LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) - For some, it's the most important job they'll ever have: being a good parent. That responsibility comes with many challenges, questions, situations.
One of the most pressing concerns is finding the right babysitter.
Stroller Strides of Little Rock is exactly what Jean Weaver was looking for when she moved to Little Rock.
“One, I just wanted to get out of the house. Two, I just wanted to meet other moms,” she said.
The fitness program allows moms to workout and entertain their babies. But Weaver realized at some point that she would need a babysitter.
“Since I’m not from here, most of the moms that I know they’re like, ‘Oh, I use my in-laws. I use my parents.’ And I, well, I don’t have that luxury, “ said Weaver.
Weaver has a toddler and a newborn, so she knew finding a sitter would be a daunting task.
“With all the stories going on you just don’t know,” she said. “It’s just hard to trust people.”
Annie Hogate is a mother of two who shares Weaver’s sentiment.
“It’s just scary to have somebody come into your home and take care of your children and trust that everything is going to be okay,” said Hogate.
Hogate said she typically asks her family to watch the kids, but if they're not available she doesn't have a regular sitter to turn to.
“Now it's gotten to the point where I'm scared because it's been so long that I haven't gotten a babysitter, I don't know what to look for," she said.
CHECK EARLY CHILDHOOD PROGRAMS
That's when childcare experts, like Tonya Williams with the Department of Human Services, come in handy.
She says it's best to start early when looking for a safe, reliable sitter. The first step is to contact local early childhood programs.
“They’ve already had a criminal background check, they have CPR training they have first aid training,” said Williams. “So there's already been a vetting process and they love children they enjoy working with children."
ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS
Williams says referrals from friends and family are another good option, but it's also key to have a good list of interview questions.
“It’s not just, ‘Tell me about yourself?’ It's, ‘How would you handle a safety situation? What if a smoke alarm goes off, how would you handle that? What's the worst experience you've had babysitting?’"
After you’ve chosen a few good candidates and speak with their references, she says the next step is having them meet your child “so that you can see them, how they interact with your child, how your child interacts and responds to them."
PAY ATTENTION TO RED FLAGS
Mostly, be aware of red flags.
“If they're paying more attention to their phone while they're talking to you…disinterest…those would be kind of red flags to me if they're in a hurry,” Williams advised.
UTILIZE APPS AND WEBSITES
Apps and websites now give parents a plethora of options to choose from, so it's no surprise that parents also turn to these resources and even social media for help.
“Facebook has helped a lot…we'll say, ‘Hey does anyone have a babysitter that's available this weekend?’,” said Weaver.
“I've heard about care.com. I've looked at it but I haven't actually used it before," said Hogate.
When it comes to online sources, many agree that it depends on each parents level of comfort, but it's crucial to do your homework to ensure you're connecting with a reputable company.
“Did they have to go through a vetting process, did they have a background check, did they do an application did they have to meet certain qualifications?" said Williams.
KEEP THE KIDS AT HOME
Lastly, Williams said she prefers parents have their sitter watch their children at their home, in a safe, familiar environment. And, while it may seem like a stressful time, she urges parents not to rush the process and always trust their intuition.
Arkansas Human Services Childcare search, click here.
Babysitter interview questions, click here.
Screening babysitting job candidates guide, click here.