Outside the 92nd Street Y in New York City

Received Wednesday, February 28, 2007
If you have two children that were in the care of a nanny today and the older of the children attended drop off class at the 92nd Street Y in NYC today, your nanny exited the building; secured your 1 y.o. child in his stroller and plopped down immediately to nap. And nap she did. The child was awake in the stroller amusing himself. Nanny's eyes were closed for about 20 minutes straight.

West 81st Street outside the gates of the Diana Ross Playground (NYC)

Received Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Today I oveheard a very distressing exchange between a sandy haired, caucasian boy in a yellow and blue ski style jacket, denim jeans and dark hiking style boots. He was crying, clearly upset, "i want my mommy, i want my mommy". Within ear shot I heard the nanny say, "no it's a sunny day outside, mommy wanted you to get some air". The child, very upset continued to cry. (The nanny answered the child more to the other people in the area than she did the child). As the boy continued to cry, I passed by and just when I am certain she thought I was out of earshot, the nanny responded to the last "i want my mommy" with "well honey, what can i tell you, mommy doesn't want you. she doesn't want you around her". I am sure it is hard to deal with someone else's crying child. But what an awful, awful thing to say. What kind of person has an acid tongue like that? The child was 2-maybe 3 years old. He was also holding but not wearing a navy blue ski cap with an orange logo on it. This occured in central park, on West 81st Street outside the gates of the Diana Ross Playground.
Very, very sad. -Liz, NYC

Submit your sighting now!

To submit your nanny sighting, photo or story to ISYN:
1) E-mail your story or nanny photo to
2) Leave your submission as an anonymous comment to
this post.
3) Use the Meebo window (located in the sidebar of this blog) to send us a private instant message.

"Why should I submit a nanny sighting?"
Please click
here to read of one woman's recent experience.


Target (Parking Garage) in White Plains, New York

Received Tuesday, February 27, 2007
The time: 4:45
The incident: a young girl of about three was playing with the elevator buttons while her nanny carried on a conversation with a male and exchanged phone numbers.
The location: The elevator bank outside Target in White Plains, NY.
The nanny: lots of makeup, feathered & wavy hair, nice shape, huge gold hoops, north Face fleece jacket opened to reveal very tight red shirt, tank or bodysuit revealing a lot of skin. (32 degrees)
The child: Blond, messy hair, very flared tan cord pants with flowers on the lower part, very long striped tunic with hood poking out from under tan jacket. Tan jacket had little flowers on it. Faint.
How I intervened: I was pushing cart out of Target in to garage and saw the girl out of the corner of my eye. She was a good 15 feet from her nanny. The child was playing with the elevator and twirling around. I caught site of her getting on the elevator. The little girl ran in the elevator and out, then was hanging half in and out, almost "bowing" (playing around). I left my cart and leaped over to the elevator and put my hands up to hold the door open so she could get out and get out without getting her long hair or body parts caught in the door!
The result: The nanny turned around and looked at me like I was an idiot who was over reacting. She then called out "come stand by me". And the child did just that.
I returned to my cart and continued through the garage on my way.

Family Watchdog

Family Watchdog has partnered with following companies to help protect and inform your family:
Safe Side - Information to protect your family.
KinderVision - Take the "Greatest Save" safety test online.
SafeKeeper - Internet safety.
Intelius - Background and criminal check.
Uniting the Web - Help find missing kids.

from Boston

Tuesday, February 27, 2007
I don't know if you will print this or not but it has been bugging me. I have a "frenemy" that works as a nanny for a family in the Boston area. The mother spends a lot of time with the nanny and treats her fairly decent, brings her coffee, etcetera. For the past 4 months, the mother has been traveling to NYC, occasionally even requiring overnights. This "frenemy" has increasingly been bragging about the flirtatious nature of her male employer. When I saw her last weekend, she was wearing a very pretty white diamond "pave" heart pendant on a blue rope cord that she said her male boss gave to her for Valentine's Day. But the female boss doesn't know that he did this. She claims she hasn't done anything inappropriate with this male employer but she is tickled by the attention and it makes me sick. And before you suggest that I am trying to stir up trouble, I am sure a smart woman will be able to verify the jewelry purchases her husband made last month.

Six Month Commitment?

Received Tuesday, February 27, 2007
I'm thinking about quitting my job as a nanny, I'm... I'm thinking about quitting my job as a nanny, I'm not paid that well, and they take advantage of me. My only hesitation is that I'm leaving the area for nursing school come fall; how many people would only want a 6 month commitment?


East Side Amusements in NYC

Received Monday, February 26, 2007
Saturday Night. 2 young teens/tweens accompanied their sitter to East Side Amusements. I don't know how old the girls were exactly. They could have been as young as 10, even though I think you are supposed to be 13 to be there. It's hard to tell ages these days. The girls played games against one wall while their very young, attractive anglo sitter chatted up some pool playing hellions. Not the place you want to send your teenage daughters on a Saturday night, so much so that I question whether the parents were even aware.


Nanny Employer seeks input on a reference question...

Received Sunday, February 25, 2007
Question for Employers.
Do I have to provide our ex-nanny with a reference letter even though we fired her because of her alcohol misuse? I would not want her working with any other family before she seeks help. Halina

Sunday, February 25, 2007

I just had to share this sighting with you. It wasn't good or bad, just unbelievable. A young, Hispanic Nanny, thin and petite pushing a Red Double stroller. (Liner of stroller had circular design, also in red). The nanny was pushing the stroller down 94th. Street in NYC on Saturday, february 24 at approximately 3:30 PM AND she had two leashes which she had attatched to TWO Pomeranian looking dogs. The streets were packed, and she had to manage all of this? I would love to have met her employers. The nerve!- LS, NYC

Should a Catholic family hire a Seventh Day Adventist nanny or is it asking for trouble in terms of too many differences? I am interviewing her today and I wonder if she will accept working on Saturday's if need be. -Anonymous

How to Hire a Nanny ... click here to read the article By Betty Davis at

Secret recordings, like tapes from nanny cams sometimes used to bring charges, are often very difficult to interpret.... click here to continue reading Stephen Mamber's Newsday Article.

Understanding the nanny tax.... click here to read The Motley Fool article by Dan Caplinger


Cambridgeside Galleria Mall in Boston, MA

Received Friday, February 23, 2007
Cambridgeside Galleria Mall/Boston/Mass. 10:15 AM 2/23
The child: 1 child, caucasian, curly brown hair, approx, 20-26 months in a two toned green stroller.
The caregiver: 1 adult female, 30-38 y.o., 120-140 lbs, 5'5"-5'7", African American, very, very short hair. So short she looked like a male from behind wearing her large khaki colored jacket with lots of snaps, pockets and zippers.
What I observed: The caregiver looked rattled. The child was crying in the stroller. The cry was not out of control. The caregiver was behaving oddly. She was doing something weird with her jaw and scratching her head/scalp almost non stop. She was literally just standing next to a garbage can in the center and just in a daze. She did respond to the child but not in a natural way. She seemed very delayed and slow moving. My concern was that this person was high on some sort of drug and this child was reliant on this person for her needs. The caregiver was wearing brown hiking boots. I am racking my brain trying to think of how best to describe this situation so you understand why I was so concerned. I did not for a second think of approaching her because her mannerissms just seems so off. She was in a fog,. But then responded in a jerky and uncordinated way. And then she kept standing. Even though it didn't seem like she was waiting for anything.
What this made me think of: This made me curious about drug testing. Do private sector employers have the right to make their nanny submit to be tested?


Nanny Desperately Seeks Your Advice.....

Received Thursday, February 22, 2007
(Perspective & Opinion)
I would rate this as an "R" (must be at least 18 years old to read). I am not trying to 'beat anyone's story" but my experience was pretty severe and I desperately need some advice.
I had an awful experience as a nanny for 2 1/2 months for a family in Maryland. It was strange in the beginning. I went to the home and was hired on the spot. The interviewer did not ask me for a copy of my driver's license or any references!? That was odd, but hey i thought, whatever!
So,I start the job and the 3 1/2 year old still uses a binky and literally gets everything he wants. Father would come home every single night with a new toy (spoiling the child).
There were no time outs or any discipline. HE RULED the house... Car seat provided was for a child under 30 pounds and I avoided using my car b/c it was way too tight and small (probably very illegal too) for the child. I tried to use the 'extra' car as much as possible. The parents were extremely odd. Mother figure worked 12 hour a day shifts, saw the boy here and there and claimed that she was molested as a child... it was very obvious that she made this all up for attention...
Father was a very nice man in general. However, Playboy magazines left open in the bathrooms for ME and the 3 1/2 year old to see? Uh, not my style. Did I mention the little knives (swiss army style) all over the, I am being serious. AND the guns in the home that the mother confirmed were there! This is an only child and the parents are not married, b/c this child (who is just adorable and sweet) was a "love child". I loved babysitting him. There were so many toys for him, I taught him so much and he was extremely well behaved and always had a structured day or night with me.
He loved me and I loved him as a child! One of the cutest children I have ever had a chance to babysit for.
Due to the fact that I was literally scared of the weapons issue and the employer was not paying me for the numerous days when he would arrive home early (like 2 1/2 hours), canceling all of the time at the last minute and a terrible communicator...also he left notes and bills all over the house about him having some weird disease and money problems AND there was a naked picture of him on his screen- saver -slide -show...
I approached him with that issue and he said he was embarrassed...oh well... I let that slide. When I tried to be polite and give written notice of my leaving, he begged me on the phone to come back and things would get better! I went back. Things didn't get "better" at all. I quit once and for all, pretty recently.
After I 'quit', these people decided to run a background check on me and well, everyone these days, makes mistakes when they were younger... Once they found out my 'skeletons from the closet', (which had nothing violent or child related or driving related), they posted it all over craigslist website with my name, address, height, weight, personality, etc... and this information ruined my reputation.
After numerous harassing emails I received from the 'hard working 'mother figure' ", I have now had to go through the last few weeks suffering from anxiety attacks, severe depression, avoiding contact with everyone, except my attorney and my therapist.
To other nannies: Can you imagine what I have been through? Not to mention that I have no plans to work in the near future and cannot pay my rent. I probably left a few things out b/c this story (that happened directly to me) is so disturbing, that I didn't want to scare anyone.
I could use some advice at this time in my life. These people have gone out of their way to ruin my reputation (libel, defamation) but I can't sue them b/c they filed for bankruptcy! Wow, I really got Fu**ed at this job. Never ever in my life, have things been so dark, sickening and unreal... Posted by "Just kill me"

Western Avenue NW in Washington, DC

Received Thursday, February 22, 2007
February 21 on Western Ave NW Washington DC approx 3:30 pm. African american nanny, 5'5" stocky wearing an animal print jacket, black shoulder length bob haircut. She was walking with a little girl with a light colored hat with dark blonde hair, pink jacket, snow boots, 3 maybe 4 years old. She was carrying a stuffed animal of some sort as she was walking. The two of them were walking in the street. This is a busy street and quite busy at this time. The little girl was holding the nannies' hand but was leaning out into traffic as she was walking. I drove by and watched as multiple cars had to swerve out of the way to avoid hitting the little girl. I should add that I realize the sidealks were icy but the least the nanny could have done was walk with the child close to the sidewalk and place herself between traffic and the child

Starbucks in River Oaks, Texas

Received Thursday, February 22, 2007
Starbucks in the River Oaks Shopping Center, River Oaks, Texas which is outside Houston. I was in line when I saw the apparent nanny at the condiment counter gathering straws and what not. She had a small, possibly hot coffee. She was Hispanic, under 5'2", under 120 lbs, plain face, frizzy, feathered hair with rusty highlights. The child was red haired, very fair, white child with freckles, wearing light weight yellow muted yellow jacket, plaid skirt, navy tights. The child was twitching and hopping about. Asked the nanny to go to the restroom. The child was probably 4. The nanny said something about being able to have a break. Her coffee was small but even though the child was in obvious discomfort, she made the child sit and wait to use the restroom. I understand the nanny deserving a break, but also realize how uncomfortable it can be for even a child to have to use the restroom and have to wait. Tsk. Tsk.

Dream Team at Manhattan Mall in NYC

Received Thursday, February 22, 2007
Not quite a sighting, more like a story. I was shopping at the Manhattan Mall in the city yesterday at approximately 5PM EST. Two nannies, each pushing a stroller with a child. One stroller held a young baby of about six months, the second held a toddler. I saw them once inside Charlotte Ruse and again in the foodcourt where one of the nannies was in line ordering drinks at Arby's. I passed by and told the nanny that her child was beautiful (wavy dark, dark, hair, porcelin skin, sharp blue eyes) and she said "oh she's not mine, I'm her nanny". I then said "well, she's beautiful". The nanny then made a couple of comments about how I was right and how lucky she was. I then looked at the younger child in the stroller next to her and said, "They are both beautiful, is she yours". With that the other nanny appeared and handed a beverage to nanny#1. She jumped in and said "she's mine, I'm her nanny". I looked at both children, back and fourth and said "they could actually be sisters, they look just alike". Nanny #1 said, "They are sisters". The nannies were very sweet and funny, obviously in love with their children and relaxed. It almost made me feel bad for my nanny who was home at that minute with three children under five. Whoever the parents were of these two darling girls, they obviously had the means to hire multiple nannies but I was delighted to meet two such stellar nannies. I hope that family appreciates how fortunate they are!


Walter Pierce Park in Washington, DC

Received Wednesday, February 21, 2007
(Today) A 2yo white child named Nina was with a Black sitter with red, curly hair. The playground was icy and borderline unsafe for kids to play. Nina was unsupervised for the 40 minutes we were there. She stood on an icy play structure for a long time without playing. She then slipped and cut her lip. When my friend saw she was bleeding, she brougt Nina over the sitter. Playground was so icy she needed to be escorted. Sitter was reading and writing. After a minute, she went back ingoring her and continued to write in her notebook

Random Link(s)

Brittney's Nanny Tells All

Link to Craig Ferguson's Monologue-submitted by JMT

Nanny Saves Children From the Pool

Whole Foods in Greenwich, CT (Parking Lot)

Received Wednesday, February 21, 2007
At about 4:45 on Tuesday, I saw what I believe was a nanny (very light skinned African American, stocky, very pretty face) on a RED razor cellphone in the parking lot of Whole Foods on Putnam Avenue in Greenwich. The nanny was talking on the phone AND trying to write something down while walking though the middle row of the parking lot. She was carrying one bag as was the child in her care who could not have been more than 3 years old. The problem was the child who was struggling with the bag was about four steps behind the nanny. The child must have tipped his bag or something because a (I think) block or wedge of cheese dropped to the floor. The little boy couldn't see it because of the bag, so he kicked it. This went under the rear of a large BMW 4X4 and the little boy without hesitating bent to reach for it. The BMW was ON at the time and someone was sitting in the driver seat (albeit waiting for someone). I yelled out "hey, hey, hey" and pointed. Not very articulate but it was all I could get out. The nanny turned and looked at the child who had just put the cheese or whatever it was back in the bag. She stopped very casually and said "come on sweetums, catch up". As if nothing had even happened. Parents, please regardless of who takes care of your children-talk to your children about the parking lot safety; that way even if the nanny is distracted they will still be able to take care of themselves. (Not that they should). The little boy was wearing a black and grey down looking jacket (very large jacket). His hair was dark brown and seemed to be combed forward. Sorry I can't give a better description. Hopefully the location and the nanny's distinct phone will help the parents in identifying their child.


Manhattan Bound F Train in Brooklyn

Received Tuesday, February 20, 2007
Another Great Nanny Sighting-Manhattab Bound F Train in BrooklynThis morning I was on the Manhattan bound F train in Brooklyn feeling grouchy as can be about returning to work. The time was around 9:35am. My mood quickly changed when I spied 3 beautiful blonde brothers with sky high cheek bones, ages (I'm guessing) 7, 5 and maybe 2 1/2. The youngest was in a grayish Maclaren stroller. The boys all looked very European, but they did not have any sort of accent. I believe at least 2 of them were wearing some sort of camoflauge clothing. Their caregiver is a Black woman who appeared to be in her 50s. Again, I did not detect any foreign accent. I think she was wearing a beige coat. Anyway, this woman put a smile on my face a mile wide. Everything about her screamed "good egg." Her voice was kind and caring, she used positive reinforcement, she was clearly concerned with safety without sounding like an alarmist and she made excellent eye contact when speaking to each child, something that I don't see many nannies
do with their charges. That nanny really had a good vibe. I'm hoping the
parents see this post.

Lounge at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in NYC

Received Tuesday, February 20, 2007
I was meeting my fiance for drinks last night at the Lounge in the lobby of the Mandarin Oriental, but I was running late by 15 minutes. I arrived to find him chatting with a young female. My fiance immediately introduced me to "Holly" and explained that Holly was a nanny for a family in San Fransisco and had traveled here with the family and this was her last night in NYC. I asked how old the children she watched were. She said she watched one girl who had just turned two. She said this was her first time to New York and I said "and you want to spend your last night sitting in the Lobby Bar?". She then explained that she and the two year old had a seperate room from the parents and that she had snuck out after she got the girl to sleep but didn't want to go "too far". Are you kidding me? Are you seriously kidding me? And no, the rooms were not adjoined! What would happen when that little girl woke up???


Concourse Puppy World in the Bronx

Received Monday, February 19, 2007

I noticed a 2006/2007 Royal Blue Lexus SUV attempting to locate it's way in the vicinity of 183rd & Grand Concourse Way in the Bronx. The driver seemed inexperienced and was hesitant and jerky, dangerously so. This first caught my attention because I was trailing her. Ten minutes later I am leaving Puppy World in the Bronx and this individual comes in with a frightened child of some 5 or 6 years of age. It became clear to me that the female involved was a nanny or au pair. She was very fair skinned with blonde hair and blue eyes. She had a speech pattern that I recognised to be Swedish. The child had curly hair midway down her back-medium brown. As I finished my business it became rather clear to me that the au pair was visiting one of her friends/ boyfriends who was employed in the store. The au pair spoke in what I expect she considered "hip slang" (proved only disconcerting to me). The little girl was wearing a knit cap that had a pom pom and strings to tie underneath her chin (hanging). The hat was striped pink, black and white. The little girl's jacket was designed as faux fur in faint pink. The child was by all odds very comfortless in the store which the au pair took no notice of. This is not to say that I witnessed the au pair mistreat the child. It was when I went outside and walked to my car I noticed the SUV with CT plates lodged into parking spot parked at an obtuse angle, literally parked on six inches of heaped-up ice & snow. I realise today is a holiday and I am guessing the girl is usually in school. The question is do Mommy and Daddy know about her South Bronx Adventure? Besides the perceptible concerns, she did not appear to have the driving skills necessary to master the busy streets in this neighbourhood. Please do not comment on this posting unless you are acquainted with the specified area. -Pascal Barre


Worst Nanny Experiences - Part II

To read Part I of this feature, please click here

This is the second and final part of the Worst Nanny Experiences Feature.

11) Never make the mistake of interviewing with parents just after the birth of their first child. Perhaps they are just too happy. Maybe it is the ecstasy of being a new parent, maybe it is C section drugs. I don’t know but I definitely got a wrong read on the parents, especially the mother. My third nanny job I got and was able to show lots of good references. I was to take care of just one baby. This would be a cakewalk for me because one child didn't compare to the 4 I had at my last job. The mom didn't want me to start much earlier than when she went back to work because she wanted her bonding time. I came 4 hours a week until she went back to work. 4 hours a week I spent barely taking care of the child but more helping her with errands. This was not a problem since they were paying my full salary. Yes they were generous. I can say that they were easily very generous. The baby was beautiful. He wasn't a crier either. Just a real good baby. And so my job started. Mom called alot. Warning sign #1. When I say a lot, I mean about twice every 3 hours. Mom also provided me a cell phone. She asked me to send her pictured of the baby at least 2x day. Okay I could do that. Mom had asked me originally to jot down notes of the baby's day so she would know when he had his last bottle or what. That seemed pretty reasonable. Within a week, Mom who now starts to show herself as a total corporate micromanager type was grating on my nerves. The child was to be dressed in a certain outfit. Even though the baby was still sleeping when she left for work. So not only was I told what to dress the child in on a particular day, but she called to confirm the child was dressed in that outfit! I was to record what time the baby woke up. Ok. And what was in the baby's diaper. And how much the baby ate at every feeding. For example, 12:15 PM, 4 ounces made, 3 1/2 ounces consumed. Sound like enough? No. Then she thought it might be helpful if I recorded how many "burps" I got. I was also supposed to record the # of bowel movements the baby had. Not just how many, but the size and consistency of them. Do you see where this is going? Mom and Dad had went out of their way to hire an experienced nanny and for what? Mom scheduled the baby's entire day. Feeding I understand, napping even. But suggested activities. She even scheduled suggested times for me to make my personal phone calls or take a break. She suggested songs I should sing to the child while feeding him and then songs I should sing to the child while rocking him to sleep! Only an idiot would need this kind of direction. I was getting nothing out of the job. A monkey could have done it. So I gave notice. The parents freaked out. They threatened to sue me for breach of contract and called me a "corrupt individual". The end.

12) Nanny B here, a frequent blogger. I have my own horror story that I think will beat them all out of the park.

My first nanny position was in Maryland where I worked for a married couple with 4 boys. Mom worked alot and dad was in the military overseas. After 2 months of working there, mom started dating not 1 but 2 different men. On several occasions she would have one guy sleep over one night and the other guy sleep over the next night. What made it worse is that my room was next to hers and I could hear all the awful things being done (sex isn't awful but when your trying to sleep it is). It got to the point when mom wasn't even coming home anymore and I found out she had rented out her own place somewhere else and started moving her stuff there. The highlight came one day when one of the boyfriends ran over the dog and killed it and she left me there to explain to these 4 boys what had happened to their dog and then called me up later to ask me if I could call boyfriend #2 and find out where he was so she could take boyfriend #1 to a restaurant. Dad ended up coming home about a month after all this took place but then I started feeling trapped in the house because he would take the car and be gone all week and I was left with the boys in the house until the weekend. The final straw came when they locked me in the house one night and took away the keys so I couldn't even get back in. I managed to have a friend of theirs come pick me up and get my stuff and I went to her place for a week until I could get on a bus and come home. It was horrible!

13) My worst nanny job wasn't really all that bad. I moved from Texas to work in a suburb of NYC for a woman who had achieved a lot of fame & recognition in her "field" and her husband who worked in some sort of finance business. They had two children. The husband was one of those men that was just drop dead good looking. I doubt anyone could disagree with that. He was tall, built, with dark blonde hair and an easy smile. Probably the best looking man I have ever personally known. Having said that, he didn't act like he was the best looking man. He was quite down to earth, involved with his children, in love with his wife and always pleasant to me. The wife who was attractive, but not especially so was the problem. The nanny job was fine. What wasn't fine was that the mother would have a bad dream about her husband cheating on her or leaving or, or even after watching the movie Indecent Proposal and she would show upon my doorstep sobbing hysterically. I lived in a gate house on the property. The woman was very nearly inconsolable. I would have to talk her down and tell her how much he loved her and this happened probably once a month. Other times, when we were out to dinner even, and after learning about her issues, I could see her tense up anytime an especially attractive waitress was serving us. I was with the family for about 19 months and the woman told me all of her secrets and fears. What made this job so awful is that at a summer barbecue I attended with her, I met one of her old friends now living in Denver. After introducing me to her friend and telling her what a great nanny I was and what a great friend I had been to her, I thanked her and walked away. It was then I heard the mother, this friend I consoled so many nights say "X is the perfect nanny; no man would ever look twice at her". I don't know why I let it, but it hurt me to the core. I quit shortly after for no other reason then I fell out of the love with the job and the whole situation.

14) I have worked for a nanny for about 10 families, all over the United States. I recently took a job for a family on the East Coast. This is an example of where nannies got to be as on guard of wrong first impressions as employers (continue reading Worst Nanny Experiences Part II- #11-20)


Saturday, February 17, 2007

Post Partum Depression & Psychosis
Two Days ago a family in Long Island contacted the Police about the nanny that had sexually abused their child on a nanny camera A MONTH AGO. The family had just watched a documentary on child abuse and then decided perhaps they should report the incident to police. Meanwhile this nanny was probably already working for another family. The saddest part of the story is that the family installed a nanny camera only after a preschool teacher took the parents aside and warned them about the nanny, specifically stating that the child was routinely "rough with him". Why on earth would the parents install a nanny camera in lieu of firing the nanny? -Megan (click here for article)

Sara Fisher writes about her nanny search.... (read more)

Ana Nicole Smith allegedly requests nanny to underfeed her child ... (read more)

Astoria baby-sitter faces 25 years in jail for shaking child... (read more)

Sitter leaves baby in locked car to shop at Walmart..... (read more)


Fatburger at the Palisades Mall in West Nyack, NY

Received Friday, February 16, 2007
I was at the Palisades Mall just before noon today and grabbing a bite to eat at the food court. I noticed a nanny unable to control the child she was with. The nanny was on her cellphone and eating food from Fatburger (which is one of the places there in the food court). The child was a little boy still bundled up in a blue coat with the blue hood of the coat up covering his hair. The child was sitting at the little table with her and he had a bag of what I guess were cheez its or other time of small square orange cracker that he was eating out of a baggy. The nanny was engrossed in her food and phone. The child was not that interested in his crackers. He would start to slide off the chair and then want to walk towards the big ferris wheel. She called out to him each time and he came back. The third time or so, she got angry and plopped him down in a rough manner in his chair. Keep in mind, the nanny was not talking to the child at all. He was perhaps 3 years old. The conversation the nanny had continued to go on. The boy got up another time and she got up again. This time she picked him up and with both hands "plunked" him in to his seat with a thud. She then pointed her finger and phone at him and said sharply "I aint tellin you again". Her voice was harsh and ugly. The child slowly started to cry. I was finishing my lunch at went to toss it in the can and stopped and said "Hey buddy, are you ok". He didn't look up at me. Actually having stopped and asked him that caused him to cry more. Not loud, just sadly. The nanny held her phone two inches from her ear and said "Do I know you". As I started to answer she said "No that's right, I don't know you. And you don't know me. And this aint none of your business". Now I felt stuck. I wasn't making the situation any better for the child. I simply said, "I'm so sorry to have interrupted your phonecall". Right away she started talking to the person on the other end of the phone, "do you believe that" and then she started describing me in the most unflattering way as I walked away. Mind you, all of the time never responding to the child. I know there is no shortage of good nannies out there. Just look! This nanny was tall, thin and had a very distinct hair style. Her natural haircolor would have been black or brown and she had dyed it a shade of orange. The style was straight and sleek from the root and for half of the way down and then crimped for the last 4 inches or so. The hair was combed tight to the head and worn to one side.


Powerhouse Park in Del Mar, CA

Another Great Nanny Sighting 02/15/07 Del Mar, CAReceived Thursday, February 15, 2007
I saw your nanny... and she is awesome!
Location: Powerhouse Park in Del Mar, CA
Time: approximately 11:30 am

Your nanny was playing with three children, two blonde boys and a red-headed girl, all around two or three years old. It was unclear to me which children she was responsible for, as she gave each child her utmost attention. They were laughing, running, swinging, talking, singing, dancing, laying in the grass together and having a blast! Her individual and group attention was unparralled, and I applaud whomever the parents might be who are fortunate enough to have her on their team. You have truly found a gem.

I was close enough (swinging with my infant on a swing nearby) to overhear her calm, collected, and affectionate way of reminding the children to "make good choices" while also being very aware of where each child was and what they were doing. She affectionately referred to the group as "her homies" and was a pretty, Caucasian girl with long blonde hair and a black and white shirt on. The children seemed very comfortable and loving toward her, and she back to them. This was a refreshing sight, and I am jealous of the family or families that employ her. This nanny is on top of her game, and has given me higher expectations for any future employees of mine than I ever thought I could have. Unfortunately, I didn't get her name, but if she's this good at the playground, I'm sure she's just as great in the home, and with a spirited bunch like the children in her care, mom and dad will know who she is. Can I steal her?

7th Ave around 14th St in NY, NY

Received Thursday, February 15, 2007
NYC 2/15/07 Noon On 7th Ave around 14th St
African-American nanny was walking north with app. 2 yr old blonde child in a stroller. With the wind and cold weather this child had no cover, no mittens, socks and partial leg was exposed,blanket was falling off and hat was falling off.

My First and Last Nanny......

Received Thursday, February 15, 2007
We had a rough experience with a nanny I will call, "R". She has been diagnosed with several personality disorders and refuses to take any prescribed medication. "R" is not responsible for her own well being, and definitely should not be caring for children. She has self medicated herself with various street drugs, and she has wreaked havoc in the lives of many families that were unaware of her conditions. (One example is that she stole my a handful of pills my nephew took for ADD while they were staying with us. My nephew ended up going to the hospital and nearly having his stomach pumped -he didn't take the pills- but the nanny very deliberately suggested she saw him with the bottle.) She is an attractive and petite young woman who very easily plays the pity card to suck a family in. She is often tired and requires a substantial amount of sleep. While she was in our home she visited extremely unacceptable sexual content on our computer while she was caring for our children during the day. She would parade herself around the house in inappropriate attire, and would do anything she could to get attention. Her conduct was extremely unacceptable. I could fill up seven pages waxing on about the problems she caused in our family and neighborhood, but I don't wish to give away her specific identity or mine. And by the by, "R" was my first and last nanny.

You will find this post and others like it indexed in our Perspective & Opinion Section. If you would like to share your experience, please email us.


How are your elected officials using their votes to protect children?

Last week, the CDF Action Council released its 2006 Children's Defense Fund Action Council® Nonpartisan Congressional Scorecard, which grades every member of the House and Senate based on key votes affecting children. Find out who got a perfect score, who "failed," and how your elected officials rate when it comes to protecting children with their votes!

Joyce Leslie at the Woodbridge Mall in Woodbridge, New Jersey.

Received Wednesday, February 14, 2007
Joyce Leslie in Woodbridge Mall,Woodbridge, New Jersey
date 2/13, between 4-5 PM.
Black Black Sable double stroller containing two children, the oldest a girl between 2-3, the youngest between 1-2. The girl had two ponytails in her hair with red bands and was wearing mint green jacket. The other child was wearing ivory jacket.
The incident was as follows. The sitter had the child in the store and paid them no mind. The children were occupied though. And with what? They each had a packet of instant hot chocolate they were eating out of the packet. Do you know how gross that is? Not too mention the little child could have sucked it down his or her lungs. The nanny parked the child this way or that way against the wall (yeay for us the other shoppers, but not for the kiddies who were shoved against a wall and left to eat their sugar and paper snack while the nanny shopped for skank clothes.) I get taking a kid in a store. But bring a damn stuffed animal, a cup of juice. Some carrots. The kids were beautiful, I can tell mama doesn't shop at Joyce Leslie because they were dressed up good. I kneeled and talked to the kids two times at different locations in the store. The nanny even looked up. It's a big store, with kids that little you have to keep a closer eye. Nanny didn't even talk to the kid. I see nannies shop with kids before but they atleast talk to them. Even if the kid dont know what you are talking about, if you said "what do you think of this here dress" at least you are staying connected with them. This nanny seemed all kinds of bad for reasons I can't even put to text.


Southwest airline flight from San Fran, CA to Washington Dulles

Received Tuesday, February 13, 2007
I would have posted this sooner had I known about this website.
Date: 10/26/06
Place: Southwest airline flight from San Fran, CA to Washington Dulles

You sat in front of me for a little while with your sweet little girl, asian decent, about 2 or 3,. We spoke briefly about my being a nanny, then switched seats with your nanny and took care of your infant son a few rows ahead. The entire trip your daughter kept asking nanny to play or sing, nanny responded by saying, "shh, go to sleep". Constantly eating and didnt interact with girl at all. As a nanny I was disgusted by this behavior. Understandbly, it was a long flight, but play with the kid, dont just tell her to go to sleep.

Fort Lee, New Jersey

Received Tuesday, February 13, 2007
Fort Lee, New Jersey - Good Nanny SightingI live in Fort Lee New Jersey, and there are a lot of nannies around here. I sometimes wonder if anyone takes care of their children any more. I would just like to comment on a particular nanny that I've been seeing around the community for the past 5 or 6 years. The nanny has been working for the family since the child was a baby, as I mentioned I've seen her for a while around here . I think the nanny's name is Sharon or Karen something to that effect, she has an accent. On one occassion I was so impressed with the manner in which she was interacting with the child that I had to ask her where she's from, and complement her on the job that she was doing. I must say the nanny did a great job with taking care of the little girl, she is well mannered and very sweet. I have seen them both on many occassions out and about Edgewater.They are very happy with each other and the nanny is very attentive to the little girls' needs. I've seen them many times in the Pathmark buying groceries, the Bookstore B&N at the Commons, Wholefoods etc and the nanny always seems to be engaging the girl with converstion, asking her questions, quizzing her on colors and shapes. I have a problem with nannies taking children to obviously adult stores, for example I saw a nanny with her charge at a Verizon cell phone store and the nanny totally ignored the child in his stroller. If your taking a child to these kind of places at least include them in some kind of a way with whats going on, for example have them play a part in the decision making or ask them what kind of phone would they like or what color phone they would prefer, just include them, stimulate they. Don't use the time that your suppose to be taking care of someone elses child for your own pleasure, after all you are being paid to take care of them. The nanny treats the girl with respect and allows the child to express her opinions. I've seen a few nannies before that are detached and very cold with their charges. The girl is about 5 years old, blonde hair she wears a pink Hello Kitty jacket, a very happy, intelligent girl. The nanny, short, short hair very pleasant. She's from the islands, Trinidad I think she said am not sure. I do hope the parents of the little girl reads this post and know that they have a good nanny because from reading some of these posts, I wonder how people end up with such horrible people in their lives.

CA Mother Would like input on her situation...

Received Tuesday, February 13, 2007
I live in California and for the past 2 years I have employed a live-out nanny. Previous to this, I always had live-in nannies. I mention this only because I felt that I really KNEW the live in nannies I had because our non "work" lives were also intertwined. I have two girls who are in school full time now, but this doesn't mean they are not attatched to the nanny. The nanny also knows how we like things run in our house, knows the location of playdates, the geography of the town, etc. All of this is good, I know. This weekend I found out that my nanny had been taking old clothing of my daughters and toys and reselling them at resale boutiques in Westwood.I can't say for certain what happened to the toys, only that they did not end up where they were supposed to.
This bothers me because not only did we tell her where the old things were supposed to go, (ie the toys always go to a certain shelter and the clothing to an organization that helps educate young, single mothers). That is bad enough. But looking back to conversations we had, she would lie outright about having dropped off the clothing, she even created whole scenes (that never happened). The details of this are not in question. She absolutely knew where to take these things and knew they were non profit agencies and she told me that they had been dropped off. My husband thinks I am completely overreacting and looking to make a mountain out of a molehill. (His words). I just don't trust her at all anymore. I can't stop but wonder what else she has lied to me about. And believe me the last thing I want to do is hire a new nanny but I don't think I can get past this. The nanny does not know we know about the resale boutiques. For the record, my husband thinks the solution is that we simply handle any charitable donations/drop offs ourselves.
Who is right? Who is wrong?


71st & Columbus in NYC

Received Monday, February 12, 2007
I witnessed a very young au pair, attractive, possibly French yelling at a young girl {under 10} with a long blonde braid in her hair on the corner of 71st & Columbus in NYC. The girl was begging the sitter or au pair to let her call her mother. I don't know enough to know what was going on but the child was out of control. I don't think the situation was made any better by the au pair screaming at the child. The child begged for the sitter or au pair to let her use the phone to call her mother. The sitter/au pair said no. Not in a way that showed she had control over the situation at all. More like she enjoyed saying no. The girl then said, "I will find a phone then" and started running down columbus street, south and past 71st Street. This was the same direction I was walking in. The au pair/sitter did give chase to the child {very short distance-perhaps 40 yards} and grabbed the girl by the hood of her jacket {very vibrant pink color with pink fur looking trim}. The sitter/au pair started in yelling at the child again. I stopped and asked if everything was okay and I was assured that everything was fine. For all I know, the child was having a meltdown. I do think there is a better way to deal with this kind of behavior than to meltdown yourself. Especially running through NYC at 6PM in the evening. The girl was carrying a lavendar and black duffel that had white trim and a white silhouette of a gymnast. This doesn't make this sitter/au pair a bad person but she needs to keep her composure when dealing with a child. No name, please.

Robert Bendheim Playground in Central Park

Received Monday, February 12, 2007
Another Great SightingWanted to jot a quick blurb about the nanny I saw an hour or so ago at the Bendheim Playground. Nanny was caring for two children. One little boy approx. 2 and a little girl who was approx. 5 that had a disability. Both children were beautiful and had the same olive coloring and shade of chestnut hair. The boy wore a blue and red jacket and the girl wore a yellow jacket with many squares on it. The nanny handled the very energetic little boy at the same time she provided constant support to the little girl. I don't know if she was a nanny. She may have even been a physical therapist type. She was so good and just a naturally exhuberant and happy person. She went out of her way to engage every child that crossed her path-I couldn't help but think what a positive example she was setting for not just those children but everyone who saw her interacting with her children. She was in her twenties with short blonde hair, tan face, no make up and looked very fit.


Worst Nanny Expeirences- Part One

To read part II of this Feature, please click here.

1) I have bad jobs. And this was not that. It was just kind of sad. I had worked for a family for three years. We went on vacations together. I lived in an apartment over their garage. They treated me absolutely like a part of the family and they were really nice people raising great children. Just after I had been there three years, the wife started having an affair with “someone”. I knew about it because the wife who was my friend involved me in it. She made me part of it. She put me in a position where I lied to her husband who I considered a friend. I was closer to the mother because she was a stay at home mother but I felt sick all of the time. Sometimes the husband would be talking to me about a child’s baseball game and I would just feel that he could see it in my eyes. I didn’t want to be there when the husband found out and the children. I just feared they would all fall apart and be ruined by this. The stress was getting to me. I ended up making up a lie about a sick relative and needing to relocate and left. I kept in contact with them by sending emails for about 3 months, but it was too much to even wonder how the children were fairing (as the mother let some things through). She clearly had fallen for the guy she had an affair with. I had to cut ties with them so I could live without the guilt.

2) I worked for a family of 5 kids (twins and triplets). The job started out good, I was hired by an agency and there was suppose to be a contract with the family (never happened). I did normal nanny things like laundry, care of kids...but as time went on (I stayed with them for 4 years) they began to take advantage of the situation. I started taking care of their two dogs(1 being a new puppy), cooking, I did not have set hours-I pretty much worked 60+ hours a week, mopped and vacuumed. Sometimes I was so busy with the list of things she left me to do, that the kids would ask me to play and I couldn't because I had to get these things done. Not to mention that I got paid horribly (400/wk). In all fairness though I was a live-in and I do understand that live-ins sometimes has to go above and beyond what they should do. I did bring the fact that I was working very hard to my boss’s attention several times and her response was amongst other things "we don't think that we are asking too much from you". I have since moved on to another position (this was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do because I loved and still love the kids so much!!!) Parents please be aware that nannies are NOT housekeepers! Nannies are supposed to be taking care of the children and doing housekeeping that pertains to the children only! Also keep in mind that we are people too and sometimes need a break...just like you!

3) Worst job I ever had was taking a job for a recently widowed woman and her two children. If it sounds sad, you have no idea. The woman held it together okay as did the older boy but the youngest boy was not doing at all okay. He was acting out. Even violently. I had a lot of empathy for the whole situation and family. I left after the 7 year old child through a corning ware casserole dish (ceramic) at my head and knocked me out cold. I had to go to the hospital. The good news is they got him the help he needed after that. I always wonder how they are doing and I know I could find out if I tried, I would just be afraid to learn that they weren’t all okay.

4) I worked for an alcoholic man once................ (click here to continue reading Part I of Worst Nanny Experiences)


Help, Advice is badly needed...

Received Friday, February 9, 2007
Help, Advice is badly needed...I just discovered many bottles of wine in our nannies closet at various stages of consumption. I then proceeded to look at her debit transaction reports and realized that she has been making substantial purchases on a very regular basis for months (sometimes every other day). I don't know if she is drinking on the job, but she is most certainly drinking during her time off. She sleeps her weekends away and goes out every single night sometimes for hours on end. Our two and five year old boys love her and she has been with us for almost one year. WHAT DO WE DO? DO WE FIRE HER OR TALK TO HER AND TELL HER SHE MUST STOP DRINKING? DO WE OWE ANYTHING TO HER IN TERMS OF GIVING HER A SECOND CHANCE? -M

Out and About in Pelham Manor, NY

Received Friday, February 9, 2007
There's a nanny I see all the time around Pelham Manor. She hangs out at the park and library with her nanny clique and is very loud and rude and has said some nasty things about her employer. She seems to keep the other nannies in hysterics scoffing at tales of the employer. I am hesitant to repeat something I specifically heard here as I would then be contributing to the nanny's gossip mongering. Nanny seems to very frequently be having a laugh at her employer's expense (often in front of her charge). Her charge is 4, old enough to umderstand what's going on. She's also refers to the girl as "my little paycheck." I am totally non confrontational, but everytime I see this woman I want to slap her. I don't know the parent of this nanny, boy would I love to run into them together. The nanny is African American with a Caribbean or Jamaican accent, short curly hair, no make up, a pleasant face but a smile that shows a alot of gums (when she is laughing which is never with the child but more at you). The litle girl is beautiful with sparkly green eyes, brown hair midway down her back, usually worn straight, child dresses in trendier or what I would consider boutique clothing. Nanny and child are either walking or getting in and out of a taxi. I have lived in this areas for three and a half months. Maybe I am just used to the high quality nannies I used to interact with in the city.


Bernice Bennett Park in Westlake Village, California

Received Thursday, February 8, 2007
You can post this as a blind item if you want. What Hollywood celebrity is traveling the globe chasing a man while leaving her two small children in the care of an often moody nanny who never smiles? Advice: If mommy isn't going to stick around to take care of her tots; she might want to hire someone with a heart. Your kids deserve better and you can afford it!

Main Branch of the White Plains Public Library (NY)

Received Thursday, February 8, 2007
Another Good Nanny SightingA good nanny sighting! Feb 6 @ around 4:00 PM.
Nanny obviously had her own interests- may have even been a student as she spent some time perusing the psychology section. Only after she got the little girl she was with settled with some books she helped her pick out. The little girl might have been 5-maybe 6. At one point the child told the nanny she had to go to the bathroom. The nanny said "give me one minute". The child then said "I can go by myself". The nanny looked at her-then said, okay-"I guess you are big enough". The child heads to the bathroom and the nanny stands still by the shelf. Then she slinks behind another shelf. Gradually getting closer to the child. The child may have thought she was independant and going to the bathroom by herself-but the nanny secretly shadowed her. The child seemed to grow tired of the books. The nanny then explained to the child she was looking for "one more thing". She gave the child her cell phone to play games on. She was in the area of where they had their jackets and where the child was sitting. When she passed the child, she patted the child's head or mussed her hair. The child asked her to, "stop messing it". Even this was in a playful way. If I had to guess- I would say this nanny has been with that child since birth. They so definitely had a great rapport. Enviable. When they gathered the stuff to leave- the nanny thanked the child for being so patient and letting her have some time to get "her stuff done". This nanny was likely out of my league- salary wise. My son is in daycare 4 days a week and spends one day with my mother per week. Scary nanny stories have always helped me to justify the hassle of daycare, closing, sick children & illness- but this nanny was a "poster nanny" !!

Fun for Kids on Main Street in Stamford, CT

Received Thursday, February 8, 2007
I was off to the child watching my daughter in the soft play area. She was playing with a little boy who had on a blue l/s shirt with orange cuffs and jeans, straight blond hair, tan skin. The little boy went from being fun and nice to getting rough. I look around for the child's mother. Guardian. Nanny. There seems to be no one. I have to approach the play tunnel and speak to the boy through the encasing and ask him to be less rough. I was still looking for his parent. The child told me I was "not the boss of him". I cajoled my daughter to renter the play area and play off in a different direction. This boy could not have been more than 4. My daughter is 3. About ten minutes later the child's nanny comes and checks on him. She is with another child. The nanny is African American, mid twenties, under 5'5" with a nondescript figure. The child she has with her is between 7 and 10. Also African American, bright eyes, short fro, Giants sweatshirt, jeans, grey new balance tennis shoes. The two of them may have been related but clearly (by their discussion) had come from the arcade area. Which is not located at all near or insight of this place and is in fact in another level all together! I hate to be a fear monger, but do you know what could happen to your child in 10-15 minutes left alone? I do appreciate that these indoor play areas are set up with children's safety in mind, but the nanny was clearly not doing her job. If she were not with the boy who I feared was her own child, I would have said something to her about the lack of supervision provided the little boy.


McKinnon Park in Salinas, CA

Received Wednesday, February 7, 2007
Tall, thin nanny, wearing a blue denim jacket over a hooded sweatshirt, pins on the deinim hacket, jet black hair with reddish tips, ethnicity unknown, attractive & carrying a Purple "Coffee House" Cup.
Boy with military haircut, 5-6, average height for age, brown eyes, caucasian with tan skin, wearing tan cord style jeans, white shirt.
What happens? On Feb, 6 at about 3pm, I see a nanny and child at McKinnon Park in Salinas, Ca. Child wanted to leave. Nanny was drinking coffee and reading a Jane Magazine. Child was pestering nanny. Flipping magazine pages. Nanny said "we just got here". Child would not run off to play. Kept poking at nanny's magazine. Nanny kept warning him. Then she held her coffee above his hand and said "I will". Child did not stop playing with magazine. Next I hear "Owww". I looked sharply at the nanny and she said to the kid, "sorry, sorry. i was just playing". But I think she meant too! She just wasn't prepared to realize I was taking it all in. As it ended, nanny gave in and left with the child like he wanted. Obviously out of guilt for having scalded him. Oh man.


Cicero area of Chicago, Illinois

Received Monday, February 5, 2007
Sitter to take 2 yr old to PlaySpace indoor & given cash by her boss's. If you have a 2 yr. old and a nanny who drives your new looking silver Toyota suv- A "Fortuner" maybe you should do a surprise check and see if she is where she says on Monday mornings. Better chance you will find her running her own errands with your child & using your money for the child's play to splurge on 2 enormous omelette Sandwich, french toast sticks and chocolate milk which she will drink in a parking lot reading the Newspaper or magazine while your boy just sits idle in his carseat. The Cicero Burger King on Kedzie is a good place to look when she says she is taking the boy to playspace. She isn't.


Nannies ... Sitters .... And Your Children's Safety - Love Our Children-USA

Sunday, February 4, 2007
Love Our Children USA, a non profit agency with the mission of keeping children safe and strengthening families just sent us these helpful tips on hiring a nanny or sitter. If you are looking for an agency to lend your time or financial support to; please consider Love Our Children USA.


Gates Canyon Park-Brandon's Playground in Calabasas, CA

Received Saturday, February 3, 2007
This past Tuesday I took my charge to Brandon's playground located at Gates Canyon Park in Calabasas, CA to play between the rains. Your son seemed large for his age, beautiful blond hair, wearing a striped sweater, jeans, and those teva type sandals (which seemed inappropriate for the cooler weather). He said his name and it started with a W and I pegged him for around 3 or 4. Your nanny was a five foot in stature, middle aged Latino woman who had a cell phone attached to her ear the ENTIRE time they were on the playground. If you're familiar with this playground then you'd know that there are some areas that need a little more supervision than others. Your son W followed my charge up a ladder. If I hadn't been there to catch him, he would have bashed his chin on the metal bars of the ladder when he fell. Your nanny of course graciously thanked me for being there, but then seemed to jump back into her conversation, completely ignoring W. She and W later left the park after I pointed out that W was holding himself because he needed to use the restroom.

Starbucks at 111th & Broadway in NY, NY

Received Saturday, February 3, 2007
"You're every bit as stupid as your father. Jeezus"
Said by a 30-35 yo w/f wearing red Rutgers sweatshirt & blue jeans.
To a 4-6 yo w/m wearing north face red/grey jacket. grey ski cap.
At approximately 10:30 AM 2/3/07 at Starbucks on 111th & Bway.
I imagine this was the mother, but stop and think about these horrible things that come out of your mouth! As awful as that statement was- the look on that boy's (your son's?) face was- well I am still thinking about it 3 hours later!


Clark & Hicks Streets in Brooklyn Heights, NY

Received Friday, February 2, 2007
Clark & Hicks Streets, Brooklyn Heights, NY. Saw a middle-aged tall, dark haired white woman pushing a boy of Asian descent, about 1 year old, in a black stroller (maybe a Bugaboo) and smoking. She hid her cigarette behind her back as she passed me; if I were that baby's mama, I would want to know...

Whatever happened to a mother's instinct?

Received February 02, 2007
...............In my circle, we all have nannies. Some of us have nannies that clearly stand out and are demonstrative of excellence. While some are definitely imperfect, I don't know one that I wouldn't trust with my child in an emergency. I don't know a single nanny I am ever hesitant to leave my child in the company of for a play date . I am not a fan of nanny cameras. I think you should be able to trust the person caring for your baby as much as you trust your spouse. If not, you have the wrong nanny. I don't think we need to read an anonymous post about our nanny to 'realize' she needs to go. We need to rely on that gut feeling, that maternal instinct and never apologize for erring on the side of caution. These are your children, these are the parents of your grandchildren. There is a tremendous responsibility in your hands; stop and comprehend just how tremendous. -EG, New York
P.S. This quote from an article on a sitter arrested for abuse is what sent me over the edge:
"The mother's fiance said that he sometimes felt uncomfortable when he dropped the child off at Danes' home. Occasionally, he would find Danes in a bathrobe and the boys in his care without shirts on, he said."


This article by Alvin Snyder was originally published by the USC Center on Public Diplomacy.

Cultural and educational exchange programs are effective public diplomacy tools because they enrich both those who go abroad and the societies they visit.


That good intention may not be the primary motivation behind the au pair childcare program the United States facilitates. This mismanaged program is being exploited and turned into more of a profitable business than cultural experience.

Au pair, French for "on par," means that the young person is on par with the American family. Young women ages 18-26 come from all around the world to care for children, become part of an American family and go to school. Meanwhile, there is an interaction between the international visitor and the hosts where each side stands to benefit from the experience.

When the program was founded in 1986, the U.S. Information Agency supervised it as an Educational and Cultural exchange.

From the beginning, the program lacked supervision and needed stronger regulations.

The biggest complaint from current au pair families is the inadequacy of the government-sanctioned sponsor agencies, which recruit, screen, train and place au pairs with American families.

Tracy Huber of West Milford, N.J., said she is happy with her present au pair, "but had to weed through a nightmare to get to this place." She and other families tried several au pairs "in a short period of time to find a suitable au pair for the children, with no support [from sponsors] once fees are locked in." Another family complained that their children "have seen five very flaky people come and go from our home."

Lisa Thostenson of Inver Grove Heights, Minn., said the same sponsoring agency matched her with three unsuitable au pairs. Although au pairs must be able to drive, "one girl was blind in one eye," said Thostenson, and "unable to drive safely; this was not disclosed." Another refused to watch the children, and not all of them spoke English, in which they are required to be proficient."

My son, who is 8, told [the au pair] he was going to play with his friend in the neighborhood," Thostenson said. "When I noticed he was gone, I asked her where he was and she had no idea…also not a clue when he was planning to return."

Before the USIA was disbanded and control of the au pair program was handed over to the State Department, it attempted to rein in the program by raising the minimum age and shortening the au pair’s childcare workweek as well as requiring them to attend class.

Congress appeared reluctant to consider any changes in the popular program. Additionally, one major au pair-sponsoring agency lobbied against the shorter work week.

The lax laws have allowed the agencies to continue making money on a flawed product. In 1992, 7,287 Western European au pairs came to the United States. Host families paid a fee of $3,500 to the agency separate from the au pair’s weekly wages. At that time, placing au pairs was a $25.5 million business. Today, there are nearly twice as many au pairs per year – 14,000 from all around the world – and the growth is reflected in the sponsors' annual fee – around $6,500. These agencies run a $91 million business and facilitate the largest childcare organization in the country.

Stiffer regulations were adopted after an 18-year old au pair from Britain, part of the U.S.-administered program, was convicted in 1997 of killing an 8-month-old boy in her care, but the Department of State still does not hold agencies accountable for au pairs that do not meet job requirements. Rather, it warns families that "having an international visitor in one’s home, and as part of the family, can be difficult for families and the au pair," and that sponsor organizations cannot guarantee the competency of the au pair. It cautions au pair families "to read the small print of your contract with the sponsor agency."

It seems families only stand for this because of the cost incentive of hiring an au pair over a domestic nanny. Huber, who shared her experiences with other au pair families on the Internet, said, "The reason these programs are so popular is because the lack of affordable childcare is like an epidemic in this country…$24,000 in daycare a year is just not affordable for us."

The annual total cost for an au pair is about $16,000 per year, while a professional nanny can cost about $10,000 more than that. Au pairs are paid a $139.05 weekly stipend by families.

By comparison, "the average compensation for nannies who work a 45-50 hour week is $350-$600 per week," said Kathleen Webb, president of Home Work Solutions, Inc., a professional nanny agency. "There are many $30,000-$50,000 [per year] professional nannies in the upscale urban markets," and this salary excludes the unemployment and social security taxes the family must cover when employing a domestic nanny.

But Myrna Alphonse, a career nanny for 16 years, thinks the cost can be worth the continuity a long-term nanny offers a child; the au pair program is only one year, so families experience frequent turnover.

Today, the au pair workweek remains at a maximum of 45 hours per week, and au pairs from ages 18 to 26 may still participate in the program. They must now complete 6 hours of academic study, and cannot be placed in a home where there is an infant less than three months "unless a parent or other responsible adult is at home." They are also required to receive "at least 8 hours of child safety and 24 hours of child development instruction" before being placed with an American family.

Despite these requirements, the State Department must become even more involved with the oversight of a rapidly growing childcare program. Au pairs should be at least 21 years of age and the agencies must be held accountable for training that right now is poor to non-existent, according to numerous disgruntled au pair families. The State Department should grade sponsors based on surveys of au pair family experiences and post those grades on the government’s au pair Web site. Families can then select the most popular and best-qualified au pair sponsors. And finally, the department must show a strong commitment to making this primarily a cultural exchange program rather than a moneymaking one.

Neither childcare nor American public diplomacy is something the U.S. government needs to scrimp on.


Love our children

Faneuil Branch of the Boston Public Library

Received Thursday, February 1, 2007
I was at the library this morning 1/31 at 10:45 when I overheard a nanny and child interacting. The nanny was reading magazines. The child was next to her. He had his own book but what happened that troubled me was the child asked her three times for a piece of gum. Three times she either held her hand up or said in a minute. This didn't concern me. What did concern me was the next bit of talking I heard. When the nanny took her pocketbook up from between him, she said "you spilled all my pills out". She wasn't mean about it, just matter of factly. For all I know they were antibiotics, but if you have pills in your pocketbook, perhaps you should make sure the child you take care of does not go in your pocketbook. Since she was ignoring the child anyway, she is lucky he didn't pop & drop a handful. Common sense. Nanny and child were both white. Nanny had dark brown hair, acne scarring and dark rinse jeans with bleached knees. (circa 2001). Child's hair was too long for a boy, shaped like a mushroom. Wearing red & blue coat with 2 vertical stripes across the chest.