Choosing and Having an In-Home Care Provider: a 6 step process
Step 2: Where to look and the search
Once you have determined which sort of care provider you are looking for it is time to begin looking.
You can start by writing an ad, even if you don’t plan on posting a formal advertisement, writing down what and who you are looking for will help make things clear, if later you decide to post an ad or are using a referral service you will have your needs already written down and ready to post or share. On the other hand you may consider writing a list of what you don’t want; feel free to be honest with this list since only you will see it. If you are in a parenting team make time to go over your needs together. If your child or children are of speaking age get their input, your 2 year-old may ask for a mermaid in which case you’ll have to make room for disappointment but on the other hand that request can be interpreted as a wish for someone with a familiarity with folklore and children’s literature which is valid search criteria.
When making either list, consider questions such as:
- Would you prefer that your care provider be of the same faith or nationality as your family?
- Are you open to the idea of a manny (male nanny) or male babysitter?
- Are there factors you would be willing to work around for the right candidate such as making a few schedule changes, postponing your care start date, or hiring a cycle commuter when you had originally wanted someone with a driver’s license?
- Are you open to the idea of a care provider bringing their own child? If you are open to that, do you prefer their child be the same age as your own?
- Considering that in Portland many rely on bicycle and Trimet for transportation, if your home is inaccessible by bus or bike would you be willing to work around your caregiver’s transportation needs or do you require that they have their own transportation?
- How much are you willing to spend? You don’t have to know a specific hourly rate, just have an idea ahead of time of what your cap is.
- If you are searching for a postpartum doula do you prefer that they be certified through a specific organization such as CAPPA (Childbirth And Postpartum Professional Association) or DONA?
- If a care provider is uncomfortable with large dogs would you be willing to take Fido to doggy daycare during care time?
The more specific your job description and search criteria, the less time you will spend screening and interviewing candidates who may not meet your needs.
Ok, you now know exactly who you are looking for, what you want them to do, how much you can afford to spend, and when you want them to start, amongst many other facts regarding your potential in-home care provider; now to get the word out.
Babysitters, nannies, and mother’s helpers can be found in your community by word of mouth, local ad postings on community boards, via online sites such as craigslist.org, sittercity.com, or care.com, or through a local nanny agency which can be found by a simple google search. The benefit of using a nanny agency or care provider search website is that these organized communities offer screening services and background checks (more about background checks in next week’s article). Postpartum doulas and collectives will post service information at birthing centers and baby/mama boutiques as well as other community spaces. CAPPA and DONA certified postpartum doulas in your area can be found through the organization websites.
I have known families to write an ad and email it to past nannies, sitters, and other parents as a means of searching within their network. Consider also parks, libraries, and other community areas. Most reputable nannies are snatched up the moment they become available so don’t be afraid to strike conversation with a nanny you may see regularly at a park or other community area, she or he may be becoming available soon or may know a nanny who is searching; just be careful to respect that they are working and their first priority is the care of the child they are working with. Some families have found it beneficial to create a calling card to easily share their contact information in the chance that they meet the perfect caregiver in line at the grocery store or at a restaurant; it never hurts to be prepared.
Next week’s article will be the third in this 6 part series on choosing and having an in-home care provider.
Return next week for Step 3: Interviewing
Read last week’s Step 1: Who are you searching for?
Sears, William M.D. & Martha R.N.. The Baby Book. New York: Little Brown & Company, 1993.
About the author
Celina Wigle is a Postpartum Doula and Infant Multiples Relief Nanny. Since 2000 she has provided care for over 60 families as a nanny, babysitter, mother’s helper, teacher, and doula. She received a degree in writing from PSU in 2006. More about her background and services can be viewed at www.celinawigle.com.