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Where can I find a babysitter?
Word of mouth is a good way to gather names of teens and adults in your area who like to babysit. Ask your friends, neighbors, relatives, fellow parents, and your child’s doctor if they know of any trustworthy candidates. Also, some urban areas have a nonprofit childcare referral service — ask fellow parents if such a service exists in your area.
Or try calling the student employment service at your local college or high school and posting fliers at gyms, youth centers, churches, or synagogues. You could also place an ad in the newspaper or on a local online bulletin board like Craigslist and then interview prospective candidates. (Always ask for lots of references in such cases.)
Some people have good luck tacking signs on bulletin boards at stores and restaurants around the neighborhood, though this is certainly riskier because you never know who you’ll get.
Another route is to check the yellow pages for a babysitting agency — a good source for prescreened sitters. Agency employees are usually older and more experienced than your average teen. That added wisdom may cost you a bit more, though.
There are also a number of online services that connect parents and potential sitters. These can be a great way to find college students and other local young people looking for work.
Services may be free or may charge a fee for posting a parent profile in which you specify what you’re looking for, and they maintain databases, searchable by zip code, of babysitters looking for employment. Allow enough time to be able to post your profile, screen responses, and check references.
Some of the websites include:
- New Au Pair.com
Note: Some of these sites are geared to parents looking for nannies or au pairs, but they’re set up to locate part-time babysitters, too.
These online services are less expensive than using an agency. Some are free, and others have fees range from $40 to $400, depending on how long you keep your listing active and the type of service you want. They usually offer helpful guidelines and forms in addition to your listing and may also provide background checks, often for an additional fee. Some services waive fees or offer discounts to build traffic on their sites, so check back from time to time.
Alternatively, you might try persuading another parent to swap babysitting time with you. If you take turns watching each other’s kids, you won’t have to pay a sitter, and you’ll know the person watching your baby is definitely experienced and reliable.
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