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For Noa Wheeler ’05, obtaining a regular babysitting job for one of her professors was a complicated and “coincidental” process that came as a result of her involvement in a tutoring program freshman year and word of mouth.

But now — with the advent of the Yale Babysitting Service in early February — finding babysitting jobs has gotten a whole lot easier.

The Yale Babysitting Service, modeled after a similar service at Barnard College in New York City, is the brainchild of the Yale Women Faculty Forum (WFF) and the Yale Worklife Program, created in response to growing faculty concern with the quality of University-offered child care. A Web site –Ê — connects students with members of the Yale community and the greater New Haven community who need babysitters.

“Our goal is to — solve the problem of students who need flexible jobs and parents who need responsible babysitters,” WFF Program Coordinator Rachel Thomas said.

In order to use the service, parents and babysitters must first register with their Yale NetIDs; parents who are not affiliated with Yale can call a telephone number posted on the Web site. Students create profiles which include prior references and other pertinent information, while parents post job listings. Students can then peruse these job listings until they find one — or 10 — to which they want to respond.

Thomas said publicity for the service, which consisted of e-mails to residential colleges and contact with student organizations such as Dwight Hall and the cultural houses, began officially last Tuesday, when a total of eight students registered on the Web site. By Friday, that number had jumped to about 225, she said.

Thomas worked with Josie Rodberg ’03, WFF research associate Carla Eastis and WFF council member and professor of English and American studies Elizabeth Dillon in drafting the proposal for the service in November 2002. WFF completed an “informal” report in January 2003 that assessed faculty members’ views of the quality of Yale-affiliated child care, Thomas said.

Although the report reflected faculty members’ overall satisfaction with Yale-affiliated child care programs, it indicated their concerns about the “inadequacy of the physical facilities, the number of children who can be accommodated, and the limited hours of operation.”

Timing is especially problematic for Yale employees such as John Bau, who works for Undergraduate Career Services. Bau said he would like child care for “special nights” during the week — but Yale-affiliated child care services are only open about 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

According to Dillon, one of the most difficult times for faculty members to find child care is between 5 p.m. and 7 p.m.

“There are a lot of events scheduled during that time that faculty member want to participate in,” she said.

Bau said he did not hesitate to post a job listing on the Yale Babysitting Service’s Web site when he first heard about it.

“Because I have young kids, I don’t know people with teenagers,” he said. “When this came up, I thought, what a good idea — [all the information] is in one place. It’s easy.”

Bau said he has received five phone calls in the past several days in response to his offer.

Nazneen Mehta ’06, who works for WFF and registered for the service, said she thinks it is a great alternative for students seeking regular, high-paying jobs outside of Yale’s rigorous academic setting.

“[Babysitting] puts life into perspective,” she said. “When you work with children, there’s a part of you that recognizes there’s another life out there, and it’s not just course packets and going to the library.”

Wheeler, who registered for the service on Saturday, said she thinks babysitting can be a valuable experience and recommended it for other Yalies.

“It’s one of the best things I’ve done in college,” she said.

Worklife Program Coordinator Susan Abramson and intern Amanda Geraghty were instrumental in designing the service’s Web site, Thomas said.
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