Tag Archives: child care

Nanny Driving Conventions

When you hire a nanny, there’s a good chance she’ll be driving your child at some point – to school, to playdates, to doctor appointments.  You’ll want to ensure she is a safe and qualified driver and definitely establish driving expectations with her upfront.

Driver’s license – There are nannies out there who know how to drive but who are not licensed, possibly due to concerns about eligibility (for non-citizens) or because of a lapse in renewal.  NannyTrack always recommends our clients obtain a copy of their nanny’s driver’s license to keep on file. Also, if your nanny has her own car and will be transporting your child, make sure you know the make and model of her vehicle, as well as her license plate details.

Driving history – Has your nanny been involved in traffic accidents? Been fined for speeding violations? Been charged with a DUI? Start by asking her – then fact-check this by ordering a copy of her driving record. Availability and coverage varies by state, but these records typically cover at least the last three years’ of a person’s driving history. Also included is information about when her license is set to expire. Note that motor vehicle-related civil lawsuits typically do not appear in driving history records, so NannyTrack recommends our more comprehensive litigation search for the sake of diligence.

Insurance – If your nanny is driving your car, your automobile insurance will likely cover her actions, but it’s always best to double-check with your policy provider. If your nanny is driving your child in her car, it’s prudent to ask her if her inspection and registration is up-to-date and if she, too, is insured. And, you’ll want her to back up the assertions with documentation. 

Child safety seats – Make sure your nanny knows how to correctly restrain your child in his car seat. And if you are buying additional child seats for her car, make sure they are correctly installed.

State the obvious – Having a sit-down with your nanny about driving safety protocol is a must, even if what you’re saying seems obvious. Let her know it is unacceptable to leave the child in the car unattended ever, even to return a shopping cart, or to “run in” for a quick errand. Ask her to leave her purse and other personal belongings in the backseat so no child is forgotten in the car. Remind her never to talk on the phone, text or read directions while driving. Finally, make sure your nanny understands she must contact you before taking your child on any previously unscheduled trip in the car—even a short one.

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When to start thinking about childcare

You’re pregnant! When do you need to start thinking about childcare?

So much of our planning surrounds trying to get pregnant, sustain a healthy pregnancy, and bring baby home that expectant parents sometimes don’t know when to start planning for childcare. Returning to work after having your first (or second, or third…) baby is a sensitive time in parents’ lives. Some of us have the luxury of several months’ leave from our career responsibilities, while many of us have to take far less time. Follow this timeline to achieve quality childcare:

Pregnancy, Months 0-6: Decide on institutional or individual childcare.

Some parents have strong feelings about whether a nanny or daycare program is the best fit for your family. Research and discuss your options before the baby is born, while considering finances and work flexibility.  (Stay tuned for next week’s NannyTracks post which discusses the differences between in-home and outside childcare.)

If you’re choosing institutional childcare, start researching and reserving a spot as soon as you know your return-to-work date, and check with them about phasing your child in part-time for a few weeks before that so all of you can settle into a routine.

If you’re looking to hire a nanny, put out feelers around your second trimester with mention of your ideal start date.

Pregnancy, Months 7-9: Look for recommendations from friends and neighbors.

Whichever type of childcare you opt for, talk to people you know about people they know. Ask friends and neighbors if they know of any nannies who are looking for new work (especially useful if you’re working part-time as many parents enter into “nanny share” agreements with other families). Remember, the best nannies don’t need to advertise their availability—they have new jobs lined up when their old ones expire. And a family who no longer has a need for their beloved nanny always wants, and typically helps, to find them a new family. Regardless of how strong a recommendation is, you should always be conducting additional reference calls for a full-spectrum representation of any nanny candidate.

If daycare is your chosen route, do your due diligence here, too. If you’re cold-calling daycare centers, hang around the parking lot or stroll by at pick-up time and ask parents about their feelings about the program. You can ask for references, too, though clearly these are cherry-picked families who would likely have only positive comments about the facility and staff.

Baby, Months 0-3: Don’t wait too long to commit.

Do the daycare centers in your area involve a lengthy registration process or have waiting lists? Does your dream nanny know that her current job is wrapping up in 2 months? Starting early, while it may seem an overwhelming endeavor while caring for your newborn, will ensure a more seamless back-to-work transition. If you’re interviewing daycares or individuals to hire, you’ll want to start setting up these meetings at least 6 weeks prior to work, so commitments can be made at least a few weeks before you go back to your other job. Conducting necessary and thorough background checks, like the NannyTrack Report, will also take time. Having childcare in place early enough allows for a getting-to-know-you period which provides both you and your baby with a sense of security and comfort.

 

 

 

THE NANNY INTERVIEW: HOW TO PREPARE

Interviewing doesn’t come naturally to all of us—if you’re not a journalist, a lawyer, or an investigator (or simply love playing sleuth!), it may feel awkward and uncomfortable to quiz someone you’ve just met about the details of their work and education history. But when the time comes to find the perfect nanny for your child , questions need to be asked, and chances are you’ll be the one doing the asking.  Follow our tips and rest assured you’ll soon be interviewing like a pro:

  1. Be prepared.

A quick Google search will help you locate sample questionnaires or job applications (including this one on our site). Either have your candidate fill out an application/questionnaire and send it to you in advance, or simply select questions that are most important to you to ask during the interview. Make sure you have a hard copy of all the questions you want to ask- it’s easy to forget when you’re in the middle of an interview!

To get you started, we love this very comprehensive list of questions compiled by Helen Moon (The “Baby Nurturer”).

 

  1. Think of the interview as a “get to know you” session, not an inquisition. 

Remember, even though you are the employer, you and your nanny will be working as a team to give your child the best possible environment and care. It’s hard for anyone to present themselves honestly when they feel nervous or attacked. If you can help your candidate feel at ease she’s more likely to answer honestly (even if those answers aren’t the ones you want to hear.)  Framing the interview like this will also help you to relax, listen, and focus on your candidate’s answers so you can ask the follow-up questions that count.

 

  1. Silence is your friend.

As uncomfortable as it might feel, you need to give your candidate the time and space to answer your questions.  If her résumé shows a gap and you ask, “What were you doing between March 2010 and April 2011?” make sure she answers without any help. Don’t be afraid to ask simple questions and wait for an explanation.  Listening is just as important as asking.

 

  1. Review dates carefully.

We like to think of this as “reading between the lines”.  If you see any gaps on your candidate’s résumé or application, make sure to ask what she was doing during this period. Gaps aren’t necessarily negatives, but it’s important to know why they occurred and what didn’t make it onto the résumé. Oh, and remember those follow-up questions we mentioned? Make sure you ask your candidate to clarify any answers you don’t understand. It’s in both of your best interests to get the information right.

 

  1. Make notes.

If you can, jot down your candidate’s answers during the course of the interview.  If you find this too distracting or difficult, then make sure you take a few minutes after your candidate leaves to focus and write down everything you remember, including your overall impressions of the candidate and gut feelings about the interaction you just had. If you are conducting the interview along with a partner or spouse, it can be helpful for each of you to do this separately for reference before you discuss your impressions with one another.

 

  1. Don’t worry.

Above all, try not to worry. Remember, you won’t be making a decision by the end of the interview, and you owe it to yourself and your child to be thorough. It’s far better to ask the tough questions now, rather than later if things aren’t going well. If you approach the interview with a spirit of respect and professionalism, a solid candidate will understand and appreciate your interest and level of commitment to the process. 

How to jumpstart your nanny search

Most expectant and new parents view the search for childcare with at least some amount of dread, and why shouldn’t they? Whether your search for a nanny has started before your child is born, when you’re frantically outfitting a nursery and coordinating your birth plan, or after, when you’d prefer to spend your few quiet moments sleeping, it’s never easy to hire a caregiver. We get it—each of us wants our child to be cared for by a loving, responsible, individual—a Supernanny. So where to start the search for Mary Poppins?  Here are three ways to identify the best candidates for the job.

  1. Word of Mouth

If there’s one thing you can do with a sleeping baby on your chest, it’s text your pals! Send a mass e-mail to friends in your area asking for recommendations and let them know it’s okay to forward your query on to others. Good nannies tend to find new employment via their current employers, since most families are eager to help their beloved nannies find new work when it’s time for a family to  move on. Make sure you include as much information about hours and days as you can to save yourself the trouble of fielding calls from nannies whose schedules don’t match. If you belong to a parents’ listserv, Facebook page, or other online group, now is the time to harness the power of social media. Post about the position and let other parents send you references, and don’t forget to ask them if they’ve previously obtained background screening on their nanny. (Older searches may need to be updated.)

Tip: Start early.  It may take a couple of rounds of posts and queries before you find a match.

  1. Nanny Agency

Far and away the most expensive option, finding your nanny through a traditional nanny agency can set you back thousands of dollars. If you contract with a reputable agency, your money should be getting you a fully-screened, professional nanny who fits your specific requirements, plus a guarantee from the agency (in your contract) that if the nanny isn’t  a good fit they will assist you in finding a replacement. The very best agencies attract a talented pool of caregivers who have passed several rounds of interviews and all relevant background checks. The agency handpicks nannies from this pool and sends them to you to be interviewed, whereupon you meet a candidate knowing that she’s a fully-vetted professional. Still, there are hundreds of nanny agencies out there, not all of which are rigorous in their selection process. Before you sign on the dotted line make sure you understand exactly what you’re paying for—you don’t want to find out later that a background report isn’t included in the fees you paid the agency.

Tip: Do your homework.  A little research will help you to find a reputable agency.   

  1. Online  Sources

 With most online nanny-finder services, you’ll pay a membership fee in order to access postings or to post your own job advertisement. Remember, these individuals have not been pre-screened so you will need to conduct your own background check. As with nanny agencies, the quality of the service can vary. Good online nanny-finder services can be great resources for accessing a large pool of candidates quickly, and often these sites offer extremely helpful information and tools for you, the employer, relating to a nanny’s hiring, such as your tax responsibilities and salary payment tools.