Decked out in their pajamas, Bodhi, Kai, Drake and Roman colored with markers and listened to a complete stranger read aloud Pete the Cat while their moms and dads slipped out the front door.
That the young boys didn’t know Melissa Rincon meant little; meeting new sitters is old hat when you’re between the ages of 3 and 6. But tonight, their parents had only met Rincon 15 minutes earlier when she knocked on Jodi Gallant’s door and introduced herself as the babysitter…
In a matter of minutes, Gallant versed Rincon, 24, about acceptable snacks, bedtime tricks and procedures for operating the television remote, while Drake and Roman’s mom checked out her vibe. Feeling assured, the parents were then on their way to the SoHo Beach House.
“Good luck,” Gallant said. Gallant’s husband, Stuart Sheldon, calls the service “convenient” and trustworthy.
“These guys are great. I had no hesitancy at all,” he said of TLC for Kids, the Miami company that employs Rincon. Co-president Sharon Graff-Radell…said sites that register millions of sitters may not catch everyone who has a red flag in their background, or who isn’t qualified to watch kids. “The problem with these online sites is people have a false sense of security,” she said. “They’re Internet companies. They’re not child-care companies. They’re the Amazon.com of child care.”
Graff-Radell said TLC… connects [parents] for a fee with one of its sitters, all of whom have minimum credentials like CPR certification, and have undergone…background checks. Families can also request sitters they’re familiar with.
“I have to take responsibility for everyone I send out, so it’s safer to use a service like mine than really to hire the high school kid two blocks away,” she said.
That commitment, a bio they received about TLC employee Rincon, and a phone conversation the night before was enough to make Jodi Gallant, her husband and their friends visiting with their boys from California feel comfortable. Rincon said she works at a day care at Florida International University, where she’s studying early childhood education.
“She called me and wanted to know what the boys were interested in, and she brought her own coloring books. Most babysitters never do that,” said Gallant as Rincon got to know her kids. “I just instantly felt a good feeling.”
Then Rincon brought out the goody bag and Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes. And with the boys distracted by the story of how Pete stepped in a pile of strawberries, the parents quietly headed to Miami Beach.