Hello Sitter. Hello Kitty. Sorry, that’s where my head goes. Parents in NYC, you are now one click away from a last minute great night out without a worry about who’s taking care of your kids. That’s what this new app wants you to think. The Hello Sitter app allows you to order up childcare the same way you call a car service. Holy cow—I know parents are busy, but this is really a dangerous concept. It was inevitable that technology would take us to this app. After all, we go online to order our groceries, our clothes, our toys, our household supplies, our movie tickets, our plane tickets, and the list goes on. Tech is in every industry. Why is it wrong here? Let me count the ways:
Background checks—what are they checking ? You need to know. Also, can we once again stress that the National Criminal Data check is not a thorough check even though it sounds mighty impressive. How about those misdemeanors? Not on the terrorist watch list??? Phew! And as one mother interviewed stated—Because you aren’t a criminal, doesn’t mean you aren’t a psycho.
Childcare references- how many and who’s calling them? Are they real former employers or friends? What is the range of their childcare experience?
Pathology is often hard to see or assess. Cursory checks are not going to rule out some really sick folks who should not be taking care of anyone’s children even if they cleared the legal background checks.
Staffing is not just about algorithms. We’ve tried it. When dealing with children and families, we know high touch trumps high tech.
For nannies, this app is not the safest idea either. Where are you going? No explanation for how those employers are checked out. Who talked to the parents? Are they really parents?
As an agency owner who has been in this field for over 30 years, I know how long it takes to check out every candidate for a childcare position and how hard it is to maintain a highly vetted group of on call nannies. It also takes experience to determine which jobs to take and which to decline. As a parent, peace of mind is the last thing that I feel when I hear “Hello Sitter.”