I’ve thought long and hard about whether to comment yet about the tragic deaths of two tiny children here in Manhatten at the hands of their ‘Nanny’. Our hearts go out to the immediate and extended family. We don’t fully understand yet what happened, day by day a little more of the story comes out painting a complex picture about Yoselyn Ortega and only when the full story is known can anyone make an informed comment.
I would instead like to write about our views at Riverside Nannies about hiring and vetting a Nanny as it’s entirely understandable that parents were, are and will continue to be anxious about making the right choice.
If there were a menu of ‘MUST BE’ this would be it:
- Qualified as a Child-carer/Educator
- Qualified Paediatric First Aider or willing to undertake training ASAP
- Able to supply an absolute minimum of two references of YOUR choice specifically related to childcare (excluding family and friend referees)
- Able to explain gaps in employment
- Able to answer questions about how to act under pressure in an emergency situation
- Show a proper understanding of all aspects of the care and welfare of children
- Have a current, willing to undertake, a Police Clearance (enhanced CRB in the UK)
For me the title Nanny is very specific, it’s a professional term. A Nanny is a child-carer who chose this as a profession and is trained, learning all the underpinning skills to care for other people’s children. This training gives a proper understanding of nutrition, health, ability to supervise and support children of all ages, plan and care for ALL aspects of the children in their charge.
My background prior to my 23 years with Riverside in London was in HR and Management – not in any way related to childcare. Why do I mention this? Because when I chose my first Nanny I thought I could simply apply that which I knew and basically apply that knowledge when hiring a Nanny. But it wasn’t that simple. Vocational Nanny’s and they are the one’s parents should be looking for, are special – their love of childcare as a life-long career choice (not as a stop-gap because other career choices didn’t work out) means one needs to tailor the interview to encourage them to share why they ARE child-carers. Checking references can be challenging and time consuming as sometimes the referee has no experience of providing a reference. There’s the added complexity that the employment took place in a family home so replies to questions often have an anecdotal element. But I did nail it which means it is possible and the list of MUST BE’s is entirely realistic and employed over a 13 year period, three Nannies, and along the way had a career change, and with Jill Wheatcroft, a Lecturer in Child Health created Riverside Nannies. So you could say at many levels having children changed my life profoundly.
I have some real concerns about meeting Nanny’s on the Internet, concerns for the family and concerns for the Nanny in equal measure. You are both so vulnerable. If that is the only method available then take reasonable precautions.
- Do not invite the applicant to your home for the first interview – meet off site and if there is common ground take up references before inviting anyone home or anywhere near your children
- Amongst the references taken up at this point must be one to confirm the person you are meeting is bona-fida. Fake ID is very common and can be purchased on the internet. The combination of that and fake references are profoundly worrying