What To Look For In A Summer Nanny Or Babysitter

By: Malorie Maddox, Candi Wingate, Nannies4Hire President Email
By: Malorie Maddox, Candi Wingate, Nannies4Hire President Email

It is one of the biggest decisions a parent makes, choosing someone to trust with their children. Here’s some advice for finding a summer nanny or babysitter.

Summer is busy in the Ayoub house. Jennifer has five kids so having child care help is a must. “I've used agencies before, I've used websites, we one time put an ad in the paper, word of mouth."

Even though Jennifer uses an agency to find a nanny she doesn't stop there. “I will do Google searches, I will do background checks myself. I always call references.”

She found Alex on nannies4hire.com. It was Alex's first time to go through the site. “I felt more comfortable because they had a background check, I had a background check.”

The Ayoubs are the fourth family for whom Alex has worked, but her experience started as a little girl. “My grandmother also has a day care. I kind of grew up there. It makes me comfortable and happy to be around kids.”

Alex says communication is key to doing the job well. “They gave me a printed out sheet before I started working. They tell me what foods they can eat, they can't watch TV, what activities they like.”

Nannies 4 Hire and other agencies suggest families give the caregiver a written job description. Child care is first, but you should write down any additional chores you expect them to help with. “I do have them do some laundry and picking up after the kids and really get the kids involved, too,” says Jennifer. “They have to learn to clean up after themselves."

And with Alex's help, it gives Jennifer more time to do projects or homework with her kids. “Having a nanny has really helped us have more quality time when we are home.”

Several agencies give this advice. If you are hiring a summer nanny make sure they are looking for summer-only employment, otherwise they may be job searching while they are caring for your kids.

What do you look for In a well qualified summer nanny?

Like all nannies, your summer nanny should have clean background checks, get along well with your kids, model the behaviors that you want your kids to exhibit, and have the other skills and abilities that your family needs. For example, you may want your summer nanny to have her own car and be able to transport your kids to the variety of summer civic recreational activities in which they will be involved. Or you may want a summer nanny that speaks a foreign language to help your kids survive and thrive in a globally-oriented world.

Your summer nanny should be seeking summer-only employment. If you hire a summer nanny who prefers year-round employment, she may continue her job search while she is caring for your kids. If she is hired for a year-round job, she may leave your employment before the fall school semester begins.

Your summer nanny should be energetic and enjoy outdoor activities. In most areas, winter affords fewer opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. Summer is generally the best time to take a nature hike, plant a garden, play outdoor sports, or just sit on a porch swing and take in the fresh air of a summer breeze.

Your summer nanny should be able to think creatively to develop fun ideas to keep your kids occupied, entertained, and learning throughout the summer.

Find the Perfect Nanny

  • Create a job description. What do you want the nanny to do? Childcare only? Light housekeeping? Meal preparation? Other tasks?

  • Create an employment contract. The contract should cover pay rate, benefits, and other terms and conditions of employment.

  • Recruit. Common recruitment methods include word-of-mouth, help-wanted advertisements, postings at colleges or universities, and online databases of prospective nannies such as Nannies4hire.com.

  • Screen all candidates by reviewing their credentials relative to what you are looking for in a nanny. You can do this by thoroughly reviewing resumes, applications, etc.

  • Interview. Interview only those candidates whose credentials match what you are looking for in a nanny. Two rounds of interviews are recommended. The initial interview can be done by Skype or telephone if in-person interviewing is impractical. This interview is done to get to know candidates a little better through a question-and-answer period of approximately one half hour. After the initial interviews are done, you can refine your list of viable candidates to perhaps two or three prospective nannies. On those two or three candidates, perform second-round interviews. These interviews are more thorough and typically involve your children as well. Observe how the candidates relate to your children. If age appropriate, ask your children, after the interview, how their liked the candidate that they just met. During the second round interviews, candidates should be shown the job description. Candidates should be expected to ask a variety of questions about the job description. At the conclusion of the second round interviews, let the candidates know you will be doing background checks and reference checks.

  • Perform background checks and call all references on your final round candidates.

  • Make your selection and offer the job to the candidate you’ve chosen. A telephone call to the selected candidate is sufficient for the initial job offer. Make sure that you are clear about the intended start date. If the offer is accepted, you should follow up by having your new nanny sign her employment contract. (Note: she may want to negotiate various aspects of the contract with you. You may or may not be willing to negotiate various aspects with her, as some aspects are likely non-negotiable for you.)

  • Orient and train the new nanny. Make sure that you set aside enough time to train her well. On her first day of employment, have her sign her job description. Orient and train her by referring frequently to the job tasks listed in her job description. Provide her clear and consistent feedback on what she is doing correctly and what needs to be done differently. Follow up with progressive discipline if necessary.

  • Provide a method of periodic communication between you and your nanny. Many families keep a nanny log: a notebook in which both parents and nannies record information and questions for each other on a daily basis. For example, the nanny may write, “Johnny played outside all day today. He took a one-hour nap (rather than his usual 30 minute nap) as a result.” Or the parents may write, “Would you make sure that Johnny’s rash is going away? I didn’t want to wake him up before I left this morning.”

  • Separate the nanny, with your thanks, after the summer is over. A nice additional touch is to provide the nanny with a written letter of recommendation from you and a gift card or hand-made gift from your children. You may also seek to secure the nanny’s services for the next summer as well.

    Important of Background Checking Your Nanny

    Although it can be tempting to immediately hire the first nanny you come across who meets all the qualifications you’re looking for, it is definitely a smart decision to do a background check. Though in many cases, you won’t find anything that should deter you from hiring a nanny candidate, it’s always better to err on the side of caution. Below is a list of the background checks that you may do and what information you can find from these checks.

  • Character and Professional References: Reference check your top candidates by contacting people who know your top candidates’ character and people who have employed your candidates in their prior positions. You can learn if your candidates are responsible, ethical, nurturing, how the candidates handled themselves in their prior jobs, and so much more information about how these candidates would likely conduct themselves in your employ.

  • Education and Licensure Verification: If your top candidates claim to have higher education or licensure, it is wise to verify that those claims are accurate. For example, if a candidate claims to have obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Early Childhood Education from XYZ University, you can contact the university to verify that the degree was, in fact, conferred. The same is true of verifying licensure. Verification indicates candidate honesty and knowledge. For example, if your child is disabled and you need a babysitter that has medical training, it is essential that you verify that your prospective babysitter really has the CNA licensure that she says she has.

  • Criminal and Sex Offender Registry Checking: These checks will tell you if your nanny candidate has a record of any criminal offenses or are registered on the sex offender registry. Each state lists its residents who are registered sex offenders. The lists are accessible via Internet. Criminal searches can be obtained on sites such as Nannies4hire.com using their online investigation service.

  • Credit History: The credit history determines how responsible a nanny has been in handling her finances. It’s more common these days than it used to be to check a nanny’s credit history.
    Department of Health and Human Services (Child & Vulnerable Adult Protective Services): By contacting your state’s Department of Health and Human Services, you can determine if your top candidates are on the Child Protective Services / Vulnerable Adult Protective Services list, which means that they have potentially or allegedly abused or neglected a child or vulnerable adult.

  • Department of Motor Vehicles: If your babysitter will be responsible for transporting your child(ren), you are well advised to contact your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles to determine whether your top candidates have safe driving histories.
    Social Security Records Checking: By checking these records, you will be able to confirm that your babysitter candidate’s name and

  • Social Security number are (or are not) valid according to the records of the federal Social Security Administration.

  • Drug Testing: Some families want the security of knowing that their babysitters are drug-free. Sending their top candidates to a doctor for drug testing can be that security.

    In sum, by choosing to perform all job-relevant background checks, you can ensure that you are hiring the best possible babysitter for your family. Most background checks listed above may be obtained at nannies4hire.com using their online investigation service.

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