Hiring a nanny can feel like a really difficult task.
It’s important to find someone who fits your family’s needs. Worrying about whether candidates are being honest can make the hiring process even more fraught. We want to reassure our membership and help you conduct this search in the best way you can.
The overwhelming majority of nannies looking are honest, as are the employers and former employers who recommend them. That said, falsifying credentials is a danger in all kinds of hiring (e.g., Yahoo's former CEO misrepresented that he had a degree in computer science).
Our reason for posting about questionable and fake posts on Park Slope Parents most recently was to inform members of some of the issues we've seen over the years to help them make the most informed decision and do their due diligence in their hiring process. Potential employers who interview carefully and check references are far more likely to notice inconsistencies when candidates are lying, reducing the risk of hiring a nanny as a result of fraudulent references.
This situation is particularly fraught because of the nature of the work (caring for our children) and the fact that child care workers are left unsupervised in the parents' homes. Trust is of the essence.
We at Park Slope Parents work diligently to avoid posting fraudulent recommendations and to educate our members on how to ensure what you're told by prospective nannies is true. Park Slope Parents has a dedicated Nanny Moderator who screens recommendations for nannies, but most other email communities and websites do not. For most sites it's 'caveat emptor' (let the buyer beware). We feel we stop the vast majority of the questionable references before they post, but NO process is 100% foolproof in stopping fake references.
Going through a careful and meticulous hiring process can help parents avoid being misled and find someone they can trust. The Park Slope Parents website has over 100 pages of information to help people find a competent, trustworthy nanny to hire. Here is a checklist of things to do to avoid hiring nannies who have misrepresented themselves:
- Check multiple references, meeting them in person if possible. Do not rely on written generalizations. Ask detailed questions and request examples of their "glowing" abilities. If they can't come up with specific examples you may have a ringer.
- Request an ID and documentation of potential employees to confirm identity and address. If they indicate they use multiple names (married, nickname, etc.) ask for documentation.
- Consider asking for a reference beyond the parent/employer. If they have past work experience outside of being a nanny, ask for a reference from a former boss. If they have been in school, ask to talk to a former teacher.
- Alter details when you talk to the references and see if the reference corrects you. Consider changing the age or sex of the children or where the people live ("You are the family in Cobble Hill, right?). If they don't correct or catch the error this is a big red flag.
Ask the references about where they had put up advertisements/recommendations for the nanny.
- Do a background check (although this has limitations).
- Double check facts given by the nanny and the reference about the working situation (e.g., names/ages of children, dates worked, employers' job, etc).
- Search Google, Craigslist, Facebook, LinkedIn for references to both the nanny’s identity and the reference’s identity.
By the way, it's not just nannies involved in the few misrepresentations. There are also employers who are giving their nannies access to their email accounts or permission to sign up with the employer's identity. It makes sense that parents who are willing to trust their children with a nanny (their house, their belongings) would also trust them with other aspects such as joining an online community using their identity. However, doing so is not responsible to the other members of our community. Questioning the reference thoroughly is extremely important.
If you are trying to help a nanny get a new job, read over the Helping Your Nanny Find a NEW Job information on our website. If you know of a nanny who is trying to find a job, point her to the "For Nannies" page (it has received more than 19,750 hits over the last few years). Also tell her to read through the 100+ pages about hiring a nanny we have; being prepared will help her in getting a new job that is a good fit.
We also work with the DWU and other organizations in order to help parents understand the laws and create the best employer/employee environment. If you are a nanny or know of a nanny who is being treated unfairly, contacting the DWU is a good way to see what can be done about the situation.
Be sure to check out our Nanny Surveys. We survey over 700 local families to find out hiring practices, pay rates, job expectations & more.
It is hard to hire someone to take care of your child. It is hard to trust what seems like a complete stranger with our most precious possession. If you do your due diligence in hiring a person you have fully vetted you will know from the start that your child is in good hands from the start.