The on-demand economy is on fire right now, and it shows no signs of slowing down. More than $2.2 billion in capital has been invested in on-demand companies in the last year alone, as startups like Uber, Handy, and Instacart change the way consumers live their lives.
Given the rise in on-demand marketplaces, it makes sense that the “Uber-ification” of everything would extend to babysitting services. Parents are using local marketplaces to find childcare providers in their neighborhoods — taking advantage of the ease of online scheduling and payments to make last minute bookings. Hyperlocal vendors are using technology in new ways to increase the safety for parents, as well, relying on peer reviews, background checks, and other mechanisms to verify the identities of babysitters who use their platforms to find clients.
Here are six hyperlocal marketplaces that parents can use to find local babysitters.
1. UrbanSitter: Use social media to vet potential sitters.
UrbanSitter takes advantage of the social connections that parents have developed on networks like Facebook, and uses those connections to help people source the babysitters their friends and colleagues have worked with. Parents who’ve connected their Facebook accounts to UrbanSitter can search for babysitters by date or time, or they can post jobs. They can then book sitters who’ve been used by their friends and pay online with credit cards. Some sitters on UrbanSitter have also undergone background checks, which are processed by a third-party service. Parents can sign up for UrbanSitter for free.
2. Mom Trusted: Find local care solutions based on peer recommendations.
Rather than expecting parents to sift through pages of care provider profiles, Mom Trusted uses an automated algorithm to do some of the heavy lifting. The hyperlocal childcare marketplace uses a “recommendation engine” to provide users with personalized results based on the opinions of parents like them. Users can find providers who are trusted by their online friends, solicit personal recommendations, and schedule interviews through the web platform. In addition to helping users find childcare providers, the marketplace also includes listings for preschools, daycares, and tutors. Parents can use the marketplace for free.
3. SitterCity: Post jobs and review local sitter profiles.
SitterCity charges parents to use its service. However, in exchange for that price, the members of its marketplace are able to do things like run in-depth background checks, read parent reviews, and check offline references. Parents can post jobs or review profiles of babysitters in SitterCity’s marketplace, and they can get instant notifications through a mobile app when they receive new sitter applications. Parents can also filter their searches based on criteria like experience, skills, and even CPR certifications. SitterCity has one of the largest databases of babysitters, in part because it has been around for more than a decade. Subscriptions to SitterCity cost $35 per month.
4. SittingAround: Join a neighborhood babysitting co-op.
SittingAround takes a more localized approach to its babysitting marketplace. Rather than putting parents in touch with nearby babysitters, the platform helps parents connect with other groups of parents who they can trade babysitting services with for free. Neighbors create their own co-ops or join existing co-ops, and they receive notifications through the app whenever a parent in their group has a request. To ensure fairness for everyone, parents earn and spend “points” whenever they take advantage of childcare services. SittingAround offers free plans. Premium accounts are also available for $5 per month or $15 per year.
5. Care.com: Quickly schedule a date night sitter.
The most well-known of the online babysitting marketplaces, Care.com boasts more than 14 million members. Parents who use the service can search for babysitters, nannies, au pairs, childcare centers, and tutors in their cities and review the profiles of candidates who meet their search criteria. Care.com also offers two services that many competing marketplaces do not. One is Date Night, which enables parents to quickly search for sitters available at certain dates and times using a widget. The other is HomePay, which allows parents to make automatic payments to providers and includes services like tax filing support. Care.com charges a monthly fee to access its complete marketplace.
6. ROMIO: Endorse local sitters and make recommendations to friends.
ROMIO considers itself a cross between LinkedIn and Yelp, where consumers can find babysitters and other service providers, including house cleaners and hairstylists, on a hyperlocal level. Users “endorse” local childcare providers and businesses, and they make personal recommendations to their friends. ROMIO provides personalized suggestions to users based on the recommendations that people like them have made. Providers who use ROMIO can setup profiles and connect with past clients who’ve reviewed their services. While ROMIO is still in beta, the service is primarily available to users in New York City. ROMIO is free for parents.
Know of other hyperlocal marketplaces for childcare? Leave a description in the comments.
Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.