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Making the decision about child care looms large for parents — even before their first child is born.

For some families, choosing a nanny can make the transition to parenthood an easier one. To make the process easier, parents can turn to a placement service or one that connects job postings with available nannies. Care.com is the latter, offering parents the opportunity to search in their area, secure background checks and more.

Katie Bugbee, senior managing editor with Care.com, said parents have to consider their budget for child care. Some families participate with a friend in a nanny share. That could mean splitting the week, if one parent from each family works part-time, but Bugbee said it more likely means that two families share the same nanny on the same day.

“That cost is now split in half between two families,” she said. “It helps with the cost, but it still has the convenience, especially if it’s at your home.”

Finding the right match takes effort. Creating a job description in advance gives families the opportunity to specify their expectations. Think about whether the nanny will handle light housework or start dinner.

And safety should be paramount. Start with a phone interview. Even the circumstances of that contact can be revealing, Bugbee said.

“Does she answer while she’s driving?” Bugbee said. “Is she baby-sitting while she is talking to you?”

If a phone interview goes well, Bugbee recommends an in-person meeting at a public location, without your children.

“If it feels like a great fit, ask for references,” she said. “Ask for more than what she gives you. Ask for a neighbor, a college coach, an employer. Also, talk to another parent. Employers are one thing, but you want to get someone mom-to-mom.”

SC Nannies is an agency that places nannies for a variety of needs, including full-time care, newborn night care, after-school help or weekend sitters. Founder and Greenville manager Riley Dannelly, who has more than 10 years of experience as a nanny, said her company does background checks and face-to-face interviews and offers first aid and CPR classes to its employees. She said one perk of using an agency is that if the nanny is sick, the agency will try to send a substitute. But no matter how they choose to hire, parents should remember that the cost for a well-qualified nanny is not the same as a teenager who baby-sits for date night.

“We have people email sometimes wanting to pay $7 – $8 an hour and we don’t do that,” Dannelly said. “You get what you pay for.”

Dannelly said families using her agency pay the agency directly and do not have to pay taxes on a household employee.

Learn more about nannies

Learn more about SC Nannies at www.scnannies.com or www.facebook.com/greenvillenannies. Care.com offers background checks, an online cost calculator and more. Visit www.care.com/homepay to learn how to pay a nanny correctly and legally and what tax benefits may be available.

Find more at www.upstateparent.com

Looking for things to do with kids in Greenville-Spartanburg? More stories relevant to families? Visit www.upstateparent.com.

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