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(And Which One Costs Hundreds Less)
Nanny service, nanny agency, babysitting service, or nanny referral agency - most of these terms are interchangeable. But not all nanny services are the same. There are some child care agencies which specialize in just finding "babysitters" for families. These sitters care for the family's children occasionally and are paid by the hour.
Other nanny services specialize in matching families with "nannies" who are often full time employees of the family and typically receive a regular salary, vacation pay, and possibly medical benefits as well. They will actually find a nanny for you. Most nanny agencies will supply both nannies and babysitters for their clients.
The major difference between nanny services is some are strictly online nanny services and other nanny agencies have a physical location where they meet both parents and nannies in person for interviews.
With online nanny services, nobody actually meets the families or the potential nannies or babysitters. Basically, they just give the parents access to their database of people looking for work as childcare providers.
The directories that parents are given access to by the online nanny services are organized by zip code and provide such helpful information as:
Online Nanny services basically give parents great leads, but it is up to them to make the calls, interview potential sitters or nannies, and check references.
The other type of nanny service which can be called a "referral agency," is the type which has a physical office space where parents and nannies are interviewed. At this type of nanny service, the agency does all the work for you.
These nanny services will use the information they collected during the interviews to match babysitters or nannies to families. They use information such as interests, level of experience, availability, personality, etc. to make the best matches possible.
Most referral agencies also require their child care providers to have First Aid and CPR certifications and they will check the nanny's references as well.
Typically, this type of nanny service will find several nanny matches for each family. Then, all the family is required to do when they need child care, is to call the nanny agency and then greet the nanny upon arrival!
Most nanny agencies can even get a replacement or temporary nanny on short notice if a family's regular nanny is ill or on vacation.
The difference between "online nanny services," and "nanny referral agencies" is similar to the difference between self-serve and full-serve gas stations. Parents can either pay as little as $9.99 per month and do the advertising, contacting, interviewing, and checking references themselves, or for several hundred dollars per year* they can have the agency handle everything for them including background checks.
Some parents who use nanny referral services still conduct interviews and check the nanny's references themselves just to be sure they have the perfect match for their family. This is a good idea.
Remember that most terms for nanny agencies are used for both types of services. When searching for a nanny service, typically the more work you do yourself, the less you pay!
Wherever you look for your nanny, keep your standards high, your children are worth it!
*Membership rates for "nanny referral services" vary greatly. Some have different prices according to the membership level purchased. Please check with a nanny service or nanny agency in your area to get an exact quote.
Nanny services and nanny agencies are not all the same. Check out the article below the Nanny Service Comparison Chart and find out how online nanny services differ from nanny referral agencies, and which one costs hundreds less.
Before you trust anyone with your child's life, check their references and do a background check as well. Keep your standards high, your child is worth it!