Finding the right babysitter can be tough. That’s even truer if your child has learning and thinking differences. Here are some good places to look for babysitters who will work well with your child.
Teachers at School
The teachers at your child’s school can be a good resource. Talk to a teacher you and your child like. That teacher might want to make a little extra cash, or she might know babysitters who work with kids with special needs. You can also ask classroom aides if they would like to babysit, or ask the school counselor for ideas.
If your child attends summer camp, the counselors might be good people to ask. They are already familiar with your child and might be open to babysitting—or might know someone who is. The camp director might also know babysitters who have experience with special needs. If a sitter doesn’t have experience with kids who have learning and thinking differences, you might want to invite the person over to observe how she interacts with your child. Also, in general, it’s a good idea to check two or three references before hiring a babysitter.
Parents of kids with learning and thinking differences can be a great resource. They’re familiar with some of the behavior issues a babysitter will need to handle. These families might also have older siblings who could be good babysitters for your child. It never hurts to ask.
Your Child’s Therapist
If your child sees a speech, occupational or physical therapist, feel free to ask the therapist for babysitter recommendations. But it might not be a good idea to ask the therapist to babysit. There might be a conflict of interest in seeing your child outside of school or therapy. It’s better to ask if the therapist knows of other people.
Your Faith Community
If your family attends a house of worship or is involved in a faith community, you can ask members of the community. Or you could put an ad in the group’s bulletin. Just make sure to be upfront about your child’s special needs so you can find a sitter who will be a good match.
A nearby community college or university can be a great place to look for babysitters. This is especially true if the school has a special education program, or if it has a department for speech, physical or occupational therapy. Call the different departments and ask if they have students who are interested in babysitting kids who have learning and thinking differences. This can be good for the students as well as for you since they want to get experience working with kids who have special needs.
Your Local YMCA, Red Cross or High School
Your YMCA, as well as the Red Cross, may offer babysitting certification classes. If so, you could check with them about babysitters in your area who have completed the course. Those babysitters may not have experience with kids who have learning and thinking differences. But since they completed a class, it shows they are conscientious enough to get certified. Local high schools may also have service clubs where you could find babysitters.
A Reputable Website
Although you might be worried about looking for a babysitter online, some websites are careful to check out potential babysitters. For example, Care.com and Sittercity.com have babysitters experienced with special needs. Both sites charge a fee for membership and run background checks on sitters. It’s still a good idea to check the sitters’ references. It’s also a good idea to interview a sitter you find through a website and ask her lots of questions.