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Jesse Weinberg/Stocksy United

Whether you’re looking for last-minute child care or a reliable nanny to watch your kids 40 hours a week, online babysitting platforms like Sittercity provide parents and caregivers with a quick and simple way to search for short and long-term care for their children.

If you’re new to online babysitting search platforms or unsure if Sittercity is right for you, read on to find out how Sittercity works, how much it costs, safety protocols, reliability, and tips to help you make the most out of the site.

Sittercity is an online platform that allows you to search for sitters and child care providers by experience, location, rates, specific skills, and more. Through the site, you can connect and message with a sitter, ask questions, book a job, and pay using your phone.

Caregivers are available for short-term, after-school, part-time, and full-time jobs, as well as live-in, daytime, overnight, and last-minute care.

Plus, Sittercity has an option for special needs care. This includes sitters and caregivers who have experience with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD, autism, diabetes, epilepsy, and more.

In addition to experience with special needs, one major perk of Sittercity is the ability to personalize your search based on the needs of your kids. For example, if you’re looking for child care and a sitter who can provide some much-needed math tutoring, you can post a job that highlights that particular quality.

Being part of Sittercity’s network also gives you access to pet sitters and senior care. Pet services include dog walkers, cat sitters, groomers, trainers, and personalized pet care.

Senior care services include senior companions, rehabilitation care, certified nursing assistants, respite care, drop-in care, medication assistance, and more.

To use Sittercity, you’ll need access to the mobile app in the iTunes or Google Play stores, or you can use their website on a computer or mobile device.

Once you sign up and create a profile, you can start posting jobs. The site offers tips on how to word the advertisement to get the most applicants. After the posting goes live, you’ll be notified of sitters who reply to the job. This sometimes happens within a few hours.

When you have a listing of applicants, you can review their details, location, pictures, experience, qualifications, and feedback, which helps to narrow the search.

If you find one that seems like a good fit, send a message through the site to secure a job. Click on an applicant’s profile to see when they are available and what they charge.

Even though all sitters and nannies go through an extensive background check before appearing on the site, many people choose to conduct a phone or email interview before finalizing the details. It’s also a good idea to check references and exchange information about rates.

Sittercity does not set rates. You and the sitter need to agree on hourly fees or wages.

Sittercity conducts a thorough screening process before they approve a sitter. To take safety one step further, they also offer the option to pay for a third-party background check on any prospective sitter.

Depending on the type of background check, rates range from $15 to $60. Plus, you can request a motor vehicle records check for any sitter.

Your correspondence with a prospective sitter is monitored for spam and inappropriate content. All members are screened through the Family Watchdog database, and sitter identities are authenticated at registration by Experian.

Sittercity also partners with leading companies like Braintree and Recurly to make sure your payments to the sitter are secure.

While not a guarantee of safety, Sittercity has a 5-star rating system for sitters. You can read reviews and ratings that parents and caregivers have given a specific sitter.

Heidi, a mom and Sittercity user, recommends the platform: “I’ve been telling people, whenever it comes up, that it’s really been a lifesaver for me. I’m a single mom, and the whole process is set up so that I can trust the person that I hire.”

The basic membership with Sittercity is free. This allows you a partial view of sitter profiles and some job posting abilities, but it’s limited. You can also sort and filter based on your needs and requirements. The free membership only gives you access to the sitters that respond to your job posting.

If you want access to advanced features, you’ll need to sign up for a premium account. Some of the features that come with a premium membership include the ability to contact the sitters directly, access to all sitter profiles on the site, the ability to run background checks, and more.

The cost of living and minimum wage laws in each state can influence hourly babysitting and nanny rates. According to Sittercity’s data, the average national hourly rate for babysitters in 2020 is $16.50 per hour.

Being able to access Sittercity for free before you purchase a membership is a plus. This gives you time to explore the site, get familiar with the features, and even hire a few sitters without adding to your costs. If you like what they offer, and want more, then opt for one of the premium memberships.

The Sittercity app and website are reliable, but they cannot guarantee the reliability of the sitter. Some users report no issues, while others have had sitters cancel at the last minute or fail to show up at all.

Corrie, a mom and small business owner, says she has always relied on child care. “The day care I normally used had limited hours, but with the care that I’ve found now through Sittercity, it’s much more accommodating to our schedule,” she says.

And the best part? In addition to caring for her son, the sitter also helps with so much more. “It’s an amazing relief to know that I can get a little bit of help — more than just making sure my son is happy and safe,” Corrie says.

For Heidi, the professional and positive attitudes of the sitters really made an impression. “They come on time and ready to work, and if I have a suggestion of something to do that day, they’re always happy to fit in to what our family’s needs and wants are.”

One quick Google search of “babysitting apps” can result in pages of options. With so many to choose from, you might be wondering how these other services compare to Sittercity?

First, it’s important to point out that most of these sites and apps are reputable, reliable, and trustworthy. Several require extensive screenings of the applicants before bringing them on as sitters.

They also offer the option to pay for a background check on any applicant. That said, some sites like SeekingSitters includes an extensive background screening in the one-time sign-up fee.

When comparing Sittercity to other popular babysitting apps and services like UrbanSitter, SeekingSitters, and Care.com, one of the first things to consider is cost.

All three of the sites mentioned have an option to sign-up for free and several payment/subscription plans, with SeekingSitters requiring a one-time sign-up fee.

Convenience, ease of use, and reliability are all fairly high with the three services. Care.com does offer more comprehensive features if you’re looking for services other than child care. Sittercity does have pet sitting and senior care, but Care.com is known more as a one-stop shopping for all kinds of care.

Other than a few minor differences and navigation tools, Sittercity, UrbanSitter, Care.com, and SeekingSitters all offer parents and caregivers a simple solution to finding care.

If you’re ready to try Sittercity, here are some tips for getting the most out of the service.

  • Always review caregiver profiles and specifically look for experience, education, certifications, and hourly rate. Consider verifying any information they provide.
  • Run background checks. These are not automatic with a subscription, so you need to request and pay for this service.
  • Read parent reviews on caregivers.
  • Limit initial contact with the sitter by only using the Sittercity app to communicate. Avoid giving your last name, personal email address, home address, phone number, place of work, or other private information until you are ready to move forward. Even then, only give out the necessary information.
  • Conduct a phone interview with a potential sitter before offering them the job. If that goes well, ask about an in-person interview. Ideally, this should take place at a mutual meeting location like a coffee shop.
  • Let your kids meet the potential sitter. You can observe a lot in a short amount of time.
  • Start with the one-month plan to make sure the site is a good fit. You can always cancel at the end of the month.
  • Monitor the relationship to make sure it’s a good fit. This includes asking your child questions about their time with the sitter and checking in frequently while you’re gone.

Sittercity is an app and website you can use with a computer or a mobile device such as a phone or tablet. The service helps parents and caregivers locate temporary and long-term care providers, as well as pet sitters and senior care.

Like other online babysitting sites, Sittercity requires a strict screening process and offers background checks for a fee. Finally, if you’re still not sure you want to join, check out the free plan before signing up for one of the premium membership options.

By doing a little bit of due diligence yourself, we think you’ll find Sittercity to be a great way to find child care.