Hiring a nanny is one of the most important decisions you can make in your life, as your nanny will spend hours every week keeping an eye over your child. Horror stories exist of unqualified or mentally unstable nannies who do terrible things to those they are supposed to protect.
You can find nannies off of Craigslist and trust your instincts. But there are better approaches to keep your child safe, starting with a background check. Here are some of the most important tips towards hiring a qualified nanny.
Use a Nanny Agency
While you can try to find an independent nanny through Craigslist or Care, it is a better idea to rely on a nanny agency. Nanny agencies ensure that their nannies meet certain qualifications and have some training. They also run their own background checks to ensure proper behavior.
Parents should still run their own background checks independent of the agency, which may cause some to wonder why pay for an agency at all. While you can run a background check which ensures a nanny has a good record, finding a truly skilled nanny as opposed to one who just meets the bare qualifications can be a crapshoot. Nanny agencies, with their experience and knowledge of who the great nannies in an area are, can match your family up with a nanny who will be a great fit over the long term. Given the value of an excellent nanny, you should delegate at least some of the responsibilities of hiring a nanny to the professionals.
As noted above, you should not leave the background checks entirely to a nanny agency. Be prepared to conduct a check of your own, starting with the nanny’s references. If the nanny cannot provide references relating to their past experience with children, do not hire them. Also emphasize that the nanny’s friends and family do not make good references.
Once the nanny provides references, contact them. Create a list of questions to ask them, such as:
- How did she handle difficult situations?
- Did she get along with the children?
- Did she get along with you, and what happened when the two of you disagreed on something?
- Was she on time?
- Is there anything else I should know?
If these questions are not enough, SitterCity has some more lines of inquiry. Ask for four references and try to contact at least two of them.
Run a Criminal Background Check
You have a nanny selected by a qualified agency, and have positive references. Now it is time for the crucial step of running a criminal background check.
In order to run a check, you need their permission to run a background check as well as personal information such as the nanny’s name, driver license number, and address history for the past five to seven years. Any nanny should be willing to provide this information and you can use free arrest records online to verify the information.
From there, you can contact websites like enannysource and run a background check on your nanny. But that is only the first step. Contact the DMV in the states which the nanny lived in and ask to see their driving record using their driver license number. Check the NSOPW to see if the nanny is registered as a sex offender. Running multiple checks costs time and money, but it is worth it to ensure your child will be safe.
While you are ensuring that your children will be safe under this nanny, you should go over her qualifications as well. Many nanny agencies mandate that their employees have First Aid/CPR training and can pass a swim test. Even if you do not use an agency, your nanny should at least have First Aid/CPR training given how such classes are regularly offered. If your nanny did pass the training, she should have a card given out by the instructor certifying her qualifications.
A Good Fit
A nanny can be perfectly qualified and have no criminal record, but may not be a good fit for your child or family for various reasons. Checking fit matters just as much as checking qualifications and background.
At the beginning of the nanny search process, hold face to face interviews with a nanny. This will help gauge their personality and determine whether they are a good fit. After all the background checks are completed, you should invite them to meet with the rest of your family. Pay attention to how they interact with your children, and ask your children afterwards what they thought of the nanny. If something feels off or strange, pay attention to that feeling and ask yourself later what you thought was off. Finding a great nanny requires time and effort from yourself and possibly from a nanny agency. But by asking the right questions and paying attention to a potential nanny’s qualifications, background, and fit, you can hire someone who will brighten up your child’s life.