Oh, how to go about finding the perfect nanny or babysitter to care for the most precious little ones in your life?  There is no such thing as perfect, of course, but there are better and worse fits for you and your family.  And there are varying levels of experience and quality of care.

Today, I’ve invited Linda Quinones to weigh in on this question.  She’s a mom of four and the owner and founder of SeekingSitters Montgomery County and SeekingSitters of Washington, DC.  Helping parents find safe, quality childcare is her forte.

Linda’s 5 tips for Parents for Finding the Perfect Nanny or Babysitter

1. Ask for referrals.

Ask friends, relatives, co-workers, current nannies or babysitters, churches or anyone you know who has had a nanny or babysitter or done babysitting in the past.   Referrals from someone you know are the best source of finding a nanny or babysitter, but don’t stop with the referral.  You must do your own research on the potential nanny or sitter to make sure they are a match for your family and will be a safe choice.

2. Conduct an in-person interview with the candidates. 

After a phone screening, if you like what you are hearing from the potential nanny or babysitter, schedule an in-person interview.  I would recommend meeting at a neutral location like a coffee or sandwich shop.  This way, if they don’t make a good impression, you don’t have to worry that they know where you live.

Pay attention to a few details. Are they dressed for the job?  Modest but not overdressed?  Did they arrive on time?  If they are punctual for the interview, they likely will be on time when you need them for a sitting job.

3. Ask the right questions in the interview.

This is your opportunity to find out if the potential nanny or babysitter really loves children or is just looking for a paycheck.

Ask applicants to describe their experience with children, particularly with children that the same age as yours. Ask them how they might handle scenarios with your children.  Do they know how to handle emergencies?  How will they engage the children?  Ask them what their favorite activities are to do with children.  This will show their creativity.  Ask them what children love about them.

Listen carefully, and you will hear if they have a love for children.

4. Verify Information.

Just because someone is referred by a friend doesn’t mean you don’t check her references and work experience. Confirm that she has CPR and first aid certification.  At SeekingSitters, for example, we require certification of all our nannies and babysitters.  The internet and social media can provide some good background information, so also check Facebook and other social media sites.  Don’t be afraid to ask if they are on social media.  This, too, will tell you about their character.

Finally, check all references. This is often the most overlooked step, especially if a friend or colleague referred the nanny or babysitter to you.  Check current and past job and child care references.  If there are gaps in employment, find out why.  Follow your instincts when interviewing someone.

  1. Perform a background investigation on the nanny or babysitter.

Find a reputable background screening company that screens the following for each applicant: (and screens nationwide):

–          Personal character history
–          Address history
–          Criminal records
–          Civil records
–          Driving records

Make sure there is an actual person – preferably a licensed private investigator – verifying information.  Don’t rely on the automated online services.  Even a misspelled name can bring back inaccurate or incomplete information. Often online background checks will miss items if a live person is not double checking spellings, etc.  Most investigations fail to do this, and can often miss very pertinent information. Your children are worth an in-depth screening.

Do you have advice on what has helped you pick a good nanny or babysitter?  Leave your tips below in comments! 

Also, once you’ve found that perfect nanny, check out How to Have a Successful Nanny Relationship from the Start to get that relationship off on the right foot.

As a mom to four children, Linda Quinones knows how important childcare is for parents. After being a work at home mom with her own kids, Linda decided to branch out into the babysitting business after her children were up and out. She started SeekingSitters of Montgomery County, MD and Washington DC to help parents find safe and reliable sitters and nannies for their kids. The referral service finds sitters/nannies that are at least 18 years of age, have professional sitting experience, have CPR & First Aid certification and have undergone an intense background check.  For more information feel free to contact Linda at linda.quinones@seekingsitters.com or http://seekingsittersdcmetrowashington.com/.

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