By Christina Succi
Elize Shirdel, mother of two, struggled to plan date nights with her husband, because she found it difficult to find a babysitter, so she created an app herself.
Shirdel is the founder of DateNight, an app that connects parents with a network of babysitters in their neighbourhood.
She told Humber News she knew there was a large market of parents looking for qualified babysitters, but lacking a way to connect.
“I found it really hard to plan, so I thought surely there’s a tech solution – that’s when I realized the stumbling block was that parents don’t have babysitters” said Shirdel.
Parents use the app by requesting certain babysitters in their neighbourhood from a pre-screened list and the babysitters accept requests at a given date or time.
She built the list of babysitters from her visits to different colleges and universities in Toronto.
“I went to a couple job fairs at Ryerson, George Brown and U of T where there are great young people with all sorts of experience from child specific programs in the ECE [Early Childhood Education] department that are totally qualified,” said Shirdel.
She said she interviewed candidates to find out what their credentials are and asked for child care references for parents to be able to check themselves.
Shirdel said the feedback has been great so far, from both the babysitters and the clientele, including Toronto mom Kristen Spencer.
“I would definitely consider using it,” Spencer said. “I feel like in my neighbourhood, I just don’t know a lot of teens or college students that could do it.”
“I used the internet to find my nanny- of course we met her in person before hiring her- so I don’t see why I wouldn’t use the app to find a babysitter,” she said.
Shirdel admits, however, that there is still some controversy over the app in terms of safety and security but said the app isn’t very different from how parents find babysitters now.
Parents may conduct their own personal interview with the successful candidates before booking them to babysit, she said.
“Babysitters meet and interview before any babysitting happens,” said Shirdel.
“We’re just helping people connect with babysitters to interview then passing along their reference information,” she said.