To safely hire a new nanny (or even an assistant, or housekeeper!) is a serious undertaking, and should be handled with a certain extent of scrutiny and attention to detail. Your new hire will be working intimately in your home and with your children - so it's important to make sure that you have verified peace of mind before you bring someone on.
You may have heard a recent horror story, in which a New York City family returned home to find their new hire had systematically robbed their home of various furniture and possessions while the family were at work and school, after calling in sick and hiring movers to empty the house. While this story is extremely rare, there are lessons to be learned from this, and certain precautions that we would always recommend in order to screen your new nanny or any in-home personnel. While working with our nanny agency, there are certain built-in verification standards to which we hold all of our candidates. However if you are undertaking your search for a new employee on your own...
Here are a few insider tips on how to safely hire a nanny to ensure that your new hire has been properly vetted and can become a trusted role in your home.
1. Validate Candidate's Identity
First, validating identity is essential. We would highly, highly recommend using a legitimate background check company to do this. An identity verification can often still be run with a foreign passport. In the case above, all the IDs provided by the nanny were fake, but this was only realized after the crime was committed. With today's technology, telling a real from a fake ID can be harder than you'd imagine for the untrained eye. Hiring an outside company to assist you with a background verification will ensure peace of mind.
Our nanny agency offers nanny candidate background checks a la carte for clients all the time, as do several other NYC nanny agencies, to best help you safely hire a nanny. Even if you aren't using the agency's services for your recruitment search, they often will still offer background verification as a standalone service, at a relatively inexpensive cost.
2. Verify the References' Personas and Get (a bit!) Nosy
Second, verify references and get in depth with them. Always try a Facebook, Google and LinkedIn search of a reference provided: does absolutely nothing come up? Search their phone number or email into Facebook and Google, and see what name (if anything) corresponds. A fake reference is always a friend or family member of the person themselves, and will likely show up among their Facebook friends. [Though as a note: some high-net worth individuals will not show up in a Google search, so if possible try to get the partner or spouse's name as well when requesting references from the candidate].
When you do get a hold of a reference, take note of the person's tone and cadence. How do they sound? A real reference will state the facts and have specific examples; a fake reference will sound like a salesperson speaking in very general, broad, and overly positive terms.
Also, have your candidate's resume in front of you on the call, and get nosey, as if you know nothing. Ask what the details of the position were, and how old their children are presently (a real parent will know this information automatically without having to quickly do math). Ask what neighborhood they live in and cross reference with the resume. Ask why the position ended and see if it lines up. Not every reference will be open to discussing a ton of details, especially if it ended due to the family's personal matters. We recommend trying to speak to a minimum of 3 people, which will give you a chance to notice any patterns that might emerge.
3. Have a security camera.
Our last bit of advice is to install at least one visible security camera in the apartment or on the outside of your home before you leave your in-home caretaker for the first time. We highly recommend that it is visible so that your employee knows of it's presence. While voice recording is illegal in some states without express two-party consent, a soundless video camera is acceptable. because informing the caregiver about the camera first
Alerting the caregiver to it in advance will build a relationship of openness and trust, and will break any possible tension or hurt they may feel if they had found it on their own. Imagine your partner was spying on you, and what emotions that would bring up. A nanny may similarly feel the same, as this person is, in a way, a partner and co-parent in your family.
Telling your employee upon hire about any cameras you have in your home also allows you the opportunity to put it back on yourself: "We have it for our apartment's security, but also because I just miss my baby in the day!" Most caregivers understand that to many families, safely hiring a nanny means a "nanny-cam;" and they may be completely fine with the presence of a camera if it's not secretive, and because they also know it can protect them in the event they are accused of something. The majority of nannies only really take issue with a camera when it is used to micromanage and critique their practice in real-time.
Are you looking for background verification services to make sure you hire a nanny safely?
Check out our services on our website.
Have any wisdom of your own for how to verify a new nanny hire?
Let us know in the comments below!
- KITH & KIN
Valentine's Day has come and gone, but there's still plenty going on before this short month is over! February may be the shortest month of the year, with the worst reputation for those who suffer from winter blues, but here in NYC, it's impossible not to find fun and exciting reasons to leave the house. There's no shortage of activities for you and the kids to enjoy together this February. The days are getting longer at last, so bundle up the kids and make the most of them!
We've put together a few of our favorite February activities for kids in NYC below:
February Activities for Kids in NYC:
Lunar New Year for Kids
February 16 @ 10:00 am - 1:00 pm at the China Institute
Do your kids have off from school for the Lunar New Year? Not sure what to do with them? Join in in celebrating the Lunar New Year public school holiday with a free day of fun for the little ones. Activities include storytelling, chinese lantern making, traditional snacks and games, and a Chinese acrobat! They’ll love learning more about this special day, and joining in in the celebrations.
President's Day Storytime and Crafts for 3-6 Year Olds!
February 16, 2018, 10:30 am at the Mount Vernon Hotel
What’s Presidents Day all about? Get the kids engaged and informed about this special holiday by bringing them down to the Mount Vernon Hotel, Museum and Garden for a special Presidents Day event. Bring the little ones for storytime to hear all about our Presidents! Listen to funny stories about George Washington and Abrham Lincoln, and then make president’s stove pipe hats afterwards. Free for kids and caregivers!
Saturday Art Workshop: PATTERNS, PATTERNS, PATTERNS!
February 17, 2018 at the Scandinavia House
Each Saturday morning, Scandinavia House presents arts and storytelling for children. The Saturday morning art workshops invite children to work with Nordic themes in the Halldór Laxness Library, including exhibition-related workshops for The Experimental Self: Edvard Munch’s Photography. This Saturday, they’ll take a look at Scandinavian patterns and discuss their properties and origins. We will then create handmade stamps, which we will use to make our own motif on textiles. Ages 5+ are welcome. Join in for a day of creative expression!
Children’s film festival
February 23 - March 18, 2018 at participating NYC theaters
During four weekends in February and March, the Festival welcomes over 25,000 young people, parents, and movie-lovers to explore the world without leaving NYC. Presenting the best new animation, live action, documentary, and experimental film from across the globe, the NYICFF shows new, inspiring, and thought-provoking films about youth from all around the world, suitable for children and families. Check out what’s playing near you, you’re sure to find something the kids will love!
Have any ideas of February Activities for Kids in NYC that we forgot? Tell us about them in the comments below!
- KITH & KIN
What would you say are the top 3-5 values you hope to instill in a child so that they may carry them into adulthood?
Here are three simple rules to live by to help instill values into children in your care.
1. Toss out the old adage, "Do As I Say, Not As I Do".
Be aware that your child sees everything you do (scary!), the good and the not-so-good. You may tell them to be patient, kind, and understanding, but if they don't see this, they won't practice it. For example...
2. Extend your values to them as well.
A lot of parents and nannies would say that they want to teach a child to respect others, forgetting that the child is also someone who needs to be shown patience, kindness, understanding, and forgiveness and respect, too! The best way to instill values into children is simply by letting them experience what it feels like to receive these things.
3. Admit your mistakes.
Don't be afraid to own up to a misstep. No one is perfect, and to not admit when you've done wrong may lead to your child feeling that they have to hide their mistakes from you for fear that you may reject their error.
Values look different to each family and caregiver.
Of course we all want our children to be high achievers, and have fun in life. We of course want them to be forgiving and kind, and we want them to also be assertive and stand their ground when it's time. We all want them to be respectful, and we want them to also recognize their right to being respected.
The trick for us to successfully instill values into children is finding where the balance lies within in each family.
You want to make sure your caregiver is aligned with these values, and give them wiggle room to do things a little differently than you would. This is where great communication comes in handy!
This is the time of year where nannies are booked frequently for date-night sittings: lots of holiday parties, in-laws in town, and nights out for busy parents! I'd like to share a cautionary tale I read recently, and give you some tips based off of this situation, as well as others we have personally encountered.
Recently in a nanny support group I am apart of, a caregiver had been booked on a popular app by a family to babysit for their family in hotel, as they were coming into New York for the weekend. She offered to talk to them on the phone beforehand to give a mini interview, but they declined and said it was fine - they would provide details when she showed up. She had great reviews, so she assumed they were just trusting the references, which is why the reviews exist in the first place. Exercising safety when babysitting is not just for the parents but for the nannies, too!
When she showed up to the hotel on the evening of the sit, she received a text message that said they were running an hour late. After she waited over an hour, sent a check-in text and gave a phone call, both of which went unanswered. At this point, she checked with the front desk attendants just to make sure they actually had a reservation, but in doing so, she learned that there was no one staying there by the name that was given on the booking. This isn't totally unheard of - some people want their privacy - so she didn't think much of it. However, there other signs that gave her pause, and she ultimately left the hotel after fearing for her safety. These warning signs were what inspired this blog.
Here are our best tips on how to keep safety when babysitting in the forefront of your mind when you've been booked through a babysitting app, instead of a mutual connection or agency.
1. Make verbal contact with the parents before you meet, if possible.
Trust me, I don't like talking on the phone as much as the next person, but sometimes just hearing their voice, their tone and cadence, will reassure you this is a parent and not a creep. Ask them a couple questions about their kids, and ask them if there is any specialized care for their child for which you would be responsible.
For the sitter above who was booked, she thought it was odd that when she would call that day, and over the previous five days before the scheduled day, no one would answer, nor return her call, and there was no formal voicemail. The "family" would only follow up via text. This may not have been a big deal, as she had reviews, and this is common for families to book with minimal effort. Lack of verbal contact before isn't a deal breaker, however coupled with the things below, you can quickly see where there was a problem.
2. Always tell someone close to you before meeting a family for the first time!
Let a friend or family member know the address where you plan to meet and the time you plan to leave by. Keep in touch via text once you arrive to say all is well, and if you are going to be late. Do this even when you are leaving the job to return to your house. Safety when babysitting mostly comes down to covering your bases, and keeping others informed.
3. Look up the names of the parents on Facebook, LinkedIn or Google.
Most parents will have family photos or telltale signs that they are who they say they are. Make sure the story adds up!
The sitter above was caught off guard when no one was reserved in the hotel under the name on her booking. The lack of a voicemail was strike two. They also gave her very common names, so it was impossible to verify who they were via Google.
A way to combat this is to search for them on Google using their names, email addresses, and phone numbers. Something is bound to come up to proves they're a real person.
4. Ask one of the parents to come meet you at the door, or in the lobby.
If you are working at a hotel, ask that they come and meet you, if you have any doubts that they are real people in need of babysitting.
If you are working at an apartment in a building with a door attendant, ask the person if the family has children. They may be taken a back by it, but you can explain it is your first time meeting them. If it is a private house and with no door attendant, what do you hear when you come up to the house? Is there laughter? Are there shoes, scooters, or bikes visible outdoors? Is there a large vehicle in the driveway, or a friendly welcome mat?
You can always insist that they meet you halfway in your requests for a personal escort before entering their home - say its a tip for your safety when babysitting that you picked up - no parent will argue with that, and if they are the type to get annoyed or give an attitude, you don't have to work with them again! Your safety when babysitting is just as important as theirs and their children's.
5. Be aware of your surroundings - where are the children?
When you show up, do you hear children laughing, talking, yelling, etc. outside of the room in the hallway, or out in the street? And if not, when the parent opens the door and there are no children present, is there evidence of children in the room, such as children's cups, clothing, shoes, stroller, and toys? If not, do not enter.
Feel no need to be overly polite in this situation - even if your hesitations are wrong and there really is a family (maybe they just checked in and the kids are in the pool), they will absolutely respect you more for being so safety conscious - which will likely lead to you having a better review! Simply say, "I'm sorry, I was told this booking was for x# of children, but I don't see them... Oh, they are downstairs? No problem! I can meet them down there, or just wait out here in the hall or lobby. I insist."
The sitter in the story above was incredibly forward thinking to think about her personal safety when babysitting. The third strike that ultimately lead to her leaving (quickly!) was when she was alert for the entire two hours waiting for them in the lobby to show up (after they kept texting, "10 more minutes"), she noticed no children walking through the lobby and up to the elevator. That, coupled with their unwillingness to escort her up, led her to walk right out. She made the right decision when considering her own safety when babysitting for this new family.
So by now you may be wondering how did the family receive the news that their sitter played hardball and left after they would not call back or come and get her from the lobby... Well, after she texted and explained why she would wait 10 more minutes and if she didn't hear back, she would be leaving after waiting nearly 2.5 hours, they never wrote back to confirm, criticize, or say they understood and respected her reasons.
Had she listened and just went upstairs as they insisted, I'm not sure what, if anything, would have happened to her, though given the high possibility this was not a family, she absolutely did the right thing.
Very few of these tips above are "Deal-breakers," however when they are all coupled together, it can spell trouble. Be aware, and keep yourself safe.
If you have any other safety tips to add below, please do! We can all protect each other.
It's that time of year again!
At the end of each year, it's pretty typical of families to provide some type of year-end bonus as a way to say thank you. (If this is new to you, check out our blogpost from last year here, detailing some of the "norms" in NYC.) In addition to a cash bonus, some families like to give a little gift to show the appreciation, too! While I don't recommend reducing the cash bonus much if at all, some families do choose heartfelt gifts for nannies as a little extra something.
Needing a little inspiration?
Here below are 12 fun ideas and gifts for nannies for all budgets and all occasions!
1. "Bad" weather gear
• As the saying goes, "There is no bad weather; only bad clothing." When I was a nanny, I had clothing that simply could not brave the Upper West Side, Riverside Drive winds, and every spring, my rain boots would somehow tear, rendering them worthless. Quite frankly, I couldn't afford the awesome gear that my bosses had, even though I knew it was worth the investment!
Nice boots, a rain or winter coat, or mittens make wonderful gifts for nannies, along with a note that says, "We appreciate your willingness to get out there and get the job done! Hope this makes your life a little easier!"
2. Nanny's Day Out: self-care and pampering to the max!
• Getting a massage is wonderful! Your nanny may appreciate a gift certificate to a spa, but the crème de la crème is doing this while getting an extra paid half-day off! What a nice treat. If you have the ability to come home from work around noon to relieve your nanny, it will truly be a “Nanny's Day Out”. Book the appointment slot, and make it into a whole afternoon planned for their relaxation and rejuvenation. It doesn't have to be the highest end package! A simple massage plus the gesture of the whole "event" is incredibly touching.
But, are they not much of a massage/pedicure/manicure person, or is that on the higher end of your budget? Get them a movie theater gift card instead, and put a date in the calendar to them off just a few hours early instead of a half day.
4. INA membership
• Your nanny is a professional, and you respect that person as a vital part of your family. As such, providing them opportunities to develop as a professional is key! The mission of the International Nanny Association is to serve as the umbrella association for the in-home child care industry by providing information, education and guidance to the public and to industry professionals. By giving your nanny a membership, you're making a statement that you respect them as a professional and desire them to keep growing in their work!
7. Matching socks!
• Want to make your nanny feel a part of the family? Get some fun socks for him or her, and also the kiddos! Your children will love matching with their best buddy. Just a little something cozy and fun to wear around the house. These are great gifts for nannies AND kids!
We personally love Socks & Souls, a company that gives an additional free pair of socks to someone in need with each pair of socks purchased. Think Warby Parker and TOMS.
9. Drinks for Days!
• What drink does your nanny always have in her hand? (Or rather, wishes they had in their hand [if it's wine, you hopefully wouldn't see that on the job! ;)]) If it's coffee or a juice, get them a large gift card to their favorite place with a note that says, "Hope this will keep you warm through the winter (or healthy and strong through winter), as you push Kayden around town!"
If you'd really like to be an overachiever, stash the gift card inside a cute travel mug or to-go cup with a straw!
10. "Tile" - a GPS gadget
• Has your nanny lost her keys before (and is this something they're able to laugh at yet? ;)) This cool little gadget comes in handy! It is a square little tile to clip on to a key ring, connect it with the app on a smart phone. When the keys are lost, pull up the app and it will tell you roughly where the item is located. Hooray! No keys lost again!
Activities In NYC
Back To School
Full Time Care
Modifying The Position
Part Time Care
Copyright, Kith and Kin NYC LLC, 2018. Licensed and bonded by the NY State Department of Consumer Affairs, License #2038511-DCA. Kith & Kin Household Staffing Agency seeks to pair exceptional caregivers with vibrant families. Candidates who are legally authorized to work in the United States, and meet our requirements are encouraged to send us your résumé if you are seeking a position as a Nanny, Manny, Housekeeper, Governess, Mother's Helper, or a Baby Nurse / Newborn Care Specialist in New York City, New York State, New Jersey, or Connecticut. Kith & Kin Household Staffing Agency does not discriminate on the basis of race, creed, color, ethnicity, national origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender expression, age, height, weight, physical disabilities, veteran status, and marital status. We are a nanny agency in NYC that services the metro area.
Hours are by appointment only. Address: 195 Montague Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201 and 450 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10017 We make house calls! Call us at 929-445-2016. Unfortunately, due to the high volume of interest, no calls regarding available jobs are accepted. Please check our job board here.