Nanny background screening is more than a Nanny Background check. The nanny industry – nannies, nanny referral professionals, nanny background screeners and educators – share an overwhelming concern for the wellbeing of the children being cared for by A nanny in their home. We are all child care professionals. Sadly, there is yet another story makingthe news rounds about a nanny hired from an online venue mistreating the children in her care. The nanny was ‘caught’ on a nanny cam.

The International Nanny Association (INA) and the Alliance of Premier Nanny Agencies (APNA) want to inform parents that a computerized background check is quite simply insufficient ‘screening’ to evaluate a nanny applicant. The digital, criminal “background check” creates a false sense of security for families.

True nanny background screening also must include careful, probing interviews, and thorough reference checks. INA  and APNA agency members are experts at nanny screening.

So what do families need to do to carefully screen a nanny applicant?

  1. Verify Applicant Identity: It is only logical to first confirm that the individual applicant is who she says she is. Government issued photo identification should be reviewed at the beginning of any nanny interview. This can be a drivers’ license, passport, or a state-issued identification card.
  2. Gather a Comprehensive Work History: INA member Daryl Camarillo, Stanford Park Nannies, recommends that families “Verify and interview all previous employers (even non-childcare related) and do a thorough accounting for all gaps in work history.”
  3. Interview Carefully: A common mistake families make is using the interview to determine if the nanny is agreeable to hours, pay and scope of duties. This is totally insufficient to find out if this candidate will be a quality nanny. A good rule of thumb is if the interviewer is talking more than the person being interviewed, you are not asking the right questions. Behavioral interviewing is the gold standard.INA member Marc Lenes, Wee Care Nanny Agency, states that “It is imperative to meet and get to know the potential nanny in person. Together you should go over a comprehensive employment application and zero in on gaps in work history, discuss previous JOBS in detail and gauge responses to gently probing questions that will help with the vetting process.”Australia’s Placement Solutions’ Louise Dunham shares “Three techniques we use are 1) listen carefully for the pregnant pauses when questioning a referee ..the nervous schooled referees sometimes confess here; 2) asking an open ended question such as “Describe  to me your typical day looking after a baby and a toddler” will soon show you whether they have actually spent a day doing that and whether they are proactive carers and 3) lastly a trick question ” under what circumstances would you smack a child?” The ONLY answer we want is ‘Never ‘.”Sandra Costantino, Neighborhood Nannies, has more than 30 years experience matching nannies and families. She reports “So often we are told by our families about “gut reaction.”  There is absolutely no substitute for that than in meeting A potential
    candidate in person and looking into their eyes and understanding their body language and their answer to questions asked and their comments in general.  A wealth of knowledge is transferred without even knowing it. You cannot get that ‘online‘.”

4. VerifyReferences:HomeWork SolutionsKathleen Webb advises families to “Personally speak to all references. Verify how they know the applicant. Ask questions and wait for answers. Avoid giving verbal clues of agreement or disagreement.”Fake references are a real problem for families HIRING A NANNY.Experienced NANNY AGENCY staff are highly skilled at detecting references that are simply “off.” When checking a work reference, you may want to ask questions such as “When did she work for you?” or “Tell me about your children – how old were they?” You will be surprised how often the person coached to give the reference trips up on the fine details. When talking to a nanny’s references, experienced reference checkers often try to obtain a third party or ‘wild card’ reference. This would be someone else known by both the reference and the candidate whom you may use as an additional reference. Third party references are invaluable, as they have most likely not been cherry-picked by the candidate and have not been briefed on the reference check ahead of time.

5. Schedule a Second, Working Interview: Bring the candidate back at a time when you and the children are both present. Allow the applicant to observe your typical family rhythms, patterns, and interactions. After some orientation, step back and allow some time for the applicant to interact with the children independently (you observe). Of course you will pay the applicant for her time.

The International Nanny Association (INA) is dedicated to helping families find quality in-home childcare. The APNA is a regulated membership organization that establishes standards in the nanny and household staffing industry. Both organizations recognize that families are increasingly turning to online nanny recruiting venues when hiring. The INA and APNA feel strongly that the information above can assist a family to better screen their nanny job applicants. We further recommend that families who are not confident in their interview and screening skills, or simply do not have the time or talent to perform this thorough vetting, strongly consider engaging the services of a professional NANNY REFERRAL agency. “Liking a nanny isn’t enough, we’d would argue your children deserve more,” advises Jami Denis, ABC Nannies.” Hiring a professional nanny agency to walk you through the screening, interviewing, hiring and employment process allows parents peace of mind when they need it most.”  APNA member agencies can be found at the online directory athttp://apnananny.org. INA member agencies can be found in the online directory at Nanny.org.
Thank you to our partners at the INA for this guest blog

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Nanny of the Month, Tina Steinke, is a down to earth Phoenix nanny with three years of professional experience with ages newborn through five years. She loves everything domestic, teaching and encouraging children and making a home run smoothly and effortlessly. She loves the physical part of this career, including playing, being creative, teaching, organizing, cleaning and cooking. She tells us, “I could be out in the corporate world, but I feel that family life is so important and if children can have that stable person in the home that brings them security, I can bring that to them.”
She’s worked in homes with at-home Moms, and says, “Juggling a home and young children is a lot”. She’ll clean the kitchen, stock the diaper caddy, get meals together, clean and do laundry, allowing an at-home Mom more quality time with the children. Her biggest strength is her ability to multitask and her organizational skills. Tina has a calm, effective manner and an upbeat, happy, energetic and cheerful personality. Some of the fun activities she sets up for children are little tubs of water outside with plastic cups for water play, paper crafts, art, music, making obstacle courses, ribbon flags for twirling or dancing.

She loves taking children to the park, stroller walks, or making pictures for Mom and Dad. She home-schooled her children for eight years and incorporates reading books with every activity. “There’s so much

activity that makes children’s brains mush.” Tina is good at talking to children and teaching them about the world and then helping them connect the dots, think about things and be creative. She asks questions, asks about feelings, sings songs while in the car or on walks. When we asked Tina about her favorite memories she mentioned, “The precious and humorous things that come out of a two or four year old’s mouth. The way they process things is so funny. The big smile that comes on their face when they know I’m cooking their favorite meal.”
During down time, Tina is happy to straighten, organize a pantry, clean out a fridge, prepare food, go grocery shopping, or organize. “I love doing that, making things more user friendly, and I do family laundry in between. “I really enjoy when the family gives me responsibilities. That’s why I love children and home management, because it’s active work.” Tina recently accepted an after-school nanny position in her North Central Phoenix neighborhood with an eight year old boy and a six year old girl, and is doing a trial week with the family to assure it’s a good match. In her free time, Tina enjoys sewing, swimming, hiking, biking, playing games, crafts of all kinds and reading.

Beth Weise

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What Additional tasks can my Nanny take on? Depending on your children’s ages and schedule, your Nanny can partner with you to make your life easier, giving you more time with your loved ones. You don’t need to rush home, start dinner and be up folding laundry late into the night.

Laundry. Children’s laundry and bedding are normally taken care of by the Nanny, but many Nannies also do family laundry and strip beds. Nannies normally organize kids drawers and closets, switching out seasonal clothing, mending or removing clothing that no longer fits and taking it to a charity to be recycled. But some Nannies also organize family closets and cupboards.

Shopping. Nanny-Managers typically will keep a running list of items that are running low, and go shopping to replenish the pantry and fridge. She’ll routinely refresh the fridge, removing older leftovers. She can plan a family’s favorite menus and do the weekly shopping. Dry Cleaning, getting the oil changed for the family car can also be coordinated. Some Nannies do the seasonal shopping for children’s clothing or are responsible for returns and exchanges.

Cooking. Nannies routinely cook breakfast and lunch and sometimes dinner for children, but many Nannies also make dinner every night for the family, or do the prep work if parents enjoy cooking. If a Nanny isn’t confident enough to cook for adults, smart families instruct them to make dinner for the kids and have leftovers for the parents, alleviating the pressure for a hesitant Nanny. Most nannies are willing to follow a recipe and give it a try, saving you time a few nights a week.

Extracurricular Activities: Nannies will arrange for play dates, plan field trips to the library, zoo or museums, or do research on Summer Camps or Preschools and interesting opportunities in the community. Nannies of school-agers routinely communicate with teachers or monitor assignments online.

Each situation and family is different, and amounts of down time each Nanny has differs. Some of these suggestions will require additional hours or pay for your Nanny, but it can give you more of your most precious resource-time. Time to spend truly enjoying your family and a peaceful evening, knowing that the day’s most pressing needs have been met. Call Caring Nannies today at 480-946-3423 to see how an experienced Nanny-Manager or Family Assistant can make your life easier.

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Caring Nannies has moved!
We are getting settled into our new Old Town Scottsdale Office and it looks classy and cute now that we have our pictures up!

Our new address is 4215 N Brown Avenue, Suite C, Scottsdale, AZ 85251, just a block East of our old office.

We now have covered parking and more space! Come visit us when you’re in Old Town Scottsdale!

We’re here to serve our loyal families and dedicated nannies in Scottsdale, Phoenix, Glendale, Grayhawk, Chandler, Tempe, Paradise Valley, Carefree, Cave Creek, Gilbert, Awatukee, Mesa, Anthem, Fountain Hills, Glendale, Peoria, Avondale, Litchfield Park, Surprise,  Queen Creek, Sun Lakes, Maricopa, San Tan Valley! We’re exploring ways to streamline our service to give you better support. Thank you for letting us serve you!

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Is your Nanny Car ready for the Fall school season?

If you take the time to keep up with routine maintenance, you have added assurance that your children will be safe during the busy rush-hour morning runs to school and the after-school pick-ups and trips to after-school sporting events and activities. For the 5 most essential maintenance tips, read on.

1. Routine Maintenance
Keep the tires inflated to the manufacturers specs for best handling and life of the tires. Walk around the car every time you fill up on gas and give a visual inspection.

2. Check  that the following 5 fluids are at the proper levels every other time you gas up.

  • Engine oil-check at every other gas fill up and replace every 3-4,000 miles
  • Coolant/Antifreeze-check level every gas fill up. Flush every 2-5 years
  • Brake fluid-check once a month. Add more if the level is low. For passenger safety, brake fluid could be the most important fluid to maintain. It’s not  uncommon for brake fluid to leak, which can compromise the ability to stop in time.
  • Power-steering fluid. Check monthly while the car is warm
  • Transmission Fluid-Check every 25,000 miles or every 2 years

3. Keep on top of your Maintenance Schedule.

If you no longer have the schedule that came with your car, download one from the internet. Be diligent with routine tune-ups and check the battery life before January, when cold weather can affect your battery. Batteries in Phoenix last about two years.

4. Before the next big rain, check your windshield wipers.
Wipers in Arizona crack every two years if you park in the sun. Check the windshield wiper fluid quarterly. For more tips, click here.

5. You-the driver- The most critical factor in keeping your charges safe, is the continual attentiveness of the you, driver. Do not allow a cell phone, a dropped sippy cup, or a fight between kids in the back seat, to deter you from driving as if everyones’ life depends on your continual attentiveness, because it does.

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An outgoing, bubbly and dynamic Nanny/Manager, Briana had nurturing and loving preschool teachers growing up and found she’d developed a passion for childcare herself. She babysat from the age of 12, and nannied through high school and college. Because of a cousin who contracted encephalitis and epilepsy, she became certified as a PCA (Personal Care Attendant) in order to be his caregiver. She learned how to change a g-tube and even transitioned into senior care, but her interests eventually narrowed down to childcare. She began nannying professionally, including two years with a newborn and later a preemie, and another year with two year old twins! She was also an after-school nanny for a family with 5 and 6 year old school-agers.

“When I transitioned from babysitter to nanny, I felt like I’d become a family member, she explained. Having a child run up to you and throw their arms around you means so much,” she shared. “As a nanny, I’m teaching them, cooking with them, disciplining them, teaching manners, respect, and academics. I love bonding with kids and teaching them new things. Seeing the child connect with you and ask about you when you’re not there, makes it worth it for me. That to me is everything.”

One of her strengths is that she’s good at getting things done. In the words of one of her references: “She is very good at keeping the kids on task, keeping them focused on what they need to get done. She doesn’t let them run over her. She’s very loving but is very good at ‘Come on guys, lets get this done.’ Homework, shower, activities. She’s my best nanny for that. She’s reliable, gets stuff done, and when they get home they’ll know its done. I had another sitter who focused more on academics and another sitter who read all the time to them and got them into reading but maybe she didn’t empty the dishwasher all the time. With Briana, I’d come home, the kids were in their PJs, showered, dinner eaten and homework done.”

Another family described her strengths this way: “Playfulness, genuinely loves the kids, patient, respectful, positive with kids, makes them comfortable, puts them at ease, is a good disciplinarian.” This Mom shared with us that Briana made her life easier on several levels by cooking dinner, doing laundry, cleaned house, drove the kids to many activities, cleaned the fridge, and did any extra help needed. She even traveled to Florida with this family.

Briana is also very patient, and is skilled at making mundane events special. She keeps checklists and is organized and prepared. She researches educational activities and comes in on Monday mornings with a plan. Confident, fun and smart, she has a double  BA in Law and Public Affairs plans to start law school in 2015 or 2016. Since she’ll be working full time and taking night school classes, Briana is able to give a family a five to six year commitment with gradually decreasing hours. Perfect for a young family as kids start school and then only need an after school nanny. Most of her experience is with ages newborn to four years. Briana was recently placed in a full-time nanny manager position with a family with a six month old baby in North Scottsdale. Keep up the good work, Briana!

 

Beth Weise

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These tips for getting off to a good start can boost children’s confidence, behavior and outlook socially and academically. The shift from summer to Fall can be a tough transition for both children and their parents, with greater structure, more activities and more stress. Help your children manage the changes by planning ahead and staying positive. Check out our tips to make it easier for the whole family.

Re-establish routines – take a week or two to gradually move up bedtime and wake-up time and let them practice getting up, dressed and eating breakfast earlier. Add in bedtime reading and chores if you didn’t do this during the summer. Talk to your child about the benefits of going to bed on time so they have energy the next day. Even preschoolers can learn to set an alarm clock to get up in the morning. Praise them for being a go-getter when they get up.

Create a launch-pad – a designated area for backpacks lunch boxes and important notices and homework papers to avoid last minute scrambles.

Set a time and a place for homework – avoid daily battles by setting up a time and place for homework. The best area is the kitchen or family room so they can be monitored and encouraged. Make sure there’s good lighting and room for books and resources. Plan ahead to be available during the homework hour to head off frustration and make sure the work gets done.

Mark your calendar and plan to attend “Meet the Teacher Night” – It is August 1 in Tempe, check your school website for other districts and attend to meet your child’s Teachers, the Principal and other staff. Arrange for a babysitter now, if necessary. Walk through the school if it is a younger child or a new school, and find their classroom, locate lockers, visit the lunchroom, and encourage your child to ask questions.

Here are the first days of school for some local districts:

Chandler – Monday July 21
Phoenix – Wednesday July 30

Tempe – Tuesday August 5

Gilbert – Wednesday August 6

Scottsdale – Wednesday August 6

Paradise Valley – Friday August 8

Glendale – Monday August 11

Clear your schedule for the first week of school and put off business trips, extra meetings and avoid bringing work home to you have time to help your child get used to the new  schedule. Have some planned frozen leftovers ready so dinnertime is easy.

With a few of these tips and strategies in place, your first days of school will create a good start to the school year and make for academic success all year.

If you need an extra hand, consider hiring an after school nanny. We’re currently recruiting candidates who will pick children up from school, fix a nutritious snack, help with homework, throw in a load of laundry, prep dinner, get the kids in the car with mouth guards, clean uniforms and socks, and drive them to sports practices or appointments. We take photocopies of their Driver’s Licenses, three year MVD Records and current Auto Insurance when they interview. When checking references, we ask prior families about their driving habits.They’re happy to grocery shop or pick up the gift for the weekend birthday party. Expect to pay $16-$18 per hour and we require a hour hour minimum per visit. Click here to fill out a Family Application. and Jenny, our Family Placement Counselor will give you a call to answer your questions.

Beth Weise

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In your search to hire the best nanny, it’s vital to map out your questions before the interview. This hire is different from any other, in that she’ll be like part of the family, so the key things you’re looking for are attitudes, world-view, and personality. Experience and education are important, however your children will be emulating and adopting this person’s character and values, so her most important contribution is to be a role model to your growing children. The Nanny position is unlike any other child-care position, in that she is largely unsupervised. When we source nannies, we are looking for the person who will make the right decision when nobody’s looking. But trust that when Moms give birth, they get a PhD in their guts, so be confident that you’ll be able to find a nanny you click with and feel comfortable with. This process is more like dating than hiring someone, because it’s so personal–she’ll have full access to your children’s hearts and your home.

When we interview a nanny, we’re watching for the person who’s passionate about this career. My Grandpa, an Iowa Farmer, was known for his pithy pronouncements. If we got  upset about something, he’d say, “Don’t worry, 100 years from now, it won’t make a difference.” The nannies we’re looking for, know that what they’re doing will make a difference 100 years from now. I love the comment by Andy Stanley: “What you do in life may not be as important as someone you raise.” Our nannies get this. It impels them.

After 30 years of interviewing, we have lots of favorite interview questions, but here are some of our gold standard questions. Notice that they are mostly behavioral-based, which gives you the information you are seeking and the best results.

  • What brought you to nannying?  What keeps you here?
  • What are some of your strengths as a nanny?
  • What would you do to keep a ___ year old busy?
  • How would you structure the day with an infant? or _____ year old?
  • What would you do with “down time,” while children are napping or at school?
  • What does “light housekeeping” mean to you?
  • What does your relationship look like with the past parents you worked for?
  • Can you share a fond memory you have from past experiences as a nanny?
  • How would you handle a ___ year old who refused to take a nap even though he was tired?
  • Can you tell me about a time when you had to get feedback?
  • Do you feel that you’re able to speak up when needed?
  • Tell me about your last job? What did you like/not like about it?
  • Tell me about the most stressful thing that has happened to you on the job and how you handled it.
  • What would be a typical lunch you’d prepare for a ____year old?
  • Would you feel comfortable taking the children swimming? How well do you swim?
  • Have you ever cooked for a family? If so, what might a typical dinner be?

Caring Nannies has a select pool of exceptional and trusted nannies available for you to interview. We pride ourselves in finding out your exact needs and only sending you a handful of close matches because we value your time. We’re ready to guide you through the process of selecting just the right one for your family. To get started, fill out our Family Application or call our office for more information.

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Does your nanny drive your children? It can be nerve-wracking for families to hand over the driving to their nanny and it takes time to develop that trust. But 97% of nannies drive as a part of their job. If you do your homework up front, you’ll be able to relax knowing that you’ve done your due diligence and your child(ren) are in safe hands.

Some families have a Nanny Car for the sole use of the nanny. This is the best solution, because it will be a safe, updated, well-maintained vehicle and safety features to keep your little ones safe. If she’s using your car, have you added her to your policy? If there’s an accident, they won’t cover it is she isn’t on the policy. If she’s under 25, your premium may go up, depending on her driving record.

If there’s a fender bender in your car and it’s below your deductible rate, it will come out of your pocket, so decide in advance how this will be paid for and what, if any percent she should pay for, if it’s her fault.

If a Nanny Car is impractical for your situation, here are some key things to consider before letting your nanny drive.

Do you require evidence of regular preventative maintenance? Have a trusted mechanic inspect her car.

Monitor the tires monthly and be sure they’re inflated properly.

Does she have additional insurance required for using her car for business?

Typically, there will be a small increase in the premium.

If so, who covers the cost of this additional insurance?

If it’s not a recent model, how difficult are the car seats to install?

Do you have car seats you can give her so that they can just stay in her car?

If they’re coming in and out, make sure she knows how to click them into place and remove them.

Watch her get the children locked in. Did she do it correctly? One common error is failure to pull the clip high enough on the child’s chest.

How does she keep track of her mileage?

Are you paying her the IRS standard mileage reimbursement rate of 56 cents per mile for business miles driven? This covers wear and tear and gas when she drives for business.

Talk about rules for driving and review them frequently. Talk about speed limits and talking or texting on the phone while she’s in the car.

Consider trying Canary, a $9.99 app for iPhone and Android phones that can monitor texting and calling habits, speeding and car location. There’s a seven day free trial.

With a new nanny, have her do a test run to pick up the children while you’re in the car with her.

When nannies come to interview with us, we get a copy of their Driver’s License, a three year MVD Report, and current Auto Insurance. When your hire a permanent nanny through ACN, we send you a copy of her Driver’s License and three year driving record and current insurance. You may want to check her Insurance during your semi-annual Performance Reviews.

When we check references, we ask specifically about how comfortable past families felt with her driving.

It is hard letting your children drive with someone else, but if you do your homework up front, you’ll have a better partnership with your nanny, and your children will reap the rewards of your diligence.

Beth Weise

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Taking your nanny on vacation can add a lot to your trip if you plan well and communicate expectations. It’s not a vacation for her. It’s a business trip. If she were on vacation, she’d be with her friends and family. Pay her the regular hourly rate she receives at home, and if she’s working more hours than normal, include a bonus. Expect to pay all her travel expenses, including airfare, lodging and a meal stipend, just as you receive that from your employer when you to travel for them.

Give her some free time and give her extra money to go exploring on her own, just as your employer adds perks to your business trips. Give he a day off after a long day of travel to scope out the vacation spot and relax before she starts sitting… a day apart will be refreshing for everyone. Taking care of children is a lot of work. Plan ahead what hours she’ll be on deck, and when she’s free. Make a calendar and the hours she’s needed.

A private room for her is essential. This will enable you to be alone with your family as well. Don’t expect her to bunk up with the kids. She needs all her energy and mental availability for the daytime schedule. Having a nanny allows you to have some adult time and do some spur of the moment activities and to spend special one on one time with each child separately, maybe go water-skiing with an older child and leave her with the younger  ones.

Don’t ask her for more hours than usual, unless you arrange for that and pay accordingly. Don’t pay $50 extra and expect 24/7 availability. Pay her from the moment she arrives at your home until you reach your destination and the kids are settled.

If she enjoys herself on vacation, that’s a benefit to the whole family. It strengthens the relationships and makes her feel good about her job. You may not want to take a brand new nanny traveling, because the adjustments can be overwhelming. You don’t want to damage the relationship you have with your nanny.

It is expensive to bring your nanny with you on vacation but it can be well worth it. It gives you the best of both worlds–family time during the day, and some adult time in the evening! It can be nerve-racking to hire a stranger in a new city, and with all the changes your kids are going through, new surroundings, new activities, it’s comforting to have that familiar face at nap and bedtime. The more you plan ahead and communicate expectations, the more enjoyable the experience will be.

Beth Weise

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