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Hiring A Nanny? Keep Your Child Safe

What to ask and things to do before you make your decision

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You’ve heard the stories. You’ve read the headlines. Maybe you’ve even experienced it yourself. Maybe you just had your first child and are due back to your high-powered job in two weeks. You’ve been so busy learning how to be a mommy, that you’ve put off the whole process of searching for a nanny. Your husband has been working late. You are confused and not sure how to start the process. Should you place a classified ad? Go through an agency? What questions should you ask, how do you check credentials, how do you conduct a proper background check? The scary thing is everyone you’ve spoken to doesn’t really know, either. You cross your fingers, interview some candidates and after an exhausting, emotional process, you hire the last person you met with. You have to get back to work. Everything will be fine, you say. Let’s hope so.

Before she becomes part of the family, check her out:

Do a thorough background check which includes checking for a criminal/arrest record, driving record and references.

Verify references.

Identify and confirm skills, such as infant and child CPR, swimming.

Check her personal information.

Is the phone number she gave you listed? if so, does it match the address she gave you?

If you are hiring an undocumented worker, create an Identification document:

Take a photo of her.

Note any distinguishing marks on her face.

Write down the make of her car, year, and license plate.

Write down her age, birthday, eye color, hair color, approximate height and weight.

Record her email address(es).

Write down her home and cell phone numbers. Also, note the phone number that comes up on caller ID when she calls your home

Ask for an emergency contact person and phone number.

Ask her about her own family and living arrangements:

Her spouse's or partner’s name.

Names and ages of her children.

Names of local relatives.

Note how she gets to work. What subway or bus she takes? Or, if someone drops her off, who is it?

Create an emergency sheet for your home:

It should include your family names, professional names used at work (if different from your married name).

Address with cross streets, home phone, cell phone, office phone.

Neighbor’s name and number.

Doorman's name and how to reach him.

Emergency contact name and number and relation to you.

Any allergies and medicines your child is taking and dosage.

Doctor names and numbers.

Conduct checks periodically:

Once your nanny has been welcomed into your home, it’s natural for defenses to fall away. Trust needs to be established, but trust also needs to be earned. Check in with her periodically and provide feedback. Ask her how things are going regarding her employment and her life in general. Treat your nanny as you would any other employee.

Stage a controlled interaction: Find a person you trust to make an unexpected delivery to your home and see what happens. Does she call you right away to see if you were expecting something? Does she disclose any personal or confidential information to this person? Does she open the door to this individual? Does she permit the “delivery man” to enter your home?

About the Author

Tamara Pilblad, Founder,


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