With the shifts in the broader economy, changes to the ways we think about ‘work’, and the constant adjustment to what constitutes ‘off time’ in our lives it has become more important than ever to have reliable ad-hoc childcare for our families. When taking time away from the constant onslaught of inbound emails, piled up messages, ‘urgent’ action items and requests we can often forget that the most important aspect of our lives is beyond the 9 to 5 (or the more modern 5 to 9).
Finding a reliable nanny or babysitter for your family used to mean pouring over recommendations from friends and colleagues while borrowing time from family and neighbors and just hoping the bases were covered: having a caregiver for Mondays and Wednesdays but no later than 4PM, finding someone to pitch-in until after work hours, filling the gaps in the remaining days of the week with a neighbor or friend of the family, and god forbid someone’s schedule shifts and you’re left in the lurch. The whole system goes into chaos with a single reschedule or late day at the office! At a certain point between handling payment, scheduling, transportation, booking availability and actually finding the right fit it seemed as though finding a babysitter was a full time job unto itself!
Thankfully, as technology has improved so many aspects of our lives, the era of on demand childcare has leapt forward into the 21st century— leaving the paper calendar and highlighted shift ‘assignments’, checkbooks and carrying cash for Susie down the block, and even manually calling references and background checking firmly in the past where it belongs. Now the marketplace offers app-based solutions with integrated payment platforms, background checking, automation features, scheduling systems, and more. Some of the top childcare providers and more than a few startups have dipped their toes into the growing $54 billion childcare industry to offer innovative solutions to what is perhaps one of the most baseline problems facing American families: who can help care for my child? Let’s explore some of the biggest players in the industry.
Founded in 2006, Care.com was one of the first babysitting companies to hit the scene with a streamlined approach to end-to-end childcare. Unfortunately for most, the model is subscription based at the core, meaning that to schedule interviews or even have access to deeper-dives into potential carers’ qualifications and background one must pony up their monthly fee.
On the bright side, their sizable database of childcare professionals means finding the right match for you and your family may be easier than ever before; provided one can avoid the pitfalls of potential scammers and even some reported horror stories found among their roster of previous users. While Care.com provides a huge database, it seems a significant function of payment, vetting, and verification is all on you.
Sittercity joined the in-home care field in 2001 and expanded their product offering beyond babysitters and nannies to include pet sitting, senior care, and even housesitting to identify their brand as a ‘one stop shop’ for in-home care services. The ability to filter by the style and schedule of carer needed while also offering a background checking service at an additional fee does make their platform comprehensive, if a little busy in practical use. With another rather pricey subscription model attached, some Sittercity users found the value of Sittercity’s offering to be lacking compared to alternatives. The onus of background checking and vetting specifically being both placed on the user’s end opposed to a function of the platform was problematic.
Call Emmy is a free all-in-one babysitting app that allows you to book a sitter near you on demand. All babysitters must be thoroughly background checked, and must pass a skills test and a psychological test to be on the app. You can filter sitters to see those who have qualifications you need. Whether you are looking for sitters with special needs experience, CPR and first-aid certification, or can speak different languages fluently. Then you can put together “shortlists” of babysitters who seem like a good fit for your family. When you need a babysitter, you can send your booking request to your own shortlist or to all available sitters in your area.
Call Emmy has thousands of babysitters nationwide, available on-demand, with highest concentrations in major cities but with sitters in almost every metro area in the U.S.
Call Emmy also comes with a built-in chat feature so you can easily talk with your sitter throughout the booking process, and sitters can send pictures and updates throughout the engagement.
Finally, Call Emmy’s StayCare feature offers an affordable option for finding babysitters and nannies for longer-term arrangements.
The Nanny League
The Nanny League is a website developed to help families find college-educated nannies specializing in different aspects of childcare. They have nannies focused on particular concentrations such as special needs experts, newborn care specialists, and private tutors. The benefits of the platform seem somewhat clear; college educated nannies and babysitters bring a measure of trustworthiness and reputation to the platform, but also bring some steep cost alongside it with The Nanny League being one of the more expensive platforms on the marketplace. On the bright side, their database of nannies, tutors, newborn care providers, personal assistants and special needs carers really covers all the bases for providing care to your family.
The Nanny League’s model is focused more on long-term placements (or the odd temporary placement) due to their structure. A family can meet with and trial a potential nanny/carer for up to 24 hours before committing, and their fee structure engages after a successful placement is made. While this can be a boon to those looking for long-term care, it’s likely not the best match for those needing more ad hoc services.
Finding the right placement and carer for your family has never been easier than with today’s modern technology and tools to handle the hardest part— finding a match.