Top 10 Parent Concerns About Hiring a Nanny

GUEST COLUMNSubmitted by Jessica Jackson
Today’s unstable economy almost demands that all families be two-working-parent households, which creates an enormous need for quality, capable childcare. New parents on the verge of returning to work, as well as those that are considering a shift from daycare to in-home childcare, are faced with the often daunting task of finding and hiring a nanny to care for their children in their home. Regardless of how appealing the idea of having a nanny may be, there are still plenty of concerns that the majority of parents have.

1. Nanny Tax Compliance – CNN reported in 2004 that the compliance rate for families and nannies regarding tax laws was less than 13%, meaning that roughly 87% of families that employ domestic workers do so illegally. The penalties for being discovered are quite steep, with interest rates and back taxes adding up to a significant chunk of change. More nannies are beginning to understand the importance of being paid legally, and are unlikely to accept posts that require them to evade taxes. The laws that govern nanny taxes are very complex, which is a deterrent for many families that would otherwise be compliant; fortunately, there are services and specially-designed software available to help parents pay their childcare providers legally.

2. Qualifications – Every parent in search of a nanny dreams that they’ll find one with an advanced degree in child development and years of experience, but the truth is that those nannies can be difficult to come by. It’s not uncommon for parents to become disillusioned soon after beginning their nanny search when they discover how many individuals without education or nanny experience apply for nanny positions, leaving them concerned about the level of care a more accessible candidate may provide.

3. Lack of Regulation – Daycare centers have their drawbacks, but properly licensed ones are almost always regulated by impartial state agencies that ensure the environment is as safe as possible, and that workers are reasonably competent. As yet, the nanny industry has no such set of regulations, making it easy for almost anyone to apply for a post.

4. Disciplinary Styles – Disciplinary tactics can be a contentious, hot-button issue between couples; worries about the stance of a stranger can be enough to make a parent worry themselves to distraction. Concerns that a nanny might be too harsh, or even physically punish their child, has contributed to the rise in nanny cam usage.

5. Criminal Background – The advent of the Internet has simplified the process of running a background check on a prospective employee dramatically; before the web made ordering searches possible, parents were often forced to rely on the word of a nanny and her references alone. Still, parents worry about a nanny’s potential criminal history until those reports come in.

6. Questionable Driving Record – Parents that don’t expect their nanny to transport the children and aren’t planning to require her to run any errands outside the home may choose to save their time and money from being spent on a check for moving violations. Those that do have these expectations, however, may find themselves in a sea of worry regarding their new nanny’s ability to transport their children safely.

7. Eligibility For Employment – In areas with a large immigrant population, employers must confirm that any nanny candidate is legally allowed to accept work in the United States, which may be a challenge if the bulk of the domestic worker hiring pool is made up of those seeking to work illegally.

8. Insurance Requirements – In addition to any contributions to health insurance premiums that an employer may choose to make, many states require that nannies be covered under a worker’s compensation and disability policy.

9. The Children Might Love Her More – Despite the unlikelihood of a child coming to love his nanny more than his parents, it’s a very real concern for some. Terms like “mommy guilt” and “nanny jealousy” are so common that they’ve become part of the childcare provider lexicon, and can be difficult to combat.

10. Negotiating a Salary Package – Hiring a nanny requires parents to undertake the sometimes harrowing process of negotiating a compensation package that meets the needs and expectations of both parties; additionally, drafting a written nanny contract can also be quite tedious.

Despite the concerns and occasional problems finding and securing a competent and qualified nanny, most families that employ a private childcare provider are loath to consider any other options due to the exceptional level of one-one-one care and personalized attention that their children can receive from in-home care.


♥ Amy Darling ♥ said...

Wow..the number of families who pay their nannies "under the table" doesn't surprise me too much. Where I live at, most families don't want to pay taxes for their nannies. Perhaps it is too complicated for them or they don't want the liability, etc. I live in a very heavily illegal immigrant populated area and I am sure that many of these women are willing to work for cheap if their families do not pay taxes.

I agree it can be quite scary to hire a new nanny, however I would say the nanny horror stories are far and few between. Most woman who work as nannies genuinely love being around children. ♥

I don't think being educated makes a great nanny. While it may look good on paper for a nanny to have a child development degree, I would much rather my nanny have a loving heart, tons of patience and have excellent communication skills than being degree'd.

Chemistry between family and nanny should take precedence over everything else.

Lyn said...

When I moved to a new city last year it took me 4 MONTHS to find a family willing to pay me on the books. I couldn't believe how difficult it was to find one willing to follow the law. One family even offered me a signing bonus of 5 grand if I would work for them off the books for a year. If they have 5 grand laying around then why wouldn't they use that to pay a Nanny legally?

Also, I am STUNNED that not one of the families I have worked for have ever asked in interview to see copies of my recent certifications (first aide, cpr), proof of insurance (when I would be driving around their children), anything stating that I actually have a degree like I say I do, or a copy of my driving record. And I have always worked for very established well off families. These sort of questions seem like common sense ones to me. I always supply the information anyway. But that they never ask is scary to me. I can absolutely nail an interview, tell the parents I am anything they could ever want me to be, but how can so many of them trust a person who they truly no nothing about?

MissDeeGoesToSchoolMonday said...

Lyn: I know exactly what you mean. I remember going to an interview that consisted of two questions:

"Tell us about yourself" and "why should we hire you?"

The parents kept checking their watches. Total interview time: 10 minutes. As I got into my car, I wondered how I was supposed to convince them to hire me. I then asked myself if I was on an interview, because it didn't feel like it.

I didn't hear back from them. I wonder who they hired and how long she lasted? I didn't realize parents could hire a qualified, educated nanny with two questions and 10 minutes while the children weren't present; the baby was asleep and the older child at school.

Then came the tax issue and work agreement.

When I moved back here, I applied for a nanny position involved 2 year old twins. I thought it went well. I remember the mother asking me a question and I made reference to my certifications in my portfolio.

"I don't care about that," the mother stated in a harsh tone. She said something else, to which I didn't pay attention.

Stunned at her response, I didn't know what to say.

Her tone softened and we discussed taxes and a work agreement. I explained to her why taxes should be taken out and the purpose of the WA. She agreed with me about everything I said.

Like a fool, she called that next day and asked me to mail her a copy of my WA and tax information, which consists of the reasons why parents need to pay all taxes from their nanny's paycheck and Breedlove information. She said she wanted my WA to make some adjustments to it, prior to her hiring me.

I dropped the envelope in the mail.

She hired someone else.

I consider it a lesson learned.

Nine months until graduation, and a year until a possible move to Chicago. The next time a parent asks me what I am looking for in a family during an interview I will say:

"I am looking for a family and a work environment where I can use my skills and experience to teach a child. In addition, I am in that same family, I am seeking appreciation as a nanny, along with open communication and job duties clearly defined so that we are on the same page when it comes to tasks outside of childcare."

I will figure out the tax question later.

Ahhh, ISYN is educational.

DC nanny who is no longer in DC said...

It always surprises me that parents aren't more thorough before hiring. Maybe I just look and sound very trustworthy? Nobody has ever asked to see my certificates either, or even a drivers license to be sure that I am who I say I am.

In one particular case, I wasn't being hired as a nanny, but as an occasional sitter. The parents met me, and after spending about a half hour with me, they hired me to watch their 7 month old daughter. When the parents got home that night and were greeting me, the mom said "When we got to the restaurant we realized that we don't even know your last name! I can't believe we didn't ask that!"

It's good that they were able to learn that lesson without any repercussions, and hopefully they were more careful the next time they hired a sitter!

Kloe said...

I have met many families, usually through CL where I speak to the parents for a 1/2 hour or so, then they hire me on the spot to watch their kids. I betcha they don't even know my last name since they don't call any of my references and/or do a background check.

Thank goodness I am not a child molester/abuser/abductor, etc.

Parents should NEVER take anyone at face value...esp. someone who will be in their home alone, watching the kids.