What Should I Look for in a Special Needs Sitter?

Hiring a caregiver for your child or loved one with special needs is a fantastic way to provide mental, emotional, and physical support to your entire family. There are qualified, competent, and loving babysitters across the country who have the experience to care for your child or loved one, while giving you uninterrupted time to run errands, go to work, and be productive. As you’re aware, it can often be challenging to find the right sitter. At Joshin, we provide you with special needs caregivers who are screened and qualified to care for your child and family. Keep reading to learn about Joshin’s screening process, important qualities to look for in a sitter, and questions to ask during the hiring process.

Stamina and Patience

When evaluating potential sitters, do your very best to make sure they have both emotional and physical stamina, as well as patience. It’s best to hire a sitter with experience caring for individuals with special needs. Otherwise, they may not be prepared for the demands of caring for an individual with a disability.

Caring for someone with special needs requires a special level of patience. Make sure the sitter you choose is aware of the demands of the job and have the experience to care for your child or loved one while maintaining a positive, loving, and supportive attitude.

Someone Who Can Commit to Your Child

Consistency is key to helping your child feel secure. When you’re shopping around for sitters, make sure they will be available to care for your child for the long haul. You’ll also want to make sure you connect with multiple caregivers on the platform so you can lean on more than one caregiver.  And most importantly, when you connect with more than one caregiver, you’re building a backup care network.

Learning communication styles, especially if your child is nonverbal or is limited in speech, is just one way your caregiver should be committed to caring for your child or loved one. Understanding what motivates your loved one, how they perceive and feel about personal space, what discourages or frustrates them—all of these things are vital for a sitter to know in order to properly care for your loved one in a way that makes them feel seen, safe, and understood.

Background and Reference Checks

It’s not enough to hire a neighborhood sitter to care for your child or loved one. Sadly, individuals with special needs are almost twice as likely to be abused as their typically-developing peers. While there’s no one reason for this alarming statistic, some researchers suggest that increased vulnerability combined with a sitter’s unpreparedness to handle the needs of an individual with a disability are factors of abuse.

For these reasons, you need to ensure your babysitter passes background and reference checks. You will never regret taking the extra time and effort to make sure the person caring for your child or loved one is safe and experienced. The good news is that Joshin makes this process much easier. The sitters on Joshin’s app have all passed a background check – no extra cost to you. You can feel confident in your decision to hire from our community of qualified caregivers. Each caregiver’s profile shows that they’ve passed their background check and are a safe option for your family.

How Joshin Screens Caregivers:

  • Experience Check
  • Social Media Check
  • Background Check

CPR Certification

Your child’s safety is the first priority when seeking out a special needs-equipped sitter. Sitters for children with disabilities—as well as children who are typically developing—should always have an up-to-date CPR certification.

Children with special needs have medical conditions that run the gamut. Every child is unique, as are their conditions. Pre-existing conditions might increase the chance of your child requiring CPR. Choking is also common in children with developmental delays or disabilities. When you’re putting your child’s well-being in the hands of another person, you want to ensure that at the very minimum, they are trained to perform CPR should the need arise. Look for CPR certifications when you check out a caregiver’s profile in the Joshin app.

Consider a Caregiver of the Same Gender

It can be common for individuals with special needs to require help with self-care tasks. This includes using the restroom, bathing, and getting dressed. If it makes you feel more comfortable, consider hiring a sitter of the same gender as your child or loved one.

Able to Handle Anything

You know there is no time to waste when/if your child experiences a medical crisis, and many individuals with special needs have medical conditions that need to be monitored. For example, half of all children born with Down Syndrome also have a congenital heart defect, many of which have serious implications. Medical emergencies—from a cut finger to something more serious requiring emergency care—can happen at any time.

When you’re not there to care for your child, the sole responsibility falls on your sitter’s shoulders. It’s crucial that your child’s sitter is able to calmly and effectively handle medical emergencies should they arise. During the interview process, ask how they’ve handled medical emergencies in the past. This will give you a fantastic gauge of their experience and confidence in these types of situations.

Listen to Your Gut

You, better than anyone, know what your child or loved one needs. After you’ve talked to a few potential sitters, don’t stop the evaluation process with their resume. Listen to your gut. Do you have a good feeling about them, or does something cause you to second guess your decision to hire them?

It’s easy to feel very overwhelmed with caregiving. And sometimes, can lead parents to ignore those “gut feelings” they might have about a potential caregiver. Realize that those feelings are there for a reason. Your intuition is a legitimate reason to pass on a sitter for your child or loved one with special needs. If you have second guesses about an applicant, it is perfectly reasonable to move on. You don’t owe anyone an explanation, and there’s no need to apologize. Your child’s safety is your responsibility, and when you’re hiring someone to take over for you, whether for a few hours or a few days, you have the power to say “No.” You are the expert on your child or loved one!

Five Questions to Ask a Potential Sitter

Now that we’ve outlined what to look for when considering a sitter, you can go into an interview knowing exactly what to ask. Below are some helpful questions you can pose when looking for a sitter for your child or loved one with special needs:

  1. What is your experience sitting for families who have children or loved ones with special needs?
  2. What made you decide to care for individuals with special needs?
  3. What are the biggest challenges you face in caring for individuals with special needs?
  4. Tell me about a time you had to handle an emergency while sitting.
  5. What is your availability? Are there times you are not available to sit?


Finding a babysitter for your child with special needs can be a challenge. But when all is said and done, you want someone who is equipped and capable. As equally important as capability is finding someone who will adore your child and appreciate them for exactly who they are. Here at Joshin, we know firsthand how important these qualities are, which is why we connect you with only the best caregivers in your area. A sitter cares for your child, but they ultimately help support the well-being of your whole family, which is why taking steps to make sure you’re hiring the right person is so important.

Looking to schedule care? Find special needs caregivers near you.

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