Disclosure: I received a credit from UrbanSitter to try out their services to review. All opinions are my own.
As a parent, finding trusted childcare is one of the biggest challenges faced. How do you find someone reliable, good with kids, trustworthy, and affordable? Even if you find sitters, you may lose them over time due to natural attrition. Perhaps you’ve used “word of mouth” to find sitters, and this has worked out. But if the sitter is not available, what do you do for backup? And if you need more permanent care like a nanny, you can use a nanny agency but what if you can’t afford the high fees?
The UrbanSitter Difference
One solution is to use an online site like UrbanSitter that vets and curates caregivers in your community. UrbanSitter leverages the power of online social recommendations to create a more efficient, personalized, lower cost, and trusted solutions for childcare. Unlike other online childcare search sites, UrbanSitter’s website and app allows parents to book a caregiver in real time, see recommendations from other parents in their area, and view the sitter’s performance rating. You can even pay the sitter via credit card through the app.
With a database of over 382,000 sitters in over 60 cities, parents are likely to find a trusted caregiver through UrbanSitter. When conducting a search, try applying filters such as proximity to your zip code and maximum rate per hour you’re willing to spend. You can filter by language preferences, experience with special needs children, and experience by age group (infants, toddlers, school-aged). If you’re looking for a sitter who has a car and is willing to drive your kids, you can filter for these as well.
One of the best features is the option to search for sitters that parents in your child’s school or organization have used. For example, simply type in your child’s school. A list of sitters that other parent’s from the school have used will appear. You can then check each candidate’s reviews, experience, and if the sitter was rehired by a family. Another great feature is the ability to book in real-time. Have a last minute need for a sitter? Use the app to send a booking request directly to the caregiver of your choice.
Vetting Potential Caregivers
Hiring a babysitter or nanny inherently involves an aspect of blind trust. It’s impossible to know everything about a person. However, there are things you can do to thoroughly vet candidates and provide yourself with peace of mind. Just like for any job, you may need to search through many people before finding someone who’s a good fit. Those in the database are a reflection of the real world, so you may contact potential sitters, and it’s possible some may not respond to even decline. The silver lining is then you know this candidate is not for you, and that makes you one step closer to finding the person who will be the right fit.
If you post a job, be very specific. List the ages of your children, the expectations (make dinner, put kids to bed, etc.). For example, if you want a sitter who is local within 5 miles of you, then state this or else you may get replies from sitters 20 or 30 miles away. When you do find interested sitters, do due diligence and talk to them in person or on the phone. You can tell a lot about someone by how they respond to your questions.
UrbanSitter puts all sitters through a standardized profile and identity check prior to gaining an active status on their site. All UrbanSitter caregivers are automatically checked for authenticity and manually reviewed by team members. If by chance anyone violates the company’s terms and service agreement, UrbanSitter will take appropriate action to resolve the issue.
Many UrbanSitter candidates voluntarily go through a background check because they know parents may be more likely to hire them. Background checks are top-level and include a criminal history component. UrbanSitter uses a third-party service called Checkr that references the sitter’s name against their Social Security Number and is then checked against the National Sex Offender Registry and Multi-State Criminal records. Sitters with clear background checks will have a badge displayed on their profile for 12 months.
Parents looking for a more in-depth look at a potential candidate’s background have the option to purchase an upgraded background check or driving record check on a sitter they’re considering hiring.
Pricing and Payment
Parents can post a job or search for caregivers for free. You don’t pay until you contact a sitter, and you can contact as many candidates as you like. UrbanSitter offers three pricing plans for parents looking for sitters.
- 1 Month Access Pass (Pay As You Go) – $34.95 good for 30 days
- Monthly Membership (Get Your First Month Free) – $19.95 per month, cancel anytime
- Annual Membership – $99.95/year (save $139/year)
Once you find a caregiver, you can reserve him or her in real-time. Select a date and time and click on the “Book” button. The sitter receives your message and can accept or decline. If you don’t feel ready to book right away, simply message the caregiver through the app to ask questions or schedule an interview.
When the job is booked and then completed, UrbanSitter will send you a summary of the hours, rate, and payment amount due. UrbanSitter offers the convenience of paying by credit card. If the summary looks fine, then simply tap a button to pay the sitter via credit card. If you prefer not to pay by credit card, then just pay the sitter in person at the end of the job.
UrbanSitter provides a database of local caregivers to fit parent’s short-term and long-term needs. Use it to find a sitter for a date night or to just run errands. If you need after-school care or a full-time nanny, UrbanSitter offers candidates with these availabilities, too. Finding the right caregiver for your children is so important, and UrbanSitter can help.
Image credits: UrbanSitter