America is a mobile society. Extended families more often than not live hours or days away from each other, or if they do live close to each other, grandma or grandpa may still be in the workforce. Unlike 40 or 50 years ago, today’s parents are raising their children without much help from extended families. More households have both parents working or are headed by a single parent who works. How do these households find good childcare?

One option is to run a help wanted ad in the newspaper. This can be costly and time consuming. In addition to paying for the ad space in the paper, you will have to answer questions about the job on the phone, collect resumes, read through them and then interview potential candidates. Another option is asking friends to recommend a childcare provider to you. Or, you could answer ads in the newspaper advertising childcare services. All of these options require meeting with the prospective provider, but even at this point you cannot be sure that they are representing themselves truthfully unless you run a background check, which will also cost you money.

There is an easier, less costly, less time consuming way to find childcare. Thanks to the internet, childcare services have emerged to help solve the childcare problem. Childcare services act as a clearinghouse where childcare providers and families can connect.

Each childcare provider who signs up with the service completes a profile which includes a picture of the provider, availability, type of care provided (nanny, babysitter, au pair, last minute care, special needs care), experience with children, rate, age, gender, location and contact information. People looking for childcare can browse the providers and/or post a their own profile.

Information can be searched by zip code to locate providers who serve a given area. It is free to search and browse childcare providers, but the provider’s contact information will only be shown once the person searching for childcare becomes a paying member of the site. On becoming a paying member of the online childcare service, families gain access to provider contact information, can do free background checks through the service, as well as check the provider’s references.

Whether the childcare need is a live-in au pair, a regular babysitter or a babysitter who will take care of sick children, using an online childcare service streamlines the process of finding childcare and minimizes the risk for families and providers alike.

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