When mom Kelly Ford moved to Greenville from Miami, she found herself in need of a baby sitter.

But she didn’t want just anyone to keep her two little ones. She turned to Smart Sitters, a Greenville baby-sitting placement agency.

“I got to know some of the baby sitters through my church,” Ford said. “I love the way the sitters interact with my kids. They play outside and play games.”

Whether you need someone for an afternoon, a date night or full-time nannying, finding the right sitter can be a difficult task.

“Be patient,” said Emily Kodat, marketing manager for Smart Sitters. “It may take a month or two to find a really good fit.”

She suggested beginning your search through networking.

“Ask around at church, in your neighborhood and at school,” she said. “Sometimes church nursery workers or substitute teachers are looking for extra jobs. Empty-nesters are sometimes interested. You can use word of mouth to help find someone.”

Be choosy, Kodat said.

“You want a sitter who is passionate about children,” she said. “Expect professionalism. There is a difference between someone who is passionate about children and someone who just wants a Friday night job. Child care has gone from a 12-year-old mother’s helper to a career. Expect your sitter to arrive on time, be accountable and engage with the children.”

Once you have identified a candidate, Kodat recommends a prescreening interview to help determine if you have the right fit.

“Ask why they are interested in the job,” she said. “Ask about past experience and goals.”

She suggested giving sitters scenarios and asking how they would respond in certain situations. Include your children in about half of the interview and watch the way a candidate interacts.

“Watch body language,” she said. “A good sitter will really engage the children.”

When you are looking at fit, Kodat cautioned that it is not just the fit between sitter and children.

“Make sure that you — the parent — connect with the sitter,” she said. “You will interact with this person often.”

Over-communication is key in an interview, Kodat said.

“Really communicate your expectations,” she said. “If you want them to have a flu shot, CPR or first aid certification, those are all things you can ask in an interview. If you expect the sitter to take the child to the park or other places, this is the time to communicate that.”

You can also talk about discipline methods.

“Some sitters are very disciplinary, while others are a little more free-spirited,” Kodat said. “You have to look for the right fit for your family.”

The interview is also the time to discuss pay rates and frequency, and any household tasks you expect the baby sitter to complete.

When hiring a sitter, determining pay rate can be difficult. Smart Sitters starts at $11 per hour for one child and adds $1 per hour for each additional child. The service does not allow sitters to care for more than five children. Kodat said parents should increase rates if extra work is requested.

For Ford, using a referral service has made the process of finding a sitter a little less daunting.

“My kids have loved every sitter,” she said.

Find out more

To find out more about Smart Sitters, visit

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