11 apps to help find reliable childcare

Summertime freedom for kids can mean an extra scheduling burden on parents who are juggling work and home life.

Especially when parents don’t have predictable schedules, their kids’ summer activities can alter an already chaotic flow.

Fortunately, numerous apps and websites can help solve your summertime help crisis.

A Zum sitter opens the door for a child.
A Zum sitter opens the door for a child.

Zum is a new app that helps parents find babysitting and rides for their children to and from activities. It might be ideal for shuttling the kids back and forth between summer camp schedules. The downside is the app is only for parents in the San Francisco Bay Area, and while the app itself is free, the cost per hour for help is higher than minimum wage. The company reports that all its drivers have childcare experience and pass extensive background checks.

Urbansitter searches your area to find the top-rated babysitters and shows recommendations from your neighbors. The site boasts that most requests receive a response in 15 minutes. Using the site is free and if you live in a major metropolitan area, you’ll find many babysitters across a range of cost options.

Care.com is a matchmaking site for parents and sitters. Started as a website, Care.com also has an app that makes searching profiles and messaging potential sitters quick and easy. The site has been around since 2007, and is trusted by sitters and parents alike, though use of the service costs $26 for the first three months. Once you sign up, canceling your account is a little tricky. As far as safety, Care.com lets sitters put in references and will do background checks for an additional fee. However, a 2012 investigation of the Care.com’s and Sittercity’s background checks found they missed key information.

Like Care.com, Sittercity is a site that matches parents and care providers. The site has been around since 2001 and because of its longevity is more likely to be in your town if you live outside a major metropolitan area. The site also allows parents to review a sitter and request background and motor vehicle checks. But as mentioned above, online background checks don’t always catch everything.

Okay, forget babysitting. Maybe the thing you really need help with is laundry, cleaning, grocery shopping or odd jobs around the house. TaskRabbit connects you to local people who will help you get the job done and maybe free up some time for the pool. Taskrabbit might also be more affordable than a sitter, because there is a wider range of prices. Also, the people performing the tasks are vetted by TaskRabbit and all jobs are insured.

While Taskrabbit will connect you with anyone willing to do the job, its competitor Handy links users to local professionals who will do anything from clean your home to decorate its interior. Handy has no monthly fee, but reviews of the app report a lot of missed appointments and subpar work.

Babysitting is expensive and a luxury not everyone can afford. If you aren’t interested in a regular sitter, Sitting Around is a site that connects you to local babysitting coops, where you and other parents you know can trade sitting hours. Membership to the site costs $15 per year and the babysitting is free.

Sitter is another babysitting app that works to connect parents and caregivers, but Sitter works a little differently by allowing parents to send a message to multiple sitters at once. The first sitter who accepts is the first to get the job. SItter is a free app. You add the sitters you know from your contact list. You can also view the sitters of your friends (if they use the app) so you can add those people as well.

Seeking Sitters is a one-stop-shop website that, for one-time fee of $59.99, will match you to your perfect sitter. That doesn’t include the cost of the sitter. The site is more expensive but it boasts enhanced safety, noting that each sitter is checked by a private investigator instead of an online background check.

eNannysource connects parents with qualified nannies. Much like Care.com or Sittercity, eNannysource is mostly web-based and allows for background checks and messaging within the service. The service also offers more comprehensive background services for a fee. But know, this site is specifically for people who can hire a full-time nanny; you won’t find part-time or occasional sitters here.

Babysitters4Hire boasts over 20 years in the babysitter matchmaking game. It is also the priciest option, with a $99.99 annual fee. It is affiliated with Care4Hire and Nannies4Hire. The site says it is used by the Dr. Phil Show. It encourages parents to do their own digging into sitters’ backgrounds and references.

12. Shuddle

Shuddle is Uber for kids. You submit your ride request and someone shows up to pick up your kids. The app allows parents to see the driver’s bio, photo and vehicle type, and allows you to track your kids’ progress via GPS. Unlike Uber, the service charges a $9 per month fee in addition to the charges incurred from the rides, which is a $15 minimum. Shuddle interviews and conducts background checks on all drivers.

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