Sheriffs recently arrested a babysitter in Sarasota, Florida on charges of lewd and lascivious conduct toward one of his young clients. We spotted the story in the office and I wanted to make sure I shared tips on sitter safety. When it comes to our kids, you can never be too careful! Here's what you need to know to make sure you hire a caregiver that's perfect for your family and will protect your children.
Insist on an interview
This should go without saying, but you always want to meet potential babysitters before you hire them. If you can, don't set up the first meeting at your house and don't have your children present—get together at a neutral site like a café or bookstore, instead.
If you like them after one interview, then it's okay to bring your kids into the process. Have them talk with the potential sitters before they start work. It'll help your children get to know them and you can get great feedback from your kids—they're very perceptive.
Do your homework
Care.com Premium Members have access to free background checks when they research caregivers. But don't stop there—if you're looking at a sitter's profile, check their references, too. You'll want to know what other families and past employers have to say.
If the sitter doesn't list references, don't skip this step—ask them! Someone who is well qualified and safe will have nothing to hide. Check and make sure their references give glowing recommendations. Ask tough questions, too, to see if they suggest areas of improvement for your potential babysitter. If you still have doubts after talking to their old employers, keep looking until you find the right person.
Trust your instincts
You might still be worried after you've had face-to-face interviews and have checked all the references. Maybe you can't put your finger on it, but you're just not completely comfortable. If that's the case, then trust your own instincts. Wait to find a caregiver until you are totally, 100% comfortable with your decision.
Trust your children, too. If you find your children regularly get upset, angry, or afraid of being left with a babysitter, then listen to them. Most kids naturally miss Mom and Dad, at first, but if their emotions go beyond, you may want to consider finding another caregiver—one you and your children are comfortable with. If your kids are older, have regular conversations with them about how things are going with their caregivers. They'll appreciate knowing you're open and easy to talk to.
After you hire a sitter
The need to run safety checks doesn’t end as soon as your new babysitter starts. It's our responsibility as parents to keep making sure that our children are safe. You may want to return home unannounced or earlier than planned from time to time, so you can see the sitter interacting with your kids when they're not expecting you. Have your neighbors keep their eye out for anything out of the ordinary, too.
Your search for care isn't something to take lightly. When you're looking to hire a babysitter—or any caregiver—take the time to really get to know the person you're putting in charge of your children. Check their references and work history. And if something doesn't feel right, keep looking. Our children are depending on us to keep them safe.