You think having a baby is hard? Try picking a nanny. Once you hold that little one in your arms, you're not going to want to give them up for nine or 10 hours a day to just anyone.
But the truth is, no matter how thorough you think you're being, only a certain amount of information can be gleaned from a 30-minute Q&A with a prospective nanny. Some parents seem happy with a name, telephone number and references (and by "some parents," I somewhat shamefully, admit I am referring to myself).
Of course, you can always go with a nanny service, but the vast majority of families I know opt to use friends, friends of friends and online parenting groups to whittle down their list of nannies.
This kind of casualness with those watching young children alone begs the question: If you were hiring someone for your company, you'd likely do a background check, so why wouldn't you with your nanny? This very question vexed two moms (one of whom I met in my Brooklyn neighborhood) and employees of a corporate investigation service, Back Track, and so they created a spin-off, Nannytrack.
At NannyTrack, the same scrupulous attention to detail used to uncover wayward hedge fund managers at BackTrack is used to uncover any problems with prospective nannies. It's not cheap at $555 a report, but the peace of mind in knowing there are no red flags-or at least knowing what those red flags are-seems a small price to pay.
Although I had a positive experience with a former nanny who I hired only with a name, address and checked references, I'll certainly avail myself of the service the next time I need a nanny … which is, uh, probably just months away-EEK!
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