I've had good babysitters. I've had terrible babysitters. And I've had babysitters that were . . . you know . . . just fine.
In my ongoing search for childcare for my kiddos, I've learned that not all sitters are a good fit for every family. Have you ever had a friend recommend a babysitter to you and then find yourself surprised when you didn't love this sitter as much as your friend and her family do? I don't think that is an uncommon experience. The truth is that the term "good sitter" means something different to everyone.
At K. Grace Childcare, they take steps to ensure that you not only get a great sitter -- but you get a sitter that is a great fit for your family. And honestly, I am not sure how you would be able to conduct this sort of intensive, personalized screening process on your own. It really is unique to the K. Grace experience.
Before you become a client at K. Grace, you spend some time (I would say
that it took me about 15 minutes total) to complete their online application form.
This detailed questionnaire is designed to elicit all sorts of
information -- from any special needs that your kids have to your
approach to discipline at home. The form also provides plenty of
opportunities for you to share as much information as you want (like
whether or not television is allowed or any other special requests).
you fill out the online form, all clients receive a call from Erin
Barlow, the client services manager at K. Grace. She follows up in
detail (serious detail) about how the screening process works and how
certain sitters are determined to be a good match for your family. Erin
explained to me that after the K. Grace sitters complete a rigorous application process,
they are trained to follow a certain "baseline protocol." For example,
every K. Grace sitter will remove her shoes upon entering you home and
wash her hands before interacting with your children. The sitters all
know to engage the children right away and keep a detailed log of their
activities while you are gone (which is so helpful because you know all
of the ins and outs of meals, sleeping, diaper changes and moods when
you return home).
When I recently used K. Grace sitter Abby to hang out with my little guy
Colin for a few hours during the day, she kept a fantastic (and also
adorable) log. She noted how long Colin napped -- and also that she had
heard him cough over the monitor a few times (this was helpful
information given that he was developing a little cold). She also noted
that he was a bit upset when he first woke up, but then adjusted and
devoured his snack. Abby even mentioned that she was impressed with
Colin's communication skills! See -- helpful and adorable.
Grace also does their best to provide you with the type of sitter
introduction that you are looking for. When their new website debuts in
the spring, clients will even receive a photo and personalized email
from new sitters (which creates the opportunity for you to say, "Hey
guys, come here so I can show you a picture of our new friend Abby!").
If a client wants to meet their prospective sitter before the first
official sitting date, K. Grace will do their best to arrange such a
When we recently tried two new K. Grace sitters, we
received emails from Erin Barlow with information about each sitter
prior to her arrival. For example, I knew where each sitter attended
school (plus her major!) and whether she was local to my neighborhood.
The email also included information about the sitter's other jobs or
hobbies, plus feedback from other K. Grace clients. These
"recommendations" from fellow clients provided very helpful insight into
each sitter's individual personality.
I found this experience
to be so very different from having a new person show up at my door to
watch my kids. I already knew a lot about each sitter before she
arrived. Plus, I felt confident that the folks at K. Grace has put lots
of thought into matching these particular babysitters to our family.
Client feedback is another crucial component in the personalized
service. K. Grace requires clients to provide online feedback whenever
they have a new sitter. This information helps them know what type of
sitter to send to your house on your next request. When you make a
placement request, K. Grace first reaches out to sitters that you have
ranked a "10" in the past. They wait to hear back about availability
from all of those sitters before they move down the list to sitters that
you've given a lower rank.
Does this personalized and
detail-oriented childcare service sound like something that might make
be a helpful addition to your family life? Want to try it out? K. Grace
is offering a Chicago family the chance to experience their placement
process for free (a $40 value). The winner will have the opportunity to
experience what it is like to be a client at K. Grace (note that, in
order to provide the best level of service to their clients, certain
geographic limitations apply and the winner is responsible for
compensating the babysitter for her/his time).
Head on over to A Hen and Two (now Three) Chicks to enter to win (and get all the details on this unique giveaway).
if you don't win this week, check back here on Tuesday, February 22nd
for the final installment in this four-part series on finding flexible
convenient childcare in Chicago -- plus, you'll have another chance to
win a free placement from K. Grace!
Disclosure: I am working with K. Grace to help spread the word about their services and I am being compensated for my time.