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Steps to Selecting the Right Caregiver – A Safety Guide for Parents

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I have been undergoing a search recently to find a nanny to come to my home and care for my youngest child, along with my older two during the summer months. This process has been really daunting and just not as easy as I’d hoped. Because it has been so difficult for me I thought it would be a good idea to share some tips with you to make finding a sitter or nanny easier on you should you need to find one.

I think where I went wrong was that I didn’t have a great resource and ended up making quite a few mistakes. The advice listed below has been developed in coordination with Sittercity; had I followed this advice I may not have been stood up three times for an interview and let a complete stranger just come into my home to interview before first screening her!

Steps to help determine which caregiver is best for your family

Screen potential candidates

Conduct an initial screening to create a short list of caregivers who fit your family’s needs. You can do this by:

  • Reviewing caregiver profiles
    • When you receive applicants for a job or search local caregivers, closely review their experience, education, certifications, and hourly rate.
  • Read parent reviews
    • See what other parents who’ve hired a particular caregiver in the past have to say, if you use a site like Sittercity you can easily find reviews from other parents. Their insight about a caregiver’s performance and personality can help you decide if someone is a good fit for your family.
  • Run Basic Background Checks
    • Once you have a short list of candidates, we recommend you run a Basic Background Check on each one. This preliminary check will search county court records to see if their names appear.

Interview candidates to identify your top picks

Once you’ve narrowed your search to three to five candidates, it’s time to conduct interviews. If you are not sure what to ask Sittercity provides an excellent Interview Questions Guide for every stage of the process. Just remember to think about what YOUR parenting goals are and make sure your caregiver is willing to adapt to your wishes.

  • Reach out to your short list
    • Remember that it is always necessary to act with caution when communicating with anyone you do not know. We recommend when you connect with a potential caregiver, you communicate through some place like the Sittercity website and don’t give your last name, home address, phone number, place of work or other identifying information in initial messages. Also, don’t hesitate to stop communicating with anyone who pressures you for personal or financial information.
  • Conduct phone interviews
    • Start with a brief phone interview with candidates you’d like to get to know. Just ten minutes over the phone can help you determine a lot about their professionalism, personality, and experience. Listen to your intuition — if something doesn’t feel right, take a pass on that particular candidate; no amount of questioning will settle those initial feelings.
  • Meet for in-person interviews
    • Now you should have a good feeling about which caregivers might be a good hire. Meet your final list of candidates face-to-face to ask more in-depth questions. You’ll want to make sure you’re both on the same page about job specifics, discipline, responsibilities, and any other expectations you may have.
    • For your initial in-person interview, you should meet the caregivers at a coffee shop or other popular public place with other people around. Always provide your own transportation and tell someone in your family or a friend where you are going and when you will return. That way you can further evaluate each caregiver before inviting them into your home.
  • Get kid approval
    • Even if you’re already leaning towards a particular candidate, be sure to introduce them to your children to see how everyone interacts. If things go well, your kids could help you identify the top candidates. And if a caregiver has trouble handling your kids while you’re around, she probably can’t handle them while you’re out.

Verify your caregiver’s history and background

Once you’re done with interviews you might feel like you’ve found the perfect caregiver. Great! Just to make sure it really is the perfect person to handle your precious cargo, follow these few remaining steps in order to be extra cautious.

  • Check references
    • Reach out to the references listed on the caregiver’s profile to gain additional insight, and don’t hesitate to request more references. Be sure to verify the information your potential caregiver has given you is correct and ask questions about how she performed on the job. See the Sittercity Reference Check Questions for ideas.
  • Look for clues elsewhere online
    • Chances are your potential caregivers have several online profiles that can provide clues about their personality and hobbies. Search caregiver names online and check out social media activity to spot any red flags.
  • Run a more comprehensive background check
    • If you’ve only run Basic Background Checks on your short list of sitters, before selecting your final candidate you should run an Enhanced Background Check. If your caregiver will be driving your children, we recommend you run a Motor Vehicles Records Check as well. These checks can provide more information about a caregiver’s background to help make your final decision. Read more details about what each background check covers.

Monitor the relationship to ensure its still a good fit

Once you’ve hired a caregiver, observe them on the job to ensure they’re meeting your expectations. When you get home, ask for a brief progress report on how the day went. It’s also a good idea to ask your kids how they’re enjoying their time with her; their reactions or feelings could reveal a lot about what’s happening when you’re not around.

I know this first hand as I often always ask my children about their day and what they did. Sometimes it takes a bit of prodding and asking the right questions to get them to talk about everything, but I’m glad I asked when I find out about how my caregiver put my son in a time-out (something I don’t believe in as I use different discipline methods) for something that was pretty silly in my mind.  This definitely warrants a discussion as to discipline methods (I get we all have bad days, but a discussion should be had).

  • Watch for caregiver warning signs
    • Warning signs include lack of energy and enthusiasm, a patronizing attitude, or reluctance to change. Additional signs include the caregiver blaming your child for problems or issues they didn’t cause or demanding a level of perfect behavior no child could meet.
  • Watch for child warning signs
    • The following signs could indicate something more serious than a poor match:
      • Child’s behavior changes drastically (becomes excessively clingy or aggressive)
      • Child cries, screams, and begs you not to leave when the caregiver arrives
      • Child develops unexplained bruises, cuts, or burns
      • Child loses appetite or starts having recurrent nightmares
      • Child acts disinterested when caregiver arrives
    • These are just a handful of examples. If you observe any warning signs, take action immediately.
  • Check in frequently to monitor progress
    • Good communication with your caregiver will lead to a good relationship. Be sure to get at least a five-minute report when you return home. Once a month, sit down with your caregiver and get her perspective on how things are going.
  • Ask your kids questions
    • Ask your children open-ended questions about their day, but try not to judge or lead during the discussion. Respect your children’s feelings and always take them seriously, especially negative comments.
  • Pay attention to changes in your children’s behavior
    • Keep an eye out for sudden behavioral changes, drastic mood swings, or any of the warning signs we mentioned above. As for your caregiver, pay attention to suspicious decisions or actions.
  • Ask a neighbor to keep an eye out
    • Enlist a trusted neighbor to keep a casual eye on things when you’re gone. Ask them to let you know if anything seems questionable.
  • Come home unannounced
    • An unexpected drop-in lets you see how your caregiver interacts with your child. It’s a great way to get a feel for how things are going when you’re not there.
  • Install a nanny cam
    • Installing a nanny cam often helps parents ease any fears about leaving their child with a caregiver.

Leaving your child with a new caregiver can be tough; with these tips, you’ll feel more secure and confident that you’ve found the right fit for your family. In return, your caregiver will feel trusted and valued — a great start to a strong relationship with one of the most important people in your child’s life.

Find the right caregiver for your child with ease with Sittercity

Check out Sittercity and see how they make the whole process of finding the perfect caregiver for your child really easy, plus through July 31st you can get 30% off a 3-month membership! Just click the link, if asked for a promo code use:  JULY30

Sittercity is the leading online child care solution, connecting families nationwide with babysitters and nannies who meet their unique needs. They are the largest and most trusted source for families to find local in-home caregivers quickly and easily. Every three seconds, they connect a family and a caregiver. 




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One Response to Steps to Selecting the Right Caregiver – A Safety Guide for Parents

  1. Alyssa McVey July 7, 2014 at 2:57 pm #

    It’s nice that there are services to help with finding a babysitter or nanny. I know that would be hard for me if I were to ever need someone for longer than a night out. It’s a scary thing leaving your children in the care of strangers!
    Alyssa McVey recently posted…Leccare Lollipops $50 GiveawayMy Profile

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