June 3rd, 2019
Article by Naomi Goldman: First 5 intern and Cal Poly senior graduating in June 2019.
It is becoming harder and harder to find reliable, affordable child care and is just as difficult for caregivers to find secure, well-paid jobs. Fortunately, many companies are trying to fix this issue.
There's an app for that!
In the 21st century things are changing rapidly. Now via your smartphone you can order food to your door while staying in pajamas, find a date in a matter of minutes, and get rides by strangers. But what about finding child care? Or a child care job? Gone are the days of searching the bulletin boards at local coffee shops, now there are many apps for that:
Easy to Use:
All have a similar style when it comes to use. With slight variations, one simply sets-up a profile which is like a mini-resume. People seeking out caregivers post a description of what they need and their pay rate. For the people looking to provide care, their profile shows information such as years of experience, availability, and abilities (e.g. driving or CPR Certification). From there, if it’s a “match” in the case of some apps, or simply if either side likes the other, communication via the app can begin.
It Costs How Much?!:
Unlike the coffee shop-model, there is a cost associated with using these apps or websites. All are a pay-to-play subscription model. You can usually browse listings and apply for free, but to do things like actually communicate via the platform requires a buy-in. The monthly subscription ranges from $10 for parents ($6 for sitters) on Sitter, to up-to approximately $35. The annual subscription for these apps are about $100+.
Could You be a Little Creative?
As far as differences go, there aren’t many. Care.Com, Sittercity, and Urbansitter are all extremely similar when it comes to child care. They all have near identical layouts when it comes to how to find care or search for a job, and they are all priced similarly. Care.com varies slightly in that it also offers access to finding or working in various kinds of care, including: Senior Care, Pet Care, Tutoring, and Housekeeping. eNannySource is also alike to these three, but is specifically for full-time nannying, not including options for occasions like a one-time date night sitter. Seeking Sitters is on the pricier side, with a $59.99 one-time fee, plus membership fees on top of that. However, unlike the others which just run a background check, this app has sitters checked by a private investigator.
One of These Things Is Not Like The Others:
Finally there is Sitter, which is the most different from the others. This one uses your own network of babysitters, which you add into the app. They do not need to be on the app, but when you need care you just put in the information for when, where, and what, and they receive a text where they can accept or decline. The first person to accept gets the job. All in all, the idea is that you have your parent-friends also connected on the app and therefore when you add in their trusted sitters you build up a team of babysitters with no additional vetting needed.
A Note on Safety:
Some of these sites do run background checks, but most of them require that you pay extra for that. All in all it is important that whether or not you are seeking a care provider or searching for a job, you should take whatever safety precautions you feel necessary.
I used Care.com to find my current job here in SLO. I found that it has changed over the past few years. When I tried to use it in highschool it was an entirely free service, and now it is quite expensive to use. The experience also varies based on location. In Orange County, where I grew up, the qualifications required from those seeking the care were insanely high. People required a Bachelor’s in child development, plus years of experience. However here in SLO, I feel that I stand out because I am very qualified, and no one is requiring that to apply. In both locations I have found it very unlikely for those requiring care to reach out, instead I was the one doing all of applying.
Great if you quickly get a long-term job
Lots of safety precautions
Reviews of people having trouble with management
Fast to apply
Works well as a college job
Care is still underpaid
Overall, the experience you have via any of these services is based somewhat on luck. I gave myself one month to get a job, only paying the month subscription, and it took me about three weeks to find my current job. I happen to mesh very well with the family I work with and secured a long-term position with them. I am both a Disney and animal lover, and of course I love children as well, so it is a great joy for me spending my weekends singing songs from Moana with a two-year-old and then cuddling with their cats and dog while she naps. She’s a great sleeper, she has quite the sense of humor, and her parents are easygoing and kind. That is the luck aspect. However, some people don't like their sitters or families, or they don't find anyone who is a good match, but some find great sitters or families whom they adore. There are many needs within the “caring fields” and it is a big job that needs a multi-faceted solution. Luckily, there are many platforms trying to address these issues.