Leaving your children in the hands of someone you don't know can be a very nervewracking experience. However, there will most likely come a time when as a parent, you will find yourself searching for a new babysitter. Whether it be a move to a new town, or your old babysitter moving on to college or a full-time job, you will need to begin the search for a new babysitter.
- Where to begin Sometimes knowing where to begin can be the hardest part of the search. Many times a sitter referred to you by friends is already completely booked by those same friends. Many communities offer babysitting certification courses. Contact these groups to see if there is a way you can get in touch with their recent graduates. This is a great way to find sitters who are responsible and serious about the level of care they give to the children they are watching.
- High school and colleges High schools and colleges are another great resource. See if any local schools have a job board where you can post an ad looking for a sitter. Many responsible students are available to work nights and weekends and are happy for a chance to find a steady source of income. Just be sure that when you post your flyer/bulletin, you are clear about what you want. Does the sitter need to have a car? Be able to cook? Be within a certain age range? Being specific up front will help you narrow down candidates from the start.
- Classifieds Classifieds are another good resource. Many local papers feature a section within their classifieds for people offering various services. Child care is usually very popular in that section. An online classified like Craig's List is also a good place to look. When contacting someone from such a public forum, be careful. Screen any candidates from these resources very carefully via phone before telling them where you live or giving them any personal information. Once you have a few candidates that you feel good about, the next step is setting up a face-to-face interview. It is best to do this in your home so you can let candidates meet your children and any pets you may have, as well as seeing the layout of your home for the first time.
- The interview The interview is your one chance to get all the information you want from a person before hiring her to be your babysitter. You'll want to be sure you're well prepared to get what you need, and not forget any important points. Be sure to have paper and pen handy with a list of all of your questions. This way you won't forget any important issues. With this in mind, there are a few areas you should be sure to cover.
- Documentation If your potential sitter claims to be CPR-certified, ask to see the certification. That applies to any babysitting courses she claims certification in as well. If the sitter is someone who will be driving your children anywhere, be sure to see her valid driver's license. This will also give you a chance to validate her address.
- Questions Be armed with a good list of questions to ask your potential sitter. If you expect her to make meals or snacks, ask her what level of food preparation she is comfortable with. Ask her what her stance on discipline is. Encourage her to share craft project ideas with you. Be sure to cover any areas of personal importance to you. If you're a vegetarian, address that. If you don't allow TV or video games, be clear. Have friends and family help you come up with questions to ask--they'll help you fill in anything you may have missed.
- Background Check One can never be too careful about whom they leave their kids with. If your children are going to be spending a lot of time with someone, it's not unreasonable to take every available avenue to make sure that person is as safe as possible. One of these avenues is a legal background check. In order to obtain a background check, you need the person's full name, address, social security number and written permission. While this may seem to be a lot to ask, it's not out of line. Anyone who is worth leaving your children with will understand that you want to be as secure as possible. There are many sites that offer background checking services, and usually cost around $5 to run a check. Most state government websites have a link to such services. In this vein, you can also do your own informal background check. Enter the candidate's name into sites like MySpace and FaceBook. Google them as well. These are common ways that many businesses now use to check on potential employees. You'd be surprised what people will put on their MySpace pages, which are a public forum.
Above all else, remember to listen to your children. Sometimes children have the best intuition out of all of us. Watch how your kids react to each of the potential sitters you meet with. If you are torn between candidates, ask them for their feedback. After all, they are the ones who have to be alone with this person in the end.