DH & I are throwing around the possibility of me returning to work in June. DD will be 18 months & DS just shy of 4. I returned to work at 6 weeks with DS but I never truly panicked because he stayed with my MIL, who I trust more than anyone on planet earth aside from DH. Now that we are not living in close area to family I am terrified about the possibility of leaving my kids with ANYONE I don't know! Money is not much of an issue, we have agreed we are willing to pay a nanny anywhere from $8-$11 an hour for 10 hours 3 days per week ... I just have no idea how to find someone! How will I know if they are capable? A criminal? KWIM? Btw, I have read that college students seem to be popular for this type of thing, but being 22 y/o myself, I know entirely too many 20-24 year olds I wouldn't leave my children with for 30 seconds. My bias may be unfair but it exists nonetheless. Where do I look?! Any suggestions appreciated.
See if there is any way to get recommendations from people you respect and trust. Are there any facebook forums of like minded people in your area so you could post an ad? Do you have any SAH parent friends looking to make a little money by taking care of your children? I have also heard good things about care.com although I haven't used it. When you are interviewing the person ask for references and call them. Ask the person to provide you with a criminal background check (we paid the out of pocket cost for this for the nanny we hired).
I have actually had really good luck with sittercity.com and care.com. They can do background checks as well. I interviewed them, called their references and I have two great sitters, and a full-time one on the back burner in case I do go back full time. If you have the space, you might consider an au pair too- there are lots of programs that bring in international sitters for a year or so and it can be pretty cost effective. Of course some people have awesome experiences with it and some don't, but you can usually arrange phone interviews and references ahead of time, and you'll definitely see how they interact with your kids if they live with you!
I would also check out Care.com, this is how I got my current Nanny job. There are tons of potential sitters on there with profiles, locations, and you can request a background check through them. Good luck! :)