PARKER, Colo. — A Colorado babysitting service that got its start last year is offering child care with a twist. The Sick Kid Sitters service offers to send CPR-certified babysitters to a family’s home to take care of their ill children.
Many times, children who come down with a cold or flu are either sent home from school or not allowed to be checked in to a day care to prevent the other children from contracting the sickness. That leaves parents either looking for backup child care or taking a day off of work to take care of the child.
“I have two small kids and my oldest daughter had just been sick for a week and my husband and I had already taken turns staying home and then my second daughter got sick,” said mother Stefania Koziol.
The Koziols don’t have family in town, so they started searching for someone who could help. That’s when they found out about Sick Kid Sitters.
The company was started last October by Kristina Sells, a working mother who found herself in a similar bind with her son in the past. She says she understands the desperate hunt for child care help.
“They have to be at work, and they need someone to come save the day for them because they can’t be two places at once when they have a little kid at home,” Sells said. “I really was thinking from the parent standpoint. Parents need help.”
Parents can request child care help the night before, or even in the morning, by filling out a form online or calling. Sells said she tried to make the process as easy as possible so that parents can get out the door and on the way to work quickly.
All of the babysitters are put through background checks and interviews with the company and are required to be CPR-certified. Many of them are parents themselves.
“If someone has an infant who is really sick, I would rather send somebody with some actual parenting experience because they’re more likely to notice if the (child is) shivering or lethargic,” Sells said.
Most of the time, the sitters are taking care of children with the common cold or flu, as well as hand-foot-and-mouth disease and RSV.
They take steps to protect themselves from getting sick, like washing their hands, bringing face masks and gloves with them and washing their clothing immediately after getting home. The sitters will also never take care of more than one sick child in a day to prevent the spread of germs from one house to another.
Babysitters send updates of the child’s condition to parents throughout the day along with pictures. They also keep a running log throughout the day of what the children ate, how long they slept and more.
“We keep a form where we track medication because that’s very important and then the parent doesn’t have any guesswork when they come home that night,” Sells said.
There are some rules, however, that parents must agree to in case their child’s condition worsens and the babysitter cannot get a hold of the parents.
“We do have some protocols that if a child gets a fever above 103 and we cannot bring it down with medicine or other measures or if they become incredibly lethargic or inconsolable and we cannot get a hold of the parent, we will call an ambulance,” Sells said.
In general, the company also will not take care of babies who are younger than six months old.
However, the service is not only for sick children. Sells said she recently had an ill parent hire a sitter because she needed to get some rest and she didn’t want to get the rest of the family sick. The sitters are also happy to take care of healthy children.
Koziol has already used the service multiple times when her children were sick and said she’s had positive experiences with it.
“Initially, it’s a little scary to leave your sick kid with someone you don’t know,” Koziol said. “It was reassuring to me as a parent that they had their own kids and that they’ve dealt with anything that can come up.”
The service costs about $22 per hour with a four-hour minimum. Right now, the company is handling six to 10 calls per week and has plans to expand into Colorado Springs and Fort Collins in the near future.