How to hire a nanny – advice from Jo Frost (Supernanny)

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Looking for a baby nanny? Jo Frost has some nanny-hiring tips to help you find just the right one for your family.

Supernanny Jo Frost hopes to do nothing less than change the perception of Americans about the job of a nanny. “In England being a nanny is seen as a professional job that provides a service and allows parents to connect on a personal level with their children’s caregiver,” says Frost. “Here it’s very much seen as babysitting. I hope my show has increased the recognition and appreciation of the job of the nanny in America.”

Frost says that on the show she goes above and beyond the job description of a nanny, but she still has plenty of tips for the average family who wants to hire a nanny and make the relationship work for the long term.

Nanny or Daycare?

Frost acknowledges that today’s financial reality dictates that both parents work. As to whether a nanny or daycare is the best for your baby depends upon several factors. It’s not so much the pros and cons, but the type of childcare that you and your partner are comfortable with and that fits in your budget.

Advantages of daycare:

  • Lots of other children to socialize with
  • More affordable

Advantages of a nanny:

  • One-on-one attention for your child
  • Fewer scheduling issues, especially if your child is ill

“This is a situation where you and your partner need to get together well before care is needed and make a decision based upon what works in your budget and schedule,” says Frost. “I would say first and foremost parents will look at their budget and start making decisions from there.”

Choosing a Nanny

If you do decide upon a nanny for your child’s care, allow plenty of time for making this important hiring decision, says Frost. “Choosing a caregiver for your child is one of the biggest, most important things you’ll ever do,” says Frost. “Set aside any time from four to six weeks to look for a nanny, because this is something you shouldn’t rush.”

At the beginning of the hiring process just start jotting down notes, making lists of the things you think are important. This will help you prepare for the interview process. “When you’re in front of a nanny, especially if the baby is there, the jitters of an interview can set in and make you forget what you wanted to know or to say,” says Frost. “Be sure and have your questions prepared in advance in writing so you don’t miss anything.”


Nanny Interview Questions

Frost says you will be able to judge the nanny’s trustworthiness and ability to do the job from references. What you’re aiming for in the interview is a feeling for the kind of person she is, and there is no question too small or silly. For example:

  • Does she have outside hobbies?
  • Does she like music or cooking?
  • Does she have first aid certification?
  • How does she feel about your feeding plans?
  • Will she work within your schedule?
  • What’s her childcare philosophy?

In other words, you want an idea of the kind of interaction and enrichment this person will bring to your child’s life.

Just as important as the prospective nanny’s personality and how well you relate to her is her past experience and references. She should have a professional resume to give you as well as both professional and personal references, including phone numbers you can call to speak with the references. Ask about their experience with her, her character, and reasons for leaving her previous job(s).

If the nanny interview goes well and the references check out, your partner may want to have the nanny come back for a second interview if he or she was not there for the first one. Do plan to leave the door open for that possibility. Also, at some point during the interview process you’re going to want to observe your child with the nanny and see how they relate and how she deals with your child.

“It’s very helpful if you can hand over your baby to the potential nanny and see how she connects,” says Frost. “Maybe have the nanny come in for a couple of hours to see that interaction in a more controlled and relaxed circumstance.”

Frost recommends interviewing at least three to four nannies before making a final decision. She also suggests supporting professional nanny agencies if there is one in your area.

Managing the Nanny Relationship

Once you’ve hired a nanny, it’s important to maintain a good relationship and communication. After all, this is a person who is going to become your child’s confidant, simply based upon the number of hours they spend together.

Frost likes to be optimistic and says if the hiring process is done properly there is no reason for a lack of trust, but that making an effort to keep open the lines of communication is necessary. She strongly recommends a nanny diary so the parent can track development process, daytime activities, nap and feeding schedules, and who Nanny and Baby meet during the day.

Generally, she says, a child who looks happy is happy. She does caution not to read too much into a child who may cry when Mom leaves, or immediately abandon the nanny when Mom comes home as that’s more apt to be a case of separation anxietythan unhappiness.

“Take 20 minutes every week or so and sit down and look at the diary and talk about how things are going and your goals for the coming week or so,” says Frost. “This allows us to feel that we’re a part of the child’s daytime life, and the nanny to feel they’re an important part of the family.”

Foreign nannies cry Foul

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Immigrants admitted through the government’s foreign live-in caregiver stream say they’ve been duped by the immigration minister, who touted the program’s success and certain growth prior to the May election, only to claw back on the number targeted for permanent residency next year.

Although the government maintains 98 per cent of livein caregivers eventually become permanent residents, last week Immigration Minister Jason Kenney said fewer people were qualifying for the program, adding that it was one of two streams poised to take a hit in 2012 as the government freezes overall immigration while boosting certain economic streams.

It’s a far different tune than the one Kenney was singing last year.

“I predict that the live-in caregiver program will be a growing and important part of our immigration system in the future,” Kenney told a group of mostly Filipino nannies in a March 2010 video posted on YouTube.

It has been passed around among caregivers and advocates who have turned to an online forum and Twitter to voice their concerns.

Catherine Manuel, a live-in caregiver and volunteer with the GTA Caregiver Action Centre, said in an interview that she’s worried the government may be phasing out the program and questioned whether Kenney is a “turncoat” whose pre-election musings were little more than a ploy for votes.

The Filipino native – about two-thirds of live-in caregivers come from the Philippines – said the caregiver community was “blooming” when she first applied but that it’s been “a mess” for the last three years.

Critics say changes to the program adopted in April 2010 aimed at protecting caregivers from exploitation are part of the problem. The changes have cast a chill over the market, they say, making it onerous and risky for employers to hire live-in nannies who look after both young children and the elderly.

“Families now have to cover all the recruitment fees, the airfare, temporary health insurance for the first three months and also an immigration lawyer or immigration consultant,” said Manuela Gruber Hersch of the Association of Caregiver and Nanny Agencies Canada, which represents matchmaker companies and seeks to set standards for an industry that has suffered a bad rap in recent years.

Caregivers, however, are free to work for somebody else once they clear customs, she said, adding they often do.

© Copyright (c) The Montreal Gazette

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