How to find the right nanny service

You want to hire the best caretaker for your children, but how do you choose from the hundreds of nanny services out there -- many of which are unregulated?

Finding the right agency for your family doesn’t have to be a long and complicated process. Here are five easy steps to hiring a great nanny.

Decide What You Want

Be honest with yourself about the kind of person you want to be in your home, share your space and, most importantly, taking care of your children. Taking some time to answer the following questions will help the agencies select appropriate candidates, allowing you to focus on the interview.

  • Do I want a live-in, live-out, or night nanny?
  • Am I comfortable with a male nanny caring for my children?
  • Is age an issue?
  • Would I prefer a nanny with a specific cultural or religious background?
  • How much independence should the nanny have in caring for your child? Will the nanny simply be a babysitter, or do you want him or her to be part of the parenting team?

Write down your responses to the above questions so that you can refer them when you start talking to nanny agencies or interviewing candidates.

Advertise Your Position

Write a solid job description that includes how much child care you need, the expected responsibilities of the position, and the qualifications or characteristics that the ideal candidate should have. Be very specific about what you’re looking for. The more detailed the job description, the easier it will be to filter out unqualified applicants.

Get the Word Out

Tell everyone you know that you’re looking for a nanny. Asking friends, family, neighbours and coworkers for nanny recommendations is a great way to find a college student who’s “for hire” or a stay-at-home mom looking to make a little extra cash. Another good way to find qualified candidates is to use an online nanny referral service such as Canadian Nanny or Care.com. These referral services are designed to find you a nanny who suits your family’s specific needs and lifestyle.

Interview Promising Candidates

Once you have your list of potential candidates narrowed down to the ones who appear to be the best fit for your family, it’s time to start conducting face-to-face interviews. This is your chance to get to know each candidate personally and ask important questions about their experience and work history. Consider having your children present during the initial interview so that you can see how the candidate interacts with them. Most importantly, follow your intuition; if something feels “off” about a particular candidate, it probably is.

Do a Trial Run

So you’re convinced you’ve found the perfect nanny and you’re ready to hire her on the spot? Not so fast. Schedule a paid “trial run” of a few hours or days so that you can see for yourself how the nanny will perform on the job. This will allow you to observe her personality and child-care style, and give you a better idea of how the new nanny will fit into your family’s dynamics.