The first principle of childcare when you are not there is to have eyes that are there for you. If you cannot afford a security camera then you must find someone that you can trust. Many have thought that the presence of a relative provided some degree of security but as the testimony of many have shown violations by family members of children is not uncommon. When both parents must work then it is important to take the necessary steps to ensure that your child is in a safe environment.
If possible, find out if your employer offers childcare in the building where you are employed. This kind of progressive thinking has become necessary to keep employees much as extended work while pregnant is not frowned upon today. Asking can sometimes make things happen. If a group of mothers would be willing to sponsor such an idea and contribute to the facility for the cost it may be feasible. Relaxed dress codes, Internet access and women who have shattered the glass ceiling are a few examples of individual change in the workplace.
When you interview a baby-sitter, have your child with you. Watch the interaction between the two. For a few moments reverse places and watch for reactions to crying or fidgeting or running around the room. Say nothing because these are the situations a baby-sitter will face when you are not around. Personal observation never fails especially when compared to words. As much skill as it takes to be a professional actor it will take more to act in relationships with children. They like you or they don't.
Check references regardless of who recommended the baby-sitter. Of course, references are always provided from those that can give the best recommendation and could possibly be family members or friends. Instead, ask for a chronological list of clients that the baby-sitter has worked for over the previous year. If there are any gaps where there was no work consider it a red flag. If the dates are chronological then you can check the beginning and ending with each client. The real evaluation will be easier to obtain.
Ask the baby-sitter if there has been any criminal convictions in the past and tell them that you are going to perform a background check. If they don't show up again then a check will not be necessary. There are many Internet sites that offer checks with certain background information made available.
Never give exact specifics of your work schedule. A fixed timeframe is a temptation to do and redo things before your arrival. If possible return home sometime during the day, unannounced. Talk with your child each day and ask how their day was. Sometimes fear makes children reluctant to bring up problems and shame is another.
Finally, these are common sense items that many ignore because they are reluctant to confront adults who they feel will be offended. Consider this what it is, a job. You are the employer and have the right to interview, hire and fire whomever you wish. You are also the guardian of your children and their safety. Fear only the mistake of not being aggressive in this search.