We were incredibly disappointed to hear the story of the nanny in Georgia that is alleged to have committed identity theft. It was no surprise to find out that the family in this case did not use an agency approved by the Association of Premier Nanny Agencies. No matter how you do it, hiring a nanny can be tricky and often very complicated. But hiring on your own (without an agency that can provide deep industry knowledge) dramatically increases the odds of a negative outcome. It’s like going to Las Vegas and playing the roulette wheel: it is 100% predictable that the outcome is unpredictable.
We all know that life is fraught with risk. There is always a degree of risk in any hiring effort. But, the vast majority of nanny candidates are safe and honest. And, finding a great nanny for your children is like winning the lottery. Everybody wins if we do this right. The key questions here are twofold. One, how much risk tolerance should I have in hiring a nanny? Second, how best to minimize and manage the risk?
The answer to the first question is obvious to most. You should have less tolerance for risk when it comes to your children’s welfare. So, how do you minimize/manage the risk in the hiring process? There are many fantastic Agencies out there that specialize in this very thing.
The Association of Premier Nanny Agencies advocates working with a professional agency that carries the APNA stamp of approval. These agencies specialize in reading between the lines and expertly identifying those caregivers who are safe and those who are not. The most secure route is to let the Agency direct your hiring process from top to bottom and facilitate the most intense series of background checks available. One critical factor that sets agencies apart from online listing sites is that APNA agencies meet their candidates in person. Placement fees for this type of service are not small. But try to make it happen, understanding that you are investing in a fantastic caregiver for the most important people in your life. The dividends will be huge. To lead the life you want, can you afford not to do it this way? But if you can’t do this, you can usually still work with your Agency of choice to vet a caregiver after you have done a search on your own. Bottom line: Have an APNA approved agency involved in this process. You won’t regret it.
Thank you to our partners at APNA for this guest blog
What are the pros and cons of using an online nanny site vs a nanny agency? Your greatest concerns in life revolve around your children and home. When you need some extra help at home, a nanny or babysitter, how should you go about finding the perfect one, the one just right for your family?
Should you go with a ‘do-it-yourself’ online site? Or hire a service to do the sleuthing for you. What are the pros and cons of using an online nanny agency versus a full service agency? We checked with some experts in the industry and have some pros and cons to help you decide which way is best for your family.
Complete control. An online company gives parents complete control over the process. Some parents feel that they know their needs and their family better than anyone, and want to do it all themselves.
Price. An online service is much less expensive initially than an agency. Some online companies charge only $45 per month and a Phoenix nanny agency can be anywhere from $800 to $3,500.
Candidates. There are lots of candidates to choose from. There are outstanding, experienced candidates mixed in with others. Experience levels vary greatly. For example, Care.com requires candidates to have worked in three different homes at least one time each. Most ‘brick and mortar’ agencies require a minimum of one to two years experience outside friends and family.
Convenience. Since it’s all online, a parent can do a lot of the work after hours.
Cons of an online service
Another comment was, “I didn’t realize all the stuff that ultimately fell on my plate.”
And again, “I had no idea that they don’t even meet the nannies. They have a lot of resumes but I gave up after a while. It was like finding a needle in a haystack.”
Pros of a Full-Service Agency
Streamlined Hiring Process: An agency has the ability to determine your needs and send candidates for interviewing within a day or two. Judi Merlin of A Friend of the Family Staffing Corporation in Athens, Georgia, tells us that her vetting process for nannies takes 15-20 hours. “We have found that only 1 in 10 applicants successfully complete our process,” she adds.
There for you during and after the placement. One of the most valuable benefits of going with a nanny agency is being able to work with one person who will guide you through the process. One family in the Breedlove survey stated: ” I liked being able to do a lot of the work online to save time. But I thought most of their nannies were un-hireable and I didn’t have anyone to call when I needed help.” Mimi Brady of Westside Nannies in Los Angeles tells us: “Most agencies always provide ears to listen, even after a nanny has been placed, and this can be extremely helpful in working on glitches regarding training your new nanny and miscommunications.”
Back-up help and support. If a family uses an agency, they can call for a last minute substitute sitter in case of an emergency. If a placement doesn’t work out, most agencies guarantee the placement for three months.
If you have any questions about the process of finding just the right nanny or babysitter for your family, we’re glad to help. You can give us a call at 480-946-3423 or fill out a Family Application to start your personalized search today.
Cons of a Brick and Mortar Agency
Price. It is definitely more expensive to hire a nanny or babysitter though an on-line service, but time and having a stress-free experience are more valuable to many families than the money they would save.
Loss of control. Some parents prefer to be in charge of the whole process themselves.
Pros of a Do it Yourself Website
Each family’s budget, time constraints and priorities are what will determine the best way to go about hiring a nanny or babysitter. The bottom line for every family is the safety and well-being of their children.
When a nanny, housekeeper or senior caregiver is paid legally, they are entitled to certain benefits that are earned through the payroll and tax process. But because many household employees are younger in age, sometimes they don’t realize how important these benefits are. In this edition of The Legal Review, the Hanson family finds themselves in a big mess after their long-time nanny decides she’s ready to stop working.
The Hanson family lives in upstate New York and has employed a nanny named Bonnie for the past four years. Unlike most nannies, Bonnie was 60 years old when the Hansons hired her, but had a wealth of experience with childcare as she was a stay-at-home mom for most of her life. Before working for the Hansons, the only job Bonnie ever had was working in a local retail shop for 8 years. With her upbeat personality and her love for children, she was a great fit for the Hansons after their first child was born and they were ecstatic to hear she would take on the challenge of a second child two years later.
When the Hansons first hired Bonnie, they asked their neighbors how they handled hiring a nanny for their kids. The Hanson’s neighbors explained they paid their nanny like they would a babysitter and gave her cash at the end of each week. Bonnie agreed with this arrangement and she was paid in cash every Friday for four years.
Bonnie was confused and asked the CPA how she could get credit for the last four years of her working career so she could retire at the end of the year. The CPA explained that the Hanson family would need to catch up on four years’ worth of payroll reporting and tax returns in order for the SSA to approve Social Security benefits for her. With this information in hand, Bonnie approached the Hansons, who were understandably embarrassed and guilt-ridden at the thought of their long-time nanny not being able to retire on her schedule.
The Hansons called Breedlove & Associates the next day and we were able to get them caught up on their employer taxes. We set them up as household employers with the IRS and the state of New York, gathered the four years’ worth of payroll information for Bonnie, filed the late tax returns, and best of all, sent tax information for the family and Bonnie to the Social Security Administration so Bonnie could get the working credits she needed for retirement. The family unfortunately incurred thousands of dollars in back tax payments and interest, but we were able to get the state of New York to waive the majority of the penalties they assessed. Bonnie will turn 65 in November and she’s now set up to retire just in time for the holiday season.
How the Whole Thing Could Have Been Avoided
Built by household employers exclusively for household employers, Breedlove & Associates provides a no-work, no-worry solution to paydays, tax time and all points in between. If you have any questions about household employment or want to take advantage of our complimentary New Employer Orientation, just give us a call. We’re here to help.
A nanny takes care of your most valuable resources, your children and your home, and represents your family. You are the gatekeeper for your family, and in many ways, she will become the face of the family.
Choosing the right agency
The first question to ask is to determine which service to use. It helps to get a personal referral. When you’re shopping for a high end car, you go to the best store. This is not the time to look for a bargain and don’t make the mistake of using several agencies. You’ll likely see some of the same candidates. Read up on how they find their candidates, what their screening practices are. Look for a nice, kind, friendly agency.
A good agency will ask lots of questions. They will want to know your personality and the personality of each one of the children, your schedule, what household chores would lighten your load, like running errands, preparing a tasty dinner a few nights a week, or home management experience.
On Your mark, Get set, Go
Your first job is to decide what you actaully need and want:
Be as specific as possible in your description
We recommend finding the best personality match for your family and being negotiable about specific skill-sets.
Narrowing down the candidates
Your Placement counselor will take your Family Application and the information from the phone interview and go through their data base of nannies to find a handful of very close matches. She is doing the work for you so do consider each of them. She may start with 15 candidates and narrow the list down to 3-5 best matches for you. She is looking at the ages of children the nannies have had recent experience with, how close she lives to you, how her personality matches with yours, skill sets, schedule and salary. She is doing the digging for you. When she says, “meet everyone we send you , even if it’s just for 15 minutes”, do it.
Let the agency save you stress and time. Trust them. A picky nanny agency will go through 25 applications before finding one to interview. After an in-person interview, a decision is made whether to proceed with reference and background checks. Our goal is that your choice will be based on the best personality match for your family between a few top-quality candidates.
Two Glendale, California brothers may have been sexually molested by a 19 year old babysitter they found through an online site. Investigators say the suspect was communicating with up to 100 families using online childcare sites.
Online babysitting sites give families a false sense of security by saying the applicants are ‘mom approved’ or have gone through a nationwide background check. Most online services are just postings put up by anyone who wants to advertise their availability and do not ensure a families safety.
Families don’t realize that the $9.95 computerized background checks can easily miss a red flag. Sitter City uses LexisNexis, and has a disclaimer on it’s site that it covers only 38 states. Some online job posting services call the LexisNexis check nationwide which can be misleading. Misdemeanors rarely show up on the quick and inexpensive nationwide computer searches. Typically, only a felony will be reported. So the inexpensive background check may give feeling of security, but they won’t report a candidates lower level run-ins with the law which tells you so much about their past and character.
While the cost of a professional background check is much more expensive, costing up to hundreds of dollars, it takes time and knowledge to do it right, and most critically, it is done by a person, not a computer. This is the safety net that Caring Nannies puts up for each our families before sending a candidate to work in a home with young children. You can read in detail what a thorough background check entails here
Caring Nannies uses US Information Search, a nationally recognized service that provides the most comprehensive checks available. A candidate’s social security number is traced to find every state in which they have lived. A record search is done of each county where the candidate has lived.
We meet with each candidate in person and are experienced in seeing potential problems, and we know the right questions to ask. We also use a personality testing program to search out candidates who are patient, kind, and genuinely love children.
The online sites will represent anyone who can fill out the form.
After 28 years in the business, families come to us because of our reputation for sifting out all but 8% of the candidates who come to us. Your family’s safety and security and well being is our top concern.