Tuesday, February 15, 2011

The K. Grace Experience: Flexible and Convenient Childcare in Chicago -- Part 3

This post is the third installment in a series about the K. Grace Childcare experience. Need to catch up? Read Part One here and Part Two over on Self-Made Mom.

I've had good babysitters. I've had terrible babysitters. And I've had babysitters that were . . . you know . . . just fine.

In my ongoing search for childcare for my kiddos, I've learned that not all sitters are a good fit for every family. Have you ever had a friend recommend a babysitter to you and then find yourself surprised when you didn't love this sitter as much as your friend and her family do? I don't think that is an uncommon experience. The truth is that the term "good sitter" means something different to everyone.

At K. Grace Childcare, they take steps to ensure that you not only get a great sitter -- but you get a sitter that is a great fit for your family. And honestly, I am not sure how you would be able to conduct this sort of intensive, personalized screening process on your own. It really is unique to the K. Grace experience.

Before you become a client at K. Grace, you spend some time (I would say that it took me about 15 minutes total) to complete their online application form. This detailed questionnaire is designed to elicit all sorts of information -- from any special needs that your kids have to your approach to discipline at home. The form also provides plenty of opportunities for you to share as much information as you want (like whether or not television is allowed or any other special requests).

After you fill out the online form, all clients receive a call from Erin Barlow, the client services manager at K. Grace. She follows up in detail (serious detail) about how the screening process works and how certain sitters are determined to be a good match for your family. Erin explained to me that after the K. Grace sitters complete a rigorous application process, they are trained to follow a certain "baseline protocol." For example, every K. Grace sitter will remove her shoes upon entering you home and wash her hands before interacting with your children. The sitters all know to engage the children right away and keep a detailed log of their activities while you are gone (which is so helpful because you know all of the ins and outs of meals, sleeping, diaper changes and moods when you return home).

When I recently used K. Grace sitter Abby to hang out with my little guy Colin for a few hours during the day, she kept a fantastic (and also adorable) log. She noted how long Colin napped -- and also that she had heard him cough over the monitor a few times (this was helpful information given that he was developing a little cold). She also noted that he was a bit upset when he first woke up, but then adjusted and devoured his snack. Abby even mentioned that she was impressed with Colin's communication skills! See -- helpful and adorable.

K. Grace also does their best to provide you with the type of sitter introduction that you are looking for. When their new website debuts in the spring, clients will even receive a photo and personalized email from new sitters (which creates the opportunity for you to say, "Hey guys, come here so I can show you a picture of our new friend Abby!"). If a client wants to meet their prospective sitter before the first official sitting date, K. Grace will do their best to arrange such a meeting.

When we recently tried two new K. Grace sitters, we received emails from Erin Barlow with information about each sitter prior to her arrival. For example, I knew where each sitter attended school (plus her major!) and whether she was local to my neighborhood. The email also included information about the sitter's other jobs or hobbies, plus feedback from other K. Grace clients. These "recommendations" from fellow clients provided very helpful insight into each sitter's individual personality.

I found this experience to be so very different from having a new person show up at my door to watch my kids. I already knew a lot about each sitter before she arrived. Plus, I felt confident that the folks at K. Grace has put lots of thought into matching these particular babysitters to our family.

Client feedback is another crucial component in the personalized service. K. Grace requires clients to provide online feedback whenever they have a new sitter. This information helps them know what type of sitter to send to your house on your next request. When you make a placement request, K. Grace first reaches out to sitters that you have ranked a "10" in the past. They wait to hear back about availability from all of those sitters before they move down the list to sitters that you've given a lower rank.

Does this personalized and detail-oriented childcare service sound like something that might make be a helpful addition to your family life? Want to try it out? K. Grace is offering a Chicago family the chance to experience their placement process for free (a $40 value). The winner will have the opportunity to experience what it is like to be a client at K. Grace (note that, in order to provide the best level of service to their clients, certain geographic limitations apply and the winner is responsible for compensating the babysitter for her/his time).

There are two ways you can enter to win: (1) leave a comment on this post (be sure to include your contact info so we can reach you if you win!) and (2) Become a fan of K. Grace Childcare on Facebook. So 2 total entries per person. All entries must be received by midnight (CST) on Monday, February 21, 2011.

If you don't win this week, check back here on Tuesday, February 22nd for the final installment in this four-part series on finding flexible and co
nvenient childcare in Chicago -- plus, you'll have another chance to win a free placement from K. Grace!

Disclosure: I am working with K. Grace to help spread the word about their services and I am being compensated for my time.


Megan Murray Elsener said...

Sounds like a great service. Would love to check it out. I think it can be so hard to find babysitters in the city.

selfmademom said...

I would also add that you can schedule time to hang out with your K Grace sitter before you have her or him at your house so you can get to know her and your kids can too. It's a must for me!

Meghan Murray said...

This sounds like such a great service. I would love to give it a try!

Carmin said...

I am interested in trying the service. Thank you.

Carmin said...

Not sure how we are supposed to leave our contact info, though.

Caitlin said...


Thanks for your interest! Just leave an email address is this format:

myemailaddress (at) gmail (dot) com

I want to be able to reach you if you win!

stephanie said...

Would love to try the service!
Stephaniecohen (at) gmail.com

Shayna said...

Sounds great! Hope I win! I'm going to become a fan on facebook too!

Jamie said...

I definitely need this service. I became a fan on Facebook as well. thanks!

Jamie said...

Oops-- contact info. above:

Anonymous said...

They are a great service! Great sitters and personal service by the staff.

soo (at) squeegeefilms (dot) com

Vinisha said...

This is a wonderful opinion. The things mentioned are unanimous and needs to be appreciated by everyone.

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