Coronavirus pandemic creates new realities in finding reliable babysitter

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INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) — Many businesses, both big and small, have taken a big hit due to the coronavirus pandemic, and babysitting is no exception.

It's typically a reliable source of income for high school students, college students or even adults to help out parents in need. But with stay-at-home orders in effect and social distancing guidelines put into place, the babysitting business saw an impact.

"There was definitely a slowdown, and a lot of cancellations came through because concerts were canceled," said Elizabeth Aronson, director of customer experience for Bambino, a popular babysitting app.

If you haven't heard of Bambino, it's because the babysitting business has changed. Last fall, WTHR spoke with the Riggs family from Zionsville, who rely on Bambino. It's been in the Indy area for nearly three years, and there are currently over 1,500 active sitters on the app in central Indiana.

Coronavirus concerns have created new realities in finding a reliable sitter now. One of the tips Aronson offered is to try and book the same sitter to help reduce cross contamination.

"Within the platform, you can request reoccurring sits. You're given a calendar, and you can select the days that you need a babysitter up to two months out, and then that request will be submitted to all of those sitters that you select," Aronson said. "It's important to also let them know that you're searching for the same sitter."

Aronson said there needs to be a constant communication between the sitter and parent on health and safety. As a result of COVID-19, Bambino has relaxed their "cancellation score," which monitors reliability because they want the sitter or parent to both feel comfortable canceling a sit if someone becomes sick.

The company also put "community coordinators" into place, whose role is to help parents feel comfortable coordinating any issues that might arise. There are four in the Indy area.

Aronson said it's OK to ask your sitter if they've been practicing social distancing or if they've been anywhere where they could've been potentially exposed. This dialogue is important, and there's a comment box as well when setting up an appointment with a sitter.

Obviously, Bambino is not the only option when it comes to babysitting; however, the same rules and guidelines can apply: Be smart and be safe when booking.

"We have started to see an uptick in requests," Aronson said. "Summer camps are going to look different in a lot of areas and the care that they're able to provide, so we're hopeful that a lot of parents will be able to rely on local babysitters to help them navigate their new schedules."