How to Find a Nanny
Hiring a full-time babysitter can be one of the most stressful experiences of early parenthood. Tips to ease the process
USING AN AGENCY: The advantage of working with agencies is that most conduct background and reference checks, which can include Social Security verification and motor vehicle checks for tickets, accidents, and suspensions. Fees can range from around $1,000 to upwards of $2,500, and it may be worth the expense if you're trying to plan ahead. "Agencies are much better at knowing farther in advance when a nanny will be available," points out Logan Square mom Meighan Depke. "[Independent] nannies lose a job, then find a job." There's no local oversight group for agencies, but NannyNetwork.com (nannynetwork.com), a national directory of agencies, has an excellent list of questions for parents who are interviewing agencies; you'll find it in its "Library and FAQs" section. Most agencies conduct business over the phone. If you want to meet in person, Chicago Nannies (773-720-5505, chicagonanniesinc.com) and Olive.You.Nanny (773-208-3370, oliveyounanny.com) will come to your home for an interview before providing referrals.
GOING IT ALONE: The nanny message board of NPN, at npnparents.org, has frequent posts from parents looking for a nanny or ones helping their nanny find a new placement. Craigslist (chicago.craigslist.org) has new listings almost every day from babysitters looking for work. Sittercity (sittercity.com) and eNannySource (enannysource.com) both allow you to search the profiles of Chicago-area nannies for free; once you pay the fee (starting at $39.99 for the first month on Sittercity, and $98 for one month on eNannySource), you can access their contact information. You might also consider running a help-wanted ad in a local college newspaper—such as Loyola University's The Phoenix (loyolaphoenix.com)—or post a notice on a departmental bulletin board. And don't forget the ethnic papers such as La Raza (773-273-2000) and the Polish Daily News (773-763-3343).
Illustration: Julia Kuhl