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Sitters On Call

On the day of an important meeting, your child comes down with a cold and can't go to daycare. Wouldn't it be great if you could find a qualified caregiver at a moment's notice? Chances are, you can. There's a growing number of such services nationwide.

How it works: In addition to paying the sitter an hourly rate  -- usually between $8 and $13 per hour  -- most services charge a referral fee of $25 to $45 per request. (Some also require yearly membership fees.) You'll want to research any company's screening practices; it should verify employees' experience and run background, criminal, and driving checks. To find a local service, contact  The National Alliance of Professional Nanny Agencies. A sampling:

? A Friend of the Family (Atlanta and Denver) Caregivers can also do light housekeeping.

? Parents in a Pinch (Boston) Also serves hotels -- great for moms traveling on business with kids.

? TLC Caregivers (Kansas City) Can provide round-the-clock care.