Received Thursday, December 7, 2006
Many nannies will be leaving their positions this time next year or not returning after the Holidays. I don't know why this is but it seems that January and September are the big hiring times for nannies. Some of these nannies will leave of their own volition, perhaps even because you failed to show your appreciation to them at the Holiday time. And for those nannies, I am sorry because if you are lucky enough to have a nanny that takes good care of your children and you trust her; there is no dollar amount that is worth.
However I am aware that many families make changes to their nanny/child care situation in January (and September). Some of you decide to go with daycare. Others decide to stay at home. In attempting to end things amicably, most of you will give the nanny severance pay and a letter of reference.
I am asking that you please show due diligence when writing a letter of reference for the nanny. If you have fired her because she endangered your children, please don't put in writing that she was wonderful and trustworthy. In small towns, we sometimes give a letter of reference that comes from a name we recognize more credit than it deserves. I appreciate you wanting to end things well with your nanny but do not provide a false reference for her just to get her out of your hair.
We had the misfortune this September of hiring a mother's helper/housekeeper type that came with a glowing child care references from someone who I knew of. During the first week, the employee left a full bucket of ammonia filled water in the laundry room which I was directed to when I found my child splashing in it! (We keep a very childproof home). I brought it to her attention and she apologized profusely and said she forgot so I let it go. The next time I left to run to the post office, I returned home to find my four year old had plugged in a hair straightened and curling iron and was using a cosmetic sponge to put on "pretend makeup" which was a bowl of water on her face! This person was not a horrible person, but she was no kind of child care provider. Upon investigation, I found out that the previous employer who wrote the glowing letter of reference for her had never ever left her alone with her child. (Although in her reference letter she speaks of how she was able to do just that and with tremendous ease!)
I was originally going to provide the first name of this person who is again looking for work. But I won't. I just ask all of you who are terminating employees to say as many great things as you want about them, but please do not overstate or outright lie about their experience with your children. It is unfair to put someone else's children in danger and for what? So you can feel better about firing someone who most likely deserved to be fired.