What Taskrabbit has done for household errands, Uber has done for transportation, and ZocDoc has done for local physician services, a handful of hyperlocal vendors are aiming to now do for childcare. By harnessing the power of social recommendations and connecting parents with babysitters in their own communities, local marketplaces for childcare services are harnessing technology to facilitate online networking within physical communities.
Here are five examples of hyperlocal marketplaces where parents can find qualified childcare providers in their own neighborhoods.
1. UrbanSitter: Leverage Facebook connections to find trusted babysitters nearby.
UrbanSitter uses Facebook Connect to bring parents together with babysitters who’ve been recommended by friends in their social networks. In addition to finding babysitters through their friends’ recommendations, UrbanSitter also searches through a user’s other affiliations, like schools and sports teams. Parents can read reviews and lists of each babysitter’s certifications, and they can check actual availability statuses and hourly rate information all through UrbanSitter’s platform. Bookings and payments can be made entirely through UrbanSitter, as well. UrbanSitter offers both free plans and premium memberships.
2. Care.com: Socialize the experience of finding a caregiver.
Launched in 2007, Care.com had its IPO in early 2014. The platform connects its users with all different types of caregivers, including babysitters, pet sitters, and even senior caregivers. In addition to its primary marketplace, available in cities around the U.S. and nearly a dozen other countries worldwide, Care.com operates a private mobile social network where parents can connect with caregivers and record information like feedings and daily schedules. Caregivers can also post photos and status updates with location tags. Parents can pay their babysitters through Care.com, which uses WePay to facilitate online payments. Care.com users pay a monthly fee to access the complete online marketplace.
3. SitterCity: Run background checks on local babysitters and nannies.
Like Care.com, SitterCity is aimed at helping parents find childcare providers for their children. The platform works like a traditional marketplace, with parents being able to search through the profiles of babysitters in their zip codes. Filters tools help parents weed out candidates who don’t meet certain requirements, like having a driver’s license or CPR certification. The platform also enables users to run background checks on providers. Like UrbanSitter, SitterCity relies strongly on user reviews posted by other parents who’ve used a sitter’s services. Unlike its competitors, however, SitterCity doesn’t offer an online payment module. SitterCity charges parents a monthly fee to use its site.
4. SittingAround: Start paying babysitters with a credit card.
SittingAround takes a more community-centric approach to the babysitting marketplace, encouraging its users to join babysitting co-ops and trade free babysitting services with other parents in their neighborhoods. The platform also offers more traditional childcare marketplace services, helping parents find available babysitters in their cities. Once those connections are made, SittingAround users can schedule their babysitters online and pay for services via credit card. Beginning in 2012, SittingAround began giving sitters who use its platform free Square dongles as part of the signup process. SittingAround is free to use, since it’s supported by ads.
5. Sitter.com: Post listings to find local providers with availability.
Sitter.com is a marketplace that was created by CareGuide to meet the needs of families looking for local nannies, babysitters, and daycares. Parents can create listings with information about the type of provider they’re looking for, and providers can post profiles with information about their services. A sitter’s profile will only show up for users that fall within its “match distance,” which the provider can select. Among the many safety measures Sitter.com has implemented are protected phone calls, powered by Telesafe. Using this system, sitters and parents won’t learn each other’s real phone numbers until after they’ve had a chance to speak and establish a connection. Sitter.com charges users a monthly fee.
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.