Tips for Finding a Babysitter in Champaign-Urbana
How to find the best babysitters for your family, and suggestions for how much to pay them
Finding a babysitter can be a serious challenge. How do you find the right person to entrust with your children when you’re away?
Whether you need part-time or “sometimes” care or you’re just desperately seeking a date night out, most parents in Champaign-Urbana will find themselves in this predicament at some point.
Before we go any further, let’s define the word babysitter. For the purposes of this article, we are talking about the type of caregiver who generally comes to your home and takes care of a child or children for a relatively short period of time. (Click here to read our post on Finding Childcare in Champaign-Urbana.)
Before you start looking:
- Pinpoint your babysitter needs. Do you want someone for occasional weekends? Do you need week nights? Overnights? After school? Summer?
- Figure out who you want to take care of your children. Are you OK with a teenager? Or do you want a college student? Or perhaps someone who is older? (Generally the older, more experienced the sitter, the more expensive. We get into that more below.
- Be honest with yourself about expectations. Want your sitter to empty the dishwasher while Junior naps? Looking for someone who will read to your baby and play with her, too? Then be ready to set that expectation with the person you will have in your home.
Where do you start?
One place to start when looking for a babysitter in Champaign-Urbana: The Child Care Resource Service at University of Illinois is located in Urbana. CCRS is a program of the Department of Human and Community Development at the U of I.
CCRS has a booklet that includes contact information for available students willing to do childcare in the child’s home.
Parents should call (217) 333-3252 and go to option three or stop by the office, located at 905 S. Goodwin Ave., 314 Bevier Hall, to obtain contact information for students.
Nannyville, LLC is a local resource in Champaign-Urbana that can help you find a nanny or sitter to fit your family’s needs. The Champaign-Urbana Childcare Connection group on Facebook is a free platform to connect local families in need of childcare with willing childcare providers in the Champaign-Urbana community that is supported by Nannyville, LLC.
You might also consider posting an ad on Craigslist. The site has gotten a bad rap over the years but if you follow your instincts and follow up with reference checks, you could find the perfect fit for your family. Many of our area families also use Nextdoor.com to find local babysitters.
National websites like Sittercity.com and Care.com will allow you to peruse a list of potential caretakers for your children that includes information about their experience and references. The downside is it will cost you money to buy a membership.
Make your need for a sitter Facebook official and post an ad on your own social media page. You may get several responses that way, giving you a group to start interviewing and following up with.
Don’t forget to look offline as well.
Ask around your (offline) networks. If you belong to a church/synagogue/mosque, perhaps there is a youth group there with kids who babysit. Or maybe an older member of the church — perhaps his/her grandchildren live far away — is interested.
Were you in a sorority? Ask your sorority if you can post a flyer or info at your house on the University of Illinois campus. Same thing with campus-based faith organizations. Many of them offer bulletin boards where you can post a job.
Ask your neighbors – maybe they know of young adults in the neighborhood who babysit.
If your child is in daycare or preschool, ask the school what its policy is regarding teachers babysitting — go ahead and ask your child’s favorite teachers if they babysit.
Ask anyone you trust if they know of any good caregivers who may fit your parameters.
Crafting Your Ad
Remember when we talked about expectations? This is when they come into play. Include what you will be paying, and whether it is negotiable. If you say it’s negotiable, expect negotiation.
Being honest and forthcoming from the get-go will prevent headaches later.
The All-Important Interview
So you have a few candidates. One idea is to do a first interview in a public place, just with you (parent) and prospective sitter. If they earn a second interview, then invite them over to your home for the “child test” to see how they will interact with your kids.
Ask the basics: experience, references, safety training. Set up a scenario and ask the sitter how she/he would handle it. If you have specific tasks you need from a sitter, be direct and ask up front about experience with such tasks. Also, ask them what they won’t do. The answer might surprise you.
Here is a decent list of interview questions; prepare yourself in advance of the interview.
There are many ways to check out a babysitter, especially if you don’t want to spend the outrageous $555 fee we saw being advertised online for a background check.
Get a criminal background check from the State of Illinois for only $16, via the Illinois State Police. However, this is limited to just this state. Instructions are linked here.
Illinois DCFS will also allow you to submit a request for a background search of the “Child Abuse and Neglect Tracking System (CANTS)” system, with consent of the job applicant. More information here.
If your sitter will be driving your child around, you might want to get a driving record abstract from the state of Illinois. It’s only $12 but takes up to two weeks.
Don’t forget to check references. It’s amazing how many people don’t do it.
If possible, make sure that the first time your sitter is alone with your children, you are in the house. Stay out of the way, but stay close enough so you can observe how the person interacts with your kids. Break them in easy and make them feel at home.
How Much to Pay a Babysitter in Champaign-Urbana
So how much do Champaign-Urbana households pay their babysitters?
The average rate in Champaign-Urbana is $10 to $15 an hour.
On the high end: $20/hr
On the low end: $5-7/hr
And everywhere in between: Between $8 and $12 an hour
Here’s what some local parents have to say about paying a babysitter.
- “I also have one child and try to schedule a sitter for when my kiddo is awake (personal preference). I pay $10/hr if the sitter is 18 years old and knock off a dollar for every year younger ($8 for 16, etc).”
- “I feel $10/hr is pretty reasonable. I tell myself that even though they’re only sitting on my couch, that’s four hours they could be doing something much more interesting and therefore I owe them for their help.”
- “We pay $10/hour for one baby — if my husband and I could afford it we would definitely pay more though.”
- “We paid $15/hr for two babies/toddlers. Now we pay $19-20/hr for two babies and two toddlers. Our sitter has well over a decade of experience working at a daycare.”
- “Honestly, it depends on which sitter we hire. We have one that we adore and we pay her $10 an hour (we have two children). And the others we pay $7 an hour, with a $5 tip.”
But some families pay more or pay per child or with experience
- “We have had a total of two sitters. Ever. They are older and do more than your typical high school or college sitter. They are fantastic. We pay $15-20/hr most of the time. We also have three kids.”
- “I pay $15/hr for my three kids.”
- “We sometimes do $15/hr for our two kids.”
- “$10/hr for daytime and $15 nights/weekends for one infant. We target a college students with experience.”
- “We pay a set fee of $20 per child from 7 p.m. – Midnight”
- “We started at $10/hr and as they stayed with us longer, we increased it every 6 months.”
To clean or not to clean
- “I almost always pay $10/ hr, but round up at the end of the night. I have three super easy kiddos (ages 2, 6 and 9) and don’t ask sitters to clean up or anything extra (although I appreciate if they don’t leave the house messier than they found it). When I have a new sitter, I ask them what they charge and occasionally will pay more if they request it, but we have several sitters so if they charge more they usually go to the bottom of my list, simply a financial decision.”
- “I started paying my sitters $10/hr when I had one child. I pay $15/hr now for three and I do not give them a to-do list. They’re paid to take care of my children, not my house.”
- “I pay $7-10/hr for my two kids, just depends on the sitter. I’ll usually round up when paying. Whatever you choose to pay just be up front about it ‘I’m looking for a babysitter for my one child, I pay $x/hr and expect YZ. I pay $x/hr if you do extra housekeeping like wash dishes, sweep, etc…’ then there’s no unanswered expectations.”
On negotiating pay
“You can negotiate with a sitter. I give my sitters a choice when they’re around after my kids go to bed. I have a list of housework that needs to get done. To get paid the full rate, you’ll need to do that work. If you would rather do homework, no problem, but your hourly pay will decrease (the exception is when we have sitters come at prime times, like a Saturday night when they’d rather go out or on a holiday night.) We tell our sitters this during the interview and they’re happy with it. We pay our sitters $10-14/hr, based on experience with us and other kids.”
Feedback from local babysitters, for a different perspective.
- “I’m a babysitter and the most common seems to be $10/hr in this area. A lot of people will add about $2 per kid onto that. However, from a sitter’s stand point, if you want to have an exceptional sitter who keeps coming back and goes out of their way to make themselves available to watch your kids, then don’t just pay them the average. Babysitting isn’t like other jobs where you have to do it, we can always turn jobs down if it isn’t worth our time. Every sitter is different, so just be sure to discuss it with them ahead of time and decide what works for both of you.”
- “If you’re paying well then most sitters will do light cleaning up without even being asked. I will pick up, load the dishwasher, and then I will do my own thing after that. We are babysitters, not housekeepers. If I’m asked to do any cleaning other than what I would do on my own without being asked, then I would expect to be paid extra for that, not just to even out my time.”
- “I am a nanny, and have been for numerous years. I make anywhere from $11-15/hr. I will do stuff related to the children as far as dishes/laundry/pick up toys/ect., but not otherwise. I’ll be your housekeeper, but at a different rate and time. I don’t feel that’s why I am there. I feel I am there to give my undivided attention to your children, and I do just that. Even if they’re older. We still hang out or help them with stuff they need. Everything (duties, pay, etc.) can be negotiated. I feel there’s a huge difference in a babysitter and a nanny. A sitter is there randomly for a date night for a few hours so not much relationship with the kids or family is typically established. A nanny helps you raise your children alongside you, that means there is a lot more responsibility and family interaction and relationship. So it’s a matter of what the needs of your family are. Just find a person that fits what you need and fits in well with your family. I will go far out of my way for the families I work for because we have that relationship established. We are all almost family now. Trust is a huge factor as well. Trust is almost priceless.”
- “I charge $10/hr for one child, $15 for 2, $20 for 3+ or it isn’t worth my time. Sorry, you can’t have the expectation of having someone more responsible than a 14-year-old and the expectation of paying less than $10/hr.”
- “I used to work for a nanny agency and it’s usually $10-15/hr depending on the number of kids.”
On the value of a well-paid sitter
- “Why low-ball the cost of care for the most important people in your life? You get what you pay for.”
- “I used to feel as though I was wasting my money to pay someone to hang at my house while my child slept … until the time when our baby woke up with a stomach bug soon after we left and threw up about 15 times before we got home. That’s when we realized the full value of a well-paid babysitter.”
Don’t Be Discouraged
If one sitter doesn’t work out, don’t be afraid to start again. Chemistry is a funny thing, and sometimes it takes a couple tries to find the best fit.