How do parents find and choose a Nanny / Au Pair?
Over the years I’ve learned that there are three common methods of finding an Au Pair and that no one method is consistently better than the others. The most common and basic method is to call everyone you know and get the word out that you need a Nanny or Au Pair. Most often, parents go online, posting notices on electronic bulletin boards and responding to postings that catch their attention. They call friends, co-workers, neighbours; they attend mothers’ groups, talk to other moms at local parenting agencies; they go to the park and talk to Nannies; and many simply stop and ask strangers pushing baby carriages – anyone who seems likely to offer a lead about a “Nanny seeking employment.”
Armed with lists and names scratched on pieces of paper or neatly in a file on their PDA’s they make calls and hope for the best.
Other parents use what I call the “building block” method of finding a Nanny / Au Pair. They make decisions about key issues before starting, such as experience required, proposed schedule, responsibilities, compensation and their legal responsibilities as an employer. They advertise and pre screen for experience and work history. They check references and go through an interview and trial period before signing a formal contract to hire their selected Nanny. Along the way they ensure she has health/ safety training and a clear criminal and driving record. Inevitably, there are frustrating ups and downs and worries but these building blocks provide stability in a market without stability and the information gathered over time can create a foundation ensuring a worried parent that their nanny / Au Pair is who she says she is and has a “no-harm” history of caring for children.
Then there’s the professional search to find a Nanny. This is the method used by Nanny – Au pair placement agencies that screen candidates and send portfolios to parents to evaluate, interview and make decisions about. This method is most often used by parents who don’t have time to go through the full process and who want reassurance that a candidate has cleared a basic screening regimen. This approach, however, is not as perfect as a parent would expect. Not all placement agencies scrutinise candidates thoroughly and mismatches between parents and Nannies/Au pairs often occur. Parents can receive information on numerous candidates to meet their expectations.