Wednesday, April 22, 2009

15 questions to ask a prospective babysitter

I had a minor child care crisis this week, and it made me realize that I really, really need to step up to the plate and find back-up childcare already. My youngest kids' school and day care were closed, my husband was away, I had to work, and there was no baby sitter on call. I scraped by (it's challenging to work from home with little kids running around, but it can be done -- single parents do it, and more, all the time). But I wished I had taken the time to thoroughly vet a few baby sitting candidates months ago.

What have I been waiting for? It's not that I don't trust anyone with my children... frankly, I've been procrastinating because I haven't wanted to deal with the interview process.

Yes, the interview process. Whether you're looking for a teenage "mother's helper" to play with the kids for an hour after school or a full-time live-in nanny to hold down the fort while you're at work, you have to rely on more than a notecard pinned to a corkboard at the supermarket. When I was a babysitter, good recommendations and an up-to-date CPR certification were more than enough to get a child caring job. But now? Not anymore.

So, I decided to tackle the issue via the Child Caring blog, where I'm offering up a set of 15 questions to ask a babysitter, and asking readers to provide a few of their own.
If you're looking for a full-time nanny, I've got a great checklist of questions to ask over at Work It, Mom! If you prefer to go through an agency that's done some of the screening for you, is offering a fee-free three-day weekend starting in the morning on Friday (April 24), during which you can access their database of pre-screened caregivers for free, search for providers (child care, pet sitters, housekeepers, and tutors) by location, post jobs, contact providers, check references, schedule interviews, and even run a free background check.

Once you've found a few prospective babysitters, you still have to interview them yourself. Here are 15 questions to start with; tailor them (and add others) to fit your family:

1.) What are your qualifications?

2.) Is there an age-range with which you are most comfortable?

3.) Can you provide references?

4.) Will you give you permission to conduct an extensive background check?

5.) Do you know first aid or have any emergency training or other certifications?

6.) Do you have children of your own? How about younger siblings?

7.) What are your interests? Your pet peeves?

8.) Have you ever had to discipline a child? Why? How did you handle the situation?

9.) What would you do in an emergency? (List different scenarios.)

10.) What is the most difficult situation you've ever been in with a child? What was the outcome?

11.) Do you like pets? (If you have any)

12.) Do you have your own car? (If so, check his or her driving record.)

13.) Will you pick my child up at school if I need you to?

14.) What sort of a time committment are you looking for, day-to-day? How about in the long term?

15.) Are there any questions you have for me to answer?

1 comment:

Dawn Philips said...

You can also use sites such as tippleBox ( to find caregivers for your kids. It's free to use and you can search through profiles of babysitters in your neighborhood.