision.
Interview questions: Interviews can be a stressful situation, both for the parent and the potential babysitter. In order to reduce some of the stress, it is advised that parents prepare in advance and write down the questions they want to ask. Some questions to consider include:
- What would the sitter do in an emergency situation?
- Previous childcare experience
- Does the sitter have other qualifications, such as CPR certified?
Trial basis: Once parents have made the difficult choice of selecting a babysitter from among the number of applicants, some parenting sites suggest having the sitter come at least once while one of the parents are able to be in the house. This allows the child(ren) to meet and become accustomed to the new babysitter, while parents are able to watch how the babysitter interacts with the child.
Monitoring: It is legal in every state to make a video-only recording anywhere in your home. For Canada, this is also mostly true, but please check to be sure of the legality. Recording audio, however, is another thing, as some states do not allow audio recording without prior authorization. "Nanny Cams" (as they are called) are growing quite popular. You can actually view the live camera on your portable device (such as an IPhone) while you are out. While recording video may seem unscrupulous, it is always an option available to you if your worry is too severe to overcome. If you go this route, we recommend you inform a babysitter upfront that there will be surveillance. If she/he is a true professional, they will be ok with it. If not, then find another. But that final decision, whether or not to inform, is up to you.
Benefits of Hiring a Babysitter
The transition from stay at home parent to entrusting the care of their child with a relative stranger can be a challenge for new parents. While the reasons to hire a babysitter may vary, from returning to work and running errands, to attending family matters or a date out on the town with a friend or spouse, the benefits of hiring a babysitter are numerous.
Recent research suggests that when it comes to recognizing developmental delays or other possible psychological issues, child care workers are less likely to be biased in identifying specific behaviors that may indicate a possible developmental disorder (Raymaekers et al., 2012). Additionally, hiring a babysitter may nurture your child’s social skills, allowing them to grow up. Through developing a healthy and secure attachment, the child knows that the parent will return. Children must learn how to experience separation from the parent as well as how to interact with other people.
Dereu, M., Raymaekers, R., Warreyn, P., Schietecatte, I., Meirsschaut, M., & Roeyers, H. (2012). Can child care workers contribute to the early detection of autism spectrum disorders? A comparison between screening instruments with child care workers versus parents as informants. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 42(5), 781-796. doi:10.1007/s10803-011-1307-9
Fothergill, A. (2013). Managing childcare: The experiences of mothers and childcare workers managing childcare: The experiences of mothers and childcare workers. Sociological Inquiry, 83(3), 421-447.
Christie Hunter is registered clinical counselor in British Columbia and co-founder of Theravive. She is a certified management accountant. She has a masters of arts in counseling psychology from Liberty University with specialty in marriage and family and a post-graduate specialty in trauma resolution. In 2007 she started Theravive with her husband in order to help make mental health care easily attainable and nonthreatening. She has a passion for gifted children and their education. You can reach Christie at 360-350-8627 or write her at christie - at - theravive.com.