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 had over 700 closed complaints in the last several years. Plus, they were being touted as a scam by many disgruntled families and caregivers.
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 state that they help millions of families across 17+ 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.
Is Care.com Legit?
Care.com is a legitimate business, but that doesn’t mean that they are completely fair to all of its freelancers and families. These days, the word scam is thrown around so often that we forget what a true scam really is. To really understand if Care.com is for you, test it out with their free membership.
Care.com offers two options for family memberships and two options for caregivers:
Family Basic Membership: FREE
For families, you can choose the basic membership, which is free. With the Basic Membership the site allows you to:
- Set up a free account
- Post a job
- Search and view profiles of caregivers in your area
- See profiles of caregivers that apply for your job listing
- Send automated “No, thank you.” messages to caregivers who you do not wish to hire
- Use of site tools and resources
Family Premium Membership: $12.99 – $38.99/month
The premium membership costs $38.99 for one month, $78 ($25.99/month) for three months, and $156 ($12.99/month) for twelve months.
With the Premium Membership, the site allows you to:
- All features of the Basic Membership plus…
- Ability to contact caregivers directly to schedule an interview
- Request access to results of background checks
- View and reply to applications and messages from caregivers
- Ability to sign up for the Unlimited Background Checks add-on
- Access to LifeMart Discount program
- Access to a discount on HomePay tax services
Caregiver Basic Membership: FREE
For caregivers, you can choose the basic membership, which is free. With the Basic Membership the site allows you to:
- Create your account and set up your profile
- Customize your public profile
- Search for and apply to caregiver jobs
- Ability to respond to premium members searching for a caregivers
- Get paid securely without any extra transaction fees
- Use of site tools and resources
Caregiver Premium Membership: $10 – $20/month
The Caregiver premium membership costs $20/month for one month, $15/month for three months, and $10/month for six months.
With the Caregiver Premium Membership, the site allows you to:
- Be featured in search results with a premium badge
- Get priority job alerts
- Send and receive messages with families and members
- Waived annual screening fee
- Access to LifeMart Discount Program
Free Membership vs. Premium Membership
Care.com leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to its 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 offers you the ability to list your services as a caregiver, or to list your needs for a caregiver and review background checks.
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
- 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, and 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 gig picking up traffic.
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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.
Care.com offers you the ability to list your services as a care giver, or to list your needs for a caregiver and review background checks.
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 informative 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 an online chat portal, ticketed email service, or by phone at (877) 277-3115. You can reach their customer service team 24, 7.
Pros and Cons
- Access to a database of professionals
- User-friendly website
- Resources galore
- Pay to play
- Little transparency regarding pricing
- Potential scammers within the marketplace
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 a 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.
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