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How to pick the right person to look after your children

By Faeza
02 February 2017

RESEARCH shows many parents spend most of their time at work than home. Along with this, there is an immense pressure on children to develop certain skills by a certain age through participating in extramural activities after school. In an effort to avoid overextending themselves, parents seek the assistance of childminders to take care of

some of their children’s needs. Johannesburg-based mother of a toddler and marketing

executive, Palesa Khambi, says she doesn’t expect her childminder to be perfect but an unkind and impatient person is not good for her child.


Searching for a childminder is usually an emergency and frustrating process for many

parents. Often recruitment agencies are seen as being the first option to explore, but parents Finding a good

CHILDMINDER must first find out what they’re getting for their money. “For me, references from trusted individuals or acquaintances are a crucial part of the recruitment process,’’ says Palesa. “They give you more insight into what kind of person you are hiring.” Parents can also browse adverts online and in newspapers for childminders offering their services. With this option, it is critical that prospective employers check and verify all documentation, references and any certificates very closely. Any reputable agency

would do this to ensure a good calibre of employee. They are also able to request a criminal clearance from prospective employees.


When searching for a childminder, you have to ask yourself what kind of assistance you need. If you have more than one child, you are going to pay more and it’s important to look out at what else you can cut out. Owner of the award-winning Help At Home Child Recruitment Agency, Ruth Kloppers, says there are various child care options to choose from:

¦ Daymother: Someone that will have one to two small babies to care for at her home or premises.

¦ Babysitter: Someone that will come to look after your baby or children on an ad-hoc basis, usually when the parents have an event or function and need temporary assistance.

¦ Nanny: A domestic worker who is tasked with the care of babies and children usually

at the employer’s residence. Some nannies can perform domestic chores as well. However, the child or children remain her primary role and responsibility.

¦ Daycare centre or creche: A facility where parents drop off children during the day. There are usually several children of various ages at the facility.

¦ Relative care: This is usually when the child care role is assigned to and taken care of by a relative, such as grandmothers, aunt or niece.


“We find that most employers are looking for someone that has a solid track record of

employment, where previous employers have noted that the childminder is honest, reliable, kind, caring, good at time-keeping, able to mentally stimulate the children, as well as take good care of their physical needs,”explains Ruth. Employers are looking for childminders that have a mature, nurturing character and someone who is friendly and can communicate openly and honestly with either the employer or children. Palesa agrees, saying humility is key because there is nothing worse than living with someone who is always irritated by one thing or another. It gets worse when you have to entrust your child’s wellbeing with them.


Ruth emphasises that background checks are critical because parents want to ensure that the person who is caring for their child is honest about who they are, the experience that they have, and that they have a good, clean record. If using a reputable agency, these checks will have already been done before the childminder is put forward for employment. However, if you’re looking at hiring someone yourself, it is important to do proper background checks. If the childminder is a foreigner, ensure that they have a valid permit to work in South Africa. Ruth further warns parents not to employ someone who

produces a visitor’s visa because it does not allow anyone to work in the country.


According to the University of Cape Town Children’s Institute report in 2014, half of child

abuse incidents are caused by people who are primary caregivers or relatives. Therefore, it is critical to know who you’re inviting in your child’s life as you cannot take child safety for granted. “You don’t know who you are inviting into your space. Therefore, you can never be too safe. Visit her home, do a police clearance, verify her identity documents, keep pictures of her and get details of her next of kin,” warns Palesa. Criminal checks can be done at any police station but it can take up to six weeks to get the results. Ruth mentions that they can also be done privately because reputable recruitment agencies have the equipment to do a fingerprint or biometric criminal check and the results can be

received much sooner, usually within 48 hours.


Ruth adds that parents should check all references thoroughly when interviewing a candidate and get as much detail from them as possible. For example, when she started her last position, how old the kids were, what the kids’ names were, and where the family lived. “When you phone and check the reference, ask the employer the same questions and you will soon pick up if the reference is real or not,” she mentions. Also ask the reference questions about the childminder’s performance, reliability, duties and reasons for leaving.