Care.com has been around for a while, and I’m sure many people have already heard of it.
When Care.com was founded in 2006, people were just beginning to embrace the nature of side-hustles. This was one of the first sites that worked to connect freelancers with clients. In this case, Care.com specifically connects caregivers with families.
When I began researching for this article, I was surprised by how many negative reviews existed for Care.com. Despite being rated an A+ business by the Better Business Bureau, Care.com has over 300 closed complaints in the last several years. Plus, they were being touted as a scam by many disgruntled families and caregivers.
These days, the word scam is thrown around so often that we forget what a true scam really is. Care.com is a legitimate business, but that doesn’t mean that they are completely fair to their freelancers and families.
So is Care.com a legitimate resource for families and side hustlers, or is it just another company that is trying to siphon your money?
What is Care.com?
Care.com is an online marketplace that connects caregivers with families in need of their services.
Founded in North Waltham, Massachusetts, Care.com claims to be a one-stop-shop for families and sitters and one of the largest resources of their kind. They estimate over 35.2 million members in over 20 different countries.
Caregivers can post their services, availability, and rates online and contact families they believe they can assist. Families can post any caregiving needs, whether it is on an ongoing basis or just a single date night. They can contact caregivers in their area that they believe would be a good fit.
While people typically associate Care.com with babysitters, they actually support a much larger category of caregivers. In addition to babysitters, Care.com connects people with nannies, tutors, senior care specialists, house-sitters, pet-sitters, and even people to help you run errands.
If you need help with your kids, pets, or housework, Care.com can connect you with someone who is up for the task.
As with most businesses, pricing tends to determine whether or not people believe that it is a scam.
- Family Basic Membership: For families, you can choose the basic membership, which is free.
- Family Premium Membership: The premium membership costs $39 for one month, $78 ($26/month) for three months, and $156 ($13/month) for twelve months.
- Background Checks: You also pay to run background checks on potential candidates. There are several types of background checks from which you can choose. Depending on how in-depth you would like the background check to be, you can end up paying as much as $300.
- Caregiver Premium Membership: For caregivers, it costs $20 per month for a premium membership. There are also additional services that you can pay for, including providing a background check and paying to appear at the top of peoples’ list.
Care.com leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to their free membership. For example, you can create a basic membership at no cost, which includes job posting, searching, and receiving applications from local caregivers. If you would like to respond to candidates or employers that reach out to you, you will need to pay for their premium membership.
All memberships run on a specified term basis, and you will continue to be charged until the end of your membership term, even if you cancel the services. Additionally, Care.com auto-renews your memberships without notifying you. This means that you are likely going to pay more than you would like for the services.
Care.com Additional Features
Every online marketplace is different in how they help you with your needs. Here are some of the unique features that Care.com offers.
If you are new to the caregiver scene, it can be hard to decide on an appropriate rate for your services. It can also be difficult to determine what to pay someone for services such as house sitting or dog walking.
Luckily, Care.com has several rate calculators that can help you find an appropriate rate based on services, experience, hours per week, and zip code. This ensures that you are not paying or charging an inappropriate amount for the work.
Care.com is unique because they have a dedicated team of parenting writers that cover all topics care related.
The blog is broken down into four different verticals: Child Care, Senior Care, Home Care, and Pet Care. Within each vertical, you are presented with an organized list of content, including guides, articles, and topics. Each vertical is also organized based on topics relevant to families seeking care and caregivers.
Whether discovering fun new babysitting games or learning how to become pet care certified, Care.com’s blog covers it all.
How Does Care.com Work?
Because Care.com caters to both caregivers and care seekers, there are two sides to the getting started experience.
I will explain below how Care.com works based on what you look to gain.
As a Caregiver
To sign up as a caregiver, you will select the “Find jobs” button on the homepage. They will then ask you what kinds of services you are providing. At this stage, you can only select one option. You can choose to add more services once you create your larger profile.
To get started, Care.com will request your name, address, and email address. You can select “Join now” once you provide this information.
There are no specific requirements to join Care.com. However, you should ensure that you are qualified for the position that you are advertising.
Care.com will ask you to list your experience and references for the position. You will also be prompted to provide any background checks, proofs of certification, and any related documents. Their customer care team will approve your paperwork to ensure that you are not uploading fake documents.
Finally, you can set your rates, availability, and browse jobs in your area. For the most engagement with your profile, you should include a recent picture of yourself and any references from past employers to help get your side hustle gig picking up traffic.
As a Care Seeker
To get started on finding a caregiver, you will select the button that reads “Find care.”
They will then ask if you need care for your kids, parents, pets, or home. Based on your selection, they will provide a list of potential services. For example, if you select kids, you can further specify if you need tutoring, a date night sitter, special needs care, or an after-school sitter.
They will also ask you if you are looking to hire ASAP, within the week, within the month, or just browsing.
Next, you will be asked about what you are looking for in an ideal caretaker. To continue with the babysitting example, the site would ask you about how many years of experience you would like your caregiver to have and about the age range of your children.
You can also specify if you would like someone who is CPR trained, college-educated, a non-smoker, and more.
After you make your selections, you will be asked to provide your zip code, name, and email. Once you create an account, you can begin browsing caregivers in your area. You may find that people begin to reach out to you, but you cannot reach back out with the basic membership.
Is Care.com Safe?
When it comes to security on Care.com, the main concern is making sure you are letting someone trustworthy into your life. Care.com has a very helpful safety resource page to help you learn how to choose the best candidate for your needs.
Care.com understands that it can be nerve-wracking to begin a working relationship with someone you meet on the internet. They provide both families and caregivers with guides on how to stay safe during the interviewing process. This includes what to look for in profiles, how to go about an initial meeting, and how to interpret a background check.
Additionally, their safety page includes frequently asked questions for both care seekers and caregivers. Each FAQ has a lengthy and information response, which can help keep you from having to contact their customer care team.
Lastly, you can manage your cookie preferences from this page. This helps you manage what activity the site is tracking.
Care.com is pretty basic in its customer service offering.
You can reach their team through a ticketed email service or by phone at (877) 277-3115. You can reach their customer service team Monday through Friday from 8 am to 6 pm EST.
Pros and Cons
There is little that is black and white in this world, and Care.com is no different. There are certainly reasons why people use it, and there are also reasons to potentially avoid their services. I’ll break down the pros and cons below.
- Access to a database of professionals: Care.com is successful for a reason; lots of reputable caregivers use it to find clients. If you are looking for someone who is serious about their job as a caregiver, they are likely on Care.com. As the world’s largest online marketplace for care, Care.com represents many quality candidates.
- User-friendly website: Sometimes, online marketplace platforms can be cluttered and confusing. It can be difficult to sift through all the candidates. Luckily, Care.com helps you narrow down your choices with a questionnaire on the front end. This means that you are left with great people in your area on the back end.
- Resources galore: If you are interested in education, Care.com has you covered. Their writers are knowledgeable and present information in a clear and helpful manner. Between their blog and safety center, you can learn about any topic imaginable as it relates to caregiving.
- Pay to play: There is little that you can do on Care.com for free on either the caregiver or care seeker side. If you would like to respond to people and schedule interviews, you will need to shell out monthly.
- Little transparency regarding pricing: In addition to Care.com’s “pay to play” structure, they make it very difficult to figure out what their pricing is for memberships.
- Potential scammers within the marketplace: While Care.com isn’t the classic definition of a scammer, they can’t promise that people on their site are not. There are definitely horror stories out there about people hiring someone who turned out to be a thief.
Alternatives to Care.com
Even though Care.com is the largest caregiver marketplace, it is certainly not monopolizing the space. Here are some other places you can advertise your services or look for a caregiver.
SitterCity.com understands that you need to filter through the bad babysitters to get to the good babysitters. They help you do this with their four-step screening process.
SitterCity.com recommends conducting an internal feedback system, an in-person interview, a reference check, and a background check with all potential candidates. They charge $15 for a background check, which is a better price than what Care.com offers. If a sitter has their background check available, you won’t have to pay the extra fee.
Remember back in the old days when you would ask your friends for a babysitter recommendation? After all, word of mouth is the best marketing. You can still get a reputable babysitter without stealing your friend’s night-out nanny through UrbanSitter.
UrbanSitter.com is a site that uses your social circle to connect you with caregivers that are recommended by people you know. You can sign up through either Facebook or LinkedIn, and the site generates a list of leads based on your network.
Best of all, the site doesn’t charge you to sign up, send messages, or book with a particular caregiver. This makes it a top choice for cost-effectiveness.
Au Pair is a term that you don’t often hear thrown around in the states. It’s basically a fancy way of saying live-in nanny, and you will often hear the term in Europe.
GreatAuPair.com is an American company that helps families find au pairs. They have been around since 2001, and they have successfully placed au pairs with families both nationally and internationally. Their team screens all potential au pairs so that you don’t have to worry about running background checks.
Overall, this is a great option for people that are needing all-encompassing care for their loved ones.
Is Care.com For You?
Care.com charges a hefty price tag for people who are looking for work and caregivers. Despite being the most popular platform, it is probably the least customer friendly in terms of pricing. Caregivers can get by with the basic version, but the paid version allows you to communicate with potential clients through the site.
Care.com does have plenty of talent on the site for people looking for quality sitters. If you are in the process of looking for a regular sitter, I would recommend paying for a short-term membership, fervently interviewing candidates, and canceling once you find someone you like. There is no reason to continue to pay their fees once you find a good sitter.
Overall, I think there are better, less-expensive platforms out there. Check out the alternatives for sites that are more cost-friendly than Care.com.