Meet Maile Yoshida, the baby-sitter of the modern parent's dreams. She's a cute and chirpy 28-year-old with a degree in communication from USC and more than a decade of child-care experience, including baby-sitting infants as well as children with special needs and behavior issues. She has 18 five-star reviews on SitterCity.com, and when meeting prospective families she comes armed with a packet of references, proof of her recent flu and Tdap shots, and her driver's license number.
Of course, you'll have to pay: Yoshida charges $20 to $30 an hour based on the number of kids, their ages and how much driving is involved, among other factors. She said her price is non-negotiable.
Yoshida calls herself a "career nanny" and explains that baby-sitting isn't just a way to make money on the side while she figures out what to do with her life. Baby-sitting is what she is doing with her life.
"This is my means of income," she said. "This is what I do for my career."
Despite the cost, some parents are turning to career nannies such as Yoshida, who come with references and experience, rather than the 15-year-old down the street, even if the need is for just a few hours on a weekend night.
The reasons for this shift away from teenage baby-sitters are varied. Some parents worry that high school students are too focused on their mobile phones -- texting and checking Facebook -- to be responsible for watching a child. Other parents said the supply of teenage baby-sitters has dwindled as college admission has become more competitive and students have gotten busier with extracurricular activities. Still others said teenagers get money from their parents, don't need a job and would rather attend to the demands of their social lives.
At the same time, the poor economy has flooded the baby-sitting market with well-educated people who might be employed elsewhere in better times. Add to that the swirl of anxiety permeating parenting these days, and moms and dads of a certain means facing the question: If something bad were to happen, would you rather have a teenager in your home or a responsible, driving adult?