Online resources can help parents find child care in a pinch

Kellie Carrarra

Office parties. Impromptu cocktails. Adult-only get-togethers. Essential shopping that must be done alone. It’s all on the calendar this month, all to be done sans children.

Don’t have on-call childcare? Not equipped with a regular babysitter?

Quit stressing – here are tried and endorsed area resources to help parents find a qualified sitter at a moment’s notice. And that’s something to be merry about.

Sittercity.com

www.sittercity.com is such an easy site to find a sitter. Simply enter your ZIP code and lists of sitters (baby and pet), pop up. You’ll see pictures, profiles and distances in mileage from your house. The site itself has a four-step screening process to find sitters, gives those looking for a sitter free access to background checks as well as sitter video interviews. Subscription plans start at $9.99 per month.

Parentsinapinch.com

www.parentsinapinch.com connects professional Boston-area babysitters to those in need. Not only do they provide previously screened child-care providers for a night out, they also provide emergency, sick and back-up care. Rates are based on an hourly fee to the caregiver, plus a placement fee based on their membership status with the company.

Care.com

www.care.com is another site that puts parents and sitters together in a matter of seconds based on ZIP code. Complete with sitter photos, profiles and distances from your area, this site is simple to use. A membership login is required and access is determined on by fee. Limited access is free.

Careerjet.com

www.careerjet.com is an employment site, but it works to find a sitter. Just enter what you want: babysitter and where: town, state and click find. Chances are you’ll locate a sitter. You can contact the sitter directly via e-mail.

Momspace.com

www.momspace.com is not only a site to find sitters or nannies, but more of a place where moms help moms with everything. It provides local information and recommendations quickly and easily. From automotive to travel, to finding a nanny, this is a great resource that breaks everything down by area.

In addition to these sites, local town offices often allow teens to list themselves for hire. Simply call your own town office and ask for names and recommendations.

Other popular sites:

www.thesitterloop.com

www.collegehelpers.com

www.craigslist.com  

Kellie Carrarra is a freelance writer from Franklin.

5 Important Safety Tips

1. Follow your instincts when hiring a sitter. If a bell goes off that says, "This won't work,” follow it. In the end, nothing is worth the safety of our kids. If you are unsure if you should leave your child with someone, don't. Better to miss your social plans or a day of work.

2. Check references and always be willing to have the person come over for a mother's helper sort of visit for a "meet and greet.”

3. Keep in mind that screening and background checks for these services really only hunt for criminality. Although important, it does not speak to someone's ability to care for your kids.

4. Quality child care is expensive - even for a teen you'll be paying $10/hour and more if you have more kids. Don't bargain hunt when it comes to your kids.

5. Consider those online sites that have a national reputation who have some news reports available. Those tend to be the ones with the best track records and legitimacy. Avoid the "mom and pop" sites and sites you've never heard of. When in doubt, Google the site and see if it comes up or check the Better Business Bureau for reports of problems.

Source: Dr. Gwenn O’Keeffe, Parents and Kids medical adviser.