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Families hire nannies to help meet their childcare needs.

Busy families may need to seek the services of nannies to meet their childcare needs.  [©Shutterstock, 2010]
©Shutterstock, 2010
Busy families may need to seek the services of nannies to meet their childcare needs.


Many families with pre-school and even grade-school-aged children seek the services of nannies to meet their childcare needs. Before setting out to find a nanny, parents must identify what their requirements are (e.g., pay, days of the week and hours and flexibility) and what qualifications they are looking for. Next, parents will need to explore possible resources for locating a nanny, such as local and online agencies. Finally, parents should prepare for the interview process by assembling a list of questions and then conducting careful screening of suitable candidates.

Nanny Qualifications

Basic standards for nannies include a minimum age requirement of 18 years, a high school diploma or GED, and general good health with proof of immunizations and a negative TB test. Most parents will create a list of additional qualifications that are important, such as:

  • Educational background
  • Previous experience
  • Ideal age range
  • Physical abilities
  • Primary language spoken
  • Smoking status
  • Transportation that is suitable for the number of children in the home
  • Personality
  • Values

It is also recommended that parents outline the nanny's duties, including any housekeeping services that are expected, so it is easier to match qualified candidates to the job.

Finding a Nanny

The Association of Premier Nanny Agencies (APNA) is a voluntary membership organization for nanny agencies. Member agencies adhere to standards of professional industry practices. Parents can locate local member agencies through the APNA website. The APNA recommends that parents search for a nanny through one of their member agencies for various reasons. First, APNA agencies complete background checks and reference checks for each nanny candidate. In addition, these agencies delineate the terms of the contract in advance, clearly defining the fees, services provided and refunds or replacement policy. They also provide an agreement that delineates the working conditions between the nanny candidate and parent employer. Finally, APNA agencies provide clear information regarding federal, state and local regulations for employers of in-home caregivers.

The National Association for Nanny Care is a nonprofit organization that seeks to promote excellence in nanny care. This association recommends that parents consider specific factors when selecting nanny agencies, such as how nanny candidates are screened, how nanny placement occurs and the business practices of the agency.

Parents may also want to look for a nanny using Internet listing agencies. Choosing this route to finding a nanny saves money, since parents don't have to pay a finding fee to the agency. However, these savings do come at a cost, as it places the burden of responsibility for reference checks and criminal background checks on the parents.

Interviewing a Nanny

Parents generally interview prospective nannies on the telephone first. If the parents are content with the nanny's responses over the telephone, they schedule a face-to-face interview. Child Care Resources offers specific suggestions about how to conduct a telephone interview. First, it is best to describe the dynamics of the parent's home. Specifically, parents should tell the prospective nanny about the number of children in the home, the ages of the children, the hours required, living arrangements and driving arrangements. Parents should find out whether the nanny's pay, work hours and start date match their requirements. They should also ask questions that relate to their list of desired qualifications to eliminate anyone who does not meet their expectations.

The face-to-face interview is a chance to assess the nanny's personality and physical characteristics as well as gather more in-depth information. Parents should inquire about previous nanny experiences, why the nanny left her previous position and why the nanny chose this career. It is also important to question what strengths the nanny has with respect to interaction with kids, how the nanny disciplines and what types of activities the nanny does with children during the day. Finally, parents should talk to the nanny about experiences dealing with emergencies and expectations for the employer-employee relationship.

Screening a Nanny

Once parents find a nanny who meets their standards, it is imperative to complete a comprehensive background check. First, parents should request both personal and professional references. When speaking with personal references, parents should ask about the nature of the reference's relationship with the nanny, and the strengths and weaknesses of the nanny. Parents should also do a criminal background check, which may be done through a reference-checking service. A background check evaluates a variety of factors, such as criminal record, sexual offender status, driving history, bankruptcy judgments, alias search, address trace, verification of education and Social Security number verification.

Paying the Nanny

Nanny salaries vary depending on a number of factors, including region of the country, number of children and hours worked. The International Nanny Association provides details from a survey of nanny salaries and benefits. In addition to considering salary, parents should be conscientious of taxes. Most people have heard about the dreaded nanny tax. Unpaid nanny taxes are illegal and have been a source of great embarrassment for politicians and other public figures. The Internal Revenue Service provides specific tax information relating to household employees.

Nanny Sharing

Families who engage in nanny sharing hire a single nanny to care for their collective children. While a shared nanny earns more than counterparts that are not shared, this still amounts to a cost break for both families. Generally, nanny sharing works best when the families live in close proximity to one another and have similar work hours.

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