Child Care

Parents look to the Internet for child care


Internet companies that connect parents with babysitters and other child-care professionals are luring millions to their websites each month.


Websites that connect parents with baby sitters often provide differing levels of background checks, but still recommend that parents vet their sitter before hiring them. Here are a few tips from Sittercity and some other sites and sitters:

Review a sitter’s background check if available on the site, or conduct your own. For $24, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement will conduct a criminal background search for in-state arrests.

• Read reviews other parents have left on each caregiver.

• Conduct in-person interviews to gather additional information and gauge personalities. Consider bringing your children along.

• Check references.

• Search sitters online, including social networks, to help spot any potential red flags.

• If you think your sitter might need to drive your child, driving records can be obtained through the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.


Find information and resources for raising children in South Florida — and share your child-care recommendations — at

Graff-Radell said TLC lets registered users submit jobs and then the company connects them for a fee with one of its sitters, all of whom have minimum credentials like CPR certification, and have undergone fingerprinting and background checks. Families can also request sitters they’re familiar with.

“I have to take responsibility for everyone I send out, so it’s safer to use a service like mine than really to hire the high school kid two blocks away,” she said.

That commitment, a bio they received about TLC employee Rincon, and a phone conversation the night before was enough to make Jodi Gallant, her husband and their friends visiting with their boys from California feel comfortable. Rincon said she works at a day care at Florida International University, where she’s studying early childhood education.

“She called me and wanted to know what the boys were interested in, and she brought her own coloring books. Most babysitters never do that,” said Gallant as Rincon got to know her kids. “I just instantly felt a good feeling.”

Then Rincon brought out the goody bag and Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes. And with the boys distracted by the story of how Pete stepped in a pile of strawberries, the parents quietly headed to Miami Beach.

“We don’t want to make too big a deal of it,” said Drake and Roman’s mom, Shawn Forbes. Outside, with her arms to the sky, she shouted: “Date night!”

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