Nearly 11 million American children under the age of 5 are in outside care according to Child Care Aware in their 2012 report Families are entrusting their children to caregivers in record numbers when they go off to work each day.
How do parents ensure they are making the best possible choice when it comes to caregivers? Jo Barrow, the newly-named 2013 Nanny of the Year, has great advice and tips for any parents exploring child care needs.
How to Find a Great Caregiver
- Start the search: by asking the experts – Personal referrals, when a great care giver is leaving her current position, may also be invaluable as they can lead to a wonderful relationship. Agencies, while expensive, can offer the best selection of qualified candidates. The INA is a great resource to tap.
- What to ask in the interview? Scenario based questions, ‘What would you do if……a b c happened?” What are your thoughts on discipline, what techniques do you prefer? What aspects of the job do you particularly enjoy/not enjoy?
- Red flags? Little or no previous experience. No references or weak letters of recommendation. Can’t provide proof of legal status.
- Check it out: Background checks are a must, even if you’re going with the nanny of a good friend who you’ve known for years.
How to Keep a Great Caregiver
- Start with the right set-up: Write a detailed job description. Dedicate enough time to work with the new Nanny, side by side, to show her the ropes, your preferences and expectations.
- The hand-off: Some parents take a few days with the Nanny before leaving her alone with their kids; others may want to wait a week. Barrow recommends spending 2 full days together.
- Keep the lines of communication open. A parent should schedule times for weekly check-in meetings to make sure your children are happy and well-cared for.
- Make sure your caregiver knows how much you appreciate her/his efforts.
A pretty, intelligent and articulate Englishwoman, Barrow could easily stand in for Mary Poppins on Broadway, but she’s the first to tell you that she doesn’t have any magic up her sleeve. Rather, she depends on great training, her love of nurturing and her ability to establish a rapport with children and their parents.
Children come in all shapes, sizes and personalities. Some are smart and studious, others can be mischievous and fun-loving but they’re all different and pose different challenges,” says Barrow. “As a nanny you need to understand and work with each individual taking into account his or her needs, capabilities and the overall family dynamic. It’s that ability that defines a really skilled caregiver.”
The INA recently named Jo Barrow their Nanny of the Year. A professional with 22 years of experience, Jo is an outstanding example of the nanny every family hopes to engage for the care of their children.