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Six Tips For Hiring A Nanny

Whether you are in need of a full-time nanny or simply a sitter to call upon occasionally, your child is depending on YOU to do everything possible to make sure that he or she is left in responsible hands. Here are six tips to consider as you decide who will care for your child while you are away.

TAKE INVENTORY OF YOUR NEEDS
Do some thoughtful preplanning before you even begin recruiting candidates to determine what qualifications she must have. Make a list of the functions she will have to perform and then assign a skill or requirement necessary. For example, if you have an infant, your nanny should have verifiable infant care experience. Is she going to drive your children to school, after school activities, etc.? Driving is the "function". The requirements necessary should include a valid drivers license and a clean DMV report. But think a little harder. Will she require her own car? If so, further requirements should be current and adequate insurance, seat belts and perhaps even a mechanic's inspection of her car to assure that her brakes are in good order, etc. Other considerations; English speaking, non-smoker, CPR certified. You should even consider the age range and style you are seeking before you run an ad. Also consider what you are prepared to offer; salary, benefits, and living conditions if she is to live-in.

THE IMPORTANT INTERVIEW
The most common mistake parents make is that they talk too much during an interview. The purpose of the interview is to find out about HER. Ask open-ended questions that solicit more than a "yes" or "no" response. Don't appear judgmental as she answers. The more comfortable she is during the interview, the more information she will share about herself.

Ask her about each of her previous positions with questions like, "Tell me about the children on your last job." See how comfortable you are with her response. Another question, "Describe each of your last three employers and tell me what you liked and disliked about each?" Think about how you might fit in with her preferences in employer style. Your relationship with her is as important as her relationship with your children.

Don't forget the hypothetical questions. "My two year old simply won't go down for his nap and you know he's ready. How are you going to handle it?" "My baby is colicky and hasn't stopped crying since you arrived three hours ago. What will you do to calm her?"

HEALTH SCREENING
Most states require TB testing and a health clearance for licensed facilities and day care centers. Why would you require any less for your child's caregiver. Allow an extra few days for a TB test. You might also request a physical from a local clinic that would clear the nanny of any health issues that would impair her ability to care for your active child.

NANNY OR SITTER, YOU MUST CHECK REFERENCES
The number of hours your child spends with a nanny should not determine the level to which you investigate her background. Many parents fall into the trap of "I'm only going to work part ..." or "she's not going to live-in with us" and they don't do a complete check. One hour alone with an incompetent caregiver is too much a risk to take. Require at least three previous work references and one or two personal references. A criminal background check and, if possible in your state, a child abuse clearance are also important.

PUT IT IN WRITING
Have every applicant complete a written application. When hired, both parents and nanny should sign a work agreement outlining what is expected of each in the partnership. Include hire date, rate of pay, review schedule, days and hours required, as well as what you expect in the way of child care and any additional duties. This agreement will protect you should she come back years later claiming, for example, that you failed to pay minimum wage.

NURTURE THE RELATIONSHIP
While your nanny may not supervise a staff of ten or work for a Fortune 500 company, she is responsible for something priceless...your children. Pay her accordingly. Trying to hire a "bargain" nanny will only come back to haunt you, as she will probably always be looking for a better opportunity. Wouldn't you?

Give her the same kind of support and encouragement that motivates you on your job. Set objectives; crafts, cooking, reading, and exercise with the kiddies and then give her to tools to accomplish her objectives. Finally, reward her when she comes through, just as you would like to be recognized for your success. Any don't forget the raise. A good nanny is hard to find!

Kimberly A. Porrazzo is author of "The Nanny Kit", editor of The American Nanny Review and Director of The Southern California Nanny Center. She is also the overprotective mother of two young sons.

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