Picking your Perfect Poppins
When interviewing a prospective nanny there are a few things you should keep in mind. Most importantly, you want a qualified nanny who has the years of experience necessary to make them the best nanny. Additionally, you must consider the type of experience this nanny has. What are the environments in which the nanny has worked? What age groups and number of children are they most comfortable with? Are they a self-starter that takes initiative, or do they prefer to wait for directions? What childcare philosophies do they follow? These are just a few of the questions that can help you determine whether or not a nanny has the right type of experience and work ethic to fit perfectly with your family.
After discussing your needs with your spouse/partner/family members or nanny agency, you probably have a clearer idea of the role you need a nanny to fill, not just for your child or children, but within your household. More than anyone else, you know best what your child responds to and what their typical energy level is. You also know the environment your family promotes and how the family communicates through positive and negative moments. All of these things can help you assess not only what sort of nanny would work best with your family, but also the type of experience or qualifications from which you could benefit. Just because a nanny is highly qualified, with glowing references, pages of experiences or multiple certifications, this does not necessarily mean they would be the best nanny for your family. Do you want someone to work off their initiative, e.g.; “Today I’ll take the kids to the park for a nature trail, pack a picnic to eat out before returning home for nap time” or “I see we are out of bananas and milk, I’ll make a list and take the kids to the store this morning”? Or do you want to be in control of giving these directions, for your nanny to wait on kids’ activities and grocery store runs until instructed? Finding the perfect nanny has as much to do with personality as with their experience. Finding a nanny that has childcare philosophies that match your own, and a communication style that fits with your own is of paramount importance.
Questions you can ask and topics you should raise that will help assess if a nanny would be a good personality fit for your family and if you have a similar approach to raising and caring for a child:
-Talk about prior nanny/teaching/childcare positions: Age and number of children they were responsible for. What their day with the children and family typically looked like. Duties required of them. Positives and negatives of these positions?
-What experiences would you take from previous positions that would assist you in this position?
-What is your approach to childcare, or what philosophy(s) do you follow?
-Does the nanny have any other related background trainings/certifications/skills?
-What are your methods of dealing with negative behaviors and how you do plan to work with a family to create cohesive methods for positive and negative reinforcement?
-What sort of activities do you enjoy doing with children or think are important for kids to participate in?
-What would an ideal daily schedule look like?
-How would you approach teaching opportunities?
-What are your requirements for an ideal work situation/environment for a nanny position? What is the most important thing in maintaining a good working environment that would allow you to make a long-term commitment?
-How would you approach any issues with your family regarding the children, communication or running of the household?
-What are your personal and career goals for the upcoming years?
-Outside of a nanny career, what are your hobbies/important things in your life?
-Are there certain times of the year or events that are important for you to have off work?
-As a full/part time nanny, aside from caring for the children what do you feel are jobs or duties that you should be or are willing to be responsible for?
With all of the above questions answered, you should have a very clear picture of the type of nanny this candidate will be. It is then advisable to take the nanny on for 1-2 trial days, which will run in a manner similar to your everyday routine. These days should reflect the routine and duties that the nanny would be expected to undertake if they were your official nanny. This will indicate how this nanny performs. All of these things should help you make a definitive choice if they are the right pick and truly, your very own Mary Poppins.
Questions you should not ask:
As you are about to become a household employer you are subjected to the laws surrounding employment. A nanny/family relationship is a personal one so it is tempting to ask a nanny as much information as possible in order to get to know them! However, under the law, there are questions and subjects that should never be raised in an interview.
1) Health and Disabilities: According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, you may not ask a nanny about their health or any possible disabilities as this is a protected class. You are allowed to ask them if there is any reason they would not be able to perform the job duties required for the position.
2) Race, Ethnicity, Nationality, or Citizenship: Questions of this nature should never be asked. The agency has already confirmed each of our nannies' authorization to work in the United States.
3) Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity: These are both protected classes and cannot be brought up in an interview.
4) Marital Status: Nannies may not be asked about or discriminated against based on their marital or relationship status.
5) Children: You are not allowed to ask if the nanny has children or if they plan on having children in the future. Their parental or pregnancy status is protected by equal employment opportunity laws and is not something to bring up in an interview.
6) Religion: You may not ask a nanny about their religious affiliations or beliefs as these are protected by equal employment opportunity laws. You are allowed to share your family's religious practices, beliefs, or customs so the nanny understands your expectations regarding these practices with your children.
7) Age: Age is a protected class and you are not allowed to ask the nanny how old they are. All of our nannies are at least 21 years old. Again, you are allowed to ask if there is any reason the nanny would be unable to fulfill any of the job requirements.
Don't hesitate to reach out to the agency for clarification if needed.
Agency V’s Online Nanny Finder
When it comes to childcare it is tricky to decide what the best fit for your family is, taking into consideration your daily routines, work, and school schedules, and most importantly, what will work best for your child.
Many families decide on a nanny as their childcare option. They find that the in-home, tailored childcare meets all of their needs. You would think that choosing between daycare and a nanny might be the biggest decision a family must make. Think again. Once you decide to hire a nanny, you then have the task of finding a nanny, not just any nanny, but the right nanny for your family. How does one even go about finding a nanny, you may ask? There are a couple of key options: online nanny and care finder websites or nanny placement agencies. Each offer pro’s and con’s. We hope this blog highlights the differences between these services and potentially helps with the decision of finding the correct one for your family.
What does each entity do?
Nanny Finder Sites:
While childcare finder websites and apps (examples: Care, Sittercity, etc.) are all different, the majority allows you to create a family profile and post a job listing, which gives the details of your position requirements. In order to create this profile, you need to sit down and decide exactly what it is you want and need for your family and children. Importantly, you will also want to decide the level of compensation you are financially willing to offer. When you have come to a decision, you then post a job listing. You can often expand on this process and do a full family biography, giving the nanny an overview of your home environment and the family they would be working for. After this step, you can search through the profiles of potential nanny candidates either by scrolling through the many messages from interested applicants or by viewing suggested candidates from the site. Nannies on the site are also required to fill out a profile. This profile details the candidate’s job history, experiences, any special skills or qualifications they hold related to child care, their resume and sometimes reviews or references. Once you have found a few candidates that meet your requirements you are then free to reach out, via message (or their contact information if they have provided it to you), to set up a trial day or interview. From there you must follow-up on their references. The sites allow the nannies references to post a letter of recommendation or reference to their profile pages, but it is always advised to check the legitimacy by reaching out to them personally. The online services run a fairly basic background check on the nannies for your viewing, but often the sites will offer a more thorough or in-depth background screening at either the nanny’s or your expense. When you have selected your nanny and both wish to proceed, and salary has been agreed upon, you’re in the home stretch. However, there is still work to be done. You must create some sort of work agreement to secure your nanny and protect you both; this will also help you gain clear expectations of duties and daily routine. You need to start thinking about things like state labor laws, unemployment, and overtime. If you pay your nanny over a certain amount a year, you’re also responsible for paying employment taxes. The work agreement should also include details of compensation, not just salary but what benefits, sick pay, vacation pay and insurance you are going to offer. The length of time you are both willing to commit to the position and termination/resignation guidelines should also be included. These agreements are not a guarantee, but if a nanny is willing to sit down with you and create an agreement, it will give you an idea of their reliability and loyalty to you. As long as everything works out well with your nanny, your life will become much easier. The only road bump you may hit is if your nanny is sick or unable to work, as you may have to return to the online hunt of finding a replacement while your nanny is unavailable.
A nanny agency provides the services of finding you a nanny, but with many different tools. Usually, someone from the nanny agency will come to your home to meet your family to ask detailed questions so they have a clear idea of what you need. Once the agency paperwork has been signed, the agency will begin sending you potential nanny profiles to view. The nannies they send will have met the standards of the agency. Each agency is different but most require a minimum of 2 years’ experience within the nanny or childcare field, current Infant, Child, Adult CPR, and First Aid certifications, 3 child related references, an in-depth background check through a professional screening service, DMV records to ensure a clean driving record, and proof of auto insurance. In addition, they will have personally met with and interviewed the nannies themselves. A high-quality agency will send viable candidates that meet your needs. You are free to personally interview the nannies, conduct trial days and then select your nanny; some agencies even facilitate these procedures. Once you have selected your nanny, the agency will advise and assist you with the job offer, including hourly rate, taxes, benefits, length of agreement, etc. When a job is accepted by a nanny, the agency may construct employment agreements between you and the nanny including everything that should be stated between a nanny and their family. The agency will advise on how best to pay your nanny, whether it be directly or through home employment payroll companies. Some agencies will even offer advice come tax time. If there comes a time your nanny is sick or unable to work, the agency can usually find a temporary nanny or sitter to fill in.
While we at Windsor House Nannies might admittedly be biased, we think nanny agencies can offer many benefits to a family searching for child care help. However, we will let you make the decision yourself. If you ever find that you could use the service of a nanny agency, we would love to hear how we could best assist you.
Car Seat Safety – Nanny Guidelines
As a nanny for many years, the safety of my charges has always been paramount. This safety was always heavily concentrated for me when transporting children. After transporting children for all of those years, fitting car seats and buckling children into a car became second nature. When you do something enough times, you find yourself in a routine, assuming that the knowledge you have and the way you do things is the correct way. However, while it may indeed have been the correct way five or six years ago, safety standards and guidelines are ever-changing. This is a fact that you may not realize when trapped in a routine that has worked well for years.
We encourage all Windsor House Nannies to challenge themselves by regularly taking new trainings, classes/workshops, and certifications that correlate to all aspects of child and infant care. We practice what we preach, and it was at a recent training that my eyes were opened to the ever-changing car safety standards and the importance of the “right” car seat for each child. I felt it would be useful to share what I learned at this training.
Car crashes remain one of the leading causes of death and injury to children in the USA. Many of these deaths could have been avoided if a child were riding in the correct car seat and restrained appropriately based on their weight and height. Often, what is deemed the minimum legal requirements or a standard for a state with regards to a car seat is not accurate. Determining the appropriate car seat for your child should always be a function of their weight, not their age, as some States recommend. Children of the same age may be very different in stature and therefore a restraint and seat that would keep a larger 5-year-old safe and protected may cause injury or harm to a smaller 5-year-old. Also, using additional covers for spill protection, fashion, etc. that did not come standard with the original manufactured product might interfere with the effectiveness of the car seat.
As a nanny, your #1 job is the safety of your charge. As a placement nanny, you will no doubt be responsible for the transportation of a child or children. Therefore, you should be fully aware of the standards recommended by the experts at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Obviously you are bound to an extent by what your family already has in place and their budget. However, if the car seat is being put in your car, you have a much greater say. If you feel a child could be harmed or is in the wrong car seat for their stature, it is your duty to share the resources at your disposal (such as www.thecarseatlady.com) to show the family their child could be in danger. There are several companies here in Austin that will come to you or your family’s home to do car seat consultations, offering advice and assistance. You should be completely familiar with the correct placement of restraints on a child’s body given their size and stature, as well as how tight they should be. Restraints in the incorrect places can cause serious injury or organ damage in an accident. Other key considerations range from things as obvious as proper seat anchoring to the suitability of thick clothing. Rear-facing seats and chest straps are recommended as the safest modes for all children, as long as they can comfortably sit in that position.
In addition, obtaining a “Children’s Personal Emergency Kit” for each child in your care is recommended and should be updated several times a year based on their age. This card is designed to keep your charge’s safety and health information current & available at a moment’s notice. This card should be attached to each child’s car seat with additional copies visible from the front of the car as well as one in your wallet, diaper or nanny bag. This tag should have the following information for each child: Name, Photograph, Birthdate, Allergies, Medical Conditions, Parent 1 & their contact number, Parent 2 & contact number, Nanny Contact Number, Family Dr. or Pediatrician and Preferred Hospital. Another useful document is a card stating that the children are currently in your (the nanny’s) care so first responders are aware. These cards can be purchased at www.mysafekid.biz. Alternatively, you can create your own using all relevant information.