Choosing a Nanny
By Laura Fogerty
Last week, because of a horrific revelation about an Ohio childcare facility, we talked a little about how to choose a daycare for your children. That got me thinking about other childcare options and how to choose wisely and safely, so today – some tips for choosing a nanny! There is no “one size fits all” answer for this very personal choice, but what remains universally true is that choosing wisely is one of the most important decisions you will make in the life of your child.
- Find a reputable agency with a significant track record. There are a number of nanny referral and placement agencies which are barely established or, “fly by night.” Make sure when using a nanny placement agency to find one that is well established, stands behind their placements, and is properly bonded.
- Make contact with references provided by the agency. The reference list should be comprised of current and former clients. Follow through with the contacts and have an idea of the questions you wish to ask the references. Also, make contact with individual references. Good in house care providers don’t often change positions and can be very valuable. If a potential caretaker is referred to you, a lot of movement from one family to another can be an immediate red flag. Be thorough in checking out references and reasons for departing other placements.
- Make sure all expectations of the care worker are clear on both sides. An in-house care provider can be a great help and a fantastic convenience. The fact they are in your home throughout the day makes for a potentially volatile situation. Parameters and expectations need to be very clear and discussed up front. Make sure you communicate your expectations and have it signed in writing, and agreed to by all parties.
- Invite a prospective in- house care provider over. Spend some time with this person who may be responsible for your children and have access to your home. You will have a chance to observe them, and your child can have a chance to become familiar with this person as well.
- Make frequent unannounced drop ins. The advantage of having someone care for your child at your home is that you can drop in at any time. It’s your home! Make a habit of this and the care provider will respond because they know that you may come home at any time. Don’t do so in a way that creates an adverse relationship, be friendly and casual. As trust develops, it will be less necessary.
- Check your child and talk to them (age appropriately) just as you would if they were in care out of the home. Be vigilant and aware of what is happening with your child and look for any unexplained injuries or changes. Make note of how comfortable your child is, any odd reactions or sudden changes in disposition. These could be red flags.
- Use monitoring devices if at all possible. One other benefit to an in house caretaker is that you have a right to install monitoring devices if you like. Technology is always advancing and there are several affordable devices available which can be easily installed and accessed through a remote computer or cell phone. It is custom to let the caretaker know this is in place, but not necessarily where the devices are installed. This type of monitoring can go a long way toward helping a parent feel comfortable.
- Have a plan B in mind if necessary. Just as in the case of out of home care, if there are red flags or circumstances which warrant a sudden change, have a backup plan in place which will help to assure you are acting in the best interest of your child.
- If there is an incident of abuse that occurs with your child, notify the proper authorities. Law enforcement, CPS, and licensing staff are equipped to conduct comprehensive investigations and then act accordingly. Something you report may end up saving other children from harm. Don’t try to take on your own investigation. It will likely cause more harm than good.
- And the most important thing of all to remember? As the parent, you are the authority on what is best for your child. You are the primary advocate for the well-being of your child; trust your instincts. Choose wisely, your littles are counting on you!
Editor, Ask Lala
Laura Fogarty writes “Ask Lala” for the Stop Abuse Campaign. She is a mother, an advocate and the author of two children’s abuse prevention books: I’M THE BOSS OF ME! and WE ARE JUST ALIKE!
Laura has an ACE score of 6.