With babysitting rate driven up by COVID, families get creative to offset child care costs

ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. (WLS) -- With inflation rising and the cost of just about everything going up, the costs of certain services are also increasing - including the hourly rate for babysitting.

What was once a way to grab a little extra cash is now a lucrative job.

Jill Reese gets to spend a couple days a week with her granddaughter reading stories or putting together puzzles. It's quality time for her. But with the cost of babysitting soaring, it's also an affordable solution for the family: Grandma works for free.

"My mother stepped in and she's with the kids two days a week to lessen that burden," Christy Witherow said.

Parents everywhere are finding that people to watch their children are in high demand, and getting getting paid more than ever.

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In Illinois, the average pay for babysitters watching one child is nearly $18 an hour, and nearly $20 for two kids.

The national average is even higher: over $20 an hour for one and more than $23 for two. That's an 11% increase in the last year -- even higher than inflation, which has gone up 7%.

"I've owned the agency 12 years and never seen it like this," said Tori Ulrich, owner of Chicago Super Sitters. "The shift in who's holding the power in the arrangement."

Ulrich said for her company, it's a matter of supply and demand when it comes to finding and paying for quality childcare. For Kate Bode and her husband,, it means they get a date night about once a month.

"When we go out it's an expensive night," Bode said. "If we're out for 5 hours, it's $100 for the sitter and $100 for dinner. So we try to make the night count."

For sitters, it's become a lucrative job. Katherine Cheh has a website to help parents find high school students to watch their kids.

"We did raise increase the rates to lure more sitters," Cheh said.

Experts say the pandemic has had a lot to do with the higher pay for sitters. They suggest one way to cut costs is to team up with another family and share the sitter.
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