Are you looking for a babysitter who can look after your kids for 40 hours a week or just a nanny for last-minute child care services for your date night?
Perhaps you want to find a caregiver for your elderly parents or a child with special needs. Or maybe you’re searching for someone to handle pet care.
You might find what you’re looking for at Sittercity, an online platform for nanny services.
But is Sittercity affordable, safe, and easy to use? What do other parents and customers say about their service? Read on to find out.
Sittercity offers the following membership options for parents and other customers looking for caregivers and nannies:
- Billed for one month: $35 per month
- Billed every three months: $23 per month
- Billed every year: $12 per month
These prices don’t include sales taxes which vary among different states. The final amount will be reflected when you checkout.
Is Sittercity Background Check Worth It?
Charges for background checks:
- Basic background check – $15
- Enhanced background check – $60
- Motor vehicle records check – $20
Note that a background check is only valid on the sitter’s profile for three months. So, you’re assured that the checks reflected on the sitter’s badge are always new.
Premium access gives you the following benefits:
- Connection with local caregivers
- Secured messaging with caregivers
- Purchasing background checks
- Interview booking
The platform’s main service is for babysitters, but you can also find other care providers on the site:
- Special needs care
- Companion care
- Pet sitting
- Virtual nanny services
Most of the nannies hired on the site work part-time to fill temporary roles or even just a one-time babysitting job.
But you can also hire pet sitters or nannies who can work for longer hours, depending on your family’s needs.
Job Profiles & Choosing The Right Kind Of Care You Need
A three-month-old baby has different needs from, say, a six-year-old kid.
So, you might want to find a nanny who has experience working with kids the age of your children at home. Or you might need a sitter for special jobs.
These are the different profile types on the platform:
This position is for a part-time worker who can occasionally babysit your children for just a few hours.
The duties of a babysitter include taking care of your children during these hours. It can also include providing transportation to and from school or various activities.
This position is for a full-time child care worker who works at least 20 hours per week.
Typical duties of a nanny include the ones for a babysitter. Still, the duties can also include simple meal preparation, feeding the kids, facilitating kid-friendly activities, light household chores, and household management.
Some nannies might live with the families they work for. But even if they live out, they are typically expected to have a long-term commitment with your family.
Special Needs Caregiver
If you have children or even adults who need special care, a regular nanny or babysitter might not be enough for the job. You’ll need a caregiver who’s trained for working in this kind of setting.
Make sure to specify that you need a special needs caregiver and the diagnosis for your family member’s condition. It may help you find a sitter who’s more capable of working on this job.
This job category also applies to pet sitters and caregivers for seniors.
Depending on your family’s needs, you can pick from these job types on the platform:
Babysitter Job Types
- Occasional or date night sitter
- Regularly scheduled or after-school sitter.
- Mother’s helper or WFH (work from home) support
- Learning pod (a sitter who can assist with your child’s studies)
- Virtual sitting (modern babysitters may work with families in a virtual setting and provide your kids with engaging activities or supervise your children through video conferencing tools)
Nanny Job Types
- Regular nanny
- Nanny share (two families can agree to ‘share’ a nanny who can watch children from both households together; the nanny should be compensated for the total number of children, but the families can agree to split the bill)
- Newborn specialist or night nanny (a qualified newborn specialist who can help first-time families take care of their newborn baby or provide supervision in the middle of the night so the parents can rest)
- Live-in positions (it’s important to draw a child care contract to make sure that your nanny’s compensation, work hours, responsibilities, and perks will be clearly defined; you’ll typically provide the nanny with a safe and comfortable living space of their own)
Other Key Features
For your safety, the platform also offers the following key features:
- Scam prevention
- Sitter ID authentication
- Background checking (typically costs $15)
- Family Watchdog screening
- Regular site content monitoring
Pros & Cons
- The platform allows you to find pre-screened sitters from the comfort of your home.
- There’s an app you can download from Google Play or iTunes to view the listings or post a job easily.
- You have options to post your job listing or browse through active sitters in your area.
- Several job types are offered, depending on sitters’ availability.
- You set your own rates, terms, benefits, and perks.
- You can filter the sitter search depending on your family’s needs and your location.
- The platform uses safety features (including Family Watchdog Database clearance and background checks from trusted independent providers approved by the US government) to screen the care providers.
- Most sitters pay for third-party background checks to improve their profile and have a special badge on-site. So, you won’t pay for this service unless you want to ask for another check.
- You only pay a monthly fixed rate to use all the features available on the site.
- If you need help, you can talk to a live person from the customer success team.
- You need to get the premium subscription to fully view the sitters’ profiles or post more job listings.
- You can deduct your premium subscription payments from your sitter’s compensation.
- You need to pay the monthly fees even if you didn’t use the service or find a suitable sitter from the site.
- The premium subscription automatically renews every billing period (monthly, quarterly, or annually). Some parents prefer this convenience, but others complain that they’re paying for the service even if they’re not using it anymore. So, cancel your subscription before your due date.
- They don’t offer a refund or half-month credit for unused days, even if you cancel the subscription early.
What Customers Say
“There was a membership fee of $9.99, and I was able to post a job position for date nights and things like that. It was good, and it served its purpose. It was basic, and I discontinued it after I found my sitters. It was a website where you log in and put your information in. If I need sitters again, I’ll sign up again. I didn’t have any issues with them.” – Reviewer on Angi Chicago.
“Paying the $35 fee to Sittercity was a very small price to pay for the wonderful people that I was able to interview and ultimately hire.” – Reviewer on Yelp.
“I think Sittercity is a great service overall. I was a bit hesitant about letting a stranger in my house watch the most precious aspects of my life! I felt comforted when I saw so many sitters in my area and the safety “badges” that get assigned to each sitter (for things like CPR and first aid training). I learned about the signup process from this tutorial about the site who I guess is a nurse and had a similar experience to me. Good luck out there and make sure you interview your sitter closely and always get a background check!” – Reviewer on Site Jabber.
“These Sittercity scumbag thieves started charging my card, and I never subscribed as a premium member. I never even used their service! They are a rip-off and get you to put your card to even get a quote for a sitter, which is an insane cost, and then they act like you enrolled in the premium membership. They are dirtbag con artists and criminals!” – Reviewer on Site Jabber.
“So after reaching out and talking on the phone with countless people, they don’t show up for the interview or say one thing and when hired don’t show up for the job. The people applying for work on this site are either scammers or lazy, entitled millennials who show up when they feel like it. Horrible, absolutely horrible unreliable people. Not one did well.! Months and months of search. Just give up. Use Bambino, which offers free membership or Urban Sitter apps.” – Reviewer on Site Jabber.
“I mistakenly signed up for a subscription, and when I realized that I had been charged, I called to cancel. I was told by two representatives that they reviewed my charges and membership details and could not refund my charges. I called in less than 24 hours. I just want a refund.” – Reviewer on BBB (Better Business Bureau).
How Sittercity Works
Is Sittercity Legitimate?
This online platform for nanny services was founded in 2001 in Boston but now has its headquarters in Chicago, Illinois.
How To Hire A Sitter
There are two ways for you to find a sitter:
- Creating a job posting
- Browsing through active sitter profiles via the Sittercity search feature
You can do both at their website: www.sittercity.com
To narrow down your options, create a job posting with the following details, depending on your family’s needs:
- Location (put your general location but never post your full address)
- Specific job requirements (taking care of children with special needs, multiples, babies, etc.)
- Number of kids and their ages
- Duration of care services (start date, number of hours, end date, etc.)
- Rate (hourly rate, extra fees, bonuses, benefits, perks, etc.)
- Typical responsibilities (feeding the kids, light housekeeping, driving, homework help, sick care, etc.)
- Other details (daycare, night shift, live-in, part-time, full-time, pets in the house, etc.)
Once your job posting is live, you’ll receive alerts whenever a sitter sends a new application. You can choose from these applicants based on their Sittercity records.
Searching For Sitters
You can also opt to use Sittercity’s search feature to browse through the nannies in your area.
Paying the premium membership fee gives you access to active sitters’ profiles on the platform.
First, enter your zip code to narrow down your search options to sitters near you.
You can filter the sitter search results based on the following:
- Distance from your home
- Last login date (to check for active sitters)
- Completed background checks
- Years of experience
- Sick care or comfort with pets
Doing a Preliminary Screening
What needs to be done for the actual screening process is really up to you. But you might want to run background checks to ensure that your prospect isn’t a fraudster or a lazy nanny.
Sittercity uses a badge system so that you can choose from babysitters with current background check results and Family Watchdog Database clearance. You can even ask the sitter for a full copy of the background check results if you want to check the details.
The site also lets you request your childcare provider’s motor vehicle records, especially if the job needs some driving.
You can either use the Crosschq digital reference check platform or call the sitter’s references to find more information about your prospective sitter’s performance on the job.
You may also view the sitter’s employee reviews to learn more about how good (or bad) the nanny is at this job. Or you can find assistance from the customer success team in picking your sitter.
Scheduling an Interview
Once you find a suitable applicant, you can directly request the sitter for a meeting through their profile.
You’ll have to specify these details:
- Date and time of the interview
- Phone or in-person interview
- Hourly rate and perks, if any
- Number and ages of your children
- Specific job responsibilities and details
Once the interview is confirmed, you’ll receive the sitter’s phone number if you chose a phone interview.
If you chose an in-person interview, you’d need to provide the address for the meeting place: your home address or a public place.
Does Sittercity Pay Cash?
How you pay your sitter or nanny depends on what you’ve agreed on, but you may do so with cash, Paypal, Venmo, Zello, or even direct to your nanny’s bank account.
Can I Deduct My Nanny Salary?
Your nanny’s salary may be deducted as childcare expenses on your tax return. The IRS considers nannies as direct household contributors. (1)
Membership Payments Accepted
- Major credit cards and/or debit cards are accepted.
- The site doesn’t accept prepaid debit or credit cards
- The site doesn’t accept billing over the phone for security reasons
Canceling Your Membership/Subscription
All memberships are subject to automatic renewal unless you cancel or downgrade your subscription before the expiration date.
Take note of the following:
- Subscription and renewal fees are all non-refundable
- The platform doesn’t bill or refund based on your account activity.
- The platform doesn’t provide partial-month refunds or credits (that means you have to pay for the whole month even if you choose to cancel your subscription in the middle of the month)
To cancel your Premium membership/subscription, go to your account settings using a computer. Downgrade to the basic subscription. It will cancel your automatic renewal.
If you purchased via the iOS app, go to settings and find Sittercity from your list of Subscriptions. Tap ‘manage subscriptions’ and find the cancel option.
If that doesn’t work, find “iTunes & App Store.” Sign in with your Apple ID so you can manage your subscriptions from the app.
To fully close your account and cancel any subscriptions, you have to send a message to [email protected] or submit a request/ticket through sittercity.com.
Safety & Security Of Families & Sitters
Sittercity assures families and sitters that they use several filters to stop scammers from connecting with their members and service providers.
Because some clever scammers might find a way to contact you, Sittercity advises parents and sitters to only connect through the site. Exchanging messages through the site can help filter out common scam messages that are flagged by the software.
Summary & Recommendation
In this review of Sittercity, we have the following recommendations:
Choose Sittercity if:
- You want to safely find a sitter with complete and fresh background checks from government-accredited independent agencies.
- You want to find a babysitter, nanny, pet sitter, or special needs caregiver using an app or online tools.
- You want the ability to choose a sitter using a search tool that you can filter depending on your location and family’s needs.
- You want to set your own rates, terms, benefits, and perks for the sitter.
- You don’t mind paying for a per-month membership so you can post job listings or search for active sitters.
Don’t choose Sittercity if:
- You don’t want to pay the premium monthly fee.
- You’re particular about refunds and paying only for services that you actually use.
- You’re concerned about the premium subscription issues reported by other parents in the customer reviews.