2020 was an unprecedented year that knocked everyone off their feet, yet parents remained unsung heroes, continuing to step up for their children in the midst of the pandemic and economic hardship. After such a chaotic time, it can be challenging to leave your children in the hands of another person. Your kids may struggle to adjust to the new normal, and honestly, so might you. When you're ready to choose a child care service, it's important that you feel comfortable about your decision from the start. One of the safest and easiest ways to find child care resources is Care.com, a company that scouts top-notch care providers for families of all types.
Care.com puts you back in the driver's seat, offering control over the decision of who will watch your children while you reenter the world—whether that means going back to work or spending a night out with your partner or friends. This digital platform simplifies the process of finding, managing, and paying for care services, including child care, special needs care, senior care, pet care, tutoring, and housekeeping.
Finding a caregiver on your own can be somewhat difficult these days because so many care centers closed during the pandemic. Many families are experiencing "care deserts," or areas where the demand for child care outweighs the number of caregivers and services available. Care.com offers a solution by providing the tools and safety features you need to find a match that's local and fits your unique requirements.
Benefits of Child Care Services
It's important to take time for yourself, and child care allows you a breather from caregiving responsibilities. It can also provide opportunities for child enrichment. A trained and reliable caregiver will know how to engage your child through reading, colors, shapes, numbers, and more. According to the National Institutes of Health, this type of early learning has a lasting impact on physical and mental health as well as cognitive abilities. It may not always be feasible for parents to interact with their children in this way, so it's incredibly valuable to have someone—like a caregiver—set aside time to nurture your child's development.
There are also proven benefits to sending your children to daycare. A study in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health found that children who attend daycare are more likely to have better socialization skills and behavior than kids who are cared for at home. While this may not be true for all children, it should provide comfort to parents who have reservations about letting their young children be cared for in a group setting.
Types of Child Care Services on Care.com
There are many kinds of child care services available, but Care.com specializes in these three.
Sitters: These temporary caregivers are paid by the hour to look after your kids for short periods of time. Occasionally, other tasks—like transportation and tutoring—factor into the equation.
Nannies: A part-time or full-time caregiver that regularly watches your children. This type of caregiver is usually paid on a weekly or monthly basis with taxes taken out. A nanny may also run errands, do meal prep, and drive your kids to and from activities. It is a more permanent care role.
Daycare: Refers to a care establishment that employs multiple caregivers and watches more than one family's children at a time. As suggested by the name, daycare is a service for daytime caregiving, which often includes play time, snack or meal time, and nap time.
How to Find the Right Caregiver Through Care.com
When looking for a care provider, consider your schedule, the needs of your family, and your budget. For short-term and less expensive care, sitters are probably the best option, whereas a nanny or daycare are likely better fits for long-term and consistent care needs.
Care.com allows you to create a free account to get started and prompts you to fill out a short questionnaire about the types of services you're seeking. If you're looking for daycare services, you'll be asked questions like how old your children are, when you'd like the care service to begin, and whether you prefer a Monday through Friday schedule or a custom one. After inputting the necessary information, you'll be able to request tours at different daycares in your area.
Parents searching for sitters and nannies are also asked to share their child's age, indicate whether they'll need recurring or one-time care, and state what price range they're comfortable staying in, among other things. The questionnaire allows members to tack on additional services if needed, such as homework help, light housekeeping, and meal prep. They're also given the option to select ideal caregiver qualities from a provided list.
The basic membership lets you share job postings, sort through caregiver profiles, and take advantage of different informational resources, like helpful hiring guides. Premium members have access to Care.com's full screening process, plus they can contact caregivers directly to schedule interviews. Premium memberships cost $38.95/month, but if you sign up for a quarterly or annual membership, the price drops to $24.95/month and $12.95/month, respectively.
Unlike some care services, Care.com goes above and beyond when it comes to safety. The company understands that it can be daunting to choose someone through the internet to look after your family, so there are policies in place to ensure adequate screening. Every caregiver must go through a background check, which you have access to as a premium member. The company also provides resources on how to go about the interview process safely as well as what to look for in profiles that might be cause for concern. The Care.com app (available for iPhones and Androids) is monitored for any alarming communication and behavior, and has an option to make a report should any issues arise.
How Much Child Care Typically Costs
If you need child care but are worried about the cost, you're not alone. According to a Care.com 2021 Cost of Care Survey, 85 percent of parents report they are spending 10 percent or more of their household income on child care. Much of that has to do with the care deserts referenced earlier. Fewer caregivers leads to higher prices—more than half of the families surveyed spent over $10,000 on child care in 2020 and plan to spend even more in 2021. Care.com lets you compare pricing of different care services in your area and respects your budget, filtering applicants based on your price range.
What Past Clients Have Said About Care.com
Families who've used Care.com praise the reliable help they've found from the service. One mom on Trustpilot writes, "Found a great nanny for my 4-year-old and 1-year-old during this COVID-19 madness. She's been a godsend to our family. Online experience interviewing several other candidates was simple and easy as well."
Another reviewer writes, "We have used Care.com twice to find nannies for our two boys! The idea of a stranger caring for your most precious babies is beyond hard. Care.com made the process so easy both times, 3.5 years apart. We found our perfect match both times and couldn't be happier with the process and the outcome of total peace of mind."
While many clients appreciate the service, some expressed that the matching process can take time. One client wrote, "There are plenty of people and profiles with pictures. However, like a dating app, it takes a lot of effort to find people interested in the job."