Newcastle City Council does not provide a babysitting service.
As babysitters are not "registered" and there are no regulations to govern this type of childcare, we do not hold lists of people who offer a babysitting service. However, we do hold lists of registered childminders and some childminders may be willing to look after your child during the evenings or weekends. Parents may also wish to find a babysitter by asking a friend or a relative with children for a recommendation, or by looking in the Yellow Pages or searching the web for babysitting agencies. If you use a babysitting agency, it is important that you are clear how they vet their babysitters, for example, do they interview and take up references? And do they complete a Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) check?
When choosing a babysitter, parents or carers must ensure the person asked to babysit is capable and will provide adequate care for the child. Otherwise both the parents or carers and the babysitter risk prosecution for cruelty or neglect. There is no law which states the minimum age that a child can be left alone. However, the NSPCC recommend that most children under 13 should not be left for more than a short period and that no child under 16 should be left overnight. They suggest that parents consider the following before deciding to leave a child alone:
Further advice on good practices when leaving children alone can be obtained by looking at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents RoSPA website or by searching for "babysitting" on the National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children NSPCC website or by ringing the NSPCC helpline on (0800) 800 5000.
Both the NSPCC and the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) recommend that babysitters should be over 16 years of age and that parents ask for at least two references and contact the referees themselves. RoSPA also suggest that parents complete "risk assessments" and think through all possible eventualities before leaving their children with a babysitter. Further tips on good practices when using a babysitter are available from both the NSPCC and RoSPA - contact details as above.
The Families Information Service can provide you with information on childminders in your area. They can also offer advice and guidance on babysitting or other childcare.
Page last updated: 16 August, 2011