Hiring an In-Home Childcare Provider

This article contains a comprehensive guide to hiring an in-home childcare provider.
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Hiring an In-Home Childcare Provider

Before you leave your children with an in-home care provider, you first must go through the process of interviewing your applicant and checking her background. Once you find a provider you wish to hire, you would be wise to formalize your employment relationship with a written agreement to cut down on the possibility of future misunderstandings with the provider. (See In-Home Childcare Employment Issues.)

It is entirely possible that you will have to go through the various steps in the hiring process a number of times before you find a suitable nanny. Even if you receive many responses to your advertising for in-home childcare, you may not come up with any candidates that you are interested in pursuing further. You may find a prospective nanny who is willing to fill out a formal application, but that does not mean that she will actually come in for her scheduled interview. Sometimes, the nanny can be hired, with her background check completed and all of the necessary employment forms filled out, and she might simply fail to show up for work the first day.

The point is to be prepared for the possibility that you will not find the perfect childcare provider on the first attempt. Try not to be discouraged if this is the case. Keep in mind that the goal is to find the best, most reliable care for your child that you possibly can.

Whether your initial contact with a nanny candidate is a referral from an agency, a telephone call in response to a newspaper ad, or a chance meeting at your child's school, you should ask for a written application, followed by a formal interview.

The application does not need to be a computer-generated form or a long, involved document. It should, however, ask for the following information.

  • The candidate's full name, and any other names she has used.
  • The candidate's address, and addresses of places she has lived during the last ten years.
  • An explanation of the candidate's childcare experience.
  • The candidate's complete employment history, including contact information for all former employers.
  • The candidate's educational history, with a list of all high schools and colleges attended.
  • The candidate's driver's license number.
  • The candidate's Social Security number.
  • The candidate's citizenship status (if not a citizen but a legal resident, ask for a copy of her Green Card or work visa).
  • Contact information for at least two employment references and two personal references (nonrelatives).
The preliminary information you obtain through the application can help you decide whether to proceed further with the hiring process. If you decide to invite the candidate for an interview, you can ask questions of her that expand on the information that she filled in on the application.

Unlike evaluating a day care facility or home, where you can actually visit and assess the conditions, you probably will not have as much to go on when trying to determine if a nanny candidate will work out for your family before extending an employment offer. For that reason, you will really want to make your interview with a potential caregiver count. Be sure to thoroughly explain what you expect from the nanny you hire, not just in terms of the tasks you want her to perform, but also her childrearing style, the house rules you want her to follow, and the like. You should ask anything you want to know about her in deciding whether to hire her during the interview.