Should You Use Babysitting Services

You can use professional babysitting services to eliminate the hassle of tracking down the perfect babysitter. If referrals from neighbors and hours spent scouring ads have left you sitterless, turning to the pros is your best option. Many parents are turning to babysitting agency to eliminate some of the guesswork in finding a babysitter. The babysitting service works with the parents to match just the right babysitter with the family.

Babysitting Service Benefits
There are a few things you can keep in mind when deciding whether to use a babysitting agency.

  • A professional babysitting service should pre-screen all its sitters. The agency should run background checks and may also run fingerprint checks. The agency should be able to provide you with several references for each potential sitter.
  • Babysitting agencies tend to attract college students or those in need of flexible employment. To that end, many of the sitters employed by the service may have a background in education or be studying childcare or early childhood development.
  • A larger babysitting service will have many sitters to choose from. This can help you find the perfect sitter for your family. You can also easily switch to a different sitter, if the sitter doesn't mesh with your family.

Drawbacks

  • It may be hard for you to find a babysitting service in a smaller community. Most only operate in urban and suburban areas.
  • A babysitting service will charge a higher rate per hour or day. Even if you pay a fee to become a member of the service, you may still pay a higher hourly or daily rate then you would if you hired someone on your own.
  • Depending on the popularity of your sitter and how many clients she is allowed to have, you may not be able to get her when you need her.
  • Your time slot may be strictly enforced, so if you get home late you could be charged a penalty.
  • Sometimes it is hard to get a sitter from a service on short notice, unless you are a long-term customer or willing to pay an additional fee.

Be sure to check if the service actually provides the sitters or if they just match sitters with parents. Services that supply the sitters will do a full range of background checks. If you use a matching agency, you'll need to check referrals and background on your own.

Choosing a Service
Costs are inevitably higher when you use a professional service. Some services require you to pay an annual membership fee before they will match you with sitters. This fee is used to cover administrative expenses. If there's more than one babysitting service in your area, compare costs between them to get the lowest fee.

Ask about employee turnover. You want this to be low. Make sure the service carries all licenses and certifications required in your state, and ask about the level of training that sitters receive. Ask for references from existing clients, and call a few of them to find out about their experiences.

A babysitting service can be a great alternative to searching for the perfect sitter through want ads or word of mouth. You'll spend more, but you'll also save time, which may balance out the extra cost. 

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