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How to Find the Best Nanny for Your Family

Yes, having a nanny can make your life easier. Finding a really great one? Well, that’s a whole lot tougher.

Photo: Thinkstock / The Bump

Start Out Right

You can begin your nanny search by asking friends and family for recommendations; by going online to caregiver listings websites, local message boards and college job boards; or by registering with a nanny placement agency. Katie Bugbee, executive editor at caregiver listings website Care.com, recommends that parents give themselves three months to find a nanny. It can take awhile to find someone you love. Plus, it’s not uncommon for there to be heated competition with other families, so the right one could get away, lengthening your search.

Caregiver Listings Sites

Websites that provide listings of prescreened nannies let you in on a lot of information about a caregiver -- such as their experience, availability, salary requirements, background check and references -- to help you decide whether you want to meet them. These are a few popular ones:

Sittercity has a database of over 2 million caregivers, including nannies, babysitters and pet sitters. For $35 a month, $70 for three months or $140 for a year, you can post a job and get access to caregivers’ profiles that include a description of experience, a photo, availability, a background check, references and referrals.

Care.com has a free basic membership that allows users to post a job description and to have access to prescreened caregiver profiles. In order to contact a caregiver and be able to view basic background checks, a user must upgrade to a premium membership for $35 a month. For an additional $59 fee, members can get a comprehensive background check that includes a search of county, state and federal courthouse arrest and conviction records. Want a deal? The Bump readers can use coupon code “thebump2012” for 20 percent off the usual cost of a premium membership (expires March 31).

Nannies4hire.com offers three different member packages. All memberships allow parents to post jobs and view caregiver profiles, save their top picks and conduct an advanced search. Basic membership is $100 for 30 days. For $130, members receive 60 days of access to a multistate criminal history search, and for $200, members receive 99 days of comprehensive background checks.

University Job Boards

Most universities have job boards that allow individuals to post for a position that they’re seeking to fill. If you’re looking for a part-time babysitter or a graduate student who’s available for a full-time nanny position, this may be a good option for you.

Local Message Boards

If there are local message boards for new moms in your area, chances are they’ll feature “nanny available” listings. These are usually posted by moms who are trying to find a new position for a nanny they no longer need. These boards are also an ideal place to put up a “nanny wanted” post. If you live in a small community, the recommendations for nannies that you receive might even come from an acquaintance or a friend of a friend.

Nanny Placement Agencies

Agencies offer the highest level of service, and with that comes a hefty price tag. So what’s the advantage of using an agency? According to Kathleen Webb, cofounder of the company that runs NannyNetwork.com, “Agencies are a great route for families that are pressed for time and especially for first-time nanny employers. The agency can cut 40-plus hours of effort out of the hiring process.” An agency prescreens nannies and interviews couples to get a detailed snapshot of what they’re looking for and will send only those candidates’ portfolios that meet their requirements. Once a nanny is selected, agencies will help their clients prepare the employment offer and work agreement.

If you find a nanny through an agency, the fee will typically be 10 to 15 percent of the nanny’s annual salary. A nanny’s salary is typically between $21,000 and $52,000 per year, depending on where you live, whether she lives in your home and how many hours a week she’ll work. To find a local agency, you can use the search tool on NannyNetwork.com.

Conducting an agency search? Webb says, “Families should look for agencies that are members of national organizations such as the Alliance of Premier Nanny Agencies or the International Nanny Association. These organizations have membership criteria and codes of conduct their members must agree to.”

See next page for advice on deciding who to interview, questions to ask and how to make it official.

-- Kelly Alfieri


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