Whether using an Agency or leveraging online resources, this Nanny Guide provides tools to
- Decide what type of nanny you need
- Understand job titles and responsibilities
- Determine the costs to hire a nanny
- Find great candidates (agency or on your own)
- Conduct interviews using insightful questions
- Assess candidates with proven criteria
- Use reputable companies for background checks
- Leverage free work agreement templates
- Host a paid trial period
- Sign up with reputable payroll services
- Invest in nannies career development
- Explain to the children when a nanny leaves
The Ultimate Guide on How to Hire a Nanny Contents
The information contained in this guide is authored by childcare professionals and provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal or financial advice. Under no circumstances shall the US Nanny Institute, Amslee Institute or their affiliates or partners be liable for any indirect, incidental, consequential, special or exemplary damages arising out of or in connection with access or use of The Ultimate Guide on How to Hire a Nanny, whether or not the damages were foreseeable and whether or not the US Nanny Institure or Amslee Institute were advised of the possibility of such damages. Any action you take upon the information on this website is strictly at your own risk. The Ultimate Guide on How to Hire a Nanny is copyrighted with all rights reserved. For additional information, contact us.
Chapter 1: Why You Need a Nanny
Children are treasures whether you are a mom, dad, grandparent, guardian, nanny, or childcare provider. Adjusting to the 24-7 responsibility and never-ending commitments can be tough. There are a lot of pictures of beautiful babies but there aren’t many pictures of stressed-out moms and dads with spit-up in their hair and poo on their hands as they change a diaper at 2 am. Honestly, many parents are stretched to their limits.
Have you ever wondered how much you’d earn if you were paid for being a parent? Using a mom as an example, let’s start with the average number of hours worked per week. According to a 2017 study conducted by Market Research OnePoll in partnership with Welch’s nutrition program, moms work an average of 98 hours a week. That may surprise some, but moms routinely get up at 6:30 am and don’t finish their day until after 8:30pm. According to Salary.com, moms would earn a base salary of $37,022 with an overtime salary of $75,941 totaling $112,962 per year. Updated in 2018, Salary.com published a new value of $162,581.
Let’s break down these hours into an average week:
- Childcare = 30.2 hours. Caring for our children involves an ever-changing list of tasks that includes feeding, bathing, getting them ready for school, helping them through temper tantrums, playtime, getting them ready for bed, and holding them when they wake up from a bad dream.
- Teaching and Coaching = 7.9 hours. Moms do a lot of teaching and coaching to help their children grow and develop. Moms teach younger children how to walk and talk. They teach toddlers the alphabet and help older children with homework. Additional activities include transportation to sports practice, after-school events, and community clubs such as the Scouts. Some moms volunteer to coach sports teams or help in the classroom.
- Household Management = 45.9 hours. Running a household encompasses a lot of activities including laundry, cleaning, cooking, sewing, ironing, repairs, lawn care, and managing finances.
- Errands = 10.7 hours. Moms also run a lot of errands including going to the grocery store, shopping for household goods, and buying clothes and shoes.
If you are a mom, dad, or guardian who feels you are balancing 2.5 full-time jobs, then you are not alone. Four in every 10 of the 2,000 American mothers asked, feel each week is a never-ending series of tasks that need to be completed. It’s not surprising that a lot of moms and other primary caregivers feel stressed every day.
Please, please let me find a great nanny, begged Elizabeth, a single mom who had just moved to Los Angeles and was feeling overwhelmed.
What are some tips to help parents with all this work?
- Get help. Whether it is your partner, a family member or hiring a nanny or family assistant, getting help and support will ease the burden. Identify the most stressful times of days or activities that you struggle to get completed and seek help. For new moms and dads, this might be hiring an overnight nanny to help you get some sleep. For working parents, it may be a family assistant to pick up the kids, cook dinner, and help with homework. If you can’t stand the thought of cleaning, create a chore list for the family and split up the work or investigate hiring a weekly housekeeper.
- Involve the kids. From toddlers to teens, kids can help. Toddlers can put away their plastic dishes in a low cabinet and Elementary school kids can help fold laundry and pick up items that need to be put away. Middle schoolers can start learning to cook. Teaching children how to complete these tasks not only eases the burden on you but teaches them important life lessons. It is important for children to understand their role in the family and be able to help the family.
- Intentionally manage your time. Planning helps you use your time wisely. For example, if you plan weekly meals and include a few slow cooker meals, you can save time in the kitchen. Sneak in errands during lunch or bundle them together to reduce the number of trips required. Instead of leaving all the chores to the weekend, do a little bit each day so that it’s not so overwhelming. Prepare in advance, when possible, and plan time for sleep and exercise so you can stay healthy.
- Don’t do everything. There are no perfect families, and no one can do it all. Let the children pick 1 or 2 extra-curricular activities but don’t feel that they have to participate in everything or have an activity for each day of the week. Encourage the children to play during downtime. Try to cook healthy meals but don’t fret if you order pizza one night.
It will take trial and error and time to find what works for you and your family. Each family is unique, so what works for you will look different from what works for other families and that’s okay. Being a parent is tough work so surround yourself with those who love you and are willing and able to help.
Chapter 2: Nanny Job Titles and Duties
A nanny’s career path ranges from parent’s helper to babysitter to specialist and professional nanny. It is important for parents to understand the differences in job titles, duties, and skills so you can determine the type of childcare for your family.
Understand Your Family Needs
Every family is unique and so your childcare requirements will also be unique. Some families need daytime help for young children who are still at home. Others need before and after school care. If both parents are working and travel is involved, families may need overnight care.
Start by determining your childcare needs. Do you have newborns and need overnight care or older children who need after school care? Is the position for a short time or are you looking for a commitment of at least a year or longer? Are you open to a nanny share or nanny mom? Does the position include family assistant tasks or stays focused only on childcare duties? Do you need full time or part-time nanny services? Are you looking for a live-in nanny or a live-out nanny?
In order to determine what will work best for your family, a list of expected duties and responsibilities should be created. This list should include the days and hours care is needed, regular duties, and a backup plan if the nanny or child becomes ill. Take time to write out as many of the logistical needs as possible. Then, create a separate list of all the activities and tasks that need to be completed by the nanny.
While there are training programs and state requirements for daycare workers and teachers, no qualifications are required by the states for nannies and sitters who work in our homes. “Licensed childcare certification programs for nannies, like those offered by US Nanny, are available to help families ensure their children are cared for by qualified persons” shared Dr. Lauren Formy-Duval, a child psychologist, adjunct professor, and mom. “Nannies and sitters investing in affordable and high-quality training not only gain practical skills but also enable a career path, just like teachers and other professionals.
Align Your Needs to Childcare Job Titles
Matching the family needs to childcare job titles and skills is essential to finding the best fit for your family and situation. Families can’t realistically hire Nanny Poppin at a babysitter rate so it’s important to understand the different types of sitters, nannies, and family assistants. Babysitters provide for the safety of children for several hours, often with the family members nearby and available by phone. Parent’s helpers and babysitters may have some childcare experience but are often early in their childcare career.
- Parents’ Helper
Parents’ helpers are considered babysitters-in-training, as they help care for children under the direct supervision of a parent or guardian. Often too young or inexperienced to care for children independently, parents’ helpers play with children, feed babies or make easy lunches, and perform light housework. An entry-level position in childcare, parents’ helpers should have CPR and First Aid training but may not have experience working with children. For those less than 16 years old, the American Red Cross offers an online class and local YMCAs may host a babysitter training day.
Babysitters provide for the safety of children for several hours, often with the family members nearby and available by phone. Working in the evening or over the weekend, babysitters monitor or participate in playtime, offer parent approved snacks, and help children get ready for bed. If asked, babysitters may do light housekeeping, such as washing the dishes associated with the snack or emptying the diaper bin. Babysitters should have CPR and First Aid certification and it’s recommended they complete some childcare training.
- Nanny (Part or Full Time)
Nannies have contracted, consistent work for at least 3 months but usually a year or more and are responsible for a child or multiple children throughout the workday while family members are at their places of employment. Care includes feeding, bathing, and playtime for the children and nannies manage the children’s daily schedules which are developed in conjunction with the parents. Nannies may also provide transportation to and from school, clubs, sports practices, play-dates, and other activities. Nannies work autonomously and may have full responsibility to care for the children when families are out of town.
All nannies, whether part or full time, should have CPR and First Aid certification and invest in childcare training that teaches age-appropriate growth, development, and activities from newborn through primary years. Nutrition, fitness, health, art, music, and communication courses provide practical skills to help nannies excel as in-home childcare providers.
- Professional Nanny and Family Assistants
Professional nannies manage all schedules, logistics, and needs for the entire family. Daryl Camarillo describes the role of a professional nanny, “Families think of [professional] nannies as in-home professionals who do everything to care, nurture, and develop the children. These include household duties related to childcare and the upkeep of the home such as washing bottles, meal preparation for the children, emptying diaper bins, and the child’s laundry. Families are seeking nannies to take the child to activities and invest in their development and growth. They view the nanny as part of the childcare team.” Professional nannies can have different types of specialization based on training and experiences that elevate their skills as family assistants, early childhood educators, or special needs.
Family assistants (sometimes referred to as household managers or nanny managers) perform childcare duties along with additional responsibilities such as managing a weekly schedule, scheduling and attending children’s doctor appointments, picking up the family dry cleaning, planning and hosting birthday parties, household organization, shopping, pet care, meal planning, and preparing meals for the family. Family assistants are often committed to the role as their primary employment and have the maturity to work unsupervised while remaining responsible for several children and an allocated budget.
Family assistants have a combination of childcare experience, training, and organizational skills. Family Assistants often have between 2 to 5 years of in-home childcare experience with additional experience managing their own household or working in the service industry as a personal chef, pet sitter, or cleaning service provider. Most have CPR and First Aid certification, and most have completed childcare and household management programs.
Specialist nannies have varying qualifications that often include college degrees in Early Childhood Education, Special Needs Education, or Psychology. They generally have diverse work experiences as a nanny, in daycares, teaching, or child advocacy. Specialist nannies may also be travel nannies or having training in Montessori, RIE, or Waldorf child development approaches. Specialist nannies are passionate about their work and are often leaders in the nanny industry. Many specialist nannies work for high profile and/or high net worth families and are extremely desirable within the nanny market.
Other Nanny Industry Terms
With so many different terms and titles, it can certainly feel overwhelming. “A big challenge in the industry is that terms are often confused. It leads to a disconnect in expectations making it harder for families and nannies to manage expectations about job duties and compensation.” Shares Daryl Camarillo, Owner of Stanford Park Nannies. Nannies often describe their careers and experiences using many of these terms.
- Career Nanny
A career nanny has chosen childcare as their profession and has worked as a nanny for a significant amount of time. He or she has made a conscious choice to remain in the field and has no intention to leave.
- Professional Nanny
A professional nanny has chosen childcare and treat the nanny job as they would any position in any other field. Professional nannies have signed a contract, often with a year commitment, and invest in training and professional development to better care for children.
- Nanny Sharing
When two or more families employ one nanny, it’s a nanny share. In this situation, the nanny either watches the children as a group or splits her time among the families. Most nanny shares watch the children together, but many families work together to come up with a schedule tailored to their specific needs.
- Overnight Nannies
Overnight nannies care for children off-hours and for a specific period, often a few weeks, allowing parents of newborns to get some much-needed rest. Overnight nannies can also be on-call when parents have jobs that require night shifts or job-related travel.
- Summer Nanny
Often a college student, these full-time nannies care for children during the summer break. Summer nannies make sure the children have their basic needs met as well as provide activities to do throughout the day. Some summer nannies are live-ins while others work specified hours each week.
- Newborn Care Specialists
Caring for newborns is a 24/7 job. Newborn care specialists help parents get much needed sleep, helping with feedings and bathing. A newborn care specialist typically comes to the home for several weeks after a child is born to help the parents develop healthy eating, sleeping, and care routines.
- Nanny Mom
Nanny moms are professional childcare providers and career nannies who bring their own child to work. According to the 2017 INA Salary & Benefits Survey, 7.4% of nannies are nanny moms. Families with only one child may seek out a nanny mom so the children can interact with other children while some families hire a great nanny who then starts their own family. When considering a nanny mom, many families have concerns about the nanny paying more attention to their own child, planning for backup care when the nanny mom’s child is ill, and the logistics of having food, toys, and supplies needed by an additional child in the home. Additional concerns include liability in the event of an accident.
- Au Pair
Au Pairs are part of a one-year culture exchange program where a host family in the United States provides room, board, a weekly salary, and a class. In exchange, an au pair provides childcare as well as household duties pertaining to the children. Working up to 45 hours a week, au pairs integrate into the family. Au pair programs have very specific requirements and more information can be found at the US State Department.
- Live-in versus Live-out Nannies
Live-in nannies work and reside in their employer’s residence while live-out nannies have their own residences and come and go to their place of employment.
There are a lot of things to consider when hiring a live-in nanny as this is not a typical job. A live-in nanny will work, eat and sleep under the same roof as your family, children, and pets. This means they will not leave your home when they finish work, so you will have to be disciplined to ensure you give them time off from their job duties at the appropriate times.
A live-in nanny wears many hats. They may be a teacher, a best friend, a mediator, an assistant, a first aid technician and so much more. Whenever they are in the home, even when the live-in nanny is not ‘on the clock’, they should act as an extension of the parents regarding the care of the children and household management. It is imperative that you and the live-in nanny be cohesive with the child-rearing philosophy for the children and be consistent with the household rules.
Having a great relationship with a live-in nanny is wonderful. You may become great friends but remember that you are also an employer. If you are going through a personal issue that may impact your family (such as having to travel more for work), then it’s important to share this information with your nanny. However, if you and your spouse are having an argument, it’s not appropriate to share this personal information or vent your frustration with your employee.
A live-in nanny can be a very rewarding experience but do not offer this type of position without understanding all the expectations. Working and living within the same residence as your employee takes discipline and accountability as the nanny has a right to privacy and boundaries within your home.
Chapter 3: Cost to Hire a Nanny
Childcare costs are often the highest or 2nd largest family expense and the salary you can afford to pay is one of the most important elements in finding a great nanny. Families can’t realistically hire Nanny Poppin at a babysitter rate so it’s important to help families understand the different types and rates for sitters, nannies, and family assistants.
Salaries vary widely across the country and even within states. According to ZipRecruiter in December 2018, the average full time, live-out nanny earns $54,574 with a salary range of $19,500 to $80,000. Top nannies in premier markets can earn over $100,000 although most salaries are between $35,000 and $70,000.
The wide range in salaries reflects the flexibility in hiring a nanny. According to the 2017, International Nanny Association (INA) Nanny Salary & Benefits Survey Results, 69% of nannies earn an hourly rate with a national average of $19.14 per hour. Overtime pay at time and a half is earned by 62% of nannies. In this survey, the top variables that contributed to the salary range included location, job duties, education, experience, and tenure with the employer. Regarding education, nannies with a high school diploma earned on average $18.66, those with a Diploma equivalent earned $19.37 and those with a bachelor’s degree earned on average $19.91 per hour. Nannies in California earned an average of $23 per hour while those in Ohio earned an average of $15 per hour.
Nannies deserve fair wages as families seek affordable childcare. It’s a challenge as families don’t always think of themselves as employers, shares Samantha from Washington, D.C. I have a full-time nanny and have to pay her a living wage out of my salary. It’s not easy.
In addition to wages, nannies should be reimbursed for mileage when transporting children and earn overtime. Many full-time, professional nannies also earn paid vacation, paid holidays, paid sick days, and reimbursement for continuing education. Some families contribute to health insurance premiums, gym memberships, or provide a cell phone allowance but these are less common.
When a nanny earns more than $2100, they must be declared a domestic employee. Additional expenses include adding a domestic employee to a homeowners’ insurance and auto insurance policy as well as paying taxes as the employer including Social Security, Medicare, federal and state unemployment insurance as the employer. Many companies offer services to manage the tax requirements. Nannies who have stayed for over a year with the same family often receive annual increases and/or bonuses.
Everyone wants to earn fair compensation for their work, but many people are uncomfortable talking about money. To make things more complicated, wages for nannies and sitters vary greatly across the United States. The 3R’s can help prepare you for this important salary conversation.
- Requirements for your family’s needs. In addition to deciding the type and duration of childcare needed (see chapter 2 for more information), it’s also important to prioritize your requirements. What are you must haves regarding experience and training? Are you able to afford a higher hourly rate for more qualified candidates or should you interview candidates earlier in their career? Are a driver’s license and clean driving record required? Do the candidates need to be vaccinated? What availability is required and what is the plan for backup care if the nanny is unable to work due to illness? Are you going to require CPR and First Aid certification?
- Recognize different career levels. Are you hiring a mother’s helper who requires more training and supervision at a lower hourly wage or a full-time professional nanny to care for children when you are away on a business trip? The different levels in a nanny career can help you determine the cost difference when hiring those earlier in their career versus someone with significant training and experience. When it comes to compensation, nannies with training and experience earn more. Those with formal college-level training such as US Nanny Institute’s Childcare Diploma or Early Childhood Education degrees can earn more than those with only a high school diploma. Nannies with specialized training and experience, such as those working with special needs or providing medical support to children with a certified nursing associate degree, also earn higher wages. Licensed teachers, musical instrument instruction, and nannies who teach second languages including sign language also earn higher wages.
- Research local pay rates to determine an appropriate range of compensation. Many websites offer information on local sitter and nanny rates and some professional salary sites, such as payscale.com and glassdoor.com also provide this information. Check several sites to determine the average for your area. According to the 2017 INA (International Nanny Association) Nanny Salary & Benefits Survey, the average hourly rate is $19.14 per hour for nannies and 57.7% of nannies are paid time and a half when they work overtime. Wages should be increased based on training, experience, and types of services provided.
Before you begin negotiations, you should know the average rate for your area and what level of experience the average salary represents. For the most part, the average wage reflects supervising 1 to 3 children with childcare only duties and holding the position for 1 to 2 years. For jobs that have additional children, meal preparations, and other duties, the salary may be higher. Keep this in mind when you are evaluating and posting hourly wages with the job description.
Chapter 4: Find Nanny Candidates
According to the 2017, INA Nanny Salary & Benefits Survey Results, 34% of nannies found their current position through online recruiting such as Care.com, Sittercity.com or similar sites while 31% of nannies used an agency or domestic placement service. Nannies also found their family employer through networking (24%) or a local internet site such as a mom’s group, a parenting forum, or a college job board (9%).
Families looking for nannies utilize the same resources. Finding nanny candidates and selecting the right nanny for you takes time. Many families seek a nanny with just a few weeks’ notice but planning ahead can save a lot of stress. Although the average is about 6 weeks, it can take several months to find your perfect nanny. Heated competition among families for top nannies requires employers to act fast but you must be careful to get the right fit for your family.
I work in human resources and have over 15 years of experience hiring employees, but I admit it, hiring my first nanny was the most stressful hire in my career, shares Elisa M. from Dallas, Texas. Finding a nanny is different than hiring for a traditional job. I wanted to make sure I hired someone I felt I could trust to care for my only son.
Online Nanny Job and Recruiting Sites
There are too many to list but top online nanny recruiting sites include Care.com, Sittercity.com, Urbansitter.com, and ViatheVillage.com. These services require a monthly or annual fee to view nanny candidates. Online nanny job boards allow families to view candidates and post available jobs.
Most recruiting sites allow nannies to input detailed information regarding their training and experience. A complete profile demonstrates a stronger commitment to finding a position than a limited profile. Information that is commonly entered includes their nanny experience, childcare training, salary requirements, references, and background check information. Most include a space for the nanny to share additional information to help families find candidates with similar employment goals.
Families can also post a job on most nanny job sites. The content of the job post can attract or repel top nanny talent so take a few minutes to write a strong job description. Posts that include photos are three times more likely to be clicked so if you are comfortable, upload a nice photo of your family (it’s okay to block or blur the child’s face). You want to complete as many of the profile elements as possible, so nannies can understand your family’s needs and job duties. You may also want to share a quirky story about the children such as their favorite snack or how they like to ask a million questions. Be descriptive so that nannies have enough information to decide if they want to connect to learn more about the position. Also, be aware that the information shared will be viewed by others so don’t post private information. To boost your profile value, ask your current nanny and occasional sitters to leave positive reviews and write insights into the comments box.
Here’s an example job post:
Sarasota family needs a part-time, live-in nanny for early mornings, evenings, overnights, and weekends
A professional, single mom is looking for a nonsmoking, live-in nanny to work ~20 hours per week to help care for a 4-year-old boy and help manage the household. The child is in daycare (Monday – Friday, 8am – 5:30pm) and a live-in is needed to build a strong bond with the child so the routine stays familiar when mom travels overnight (on average 2-4 nights a month) for business. The nanny will need to have a car, driver’s license, auto insurance, and a clean driving record. The nanny can have a second job or take college classes when the child is at daycare during the week as long as the nanny is available if there is an emergency or the child becomes ill and must go home.
In exchange for nanny and family assistant services (pick up, drop off, babysitting, sick days) and helping to manage the household (cooking, laundry, karate, swim class), the nanny will get a furnished private bedroom and bath with all utilities (including cable tv and wifi) plus a salary of $400 per week.
The nanny should have current CPR and First Aid, at least some college or a childcare diploma, and 3 years of nanny experience. The ideal nanny will be looking to join our household long term with a minimum of a one-year commitment. For those who like pets, we have a cat.
Nanny Agencies and Domestic Placement Services
Families can choose to use a nanny agency or domestic placement service to help find their nanny. A reputable nanny placement service, including those accredited by the Association of Premier Nanny Agencies (APNA), can help find top nannies in your area, trading time and effort for a referral fee. A nanny agency saves between 10-50 hours of work posting the position, screening applicants, checking references, and completing the background check. With a database full of nannies, an agency may shorten the time to hire a qualified nanny and help families who are hiring their first nanny.
Nanny agencies and domestic placement services can be national or local. The first step is meeting with someone at the nanny agency and sharing a snapshot of your needs. If the nanny agency feels they can support your needs, you’ll be asked to sign a contract. Read the contract carefully as most nanny agencies do not offer refunds if a referred nanny quits or does not work out. Most contracts also say the nanny agency will make their best effort, but they do not guarantee they will find you a nanny.
The contract will include the fees for service which are due when a nanny is hired. Nanny agency fees vary significantly across the United States and some have a retainer fee, usually between $150-300. Most of the service fee is due when a nanny is placed and can be 10-15% of the nanny’s salary or a flat fee per placement between $1,000 and $6,000 depending on the type of nanny placed. Most reputable nanny agencies will include a free referral replacement if the nanny departs the position within 1 year.
Working with a nanny agency should be conversational with information being shared back and forth. This exchange will help the nanny agency better understand how to provide the best candidates. The more the nanny agency knows about you and the family environment, the better they can assess if you’d prefer a high energy, chatty nanny or a calm and quiet nanny. In the same way, don’t be afraid to ask about the nanny agencies’ screening policies. How many references do they check? Do they conduct a national and local background check as well as a sexual offender’s database check?
When selecting a nanny agency, you should ask a few questions to make sure they can meet your needs.
- How long have you been in business? If required in your state, are you licensed?
- What is your nanny screening process? What are the minimum acceptable skills and training?
- Do you (the nanny agency) provide any training or continuing education to the nannies you place?
- What services are included in the standard contract and what additional services are recommended?
When you have completed the application form, family information form, and signed a contract, the nanny agency will introduce you to nannies that meet your job requirements for you to interview. In addition to referring candidates, nanny agencies can provide local information to help you offer a competitive salary. Ultimately, it is up to you to determine if you want to hire one of the candidates, and if so, the hiring process and work agreement are between you and the nanny. The nanny agency earns its fee for making the referral.
Local Recruiting Sites
There are local resources that can also lead to finding a great nanny. Social media groups, especially those on Facebook, show ‘nanny listings’ as part of mom groups or local nanny groups. These forums are great places to find families who no longer need a nanny but want to recommend their employees. The forums often allow families to post ‘nanny wanted’. With the connections across social media, posts can be shared which help a family network through extended family, friends and even acquaintances.
Non-traditional sites can be a gold mine to finding high-quality nannies. Searching LinkedIn for nannies in your area will uncover professional and career nannies as many nannies who use LinkedIn have a bachelor’s degree. University job boards are a fantastic way to find part-time help for after school care or a summer nanny. Sites like Craigslist and traditional job boards like Indeed can find former daycare workers and those looking for part-time positions.
Be appropriately wary when meeting people online. The internet is a great tool to find nannies but not everything shared online is honestly represented.
Chapter 5: Conduct Nanny Interviews
Before interviewing a Nanny, you should know the requirements and skills needed for the job and have a thorough job description available. Standard interview processes have multiple steps:
- Review the nanny’s resume, the profile on a job board, or get background information about the nanny from the nanny agency to determine if they meet the minimum requirements and are within the desired compensation range for the job.
- Conduct a screening interview via phone or Skype to determine the nanny’s level of interest in the position and ask your most important interview questions to determine if the candidate is a potential fit for the nanny job.
- Meet the nanny in person to get to know them without the children present. Often, families and nannies meet for coffee or tea.
- Introduce the nanny to the child or children in a neutral, stress free environment like a neighborhood park and see how they interact.
When interviewing nannies, it’s important to remember you are vetting their qualifications to care for your children. You are hiring a nanny, not trying to make a friend or help someone who needs a job. Ask each question in a neutral tone of voice and be careful you don’t give them the answer you want as you form the question. For example, you want to say, “tell me about a time you handled an emergency” instead of, “you’ve handled an emergency when you had to comfort a child who fell and put a bandage on a scrap, right?”
It’s time-consuming to screen and interview potential nannies,” shares Lisa M., a working mother. I look for an investment in childcare training and I always call their references after conducting a background check.
You want to hire a nanny who makes you feel confident that they are qualified to provide great care for your children. Asking about and hearing stories on how nannies interact with children and what ages they have cared for is a great way to learn about their skills. Here are some suggested questions with insights on what you can gain from the nanny’s answer to help you learn more about the nanny’s skill set.
- What training and certifications have you completed? An investment to develop professionally can identify nannies who are committed to providing the highest level of childcare. CPR and First Aid certification is often a requirement with a Childcare Diploma desired. Lifeguard and car seat installation training is generally a bonus.
- Tell me about a time you had to handle an emergency. With this question, you can learn about a Nanny’s ability to manage the unexpected. If they’ve never been in an emergency, then it’s likely they are early in their career and you or someone you trust should be accessible while they care for your kids. If the nanny can share an emergency experience and communicate that they handled it as well as can be expected, the nanny may be ready to care for your children when you are out of town.
- Tell me about a time a child wouldn’t listen to you. What was the situation and how did you respond? With this question, you can get a better idea of how a nanny manages stress and their approach to discipline. Did the nanny send the child to their room for a time out; did they take a different approach and offer a reward; or did the nanny delay and leave the matter for the parents? There is no right answer to this question, just make sure the response is appropriate and that it would be consistent with how the child is managed by you, other daycare workers, or teachers at school.
- Are you willing to get a flu shot? Vaccinations benefit the young and elderly as these populations are the most at risk of having serious consequences when they get ill. A flu shot may not benefit a healthy adult as much, but a nanny’s willingness to get vaccinated to reduce exposure to the children in their care is an important insight.
- Would you consent to work in a home with cameras? Families are not required to get a nanny’s consent as families are legally allowed to install a nanny camera in their home, except in private areas such as the bathroom or a live-in nanny’s bedroom. Many nannies are uncomfortable with cameras feeling that families should trust them; however, checking in on a nanny can provide a sense of extra security for the family.
- Do you have any pictures of the children you have cared for on your social media? Ideally, the answer is ‘no’ to protect the privacy of the children. Only the family should post photos of their children. However, if the nanny pulls out their phone and shows you photos, ask them if they have received the parents or guardians’ permission prior to posting. Some families may be comfortable with the nanny sharing photos.
- Do you stay in touch with children that have been in your care? This question is useful when you are looking to hire a long-term nanny. Good nannies’ children develop close bonds with their caregivers. A nanny’s response to this question shares if the nanny has a history of leaving families on good terms and if the nanny appreciates their connections and attachments with the children in their care.
Questions about eligibility for the role, childcare education and training, childcare experience, and fit with the family will help you gain insights into the nanny’s character and skills. After asking some but likely not all these interview questions, you’ll have enough information to assess the nanny’s fit for the position. If you are interviewing several nannies, it will help to print out the questions and take notes as the nanny provides the answer. This will be a huge advantage as you review the nannies, especially if you interview 3-5 nannies in a single week.
Nanny Interview Questions – Eligibility
Applicants may be nervous during the interview, so it’s often beneficial to start with basic background questions. This allows you to restate the requirements for your job and begin with easy to answer questions.
- Have you ever been arrested or convicted of a felony and/or a misdemeanor? Have you ever been the subject of a substantiated complaint of child or sexual abuse?
- Are you comfortable completing a background check? What about a drug screen?
- Are you legally eligible to work in the United States?
- Do you have a driver’s license, reliable vehicle, and auto insurance? Have you ever had a moving or driving-related violation or traffic accident (including tickets)?
- Do you have any medical or food allergies? Do you have any pet allergies? Do you have any diet restrictions? Are you comfortable with the physical demands of the position?
- Are you current on the common vaccinations? If not, are you willing to get measles/mumps, rubella (MMR), pertussis, polio, meningitis, and flu shots?
- Do you have a checking account? Are you open to direct deposit payments?
- Are you available during the days and times needed for the position?
- Do you have a second obligation such as a part-time job, college, or another childcare commitment?
- How long would you be interested in this position? What is the longest you have stayed with a family or employer?
- Can you share 3 to 5 professional references that I can call?
- Would you be willing to travel and help the Family during vacations? Do you have a current passport?
- Are you looking for a nanny position that supervises and cares for children or are you open to some family assistant duties such as light housekeeping?
Nanny Interview Questions – Childcare Education and Training
All nannies, whether part or full time, should have CPR and First Aid certification and invest in childcare training that teaches age-appropriate growth, development, and activities from newborn through primary years. Nutrition, fitness, health, art, music, and communication courses provide practical skills to help nannies excel as in-home childcare providers. When nannies share certifications and course completion certificates, take time to check the reputation of the organization. Careers schools, like US Nanny Institute, and most organizations are reputable but there is at least one online website that offers a free “professional nanny certificate.”
- Do you have CPR and First Aid Certification? Is the training current or have two years passed and it needs to be renewed?
- Do you have a high school diploma, GED, or equivalent?
- Do you have any post-secondary (college) level childcare training? Have you earned a Basic, Intermediate, Advanced, Specialist, or Professional Childcare Diploma?
- Do you have or are you pursuing a Childcare Development Associates degree or a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education?
- What formal nanny or childcare training have you completed? If you have not completed formal training, are you open to taking classes?
- Do you have relevant training such as certified nursing assistant, newborn care specialist, lifeguard, or certified to install child car seats?
- Are you fluent in a second language such as sign language, Spanish, French, German, or Mandarin?
Nanny Interview Questions – Childcare Experience
It is helpful to share information about your family and the children before diving into child experience questions. Explain how you see the nanny fitting into the current structure and schedule of the family as well as share some insights on the personalities of the children. Then, use open-ended questions to learn about the candidate’s experience.
- Can you share your previous nanny experience? Do you have overnight experience? Can you describe each childcare position?
- What age children have you cared for? How many children have you cared for at one time?
- Are you available to care for a child that is ill? Can you share a time you cared for a child that was ill?
- Tell me about a time you had to handle an urgent childcare issue (illness, injury, other). What happened and how did you manage the situation?
- What was your typical daily routine at your last childcare position?
- What are your favorite ages to care for and why?
- What would you do if you got locked out of the house?
- What would you do if my son fell off the monkey bars and hit his head?
- What are your strengths as a nanny? What is an area you would like to improve as a nanny?
- Tell me about a time you taught a child a new behavior, skills, or provided an age-appropriate learning experience.
- What would you do if a toddler refused to nap and kept getting out of bed?
- Did you prepare dinner for children in a previous position? If so, what did you prepare? Did the children sit at the table to eat dinner?
Nanny Interview Questions – Fit with Your Family
Finding a great fit will be important for success with a nanny. The parents, nanny, and all children need to be comfortable. Here are a few questions to help you understand if the connection feels right.
- What role do you think a nanny should play within a family?
- What is your working style? What’s an example of a style difference you had with a parent and how did you manage it?
- What would you do if my child disobeyed your request or was not listening to instructions?
- Can you share a time you handled a difficult situation like a baby crying uncontrollably or a child having a temper tantrum?
- What type of activities would you do with the child(ren)? What activities would you do on a rainy day?
- What experiences do you have providing educational activities? Do you have experience helping with homework?
- What do you think is an appropriate snack for our children, ages 3 and 5?
- A friend just texted you while you were caring for the children and asked to talk about an unexpected break up with her boyfriend. What do you do?
Nanny Interview Questions – Questions NOT to Ask
Being an employer means your home is a workplace. Federal laws require an employer to have at least 5 employees before these regulations take effect; however, it is appropriate to follow these regulations as they are designed to establish fair hiring practices. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) prohibits discrimination based on the following:
- Sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy)
- National origin
You cannot ask any questions surrounding these issues. To be an equal opportunity employer, you cannot ask a nanny if he or she has children of their own or plans to have children in the future. It is okay; however, for a nanny to volunteer they are a nanny mom or that they are planning to have their own children. To be an equal opportunity employer, you cannot ask a nanny if they are a citizen from another country, but you can ask a nanny if they can provide documentation to legally work in the United States.
Chapter 6: Assess Nanny Candidates
It seems simple enough but picking the right person to hire can be challenging. In some cases, it’s easy to disqualify a nanny if they don’t meet the desired training, have the years of experience desired, or their hourly wage is higher than your budget. Always disqualify any potential nanny who make you feel uncomfortable or uncertain. You may be able to articulate why you aren’t comfortable or it may be a gut feeling, but if you don’t think it’s a good fit, then don’t hire that person. Your goal is to hire someone to take care of your children, so you should feel secure when you have selected the right nanny.
An easy way to organize your thoughts is to list all the job requirements and duties. Then, check your interview notes to confirm the candidates have the desired training, years of experience, and seek an hourly wage that is within your budget.
If all the nanny candidates have the desired backgrounds and experiences and you are still stuck, it may help to think about realistic scenarios and desired behaviors. It’s also helpful to think about the characteristics you want your children to learn from their nanny. Children spend a lot of time with nannies, so selecting a nanny with similar traits can help children transition from being nanny supervised to parents taking over after work. Conversely, if you are very talkative, you may want to hire a nanny who is quiet, so the child can learn how to engage with different personality types.
I interviewed 3 candidates recommended by a top nanny agency and they all were great, shares Ann from Boston. I didn’t know how to pick the best one for my family.
Some families prefer mathematical and analytical evaluation methods while other families will want more personal engagement or subjective approach to help assess candidates. You will likely prefer one method over the other, but we share each to provide you with additional tools to help you assess potential nannies.
Candidate Assessment – Analytical Method
For the analytically minded, you can create a scoring system. Start by ranking each job requirement by importance. Give each job duty an importance ranking number between 1 and 5. Give the job duty a 1 if it’s absolutely required, a 3 if it’s desired, and 5 if it is nice to have.
Then, rank the candidate from 1 to 5 on how well they meet the job requirement. Give the candidate a 1 if they exceed the requirement, a 3 if they meet the requirement and a 5 if they don’t meet the requirement.
Multiply the importance ranking number times the candidate’s assessment ranking for each job requirement. Finally, add the scores to get a total for each candidate. The candidate with the lowest total score will be the best fit for your family. Here’s an example:
In this scenario, the first candidate appears to be the best fit for this family. The concern would be that the candidate doesn’t meet the salary requirement. The second candidate meets the salary requirement but isn’t available for emergencies. These are typical candidate assessment results as it is extremely unusual to find a candidate that meets or exceeds all requirements at a desired hourly rate.
Candidate Assessment – Behavioral Model Method
There are no right or wrong strategies, the goal is to pick the right nanny for you and your children. The decision criteria for one family will be different from every other family. It’s a professional but also a deeply personal choice. Here are a few traits to think about when interviewing and assessing a nanny:
- Leading by example. Did the nanny share a story about how they reacted when another driver cut them off? When you are driving and another car cuts you off, do you yell at the other driver? If your children were in the care with a nanny, would you want the nanny to comment about the rude driver?
- Listening to the children. Children see the world in wonderful and surprising ways. Because of their curiosity, they often see things that adults overlook. It’s easy as an adult to ‘half-listen’ when a child is sharing something. Did the nanny share any stories about how well they listened to a child or that they love learning new jokes from their 7-year-old charge?
- Using positive communication techniques. Nannies (and parents) can get into the habit of saying “No” a lot. Of course, in a situation where the child may get hurt – “No” is important and children must be kept safe. Did the nanny share stories that required her to say no? Did she share stories that successfully reframed ‘no’? For example, did the nanny share this story: Johnny wanted to go outside but it was raining. I bent down so I was at his level and said, “Johnny, it’s raining so we can’t go outside right now. Would you rather play with your blocks or train set?” By getting down to Johnny’s level, the nanny showed her knowledge of how to best engage children with open body language. The nanny also shared a story that demonstrates her ability to reframe a ‘no’ answer into a sentence that created two options for Johnny. Instead of throwing a fit about the rain, Johnny is more likely to choose one of the options and begin to play.
- Managing stress. Everyone has stress in their lives, including children. Having a way to manage stress positively is important for nannies, especially when children may be stressed. During the interview, did the nanny share a time they helped a child through a challenging situation? Was the nanny able to communicate how they helped a child take a few deep breaths or jog in place? Did the nanny share a story about how she recognized stress in a child and helped them cope by playing soft music or making sure they had their favorite animal or blanket?
- Being confident. Children need to feel safe and secure and if they think an adult is scared or unsure, then they may feel insecure or anxious. Did the nanny communicate confidence when sharing the day to day interactions at her old job? Did the nanny use a strong voice and clear sentences to convey confidence in her answers? Did the nanny’s body language match the confidence in her voice? Was she sitting up straight and leaning forward with interest?
- Having positive relationships. Children will learn how to build relationships with family, friends, and future romantic partners based on their relationships as children. If a family hugs and freely shares their feelings, then children will be comfortable with these behaviors. If friends are treated kindly and show understanding and forgiveness, then children will be better able to adopt these traits. Did the nanny share insights into their relationships with past families and children formerly in her care?
- Being humble and kind. Teaching children about charity and kindness can help them see past their daily needs and understand more about our world and the power of working together. Children watch our daily interactions with others and we need to make sure they learn humility and politeness. Did the nanny share any volunteer experience or a story about how she taught a child to give up their subway seat to an elderly passenger?
Hiring a nanny provides childcare when you are at work or away from the home, but the nanny will also be a role model for your children. As young children learn by watching others, it’s important to consider the behaviors you want your children to experience, mimic and learn. If you want children to be patient, then make sure you and the nanny show them how to patiently wait for an appointment. From fist-pumping when your favorite football team scores a goal to calming an upset friend, children will mimic you and the nanny. Take a few minutes to think about how each nanny candidate behaved during the interview process.
Chapter 7: Check Background and References
Hiring a nanny and welcoming them into your home requires trust and a personal connection. Take the time to complete a robust background check and call references. Then you’ll have the confidence to hire someone who can really help with the day to day of caring of your children.
Background checks search federal, state, and local databases for criminal records to help families hire with confidence. To legally run a background check, you must be an employer (Chapter 10 will share how to become an employer with a Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN)). If you want to conduct background checks before filing for an EIN, you can do so with permission from the nanny or asking the nanny to submit for the background check on their own.
You only have to google nanny horror stories once see articles about a nanny who hurt a child. A background check can’t prevent a tragedy but screening out high-risk candidates and those with a known criminal history can help shares Sally, a retired New York police officer.
Types of Background Checks
Legal and criminal information is housed across the United States in different federal, state, and local government systems. Up to 70% of employers conduct a background check before hiring, but it’s not a straight forward process. With consent from the nanny, most families invest in the criminal background check, but additional checks are also available.
- Criminal history. Comprehensive criminal background checks search county, city, state, federal criminal, federal civil, and the sex offender registry. Nannies must submit their addresses for the past 6 years to identify all the locations that need to be checked to ensure a thorough review.
- Identity check and verification. This check obtains US address history and confirms social security numbers as well as verifying government identification and eligibility to be legally employed in the US
- Motor vehicle report. Motor vehicle reports provide the dates and circumstances of any traffic violations, license suspensions or revocations, and accident reports. This may be important for a family hiring a nanny to transport their children daily to and from school or other activities.
- Drug screening. Some employers mandate a drug-free workplace and require drug testing. The nanny would have to be willing to volunteer for a laboratory-based urine test, with all expenses paid by the family.
- Verify previous employment and education. Not all potential employees are honest, and some families may want to confirm their educational and professional backgrounds. Employers, professional licenses and educational degrees can and should be verified prior to any job offers.
- Credit report. Assessing the financial risk of a potential employee can be conducted by reviewing a credit report. Check your state laws to ensure you comply with them, as they vary from state to state.
- Civil litigation search. Non-criminal disputes between a potential employee won’t show up in a standard criminal background check as these are civil lawsuits filed to resolve money, contract, and other disputes. A Civil Litigation search can identify the propensity of a potential employee to be sued or to sue others, a potentially important characteristic when hiring an employee to work in your home.
- Public web search. You can execute this search by simply inputting the nanny’s name in a web search browser and see what information is provided in the results. Does the nanny have a website or public pictures online? How does the nanny represent themselves online?
Many companies offer background check services with prices that range between $20-$75 but be aware of ‘instant’ results. If a company is providing instant results, it is likely using a single, privately compiled database. To use secure databases and include up to date information, reputable background screening companies will need some information about the nanny and between 5-7 business days to complete the research.
Families can pay to run a background check or ask the nanny to run a background check on themselves using a reputable service that complies with the Fair Credit Reporting Act. Nannies can then choose to share the report with potential employers.
Why Do Nanny’s References Matter?
You have found a great nanny – she’s qualified, confident, and nailed the interview. You are pulling up a work agreement template and ready to dive into the details. Keep your excitement but slow down and invest the time to call the nanny’s references.
If you are going to call a nanny’s reference, you must be professional and respectful. References are volunteering their time to help a nanny. If references are treated poorly by potential employees, then they are less likely to be a reference in the future and will tell the nanny about the experience such that the nanny may no longer be interested in working with the family.
Many families don’t call references, feeling that anyone willing to take the call will only have positive things to say about the nanny. Although this is likely true, hearing the tone of voice and type of answers from a reference can provide tremendous insights. Does the reference readily provide examples and stories, or do they share vague positive statements, “she did a good job.” Responses from references can also help fill in gaps in the candidates’ performance history and provide deeper insights into the type of nanny work that was completed under the reference’s supervision.
Good references are from the most recent childcare work experiences, not from family members or friends. Ideally, the nanny worked for the employer for at least 6 months. If you are provided with a long list of references, focus on the most recent employers who required duties and responsibilities like the job you have available. It is important to know that some companies are only allowed to confirm dates of employment but not comment on employee performance. This can be relevant for candidates who may have worked in larger, franchised childcare settings.
Bad references are with people who barely remember the nanny or don’t know the nanny well enough to comment on their professional or childcare skills. When you encounter these references, ask them a few questions, genuinely thank them for their time, and move on. Extending a call with a reference who can’t share meaningful insights will only cause frustration for both you and the reference.
A negative reference is different from a bad reference as a negative reference is someone who worked with the nanny and can provide insights into their professional and childcare skills. Negative references may provide useful insights; however, they may also be exaggerating or remembering events incorrectly. Ask the nanny for additional references and if they aren’t available, then the nanny may not be the best fit for your family. If additional references are available, use your best judgment to assess both good and negative references.
Questions to Ask the Nanny’s References – About the Nanny Job
Every family employer is unique so it’s helpful to understand the job and duties that were valued by the reference. Context can be important and can help you understand the insights being shared. A reference may share that the nanny communicated daily by text, but you are looking for someone who’s more independent. Asking a follow-up question like, “was it your preference to be updated daily or was the nanny reaching out every day with questions?” can provide powerful insights. The response to the follow-up question may show that the nanny was flexible and sent a daily text to reassure a worried mother versus sending texts asking questions about what to do with the children when rain interrupts outside playtime. Here are some potential questions to ask:
- What type of childcare services did the nanny provide?
- How long did the nanny work for you?
- How many children did she care for and what were their ages?
- Did the nanny drive your children to activities and if so, were you comfortable with her driving skills?
- Was the nanny allowed to let the children watch television or use screen time?
- Did the nanny provide snacks or meals and if so, what food did she serve?
- How did you and the nanny communicate with each other? Did you talk during transitions, have a written message center with daily summaries, text or email, talk on the phone?
- How often did you communicate – daily or just to manage changes in the schedule?
- How much independence did the nanny have in this role regarding the schedule, planning activities, and ways to care for the children?
- What type of training did you provide the nanny?
Questions to Ask the Nanny’s References – About the Nanny’s Performance
References can share a lot of information about a nanny’s engagement with the children, the initiative to implement dynamic play, and how satisfied the nanny was in their chosen job. These insights can help you understand how well the nanny would fit with your family and childcare needs.
- What was the nanny’s role within your family?
- What did your children say about the nanny?
- Did the nanny always arrive to work on time? Did she seem excited to be at work?
- What types of games and activities did the nanny do with your children?
- Was the nanny reachable when you contacted her during working hours?
- Can you share a story about a difficult situation that was handled well by the nanny?
- Can you tell me about a time you think the candidate could have handled a situation better?
- Did the nanny have to handle an emergency such as an injury, while caring for your children? If so, can you share what happened and how the nanny managed the situation?
- Did you end the position or did the nanny provide notice? If the nanny left the position, how much notice was given?
- Would you hire the nanny again if she was interested in working for your family?
Nanny Reference Questions – Questions NOT to Ask
Being an employer means your home is a workplace. Federal laws require an employer to have at least 5 employees for these regulations to take effect; however, it is appropriate to follow these regulations as they are designed to establish fair hiring practices. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) prohibits discrimination based on the following:
- Sex (including gender identity, sexual orientation, and pregnancy)
- National origin
You cannot ask any questions surrounding these issues. To be an equal opportunity employer, you cannot ask the references if they know how old the nanny is or what church they attend. It’s also not appropriate to ask about any private medical information or disabilities. Sexual preferences and gender identity as well as asking if the nanny is planning to get pregnant are not appropriate questions to ask a reference or a nanny candidate.
Chapter 8: Leverage Nanny Work Agreements
Many nannies and families are reluctant to have a work agreement (or employment contract). After all, we all hate paperwork and if you have a good relationship, you’re understandably hesitant to rock the boat. Also, many are afraid of formal contracts, worrying it could limit flexibility.
But, taking the time to draft, agree on terms, and sign a work agreement can protect both parties. Even more importantly, it can ensure everyone has the same expectations. Confusion between a family and a nanny is reduced when everyone is clear on the responsibilities. A too-informal work arrangement can cause confusion whereby, a written agreement can provide clarity and make disputes easier to solve amicably. Setting expectations and guidelines at the beginning of a working relationship will create a foundation for success.
I use a work agreement template to help me write the job description shares Linh L. from Portland. The structure allows me to think through and write down the job duties. I share a drafted work agreement with the top candidates, so they can read and review the requirements, schedule, and compensation.
What is a Nanny Work Agreement?
A work agreement is simply a written document that specifies the relationship between an employee and an employer including expectations and compensation. You do not need a lawyer to create a work agreement. When signed by both parties, it is a legal contract as an employer made an offer that was accepted by the employee. Of course, the agreement can range from an outline to several pages. The most important thing to remember is to be very clear about what is expected and how much the position pays as well as the hours. This emphasizes the essential elements to the arrangement, ensuring the nanny arrives in time for parents to get to work or to make their dinner reservation. It will also help the nanny earn compensation for overtime if the parents run later than planned.
Components of a Nanny Work Agreement
Basic work agreements should all include a few things. First, the names of the childcare provider and the family or employer as well as the days and number of children. Next, ensure the pay rate including any benefits, the work schedule, and emergency information are included. Take time to list out all job responsibilities and specific duties. For example, is the job solely about childcare or will there be household or pet care duties? This step will help ensure clarity.
It’s also important to cover the house rules for the children. If children are allowed electronics, what content is approved? Video games, online web browsing, and television all have content that may not be age-appropriate for a child. Finally, document any special considerations or needs. Is the child on a special diet or are their behavioral considerations that need attention?
Free Online Class - Employment Contracts & Work Agreements
Course Description - Taking time to think through and write down job expectations will help ensure everyone understands the responsibilities and compensation. Employment contracts help reduce confusion and create a more positive experience. This course will introduce work agreement templates and tools to discuss a work schedule as well as pay, overtime, and other benefits.
As every family is unique and each position may have different responsibilities, work agreements protect both families and nannies by clearly communicating expectations and helping to structure a conversation about the job. US Nanny Institute offers free nanny work agreement templates including a special version for live-in nannies. Meanwhile, here are a few tips to include in work agreements:
Full-Time Childcare Providers. Full-time childcare comes in many forms including weekly care for young children while parents are at work, summer care when children are out of school, families needing overnight care, and vacation care at a resort. Care may be needed for one or more children making each of these positions unique. The childcare requirements will likely have physical care, academic or activities, and logistics. Additional responsibilities may include light housekeeping, transportation, and/or meal preparation. The agreement should include compensation, benefits, mileage reimbursement (58¢ per mile in 2019), hours, vacation, and tax management.
Family Assistants and Live-In Nannies. Family assistants and live-in nannies will have additional considerations including household management and errands, possibly adding pet care, travel with the family, overnight care, and other considerations. The agreement may include a guest policy, require confidentiality, and vaccinations, as well as the use of family equipment and amenities such as a car, pool, or recreational areas.
Work agreements vary greatly, so grab our free template above and make the modifications and edits that ensure you and your nanny have a clear understanding of the expectations. This will help everyone, including the children, as a new person enters the family environment.
Prepare to reasonably negotiate with the nanny remaining focused on the goal to ensure both sides are comfortable with the job requirements and compensation. By evaluating the job responsibilities, skills of the nanny, and wages in the local area, you are ready to thoughtfully discuss wages and benefits. During the interview, learn about the nanny’s training and certifications as well as previous experience to understand why they may be seeking higher than average pay. Share the results of your research on pay for additional responsibilities such as caring for groups of children or taking on family assistant or household management tasks. Finally, be willing to listen and remember the goal of negotiating is to clearly communicate the job requirements and expectations to ensure both you and the nanny are comfortable with the compensation
Chapter 9: Host Nanny Trial and Orientation
Before hiring a nanny, many families have a nanny playdate also called a working interview, so the nanny and children can meet one another before the family decides to offer the position and the nanny decides if they want to accept the position. This interaction should not be longer than 1 hour with the goal of the nanny and children meeting each other and perhaps engaging for 30 minutes together.
Have nanny play with or engage the children. Does the nanny enjoy it? Are they engaged and listening to the children? Do they seem confident or hesitant? How are your children responding? Does everyone seem comfortable? If your child throws a block across the room, does the nanny gentle correct the child’s bad behavior or lets it go unnoticed?
It’s important to me that my children are comfortable with the new nanny, so I like to have them meet each other before offering a nanny the position, shares Karen from Detroit. My kids want to be a part of the hiring process and I want my children to know they can tell me about their experiences with a new nanny.
Nanny Trial Periods and Orientation
Some nannies and families agree to work together for a few days to get to know each other better before signing the work agreement. Others have an orientation after signing the work agreement and making a firm commitment to each other. Whether it is a working interview, nanny orientation, or a nanny trial, working for a family for several days can help both the family and nanny make a confident choice about working together.
If a nanny is shadowing, getting oriented, or supervising your children for more than an hour, they should be compensated for their time. Nanny candidates or new hires should be paid at an hourly rate and working interviews or orientations should be scheduled so that both the nanny and family are prepared to make the most of the opportunity. If a nanny is flying from out of state for a live-in position, the family pays for the airfare, travel expenses, and allows the nanny to stay in the nanny quarters for the duration of the working interview.
Nanny trial periods and orientations allow the family to show the nanny how they communicate with the children, their expectations for the children, and how they interact with the children. The nanny can learn morning routines, meals and snack preparation, and nap time sleep routines through shadowing. The nanny can better understand the family’s needs, learn the house rules, and gain insights into the family dynamics. By working together for a day or two, and letting the nanny supervise the children on their own for a few hours, the family and nanny can ask questions to learn more about each other as well as ways to execute the duties associated with the job.
Working interviews and paid trial periods are steps to help assess fit with a family. Put a note in your calendar to check in between 6-8 weeks to determine if the nanny is working out. You can ask the children what they think, how they spend their time with the nanny, and what they like or don’t like about spending time with the nanny. You can ask the nanny how they feel it’s going to address any questions or concerns. If you have cameras in your home, checking in during the day or playing back video can help you understand how the nanny is performing their duties once they’ve become comfortable and accustomed to their job.
Chapter 10: Invest in Nanny Career Development
All nannies, whether part or full time, should have CPR and First Aid certification and they should be renewed regularly, generally every 2 years. Nannies should also invest in childcare training that teaches age-appropriate growth, development, and activities from newborn through primary years. Nutrition, fitness, health, art, music, and communication courses provide practical skills to help nannies excel as in-home childcare providers. Continuing education courses specific to their childcare duties also enhances the nanny’s ability to better care for children.
We all want the best for our children and good teachers and nannies help instill a love of learning, shares Sherice from Charlotte. I want my son to embrace a lifetime of learning and he sees me take online classes, read books, and do homework. I also invest in my nanny’s career development with annual training so she can benefit from continuing her education.
Professional Nanny and Childcare Diplomas
Many colleges and universities offer degrees in early childhood education and other child-related fields. Associate and bachelor’s degrees are preferred by some families searching for nannies, and nannies with these qualifications should earn a salary that covers a 2 to 4-year investment in education.
For families who seek qualified and more affordable nannies, look for the Professional Childcare Certification from the US Nanny Institute. The Professional Childcare curriculum involves 50+ hours of online courses taught by college faculty. The quality of an educational experience depends on the instructors. Students should learn positive discipline from a child psychologist or behavior specialist, health from medical professionals, nutrition from dietitians, legal requirements from a lawyer, and early childhood development from experts. When hiring a nanny, look for childcare training programs with post-secondary (college) faculty.
There are many nanny certifications available and most are very good, including the Lifeguard training and Car Seat Installation programs. When reviewing nanny certifications, take time to investigate the training program and educational institution’s reputation and licensing. Unfortunately, some ‘professional nanny certifications’ have little value as they can be downloaded with minimal effort.
- Basic Childcare Certification. Families and employers expect nannies and babysitters to provide a safe environment when caring for their children. The Basic Childcare program ensures in-home childcare providers can establish and maintain a safe, clean, and healthy environment for children. The Basic Childcare curriculum includes courses on understanding children and emergency planning, as well as home, water, and food safety. Courses also educate nannies and sitters on their legal requirements when working with children, provide skills to help nannies and children manage stress, and teach positive discipline skills to be used by nannies when children need help expressing themselves or the nanny needs to correct undesired behavior.
- Intermediate Childcare Certification. Children grow and learn quickly, especially during the first 5 years of life, which is the focus of the Intermediate Childcare program. Building on the Basic Childcare curriculum, the Intermediate courses offer advanced instruction on early childhood development, child growth, and health. The curriculum focuses on nutrition, motor skill development, and enrichment activities including reading and STEM.
- Advanced Childcare Certification. Many parents understand the importance of music, art, fitness, and helping with homework so their children gain learn and thrive. As children reach these milestones and gain a bit of independence, they need more support academically and emotionally. Specialized courses in the Advanced Childcare program teach nannies how to engage with children in a way that makes learning more fun. Nannies also gain better communicating skills with children and families.
- Specialist Childcare Certification. Family assistants and household managers are increasingly popular with families and employers. Not just a nanny, family assistants can support special needs including medically required diets. Building on the Advanced program, the Specialist curriculum includes how to work with children at risk and special education environments. Family assistant jobs have elements of household management so additional training in etiquette, scheduling, and pet care is provided.
- Professional Childcare Certification. The Professional Childcare shows that a nanny has successfully passed a rigorous training program that includes child development theories, multi-cultural activities, current trends in childcare, and human brain development. To earn this diploma, nannies must have completed all coursework, pass 5 proficiency exams and demonstrate their attained knowledge through a student project. With 2 years of childcare experience required, this is the highest childcare diploma available.
Specialized Training Programs and Certifications
Continuing education provides enhanced skills that may be popular in your local area and increase the value of offered childcare services.
- US Nanny Association Credential. An independent organization, the US Nanny Association offers a Basic and Professional credential. These credentials require childcare training, CPR and First Aid certification, work experience and passing a proficiency exam on the National Nanny Standards.
- Foreign language skills. Many families seek bilingual nannies who can support or teach children a second language. Exposing children to different language patterns at a young age can improve retention and fluency. Language skills can be used by infants in the form of sign language while 2 and 3-year old can absorb new words as their language skills rapidly develop.
- Car seat installation. A car seat is one of the best ways to protect a child but proper installation is not always intuitive. Many state agencies and some local healthcare systems and hospitals offer car seat installation classes and certifications.
Investing in training from reputable and licensed programs can advance a nanny or babysitters career. Distinct qualifications communicate the value and skills of an individual applicant. Daryl Camarillo, Owner of Stanford Park Nannies, which earned the 2017 Association of Premier Nanny Agencies (APNA) Honors Award, shares “a big challenge in the industry is that terms and skills are often confused. It leads to a disconnect in expectations making it harder for nannies and families to manage expectations about job duties and compensations.”
Continuing education will help nannies stay up-to-date. This is important as car seat regulations and nutrition or fitness recommendations may change. Also, nannies should plan to take First Aid and CPR refresher courses as these certifications are only valid for two to three years. Training is an investment whether a nanny pays on their own or asks an employer to share or cover the tuition. Many employers recognize the benefits of childcare training. Whether part of a compensation package or paid out of pocket, keep the receipts as job training from a licensed program is tax-deductible.
Chapter 11: Sort Payroll, Taxes, and Insurance
Hiring a nanny requires a family to become an employer, pay taxes, and extend their insurance coverage to include a domestic worker. There are countless service providers able to automate and help with these tasks. It may sound complex but legally employing a nanny doesn’t have to be overwhelming.
The Nanny Tax is a hot topic as Laura Saunders reports in the Wall Street Journal article, You’re Not the Only One Who’s Not Paying Your ‘Nanny Tax’. One economist estimates that only 5% of Americans who should be paying the ‘Nanny Tax’ are doing so and recently, a number of prominent Americans have been caught.
How to Pay Nannies and Taxes
If you compensate a household employee, in this case, pay a nanny more than $2,100 in a year, then you are a legal employer and the nanny is a household employee. It’s the law.
Household employees are not independent contractors. Families that misclassify their nanny as an independent contractor by providing a Form 1099 can be charged with tax evasion. Fines for avoiding nanny taxes are significant, averaging between $25,000 to $100,000 and could include jail time. Not only do you risk legal consequences, but not paying a nanny legally denies the nanny a credit history, pay stubs that can be used to rent an apartment or purchase a car and cheats them out of social security and unemployment benefits.
- Get a federal and state EIN. A Federal Employer Identification Number (EIN) is obtained by visiting the IRS website. You then use the federal EIN to obtain a state EIN, when required, from the appropriate tax agency in your state.
- Check the nanny’s eligibility to legally work in the United State. Complete IRS Form I-9, the Employment Eligibility Verification form, within 3 days of hiring your nanny and keep copies of the government-issued identification(s) for your records. The nanny should provide a social security number or ITIN.
- File a New Hire Report and Submit for an Unemployment Number. Most States require that all hires are reported and there are time limits mandated by each state. Visit your state’s local employment website to understand how many days are allotted to report a new hire, the process to file a new hire report, and how to get an unemployment number for the employee. The unemployment number is required to pay unemployment tax.
- Have the nanny complete a Federal W-4 form and the corresponding state income tax withholding form if you live in a state with income taxes. The form is also known as the Employee’s Withholding Allowance Certificate and is needed to determine tax withholdings.
- Calculate the taxes owed based on the nanny’s gross pay. Federal and state tax requirements are provided in IRS Publication 926.
- Taxes withheld from the employee include Social Security and Medicare taxes (FICA) as well as federal and state income taxes
- Taxes paid by the employer (family) include Social Security, Medicare taxes (FICA), federal and state income tax, and state unemployment insurance. Your tax obligations will vary depending on your state as not all states have income tax while other states require additional taxes be withheld such as disability or workman’s compensation.
Live-out nannies are legally required to be paid minimum wage and overtime rates for hours worked over 40 in a 7-day period. Live-in nannies must also be paid minimum wage and in some states, like Massachusetts, are also entitled to overtime.
- Set up a payroll and documentation process that complies with Federal and State Labor laws. It is the employer’s responsibility to ensure the nanny receives a W-2 form by January 31st of each year. In addition to filing a W-2, you will need to file a W-3 form to the Social Security Administration by February 28th of each year.
- File taxes. Typically, you will need to file state tax returns quarterly, but some states require monthly filings while others accept the annual filing. Check the requirements for your local area. You can learn more from the 2018 IRS Household Employer’s Tax Guide.
Benefits of a Payroll Service
If searching state laws and paperwork isn’t your gig, consider using a payroll service. Many providers are available that can help with weekly or monthly payroll. Payroll services will prepare pay stubs and year-end tax forms to help ensure you are compliant with federal and state labor laws.
Fees for payroll services vary and often include a set-up fee of around $100. Services can include filing new employee forms, calculating and withholding deductions, automatically processing earned wages through direct deposit, and compiling tax forms. Reputable payroll providers charge between $50-100 per month for family employers and small businesses.
Flexible Spending Accounts
If your employer offers a Flexible Spending Account (FSA), you can set aside up to $5,000 of your pre-tax earnings to pay for childcare, including nanny wages and taxes. Depending on your tax rate, an FSA contribution can shave up to $2,300 a year. If you qualify, you can claim the Tax Credit for Child or Dependent Care. This deduction, depending on your tax rate, can save between $600 and $1,050.
Do You Have Enough Insurance Coverage?
You likely invest in auto, homeowners, and other types of insurance to protect your family and finances. Now that you have a domestic employee, or a nanny, working in your home, you should consult a reputable insurance agent. Here are a few things to review with an insurance specialist.
- Liability Insurance. Homeowners liability insurance provides coverage for bodily and personal injury inside your home. Depending on the policy, persons injured will be working in the home will not be covered. Personal umbrella policies provide additional insurance to your homeowner’s policy.
- Worker’s Compensation. If not already required by your state, consider investing in worker’s compensation in the event your nanny gets injured on the job. Worker’s compensation plans can protect your family financially as well as provide benefits to an injured nanny. Without a worker’s compensation policy, you may be personally liable for any damages sustained by the nanny working as your employee. Common injuries include falls, dog bites, and cutting food.
- Auto Insurance. If the nanny is going to drive your car, add them to your insurance policy. By having her on the policy, if she’s in an accident, the policy will cover the damage. If the driver is not listed on the policy, the insurance may not pay the claim. If the nanny will be driving the children in their personal vehicle, you should pay a mileage reimbursement to cover gas, insurance, and maintenance. It’s appropriate to ask about their insurance coverage and if you want additional coverage, including medical cost coverage for passengers, it may be appropriate for you, the employer, to provide additional funding to cover the extra insurance. The nanny should also inquire about converting the insurance from personal use to business use as laws vary by state.
- Health Insurance. Providing health insurance or compensation to support a nanny’s ability to pay for health insurance is an increasingly popular benefit. As an employer, you can contribute funds to a private health insurance plan or enroll your nanny in a policy, paying the bill directly to the health insurance company. Some families set aside a dedicated amount each week or month from each paycheck to put toward health insurance. There are many ways to help your nanny with the increasing costs of health care coverage but remember their medical information is private and you are not entitled to any doctor or medical information beyond the monthly bill.
- Renters Insurance. If you have a live-in nanny, they may need a renter’s insurance policy to cover their private property. As an employee, their possessions may not be covered by your home owner’s policy in the event of a break-in and theft or fire.
Chapter 12: Manage Nanny Arrival and Departures
Transitions can be a challenge for children and adults but with some planning and focus, there are ways to make it smoother for everyone. When welcoming a new nanny, show enthusiasm and positivity. As a nanny transitions out of the home, be respectful and compassionate. With support and communication, children can learn to manage change and develop resiliency.
I put my heart and soul into my nanny job, shares Crystal. It is my job to love, protect, and encourage growth and development in the kids I nanny for. Investing that much into something doesn’t come without attachment. When you have to let go, leave behind, or move on from something you are attached to, it’s not without challenge, and that is especially true for something very near and dear to your heart.
Preparing for a New Nanny
In addition to all the employment documents, preparing a nanny welcome letter with important information can help a nanny transition into her new role. A cheat sheet that contains emergency contact information, an example daily schedule, lists with ideas for meals and snacks as well as the children’s’ favorite books can help the nanny better connect with the children. A checklist can help you orient the nanny, so you remember to share where pediatric medicine is kept and where to find the spare wipes. A map of nearby parks and directions to swim class is also helpful for a new nanny. If you want a daily log completed, have a few printed out to help the nanny learn to track the information needed to compete for the entries.
When the nanny has accepted the position, share with the children that there will be a new nanny who will spend more time with the family. If they met the nanny during the interview process, remind the children of the activities they did with the nanny, so they can remember the positive experience. During the first few days, be available to support the transition as the nanny and children get comfortable with each other. Until settled into a new routine, don’t over-schedule the children or have play dates where other children may disrupt the newly forming relationships between your children and the new nanny. Try not to schedule any overnight trips during the early transition period.
Managing a Nanny Departure
Nannies may work for a family for a few weeks and depart abruptly or stay with a family for years and know a departure is coming months in advance. Either way, it may be difficult for the children to understand why someone who has cared for them is leaving.
Young children do not realize the nanny is being paid to care for them. They view the nanny as an extended family member, a playmate, and someone who can tuck them into bed at night. The first transition is often the most difficult as younger children may still be learning object permanence. Younger children may also fear a parent may be next to leave as they are still learning who is family, who is a nanny, and who are friends.
As children get older, it is easier to explain that many nannies and teachers will be a part of their lives for different periods of time. Comparing nannies to teachers can be helpful as children are able to understand that they will have a new teacher and new classmates when they move from kindergarten into first grade.
When possible and age-appropriate, tell the children in advance that the nanny will be departing. Align with the nanny and give consistent answers about when and why the nanny is leaving. Allow children to ask questions and help them through their emotions and feelings. Share the positives things the nanny did for the children and how those things will still get done, either by a new nanny or by other members of the family. Let children know it’s okay to miss the nanny. Importantly, make sure the children know the nanny’s departure is not their fault.
If appropriate, help the children create a special way to say goodbye to the nanny or give a special gift. To help children process a nanny’s departure, they can create a memory or photo book with pictures of the nanny and places they went together. Children could also create a piece of art or do a craft activity to gift the nanny. For older children, writing a special note or story may be a great way to say goodbye. If a nanny is departing on good terms and the nanny is comfortable with staying in touch, comfort the child by letting them know they may contact the nanny or perhaps visit a park together in the future.
After the first experience, children may better adapt to nanny transitions as they understand that a new person will arrive and help care for their needs. As children process the transition, they may have changes in behavior for up to 6 months. Some children may be anxious and have more temper tantrums while others may not seem affected but regress in toilet training.
Departing nannies and the parents may also have strong emotions about a departure. As children will be watching the parents and nanny for cues on how to behave, it is vital that all the adults set aside their feelings and behave respectfully. Even if the experience wasn’t positive, the children and nanny likely had a connection that may make a transition difficult.
If a nanny leaves abruptly without a farewell to the children, the parents need to make sure the children understand the nanny departing is not their fault. The children may experience feelings of abandonment or hurt and anger. Parents should focus on reassuring the children and refrain from negative references about the nanny’s departure. If children are struggling with a departed nanny, have the children write the nanny a letter or draw a picture for them, even if you never plan to mail it to the nanny.
If children experience too many nanny transitions or if they struggle with a recent nanny departure, they may become jaded and may not engage with new nannies for fear the new nanny will depart soon. Realize that new nannies may have a difficult entrance into the family if the children are still processing their feelings about a departed nanny. The children may not as readily engage with the new nanny. The lack of engagement with a new nanny may not be about the nanny herself, but the process the children are experiencing to adapt to a new caregiver.
Like most aspects of parenting, it is important to stay tuned to both your family as a whole and your child’s individual needs. If you have a child or children who are more sensitive to transitions, you should consider this factor in your hiring decision and aim to hire local long-term nannies over au-pairs or college students who are more likely to have a higher turnover rate.
Every relationship that your family has with a caregiver- no matter if they are a babysitter, nanny, or family assistant is unique. Consider the information shared in this guide and hopefully, it will aid you through the process so you find the best care that you can for your family!
About the Authors
Elizabeth Malson held executive positions with global Fortune 500 companies prior to joining US Nanny Institute as President and contributing as a faculty instructor. Ms. Malson is a published author who inspires and empowers nannies and families by sharing her experiences and challenges as a working mom.
Dr. Lauren Formy-Duval is a licensed psychologist practicing in Durham, North Carolina where she lives with her husband and children. Working with children and families for over 15 years in schools, hospitals, community agencies, Dr. Formy-Duval is currently in private practice. Dr. Formy-Duval is a faculty member of Amslee Institute and leads childcare workshops in her local community.
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