With the new school year right around the corner, it’s time to start thinking about how you’ll meet your childcare needs for the year. 

childcareWhether you need an after-school babysitter to care for your kids until you get home from work, a daily nanny, or a regular sitter to give you a break a couple of afternoons a week, plan now so you can help your family transition into the new year with confidence and ease. 

Below are four tried-and-true strategies for finding before and/or after-school childcare: 

  • Connect with potential babysitters via local colleges.

Get in front of students interested in babysitting to earn extra money by placing an ad on a nearby college or university’s web site.  You can also post your needs on department job boards, such as the early education or nursing departments, both of which are especially popular with parents looking for sitters.  

College students interested in babysitting often have experience with young children, and frequently have friends to recommend when they have a conflict. If you can work around their class schedules, exams and holiday breaks, they can provide the perfect, flexible solution to your childcare needs. Hourly rates are negotiable, but expect to pay about the same as you would a professional childcare provider. 

  • Coordinate with a friend to share a sitter.

This may sound odd, since a good sitter is such a hot commodity that you can’t imagine wanting to share her once you find her, but sharing is typically a win for everyone involved. Sharing a sitter can mean one of two things: 1) you have someone babysit for your kids and your friend’s kids, together, at either of your homes; or 2) you help out your sitter and your friends by connecting them for times when you don’t need childcare

The former is especially cost efficient, since the sitter will likely charge more per hour, but likely not double the rate. You and the other parent can split the cost. It’s also a lot of fun for the kids, as it’s a built-in play date! 

The latter sharing strategy works, for instance, if your sitter needs more work than you require. She may want a full-time gig, and you only need her 20 hours per week. In exchange for you helping her secure more work, she connects you with additional sitters to add to your go-to childcare pool. The bigger your community of sitters, the easier it is to find someone when you need the help! 

  • Explore after-school programs at elementary schools.

Many K-8 schools offer on-site childcare during the school year, provided by licensed childcare professionals.  Programs typically run from early morning until school starts for the day and after school until dinner time. These programs provide your kids with a fun, safe environment. They typically offer enrichment activities, such as art, crafts, science labs and sports, in addition to tutoring and homework services. If your child’s school does not offer on-site child care, they may provide transportation – often a bus or van – to take your child to another school or child care center. Costs vary per district and the length of time you need them to care for your child. 

  • Log onto UrbanSitter.com to quickly and easily score the perfect sitter.

UrbanSitter.com is a place for parents to find and connect with a community of trusted local babysitters. Unlike other childcare services, UrbanSitter connects parents to sitters through people they already know and trust by enabling members to view sitters known through friends and affiliations—including schools, sports teams and parents groups. Parents search for available sitters by date and time or “post a job,” then view each sitter’s credentials and read reviews from other parents. They can also filter by part-time or full-time availability and extras like the ability to pick the kids up from school. Booking a job is quick and efficient with the optional convenience of paying your sitter online. 

No matter what childcare solution you select this school year, remember to provide clear instructions to the sitter and be candid in your expectations. Effective communication between the sitter and parent is the key to a successful partnership! 

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Lynn Perkins is co-founder of UrbanSitter.com, a service that enables parents and babysitters to connect online through Facebook and their existing networks. A startup veteran, Lynn offers more than 15 years of experience marketing and selling to Gen X and Gen Y. 

Prior to founding to UrbanSitter, Lynn served as founder and CEO of Xuny.com and VP of Business Development at Bridgepath.com. At companies like Gap Inc., LaSalle Partners and Joie de Vivre Hospitality, Lynn gained extensive business and transaction experience. 

Lynn is also the proud mom of twin boys and a graduate of Stanford University.

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