“Nanny” does not equal “nightmare” – 5 steps every parent should take


Is it fair that the only time we hear about nannies in the news is when something terrible happens? What about the qualified and trained nannies who are doing impressive things on a daily basis? As an agency that supports many diligent and ethical professional nannies it is frustrating that the media chooses to run only negative stories.  A few weeks ago, another nanny was featured in the news for mistreating children under her care. Can the women in these stories even be considered professional nannies? Not by our standards.

In light of recent news events, we wanted to share with you the importance of doing a complete background screening prior to hiring ANY household employee.

We aren’t talking about a computerized background check. When screening our candidates we implement our comprehensive screening process. It is important for parents who are screening on their own to follow strict guidelines to ensure the safety of their family.

1. Verify identity – Speak to the candidate before you meet them. Do a phone interview just to make sure you have a small connection on the phone.  Require copies of their driver’s license, make sure they are who they say they are.

2. Verify work history- Confirm all previous employers and all gaps in work history. Ask for the name and number of employees that might have worked with the nanny at those homes.  If someone worked for at least a year, there will be other names of people that knew them from those homes.  It could be a housekeeper, or an aunt or grandparent.  Candidates should provide names and numbers to each previous employer.

3. Interview- Spend time with the candidate! Meet at a coffee shop.  If you can not spend at least 30 minutes with this person, then why would you have them in your home for 8 hours a day? Ask open-ended questions about previous employment. In our offices, we insist that all potential candidates meet with at least two Help Company recruiters in order to have multiple perspectives on the same person. Don’t ignore red flags! Sometimes families are tempted by on paper experience -make sure you have a connection.

4. Check references- All past employers should be given a phone call. Even if they are not child related references. Speaking to past employers is one of the most important aspects of the screening process. Past employers can provide valuable insight about the candidate you are thinking of hiring. Be sure to verify dates of employment with each previous employer.  Fake references do exist! Make sure you ask specific questions such as “Where did your kids go to school when she worked for you?”.

5. Hire a private investigator to perform an extensive background check. We use PFC Investigative Services, one of the finest private investigators in the country.  You should have them check criminal, driving, sexual offender database, and so on.  Internet background checks are not always accurate! With a private investigator you can rest assured an actual person is performing the check.

The Help Company is a trained and nationally recognized agency. We are committed to helping families and companies throughout the hiring and placement process- and beyond. We have long-standing relationships with many of the industries leading professionals and we are recognized by  INA (The International Nanny Association) as well as APNA (Association of Premier  Nanny Agencies). We can ensure that the candidates we place in your home have been fully screened and vetted, we are dedicated to finding the safest, most qualified candidates for our clients.