Whether it’s for an occasional date night or a big event like a holiday party, most parents would love to have a couple of babysitters they can rely on when they need childcare. Finding this sitter can feel intimidating and you might not even know where to start. Here’s a guide to finding a babysitter in the Kansas City area.
Consider What Kind of Sitter You Want
Adult or college student
They often have the most experience, but also typically charge more.
Most turn to teenagers when looking for a sitter (and for many of us, this was our first job as a teen) Consider if you want one that that can drive to and from your home or if you are OK with one one who needs a ride home from you or their parent.
Pre-teens can be great if you have one in your neighborhood whose parent can be on call as backup if needed. Make sure they are able to bring a cell phone if you don’t have a home phone that they can use (and very few of us have those these days!)
These are usually upper elementary age or tweens but they are someone who can babysit while you are also at home.
Paid Services for Finding a Sitter
Care.com is probably a service you’ve heard of or used before. All of the caregivers on its website get a background check. The site also allows you to purchase supplemental background checks (like for driving records). There is a free membership option, but it has very limited features, and doesn’t give you access to sitter references or the convenient messaging system.
Jovie (formerly Colleges Nannies and Sitters) is different in that it is a service that will match you with a sitter who can provide the care you need. You pay Jovie and it pays the sitter/nanny and takes out the appropriate taxes and fees. I was not able to get a good idea of what it charges to use the services.
Nounou Neighbors is a local service for Johnson County, Kansas. All of the sitters are personally interviewed, coached, and trained by the business owner, and they are background checked if they are 18 and older. While there is a $20 monthly fee for using the site (first month is $65, which includes a one-time registration fee) you can cancel at any time. If you sign up for a yearly membership, the registration fee is waived. You pay the sitters you hire directly, and negotiate the rate. Sitters will provide their own references.
Sittercity is very similar to Care.com in both features and costs, however background checks cost extra, and are not required of all sitters who want to post their availability on the site.
Where to Crowd Source for a Sitter
Daycare centers and preschools
If your child attends, or has attended, a daycare center or a preschool, it may be worth checking with the teachers to see if any of them offer babysitting services.
There are many ways to find a sitter on Facebook. You can start by asking your friends if they have any sitters they’ve used and recommend (sometimes you’ll get lucky and people will share their sitter’s name, sometimes not) or if there is a teenager/tween in their home that offers babysitting.
You can also join one of the many local moms Facebook groups and ask if anyone is looking for work as a babysitter or if they have a teen who might be available. There are also specific childcare-focused groups such as, Parents-Babysitters-Nannies in Kansas City, Looking for Childcare KC, Kansas City North Daycares and Babysitters, Daycares of Johnson County, and Lee’s Summit Childcare Swap.
If your neighborhood or homeowners association has a Facebook group, that is another place to look for a sitter who lives near you.
Consider asking another parent if they’d be interested in swapping babysitting services. This works especially well if your kids are close in age and play well together.
Nextdoor can also be a helpful place to find neighbors with teenagers who babysit. Most of the moderators won’t allow teens to post their services (I think this is a dumb rule), but they will allow users to ask for these services and then folks can respond.
Parent’s night out programs
These events are often offered at local gymnastics centers, dance studios, churches, and community centers. They’ll watch your kids for two to three hours, and provide food and entertainment so you can get a break.
How to Screen a Babysitter
Ask for references
Sitters should be able to provide you with the contact information for families they have worked for in the past that can vouch for them, and answer any questions you may have.
Many babysitters have taken a babysitting course and possibly an infant/child CPR or first-aid course. You can ask for them to show you their certifications so you will know if they are up to date.
Give them a short trial
If you want more assurance that the sitter will be a good fit, consider having them over to meet your child, and play with them for an hour while you run an errand or just go upstairs to read a book or watch some TV.
Paying a Babysitter
There are a couple of approaches you can take. You can ask them what they charge, or tell them up front what you are able to offer. In general I’ve found the local hourly rate ranges from $10 to $20 per hour, depending on age and experience of the sitter, and the age and number of children they are watching.
While most folks pay their babysitter in cash (and usually round up to the nearest hour or half-hour), you can also ask if they are OK with a check, Venmo or Cash App.
What to Leave For Your Sitter
I love to print out a free info sheet like this one and put it on the fridge for easy reference. Make sure you have the sitter’s cell number programmed into your phone and that they have yours. You’ll also want to share info about the nap and bedtime routine, what snacks and foods are OK to serve (and any allergies), screen time rules, and other important numbers such as a backup number if they can’t reach you, and the number for poison control.