How to choose the right nanny agency for you and your little one
As a mom, I understand just how difficult it is to trust another person with your child’s safety and well being. We brought those tiny babies into the world; we nursed them, cared for them and were by their side day and night – how can anyone else possibly do a good enough job?
Well, while no one could ever replace you, there are some amazing people out there who can take care of your little one and ensure he or she is well looked after when you can’t be there. The key is to find a nanny who not only has the experience and qualifications but who slots right into your family like a missing piece.
However, finding a nanny you feel comfortable trusting can be difficult and that’s why many parents turn to a nanny agency for expert guidance. But how do you know which nanny agency is right for you?
Well, as someone who worked as a nanny for 12 + years, has matched nannies with families for almost as long and most importantly, has a little girl of my own, I have some valuable insight…
10 questions to ask yourself when searching for the perfect nanny agency
Q1. Does your nanny agency assess a caregiver’s work history?
This really is so important. A lot of people lie on their resumes and an agency that takes a nanny’s word at face value isn’t worth their salt. As well as carrying out a personal interview with the applicant, your nanny agency should be able to provide you with accurate previous employer information, including phone numbers, ages of the children, reasons for position ending and the responsibilities held.
Q2. Do they perform a criminal background check?
Another very important one and something that I have always taken seriously even while I was a nanny myself. Before recommending them, a great nanny agency will confirm a candidate has no criminal record on file using a multi-state search. A thorough search includes convictions, arrests, sex offender registries and administrative court records from across the United States. You can never be too careful when it comes to the safety of your little one!
Q3. Do you know who is behind the agency?
Agencies run by big corporations don’t have the same care for their customers that a smaller nanny agency has. Profits are the top concern and the specific needs of each customer aren’t viewed as a priority, meaning you get conveyor belt, ‘one-size-fits-all’ treatment. Smaller nanny agencies overseen by involved individuals ensure you have a warm, caring experience. In my case, being both a mom and a former nanny, I know the industry from multiple angles and therefore know and understand what’s truly important.
Q4. Does the nanny agency have INA Membership?
The International Nanny Association is a not-for-profit educational group responsible for the in-home care industry. They provide “information, education and guidance to the public and to industry professionals” and hold member agencies to a high standard of quality. Being a member of this association shows your agency is an approved company who cares about being on top of the latest industry information and tools.
Q5. How long have they been in business?
A new agency just won’t have the systems or nanny networks you need to find a high-quality childminder. Often this inexperience means poor matches or careless rushing on the part of the agency as they struggle to build their portfolio as quickly as possible. On the other hand, a nanny agency that has been running for numerous years shows you they’ve had plenty of success in pairing families with the right nannies and they’ll have a reputation you feel comfortable trusting.
Q6. Is there a charge for registering?
Finding the right nanny for a family takes time and careful research. Personal interviews need to be carried out for both parties, background checks need to be done and suitability assessments need to be calculated. It should be a thorough process. Agencies that don’t charge a fee up front are doing all that work for nothing, which means processes are likely to be rushed and corners cut. Registration fees prove the agency understands the importance of the research process and intends to do a quality job.
Q7. Does the agency have a list of requirements?
You may have hired your neighbor’s daughter to watch your child one evening or you may even have been that neighbor’s daughter during your teen years – either way, there’s a big difference between trusting someone you know to watch your little one for a few hours and leaving them in the care of a stranger several times a week. With this in mind, a great nanny agency will ensure your caregiver is qualified with relevant experience. For example, any nannies registered here at tiny treasures must have two years of verifiable professional childcare experience AND be CPR certified.
Q8. Do they offer a guarantee period?
Very simply, if the agency doesn’t offer a respectable replacement guarantee period for a nanny that doesn’t work out, you should walk the other way.
Q9. Are they easy to communicate with?
The agency responsible for finding you the perfect nanny should be as respectable, trustworthy and accessible as you’d expect your new childminder to be. Phones should be answered when you call, messages should be returned at a reasonable speed and they should be all-round professionals each time you deal with them. A shady agency means a shady nanny.
Q10. What is the agency’s stance on payment for their nannies?
Legally, household employees such as nannies should be paid according to the Domestic Workers' Bill of Rights. This means a live-out nanny must be paid AT LEAST minimum wage for every hour worked and overtime at the rate of at least 1.5 times their base hourly wage. If an agency is encouraging or allowing you to pay the nanny they provide less than that amount, this is a serious warning sign.
So there you have it! Keep an eye on our blog for more expert advice on childcare, being a mom and balancing work with home life.