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Resident Guru, ‘Ask Lala’ talks daycares and nannies

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Hello and love to all,
So many have wanted to know about choosing daycare and nannies that I thought this would be a great topic to explore and share with everyone.
Hiring someone to take care of your children is one of the biggest decisions any parent can make so we asked our experts at NPEIV for some advice, “When you are hiring a Nanny what steps can you take to ensure the safety of your children?” They gave us a comprehensive list of important things to consider before, during and after choosing a care giver for your child. We hope this helps with the daunting task of choosing the perfect nanny or day care for your little one, because he or she is counting on you!
Live in the Light!
Tips for Selecting a Daycare Provider
  • *Begin researching child care options several months before it becomes necessary.
  • *Utilize the local licensing agency which oversees child day care. Most states have an agency which licenses, monitors, and investigates complaints against licensed care providers. Usually the information is public, and can be accessed by request. Once a parent has a choice in mind, the parent can read through the history of prior inspections and any complaints previously filed. Contact the state or county agency responsible for providing this service.
  • *Be careful when utilizing private referral agencies. There are a lot of internet and other private child care referral agencies which, usually for a fee, will provide child care referrals in your area based on need, age of the child, and location. This can be a useful service, yet most do not provide any guarantee regarding the quality of service. Very few referral services conduct comprehensive background checks on the day care provider and any other adult who resides in or frequents the home.
  • *Before deciding on a day care, spend some time observing daily operations. Legitimate day care operators will be willing to have a prospective parent drop by and observe for a small amount of time. If this is not allowed, for whatever reason, it may be a red flag.
  • *Never use an unlicensed day care provider! There is no legitimate excuse for not being licensed. Make yourself familiar with the basic licensing requirements in your area and keep those in mind when beginning to make contact with child care providers.
  •  *Make contact with current and previous clients. Insist on at least five references, three of current clients, and at least two prior clients. If a child care provider doesn’t wish to provide references from prior clients, it may be a red flag and should be a factor in your decision.
  • *Make child safety your top priority! This appears to be a no brainer, yet in my experience, six years of monitoring and investigating abuse in child day care, parents make decisions based on three primary factors: convenience, scheduling, and price. Child safety of ten is way down on the list in the decision process.
  • *Make sure you can drop in unannounced if you wish. Most good care providers understand parents’ anxiety when initially placing a child in someone else’s care. They should be willing to accommodate a parent in order to help ease the initial anxiety. If this is not allowed, find someone else!
  • *Know what to expect before the first day in care. Become familiar with the routine, services, and expectations the provider has before leaving your child for the first day. Unexpected surprises can be a source of turmoil between the parent and care provider. This often translates into a compromising of the care provided.
  • *Make sure everyone who needs to be is fully cleared by the state or county agency. Most care providers are required by law to obtain clearances on any adult residing in the home. If there are adult children, relatives, roommates etc.. they should all be cleared. It pays to be familiar with the makeup of the home, and to be assured that any adults residing there have had the proper clearance checks done.
  • *Be clear on who provides the direct care of your child. Sometimes child care providers use family members etc. to help out and even cover if they need to run an errand or take care of business. One large and uncomfortable surprise can be encountering someone you are not familiar with when you drop in or pick up your child. It pays to be very clear with expectations as to who can care for your child.
  • *Make sure the day care is a proper fit for your child. Not all day care situations are for all children. One that primarily cares for pre-school age children is not usually a good fit for an infant or toddler. The structure and care requirements are vastly different.
  • *Make sure you know what pets are in the home or yard. Large dogs and other potentially dangerous animals are usually a bad idea for child care providers. If there are pets at the home, make sure they have the required vaccines and are managed properly. Observe them around the other kids prior to placing your child there.
  • *Pay attention to red flags! It doesn’t pay to ignore uneasy feelings, internal alarms and situations that make you uncomfortable. Confronting red flags up front may serve to avoid difficult decisions once a child is placed in care.
  •  *Get to know some of the other parents using the child care you decide on. Becoming familiar with some of the other parents will help you get a broader picture of the care being provided. Make a habit of talking with them and comparing their experiences to your own.
  • *Periodically drop in unannounced. This is the best way to get a glimpse into what really happens each day where your child is being cared for. Be realistic and don’t overdo it, too much of a good thing can become a distraction.
  • *Observe your child each day! Make a habit of looking your child over for any signs of abuse or neglect. Be reasonable, not hyper vigilant. Become familiar with signs and indicators of abuse. If you observe something concerning, ask the care provider. Make sure the explanation is plausible and reasonable. Note: (most care providers are required by law to submit incident reports on any child injury.) If your child is injured, you should obtain a copy of the incident report.
  • *Talk to your child daily if they are of verbal age. The best source of information about what happens each day is your child. Get into a habit of asking them casually about what they did today, who was there, and routine things like meals, snacks, and nap times etc. Keep it casual, but be regular about it. Talk with the care provider each day, before and after. Don’t make it a habit to run in and out when dropping off or picking up. Communicate any concerns or needs when you drop a child off, and casually find out each day what happened, what was eaten, etc. when picking up.
  • *Have a plan B available if there is an urgent need to make a sudden change. This is actually one of the primary reasons children remain in care, even after a parent realizes there is something not right. Parents are often trapped into their jobs and routines and find it very difficult to make a necessary decision even after the evidence is clear that they should. Having a backup plan available will help if there is a sudden and unexpected need to change the care arrangements.
  • *If there is an incident of abuse that occurs with your child or any other child in care, notify the proper authorities! Law enforcement, CPS, and licensing staff are equipped to conduct comprehensive investigations and then act accordingly. Something you report may end up saving other children from harm. Don’t try to take on your own investigation. It will likely cause more harm than good!
Tips for Selecting a Nanny
  • *Find a reputable agency with a significant track record. There are a number of nanny referral and placement agencies which are barely established or, “fly by night.” Make sure when using a nanny placement agency to find one that is well established, stands behind their placements, and is properly bonded.
  • *Make sure the potential nannies are subjected to current and recurring background checks. Nannies who work for an agency must be cleared by a background check which includes fingerprint clearances, (FBI and State), and Child Abuse Index checks, most states have some form of a database which collects information on child abuse allegations. These checks should recur usually every six months at a minimum.
  • *Make contact with references provided by the agency. Once again, the reference list should be comprised of current and former clients. Follow through with the contacts and have an idea of the questions you wish to ask the references.
  • *Ask to view any records compiled from agencies which may monitor nanny placement services. Very few states have any formal monitoring of in house nanny placement agencies. For those that do, ask to see those records. Usually there will be some form of monitoring, even if it is the business licensing agency at the state level. Research this, no source of information is unimportant.
  • *Verify stability and background of any potential in house child care provider. It is important that any person being brought into your home can be verified. Often people who sign up with agencies can be in the country illegally and/ or not who they claim to be. Make sure the agency is taking steps to verify the identity of the prospective care provider. If the individual is recently immigrated and possibly undocumented, it can be difficult to get a comprehensive background check with no established track record.
  • *Make sure all expectations of the care worker are clear on both sides. An in-house care provider can be a great help and a fantastic convenience. The fact they are in your home throughout the day makes for a potentially volatile situation. Parameters and expectations need to be very clear and discussed up front. Make sure you communicate your expectations and have it signed in writing, and agreed to by all parties.
  • *Make contact with individual references! Good in house care providers don’t often change positions and can be very valuable. If a potential caretaker is referred to you, a lot of movement from one family to another can be an immediate red flag. Be thorough in checking out references and reasons for departing other placements.
  •  *Invite a prospective in house care provider over. Spend some time with this person who may be responsible for your children and have access to your home. You will have a chance to observe them, and your child can have a chance to become familiar with this person as well.
  • *Lock up anything you don’t wish the in house care provider to have access to, including the liquor cabinet. A parent needs to maintain an ongoing level of vigilance, don’t make any assumptions. Most work environments don’t have access to liquor etc. the work place that the care provider functions in shouldn’t either.
  • *Make frequent un-announced drop ins. The advantage of having someone care for your child at your home is that you can drop in at any time. It’s your home! Make a habit of this and the care provider will respond because they know that you may come home at any time. Don’t do so in such a way as to create an adverse relationship, be friendly and casual. As trust develops, it will be less necessary.
  • *Check your child and talk to them if possible just as you would if they were in care out of the home. Be vigilant and aware of what is happening with your child and look for any unexplained injuries or changes. Make note of how comfortable your child is, any odd reactions or sudden changes in disposition. These could be red flags.
  • *Use monitoring devices if at all possible. One other benefit to an in house caretaker is that you have a right to install monitoring devices if you like. Technology is always advancing and there are several affordable devices available which can be easily installed and accessed through a remote computer. It is custom to let the caretaker know this is in place, but not necessarily where the devices are installed. This type of monitoring can go a long way toward helping a parent feel comfortable.
  • *Have a plan B in mind if necessary. Just as in the case of out of home care, if there are red flags or circumstances which warrant a sudden change, have a backup plan in place which will help to assure you are acting in the best interest of your child.
  • * If there is an incident of abuse that occurs with your child, notify the proper authorities! Law enforcement, CPS, and licensing staff are equipped to conduct comprehensive investigations and then act accordingly. Something you report may end up saving other children from harm. Don’t try to take on your own investigation. It will likely cause more harm than good!
  • *Remember always, you as the parent are the authority on what is best for your child! Always act toward what is best and safest for your child!
Got a question? [email protected]
Laura Fogarty joins the the Stop Abuse Campaign online community with a brand new column we call, Ask Lala! If you have questions or concerns or you’re in need of some guidance about abuse of any kind just Ask Lala!
If it’s help or expert advice you need, Ask Lala! If it’s someone to listen and understand an issue or problem, Ask Lala! Lala not only speaks from her own insight and wisdom as a survivor, mother and author, but through our partner,, is directly connected to America’s leading experts across the field of abuse. She offers their wisdom and insight as well. No matter the question, no matter the abuse, Ask Lala provides personal insight and professional guidance. Lala will select letters to share and answer (each week online). If we publish your letter you will remain anonymous.

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