CareFinder Bridges the Gap Between Parents and Babysitters

Finding a regular, trustworthy babysitter in Tokyo can be both challenging and expensive. Hiring one for an evening through a babysitting agency can quickly make your night out quite pricey. Throughout her career, Megumi Moss saw friends and co-workers struggle with balancing their work and family life. That's why she created CareFinder, a reasonably priced bilingual babysitting matching service. Through her business, Megumi is able to fulfill her dream: to help other women be able to continue working after having children.

“There is still not adequate childcare in Japan,” explains Megumi, who lived in London for some time and moved back to Japan with her American husband over a decade ago. “Paying someone to look after your children is not so popular here. It’s normally the grandparents looking after them, or the mothers staying at home.” But with more women going back to work after becoming a mom, the demand grows constantly bigger. And not always do schedules of preschools and kindergartens match with the agenda of working moms, or even just moms who just want to have an occasional dinner out with their partner or friends. “I wanted to create a bridge for the gap between parents looking for a babysitter and babysitters looking for a job,” Megumi says.

Just two years after the idea for a babysitter service arose, CareFinder is in full swing. In those same two years, Megumi’s life has been marked by major changes. Not only did she quit her job, but she also gave birth to a baby girl. During her pregnancy she started setting up CareFinder’s database, which now has over 100 babysitters and 200 parents registered for the service [Ed. As of April 2017, these numbers have grown to over 300 and 1,000, respectively]. Some babysitters work part time to supplement income they earn as kindergarten teachers, and some are full-time babysitters. But almost all of them have prior experience in infant or early childcare.

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Creating an Account

CareFinder’s homepage, which is available in both in English and Japanese, is very user friendly. If you are a parent looking for a babysitter, the first step is to create a user account. Then there are two ways to search for the ideal candidate. The first method is to post a job description and send it to potential babysitters. You can either send it to all CareFinder registered babysitters, to those who meet your requirements, or only to specific ones you chose. The website allows you to narrow down your search regarding age, hourly rate, gender, language skills or services you are looking for, such as easy housework, traveling or caring for a newborn. There is even a box to tick for toilet training.

Alternatively, you can browse through babysitter profiles. Once you have found your ideal candidate you can send your job directly or contact them via the CareFinder messenger service.

When getting applications from babysitter candidates, you have the opportunity to ask and answer questions and provide further information.

Meeting Candidates

Megumi highly recommends that parents interview the most promising candidates in person before hiring them. “Because childcare is not only a business, it is a relationship,” she explains. “Tell them about the job and your kids, their routines, likes and dislikes, and what expectations you have. And don’t forget to ask the babysitter about herself or himself.” CareFinder can then provide an agreement form, but it is up the parents and babysitters if they want to use it.

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Costs

Unlike other babysitting services, CareFinder does not have an expensive one-time registration fee. Instead, it has the highly reasonable monthly membership fee of ¥2,980. The only costs parents have to cover are the hourly fees for the babysitter, which start at ¥1,200, plus transportation costs (if this is agreed upon).

Safety Concerns

Before accepting a new babysitter into her database, Megumi does a thorough background and ID check. She also calls every single candidate directly in order to find out if she or he is suited for the position. Parents can also review babysitters after having experienced their services. Additionally, Megumi is currently building a community, organizing regular meet-ups and gatherings where parents and babysitters can meet and get to know each other. “The last meeting in August was a big success,” she says. “And if there is an issue, parents and babysitters can always call us—our contact number is published on our webpage.“

So far, Megumi has not encountered any major problems, and feedback has always been positive. This is what keeps her motivated, because putting so much heart and passion into CareFinder also means working long hours, often late at night, when her daughter sleeps. On the other hand, CareFinder also simplifies her personal life: when needing some much deserved parent time, Megumi and her husband hire a babysitter—through CareFinder. That goes without saying.

For the latest updates on CareFinder, see here. 

Katharina came to Tokyo in August 2014. She loves running, hiking and absorbing every bit of Japanese culture. As this includes Japanese cuisine, she likes to hang out in supermarkets with her Japanese friends (who are happy to explain to her the details of even the most incomprehensible products). For Savvy Tokyo she writes about hidden coffee places, international running groups and Japanese weddings—quite a change after having covered European politics as a TV reporter in Brussels, Belgium.

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