Employing in-home childcare


Interviewing a prospective childcare provider can be daunting. Not only because they will be looking after your most precious possession but also because they may come across as exceptionally professional (as they should!) and make you feel nervous and not in control of the situation. Hopefully the following pointers will help you keep your wits about you!

Before you interview:

You cannot interview someone without know what it is you are interviewing for. Sit down with your husband/partner and make a list of what you want and need:

  • Hours: do you need someone full or part-time? What hours?
  • Duties: what do you expect? Only childcare? Some child-related household tasks, a housekeeper with some child-related duties or a full-on household manager to run your house for you? Would she need to cook? Would she do the family's laundry?
  • Do you require a live-in or live-out caregiver?
  • Are you looking for a nanny/aupair who is a non-smoker, speaks English well, and can drive?
  • Are you looking for high energy? Creativity? Extrovert or introvert?
  • Can the nanny/aupair bring her own child to work with her?
  • Will she be accompanying you on holidays (she will still need to be paid her normal salary plus overtime and any expenses – airfare, accommodation, food etc need to be covered by the employer)?
  • How much can you afford? Nannies/aupairs can cost a lot but often it works out cheaper in the long run (if you have more than one child; if your children are sick; school holidays etc).

Writing all this down will help you prioritise your needs.

Be realistic

Nannies/aupairs will take care of child-related responsibilities, such as cleaning up after baby, baby’s laundry (not all will, though!), cooking baby’s meals, etc, but it’s a tall order to find someone who will also do all the housekeeping, family laundry, major grocery shopping, and errands. And the more extra duties a nanny/aupair has, the less time she’ll have for your child.

Using an agency or not:

There are many agencies out there. Yes, they can make your life easier, but they can be costly and not all agencies are run they way they should be. There are no regulations governing aupair placement agencies so you have to do the homework on your own.

Phone around and ask lots of questions of all the agencies in your area. Choose one that you feel comfortable with and that has been operating for at least a year and can show a regular placement of aupairs, preferably of long-term aupairs. Ask if you can chat to previous clients or aupair that have been placed.

Make sure you know what the placement process is, how much you will be expected to pay in placement and admin fee’s and WHAT these fee’s cover. Do you get proof of what the fee’s cover – for example, if you pay for a criminal record check on your employee, do you get the hard-copy evidence of this?

Check whether the aupairs have to pay for anything – technically employees should not have to pay employment agencies anything in order to register with them but aupair agencies seem to have rules of their own.

Doing it yourself:

There are several advertising avenues: online, print or word-of-mouth.

  • Let everyone know you are looking for someone and ask that they keep their eyes and ears open.
  • You can place an advert in your local newspaper, but be prepared to weed through lots of unsuitable applications.
  • You can print notices and advertise at your local church, community centre, library or shopping mall.
  • Or you can advertise online.

When advertising privately, make your advert as clear as possible. List full or part-time; any special requirements (such a newborn experience, or a confident driver, swimmer, qualifications etc); list area, not address; hours needed; a contact number or
email address.

I suggest that you make up a Gmail or Yahoo type email account so that you do not get spammed at your work or home account. In your advertisement, ask applicants to please email their CVs and covering letter to your email, or fax to your fax number.

You can set up an auto-reply on your email thanking them for their application and that if they have not heard from you in xx weeks they are to consider their application unsuccessful.

Then, you start reading and weeding out all that do not apply to you. Set aside 5 – 10 applications and email them a list if questions to answer. Then you can decide from there who to short-list to interview in person.

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