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Choosing Child Care - Individual Care Providers

Types of individual providers

  • Babysitters and mother's helpers. Babysitters provide informal in-home care for your child, such as when you need to run errands or have planned an evening out. They are usually paid hourly and maintain general household order. But they are not expected to do housekeeping chores. A mother's helper is similar to a babysitter but is someone who watches your child while you are home.
  • Relative or family friend. When you have a relative or family friend care for your child, the formality of the arrangement is up to you. Some parents need help on occasion or part-time. Others have a detailed arrangement that may or may not include payment.
  • Nanny. Usually a nanny cares for one or more children of a single family. Nannies usually have at least a high school education. Many have college degrees in childhood education or have completed a special training program. Nannies are considered employees. They may work part-time or full-time in the family's home. For more information, contact the International Nanny Association at www.nanny.org.
  • Au pair. Au pairs are child care providers from a foreign country. They speak English and typically live with a family for around 12 months. Au pairs usually are young adults (18 to 26 years of age) and often have completed a college degree or are pursuing further education. Families usually are matched with an au pair through an agency.

Selecting an individual care provider

Have a clear idea about what type of person you are looking for. It may be helpful to:

  • Write down the qualities you want in a caregiver, such as educational background and experience.
  • Look for hidden costs.
  • Consider how having a relative or family friend watch your child could affect your relationship.

There are two basic ways to find an individual child care provider:

  • Advertise. Talk with your neighbors and friends about the kind of person you are looking for. Post an advertisement in places where people in your community look for jobs or services, such as newspapers, local colleges, churches, or community bulletin boards.
  • Use an agencyagency. Some organizations will help you find child care. Many nannies and most au pairs are hired with agency help.

It's important to interview potential providers. Use a phone interview for the initial screening. Ask questions about their work experience, their references, and whether they have questions for you.

When you have narrowed down your selection, conduct a personal interview with each of your top choices. Allow enough time for the applicant to be introduced to your child.

Be sure to check the references of your top choices. Ask each reference how long he or she has known the provider, specifics of the provider's duties, and why the employment ended.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: September 14, 2012
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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