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When a parent or child has a disability, babysitters are a valuable resource. "Vetting" the experience of a babysitter is critical because babysitters are not obligated to meet a state's standards for childcare workers.

Many babysitters work for multiple families, caring for a child or siblings in each home. They usually earn an hourly fee. Other babysitters work full time. These babysitters may live in their employers home and be paid a weekly salary. Some babysitters seek specialized training in newborn care and sleep issues.. The American Red Cross is one of the organizations that offer certification in CPR, Water Safety and First Aid.

A babysitter can ensure a child’s physical safety and physical care while parents with disabilities attend to other aspects of parenting. For example, a baby sitter can prepare meals for the child of a parent with physical disability while the parent shares the child’s company at mealtimes. Parents with low vision or blindness can play with their child while a babysitter keeps watch for sharp edges and unsafe streets. Certification in CPR, Water Safety and First Aid are critical credentials. The American Red Cross offers these certifications. Certification in newborn care is offered by the Newborn Care Specialist Association, which also offers certification in newborn sleep.

Parents of children with disabilities have the same goals for themselves and their children as all other parents. But, some of their child’s needs may be unfamiliar to babysitters who are inexperienced. It is possible for an inexperienced babysitter to form a responsible and responsive relationship with your child, but anticipate an extended period of transition before you leave the house for an uninterrupted “date night”.

When a child has a disability, it is helpful for a parent to find a babysitter who has had successful experience---professional and/or personal--- with a child whose needs are similar. After you have completed your “due diligence”, schedule an interview and have your child participate. If the babysitter and your child appear to “click”, prepare for a transitional period with your new babysitter as you familiarize your child’s babysitter with your child’s needs and with your expectations.

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