The childcare industry is filled with a wide variety of options that can easily leave parents feeling overwhelmed.
From learning the difference between a babysitter, nanny, and au pair to finding a qualified person AND a great fit for your unique family, to figuring out how to run a background check on your sitter or nanny, I get that finding the right option for you can seem tough. I have seen some parents literally type, find ‘childcare near me’ in a Google search. Surely there’s a smarter way!
When evaluating the best childcare option for you, there is so much to consider. The most important priority, of course, is the well-being and proper care of your child. This is especially important since childhood years are key for developing brain functions, reasoning, and social skills. The right childcare can aid in, and even advance, your child’s development—and (to many parents’ fear) the wrong childcare can hinder it.
So how do we find outstanding childcare without depending on a rote ‘childcare near me’ search? What tools and strategies can we use to not only connect with fantastic childcare providers but to vet them as well?
Outline Qualities of Your Ideal Sitter
The best way to start your childcare search is by identifying your needs. As a former nanny, I often arrived at interviews where the parent simply hadn’t thought about exactly what they wanted. Save yourself some time and energy by starting a list of your babysitting needs.
First, start with your schedule. Choose the exact days and times that you need support from a care provider so that you don’t end up interviewing those who don’t fit your schedule. I have seen this happen so many times! Parents invite a fantastic sitter over, they chat, meet the kids, and everyone is so happy. Then, the parent states they need part-time care and the sitter is only looking for a full-time position. Don’t let this happen to you—ensure that the time commitment is transparent in your job posting or initial outreach.
Second, think about your child’s age range, and what level of care that age demands. A sitter who specializes in infants is going to bring a very different skillset to the table than a middle school provider. This is a crucial step in deciding who will be the right babysitter for you.
This leads us to experience. What skills do you need your caregiver to provide? Every sitter should at least have the following:
- CPR certification, or similar safety training
- Knowledge of nutrition and allergic reaction prevention
- Behavioral management skills
- The ability to turn day-to-day actions into teachable moments
With these baseline skills, even new sitters should have success working with your family.
Even if you specify your exact needs in a job posting, it is still important to thoroughly review each application to find the perfect fit. I know that when I look for childcare near me or for other parents, I often notice that while caregivers may be qualified, not everyone is going to be a perfect personality fit for every family.
This is why preparing a solid interview process is important and may require more steps than you’d think. Consider these key points and babysitter interview questions when planning your interview process:
- You will probably get a TON of responses to your job posting. Narrow this down to a top-five candidates list based on skill set and personality. Some amazing caregivers may be newer to babysitting, but will still stand out—trust your gut here!
- From those five prospects, set up phone interviews. These interviews should be casual, quick conversations to glean a little more insight on who it is you may be working with. Set a 15-minute limit and put together a list of general questions.
- Once again, trust your gut! Who do you connect with while you are on the phone? Invite the top two over for an in-person interview. Make sure the kids are there. Ultimately, while sitters need to be qualified on paper, they also have to be someone your children will love.
- During the in-person interview, dive deeper with more detailed questions asking for specific examples from the babysitter’s experience. For example, ask the candidates some babysitter interview questions like, “Tell me about a time when you had to deal with a behavioral issue with a child. How did you handle that situation? What techniques did you use to address the problem and find a solution?”
Once the interview process is complete, you should have a pretty clear idea of your prospects. After you make this decision, it’s time to run some background checks.
While formal tools to process background checks exist, there are also some actions you can take to ensure that your new babysitter is honest about who they are. First, ask for their full name and have them confirm they are old enough to legally work in the United States. Then, ask for a few references who can confirm their past babysitting experience—and be sure to give those references a call. Ask them to confirm the sitter’s name and experience.
With the sitter's permission, you can also take a look at social media profiles. I recommend LinkedIn since this is a more professional social media option. No need to judge your sitter based on the fun they may be having on their time off on Instagram!
Every online background check resource is different. Check out a few options and ensure that the one you choose checks the babysitter’s driving record, criminal history, and the National Sex Offender List, at minimum.
Save Yourself Time and Use Nanno
I hope that these resources help you find the best childcare fit for your family. This process may feel like it takes up quite a bit of your time, but nothing is more important than the safety, well-being, and development of your kids.
If you want to streamline the search, consider starting your search for a childcare provider on Nanno. Nanno’s network of nannies and babysitters extends to most metro U.S. regions, so there’s sure to be a number of options near you. All the babysitters we work with are fully vetted and clear an extensive series of background checks just to be listed on the app. You can be assured that whoever you choose is more than qualified to take care of your little ones!
Take the stress and work out of finding that perfect babysitter with Nanno. Learn more and sign up today!