Importance of Pre-Screening and References: The Nanny Manual

This is part 4 of an 8-part blog from the perspective of TIFFAN's Founder and "The Nanny Manual" author, Alyce Desrosiers.

In The Nanny Manual, I hoped to emphasize just how important trust is in this decision about who to hire.  Trusting what you know, trusting your ‘gut’ emotional response and trusting what others have to say about the caregiver.  Knowing enough about someone and trusting them enough to leave your child in their care doesn’t come from a singular event or singular source.  It comes from several; similar to putting pieces together in a puzzle to then recognize ‘ this is familiar ‘ and this ‘fits together’.

Prescreening, references, interviews, trials and contracts are the pieces to complete the nanny hiring puzzle.  As parents do their due diligence in gathering these pieces, they learn a lot about the candidate in specific ways and also in how the process ensues.  How the candidate and the parent interact; how responsive the candidate is; how she is with the child and with the adults.  Gathering the specifics of what a candidate knows, what her experience is, what her caregiving skills are .. these are all important as well as how she is with you and your child.  

The importance of trusting someone enough to leave your child in their care cannot be minimized.  Going through a process where you prescreen, check references, interview and make contractual decisions gives parents a beginning level of trust that this person is who she says she is and can provide safe, responsible and reliable care for my child. 

In the book I give examples of what to ask, what to look for and how to evaluate a candidate at each part of the process.   At the same time, I encourage parents to personalize these so they are relevant to their family and child.  Parents know their child best and what a caregiver might need to know to care for their child.  Going through the hiring process is a great opportunity to get ideas and information from nannies about how to handle situations they are figuring out.  For example, if their 13 month old is waking up in the middle of the night and demanding to get out of bed and play; what do you do?  If your 2 year old goes on a ‘chicken nuggets’ only food strike, how does she even think about including veggies into the diet.  If mom is going back to work after maternity and the baby is refusing a bottle, what ideas does the nanny have to solve this problem?  I remind parents there is no right or wrong answers but there are ways of thinking about the problem and ideas about how to solve them.  Having a meaningful discussion can give parents peace of mind these types of discussions can happen easily if she were their nanny – and this is an important piece of the trust puzzle.

In similar ways, other pieces are gathered whether talking with references, training during a trial or coming to decisions about compensation, benefits and job responsibilities in a contract. 

-Alyce Desrosiers