Child care experts say more parents finding sitters online

INDIANAPOLIS - Child care experts say they’re seeing an increase in parents finding babysitters, nannies and other caregivers online using popular websites such as care.com, sittercity.com, care4hire.com and even Craigslist.

"The Internet is much easier, and we're a society that's seeking care through technology," said Lisa Henley, of the Indiana Association for Child Care Resource and Referral. "It works with their schedule."

Henley said while finding a caregiver online can be quick and easy, parents need to understand babysitters and nannies are not regulated by the state.

Indiana does not regulate or license caregivers until there are six or more unrelated children in the home.

"Child care is very difficult for a lot of folks to understand, the complexity of it," said Henley. "There are many sites parents can go to for that Internet search, and many of them are not consistent across the board. I think parents can get confused."

Henley said many parents assume their child's care is regulated in some fashion.

WRTV found some websites, such as Sittercity.com, screen applicants using sex offender registries and offer background checks to parents seeking care.

"Sittercity currently offers three different background checks through LexisNexis: standard background checks, enhanced background check and motor vehicle records check," said spokeswoman Christine Reimert.

More info: http://www.sittercity.com/help/detail.html?help_id=76

Child care experts say the responsibility is largely on parents to ensure their child is getting safe and responsible care.

"You should spend lots of quality time with the caregiver before you even leave them with your child," said Mindy Bennett, of Child Care Answers. "Perhaps go work in an office in another room so you can hear what's going on."

Bennett also suggested checking references, doing a criminal background check and checking for signs of stress in your child.

"You should not necessarily stick to the time you say you're going to come home," said Bennett. "Come home early and just see what happens."

Bennett said parents can count diapers to monitor how many times the child is changed during the course of the day.

Child care experts recommend having an open-door policy with a child's caregiver, which may include recording at some point.

"If they're doing well, they shouldn't have a problem with that oversight," said Henley. "You need some oversight over what they're doing during the time care is being provided."

Tips from experts when hiring a caregiver:

-Do background checks

-Check references

-Spend time with the caregiver before leaving the child alone

-Come home early or have a family member stop by in the middle of the day

-Count the number of diapers before leaving and when getting home

-Discuss how to care for the child, such as sleeping and eating techniques, as well as how to handle crying

-Monitor the child for changes in behavior

-Trust instincts

-Discuss having an open-door policy with the caregiver that may include stopping by or recording

More Resources:

Child Care Aware brochure -- http://media.theindychannel.com/docs/child_care_brochure.pdf