Many parents will be looking to use a babysitter for their children when going out. Making sure your child is safe, well cared for and happy is one of the biggest concerns of any parent. It can be very stressful leaving your child in someone else’s care and this is an extremely important decision you will have to make. There are no legal requirements on a person applying to work as a child carer (please visit www.ofsted.gov.uk), so it is up to you, as parent and employer, to ensure that you are employing a person who will look after your children well.
It’s a little known fact, but there is no set age when it’s ok to leave children home alone. It very much depends on whether the child is mature enough to be left and could cope with an emergency situation. According to the NSPCC: ‘The law does not set a minimum age at which children can be left alone. However, it is an offence to leave a child alone when doing so puts him or her at risk.’ They go on to recommend that no one under the age of 16 should be left to care for an infant.
A babysitter is usually a person who will look after the children in your own home, on an informal basis, usually for a few hours in the evening, when the children are asleep for most of the time.
Whilst it might be tempting to just use your neighbour’s teenage daughter, we wouldn’t recommend it unless your children are a bit older and they just need ‘supervising’ and not baby-sitting as such.
The best way is to use a trustworthy, experienced and qualified childcarer with a proven track record. The most reliable source is a nanny agency; you would have to pay a membership or a booking fee each time, but the babysitters they provide are of the highest calibre. They agency would have interviewed them, checked their ID, references and qualifications and made sure they have a current Criminal Records Bureau check and a valid First Aid certificate. As a member of the Association of Nanny Agencies (www.anauk.org), Nannyplus Childcare Ltd, has to follow strict rules and guidelines when recruiting and placing childcarers and babysitters.
Should you decide to source a babysitter yourself, please make sure you perform some basic checks such as proof of ID, child care qualifications, a valid First Aid and even ask to see a recent CRB check, which most people working in child care should already be required to have in their day job. You are inviting a complete stranger into your home to care for your children so follow your instincts and if it doesn’t feel right, then don’t use them.
Once you decide on the right person, book them to come half an hour early the first time you use them; this should allow enough time for the children to feel relaxed with the babysitter, it will give you some time to show her around and make her aware of bedtime routines etc and also see how the children interact with the babysitter. Always make sure you leave a contact telephone number and tell her how far you’ll be, should you need to be called back home in an emergency. Also, provide details of another person which could be contacted such a next door neighbour, grandparents or family doctor. Let the babysitter know an approximate time for your return. If you are going to be home later than anticipated, try to let her know as soon as you can.
For further details call Di Williams on 01925 768 188 or visit www.nannyplus.co.uk. Follow us on Twitter @nannyplusdi. Facebook: Nannyplus Childcare