Saturday, January 10, 2009

Con-Artist Nanny

Disturbing Child Dumping Scheme

According to the news report linked to this blog post, when hired to care for a family’s twins a nanny, Roxanna Patricia Villamarin, said she was taking the children to the library but was really dropping them off at a rundown apartment.

The article reads, "According to officials, Villamarin had been leaving at least five clients' children at this apartment over a period of five years. "

"'She would pick up the children; she would drop them off at an unlicensed daycare center. And she would pursue other goals,' City Attorney Will Rivera says."

"These other goals, he says, included working at a farmer's market and at her family's restaurant. At the end of the day, Villamarin allegedly would return to the apartment, pay a woman there $10 a day — about $110 less than she was making — and bring the children home."

What’s worse is at the end of the news article the reporter spoke with the nanny, and she does not regret her bad choices. She was quoted as saying, “They treat me bad, I treat them bad. ” She claimed that she left the children because she needed a break.

See news article here: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=99120521&ft=1&f=1006

What do you think? Are the parents right to be angry with the nanny they hired?

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

Of course the parents should be angry. It's a shame. I hate when stories like these arise. It is a tarnish on the in-home child care profession. Most nannies and au pairs work very very hard and are very trusthworthy.

Janice St. Clair said...

I would like to see some nannies comment on the NPR website, suggesting ways that parents can confidently hire a nanny who will take excellent care of their children, also how to confirm that she is doing so once she's on the job.

The safety and wellbeing of the kids is the most important issue here. How can we use our experience and knowledge to help parents ensure this?

Anonymous said...

I really don't think (and I truly hope) that parents understand this is an isolated case of a nanny with a bad attitude. Her actions are not the norm. And although the children were not harmed obviously her rationalizations are ridiculous.
Terry Hitt, Professional Nanny, Wisconsin

Anonymous said...

Thank goodness I don't know anybody who went through anything like this. She's a con artist psycho and no one I know would ever be so deceiptful. Nanny Jen

lorabrawley said...

Also posted on the NPR site...

Unfortunately, many parents don’t fully understand that when they hire a nanny they take on all the roles and responsibilities of being an employer. Which means they not only have the right but the responsibility to monitor her performance. From the time she’s hired until the time she leaves the position. This does not mean parents have to spy on their nanny or live with a constant feeling of distrust. it means they must do the things Janice St. Clair suggested (dropping in unexpectedly, taking special notice of how your child reacts to her nanny, etc) on a regular basis. Because even the best nanny can burn out or let personal issues interfere with the quality of care she provides. Monitoring your caregiver doesn’t mean you’ve hired a bad nanny. It’s means you’re a responsible employer.

In situations like this it’s seems cruel to point a blaming finger at the parents. I have no doubt that the guilt they already feel is tremendous and adding to their family’s suffering serves no purpose. However, how many of these stories do we need to read until parents step up to the plate and become educated consumers and proactive employers? As a 19 year nanny veteran, a nanny industry consultant and leader in the field, I can tell you my frustration level has reached an all time high. Recognizing the bad eggs is not an impossible task. Not even a difficult one if you’re paying attention. The article itself illuminates several red flags. The two most glaring examples - the children hated the “library” month after month (even if you assume they’re going to the real library, shouldn’t learning be fun?) and when the six year old autistic son tried to tell what was happening the “nanny” explained it away by telling him to stop making things up. That type of dismissive and diminishing response has never been in line with a quality caregiving approach.

So once again, we’ve all been given the opportunity to do better. Nannies, business owners, and parents alike. My wish for this new year is that we all take up the task so no child suffers at the hands of the person entrusted to care for him.

Lora Brawley
Lora@AllAboutNannyCare.com

Anonymous said...

Everything went terribly wrong in this story on so many levels. I have so many questions.
1. How are we going to get the word out to parents to use reputable nanny placement agencies?
2. Did the parents call the references personally and do background checks personally?
3. Why didn't the parents spend a few days a year going places with the nanny and kids?
4.Why did this go on for five years?
5. Why didn't the parents listen to their child when he said his brother was showered at the library?
6. Why did the stranger accept merely ten dollars for an entire day of work?
7. Why is this nanny saying such stupid things to the press? Doesn't she have a lawyer to shut her up from making such insensitive remarks?

Anonymous said...

I cannot really add more "politically correct" comments to what has already been said. I too don't think the nanny should have dumped the kids somewhere that the parents didn't know about. Obviously the nanny was being paid to care for the kids herself. The parents were paying the nanny, not the stranger to care for the kids. That's all morally wrong.

But, other nannies dump their charges at the house I work at then go and get manicures or go shopping for themselves all afternoon. Isn't that taking advantage of me? It happens all the time. Those nannies are making $18 an hour to get the pedicure while I'm changing their charge's diapers, not getting a dime more.

This news article is just an extreme case of what all nannies have felt at some point. We are all just smarter than do something so immoral. Granted, we all know not to do what the bad nanny did in the news article. But, what nanny hasn't felt like they need a break too? Most work extremely long hours, with no breaks, little money and the parents simply dump all parental responsibility onto the nanny and then not pay her a decent wage.

The parents I work for spend more on their landscaping then they on my salary per year. I felt like they spent more on christmas gifts for their kids this year than on my annual salary.

This story should be a huge wake up call for all parents. Treat others as you want to be treated. Pay us more. Get more involved in your kids lives. So I'm not politically correct. But it's the truth!

Anonymous said...

I think the last comments were more than politically incorrect. You need to get out of the child-care field all together. Nannies and au pairs have no human resources department so they have to negotiate good salary and benefits themselves. If you want to be a doormat that is your choice. You are going to get walked over if you allow yourself to be. I strongly disagree that most parents dump all parenting responsiblities on nannies. I strongly disagree that most spend more on landscaping than on child-care. Background checks are NOT very expensive. None of the parents I have worked for have been perfect but they all did their very best. Same with me. I'm not perfect but I do my very best at my job. There are thousands more nannies and parents that are doing their best and great jobs than there are abusive nannies or disinterested parents.
Ann-Marie Nanny in NJ

Anonymous said...

It was a nanny that blew the scam wide open!

"But one day in October 2007, when their twins were supposedly off at the zoo, the Oshers got a tip from a second nanny that worked for them."

Nannies are good!

Melissa, Nanny in Virginia

Anonymous said...

Although this nanny's actions were reprehensible were any laws broken? A professional caregiver and smart parents would have had a work agreement and rules of the household would have been spelled out. This story is one of many proving that nannies and parents need to have contracts signed with strict rules and consequences included in the work agreement.

This story is proof that we must regulate the nanny industry. Let's stop dragging our feet and get a national credential exam. Fact is despite the professional nanny organizations and support groups and nanny placement agencies trying to do a professional job the majority of nannies are illegal immigrants, they work without signed job contracts,caregivers are paid under the table, the nannies themselves aren't getting educated, they aren't looking to further their careers, they aren't members of INA or NANC or local nanny support groups, and they absolutely feel disrespected, exploitated and angry.

The nannies that comment here are of a much higher caliber than the typical nanny. Let's face it, to save money parents are taking the lowest paying caregiver they can find and the results are as described in this article.

Mercedes, Nanny in MA

Anonymous said...

I just posted this on NPR's site as Janice urged in her comment.
Becky Kavanagh, Nanny Minnesota

The advice of given here by the other career professional nannies is sound and accurate. There are so many red flags about this "nanny" that is is amazing that it could have continued for five years without any suspicion.
The nanny-family relationship is unique in its personal nature. Unlike other employee-employer dynamics its very personal and emotionally charged. All the more reason to use experienced reputable nanny placement agencies. These agencies prescreen families and nannies, do background checks, talk with references personally, assess skill sets and then make recommendations about potential placements. An agency can be a great resource for the family and the nanny.
Families who choose to do the search on their own take on responsibility for prescreening, and some families prefer handling this themselves.
Regardless of the hiring method parents should be active in assessing the nanny's job performance - dealing with issues or concerns, working with the nanny to find solutions, and praising for work well done.
There are many of us who dedicate ourselves to serving children and families with the highest quality of care. Each story like this one is a blow to us personally and professionally.

Anonymous said...

I wonder, did the parents use a nanny placement agency? I mean, we've heard of the dangers of anonymous craiglist job postings (remember the nanny killed for going to a possible job interview found on craigs list). At least when you use a reputable agency there's another set of eyes and ears helping you determine who is a good employee. Agencies won't work with nannies they feel have a bad history. They just make up an excuse why they cannot find jobs for them or even tell them flat-out they won't work with them because: they left a family on bad terms, have a criminal record, references weren't valid, and so on.

Kids are worth hiring the best. There are agencies catering to all different types of families of different level of afluence. And I'm psyched the nanny was "found out" by another nanny. Most nannies would protect a child at all costs. I hate hearing nannies that complain about their jobs, just find another job then, it's a free country, you are in the wrong field.

As nannies we are advocates for children. If you see bad behavior on the part of a caregiver tell the parents immediately!

Belinda, Nanny Houston TX

Anonymous said...

There are just too many questions to be answered at this point to blame anyone else than the caregiver. She was a con-artist, plain and simple. She was trying to double her salary by working two jobs at once. It's her fault not the kids or parents fault at all.
Colleen Nanny in NJ

Anonymous said...

I am sure the families didn't do much screening-or else something would have had to been a red flag from the get-go.

This so called "nanny" was someone who was able to keep a scam going for 5 years! so I am sure she is pretty professional at it! and BSing her way around everything.

I'm embarrassed to admit- but I do know some people that are here illegally and have so many fake ID's/ etc.
There is a whole network /business created just for this purpose, that it's not hard to fake who you are. Some even have a complete network of people that they have on hand to give out as references. As well as, have fake CPR/1st Aid cards - Driver's Lic. etc. Childcare Degree's (I have seen the fake DL- and you'd never know...)

I have to say a lot of the public is clueless when it comes to hiring a nanny-(just look at all the people who have had such a bad exp. with hiring their first nanny.)

Many families can't afford to hire a nanny agency...so they just ask around town- for the families with nannies and if they know anyone.

There is one town in my area-Ridgewood, NJ where there are SO MANY illegal nannies who work no less than 60 hours per week-
live in on the weekdays and go home on the weekends- and earn no more than $10-$12 per hour. (I am not saying they are bad nannies- and don't work hard- but I know many are horribly taken advantage of- because they don't speak/write English well or drive.)

When this is the norm- that is what the public thinks nannies do and that a low salary is the going rate.

I can't tell you how many times I've talked with families on the phone and they are just so trusting it scares me!
I've also gone to interviews and the families don't have a clue on a single question to ask me. They just want to know that I will work such and such hours.

It's sad...we really need to keep trying to educate the public...and get the nanny industry regulated somehow. NANC (National Assocation for Nanny Care) is trying their hardest-to create a nanny credential exam -
http://www.nannycredential.org/page/page/4227227.htm
but it's the $$$$$ that it takes to get something like this going that is holding them back.

Anonymous said...

Nannies don't typically make enough money to support efforts like credential exams or joining professional nanny organizations.

But I do think there are a lot of great nannies. Lots of professionals (teachers)and mothers who become nannies. Most nannies (whether legal or not, educated or not, experienced or not)are great, caring, honest, people. Just attending a few local nanny support group outings I have met so many professional, top-notch, caregivers. There are high caliber nannies. It's just there are some bad apples in every group. There are bad cops, bad priests, bad teachers, but most people aren't bad. The con-artist in the article is NOT THE NORM. We (nannies)are the norm. We are good, hard-working caregivers who want to make a valuable contribution to the children we care for. I don't feel taken advantage of by my employers. They aren't paying me little or being mean.

Come on, nannies on the whole are good!!!
Dena Prof Nanny 15 years Greenwich CT

Anonymous said...

Dena, not only do nannies not make enough money they don't have the time to being attending nanny functions either. Domestics work long, long hours.

Andrea Flagg said...

I disagree with nannies not being able to earn enough money to join professional organizations.

Yes, some are expensive, such as INA-(International Nanny Assoc. who charge nearly $100 for a year's membership, and approx. $300 for their conference.

However, NANC (National Association for Nanny Care) is only $15 per year for membership.
The conf. is a bit costly, about $100 but they have grants that are available for nannies to be able to attend.

Then there are Nanny Support Group- almost one in every state, and many are free- or only charge $15 to $30 per year. Which is $2.50 or less each month.

There are also FREE workshops given by LakeShore Learning Center.

I know many nannies, on all levels, work long hours- but once in a while you do need to find time to pursue networking with other nannies and make that a priority. If someone working as a nanny really wanted to pursue bettering themselves and becoming active in the nanny community, they could do it.

I have personally reached out to many, many nannies, but for some reason they chose not to become involved. My guess is that most are "undocumented" and afraid they maybe called out upon it.

How can we, as devoted ladies, to the nanny profession, reach out to these types of nannies who need the education and resources to learn to better themselves and not be taken advantage of?

I'd really like to find a way, and band together with other serious minded nannies across the nation so that in the end more children will have better quality nannies.

Andrea Flagg- Nanny Alliance of NY & NJ
www.nannyalliancenyandnj.com

Anonymous said...

Dear Mercedes:
Law or no law she knew these were actions the parents would not condone. Any person in their right frame of mind would know she would get fired for doing this scam.

It is clear that the con artist nanny knew that what she was doing was wrong or she wouldn't have been hiding what she was doing. She wouldn't have needed the code word "library" if she didn't think what she was doing would get her fired. So, law or no law she clearly could be fired for due cause. Doesn't matter if they had a written contract or not. The parents were paying HER to care for the kids, not the stranger. She may not do jail time but I sure hope she pays the family back every dime they paid her.
Nanny in NJ

Anonymous said...

The thing is Andrea where I live (in North East of the country -- I won't embarrass them by listing the name of the group) the nanny that used to run the nanny group (not up and running anymore)was egocentric and was so annoying that ladies would say they would come to social events and workshops but at the last minute they don't come. People not attending at the last minute also has to do with the fact that we work long hours and are tired. I don't see how my fees helped me when I can meet nannies for free through my agency's volunteer contact information sheet and friends in the neighborhood. I also hang out with mothers.

I'M NOT SAYING YOUR GROUPS IS LIKE THAT. But most nannies just make their own friends around the neighborhood because we work such long hours. In my local group's case, it just wasn't my cup of tea.

But, I think the nanny in the article is not a typical nanny. A nanny doesn't even need experience or good pay to be a great nanny actually. Good people do good things and bad people to bad things. Nanny groups, education, good salary have little to do with whether you are a con-artist.
Boston area nanny

Anonymous said...

Let's emphasize the positive, a nanny was the whistle-blower on this scam. The lady deserves to be prosecuted, I just don't know how. I am fortunate to have never met such an immoral soul as this con-artist nanny.
Linda in Arizona

Janice St. Clair said...

Regarding nannies dropping their kids with another nanny to get a break (pedicures, etc.), from the way you paint the situation, it sounds as if they don't reciprocate and watch your nannykids while you take a break. IF it's OK with the parents, having a playgroup or playdate which gives each nanny- or parent-member a turn to take an hour or so off while the other adults watch the kids is a great arrangement. But it has to be OK with the parents, and it's not fair unless all the nannies involved get a turn for a break.

Janice St. Clair said...

Regarding Nanny Support Groups:
It's true that nanny groups have different personalities which may not be a good match for individual nannies, and may not offer what nannies are looking for. It's great if you are in a neighborhood in which you can find other like-minded nannies and/or parents to make friends with. (Sadly, in some neighborhoods there are no good places to meet and make such friends, or no friendly good-match nannies/parents in local playgrounds or other play-places. I was stark raving lonely when my nanny family moved to such a neighborhood in 1999, until I started BANSG.)

Adult contact and conversation is such a sanity-saver while working with young children! Having nanny friends gives us a much-needed expanded view of our job, from others who know from the inside what we do for a living. It's a great help to me, being able to draw on other nannies' experience and knowledge!

Some nannies don't WANT to get together in groups, and as someone pointed out, there is the exhaustion after work factor. So I offer a "Nanny Networking" option, so nannies can post in the email BANSG newsletters that they are looking for other nannies who live or work in their neighborhood for playdates or after-work get-togethers. This might be a nice service for other groups to offer. Be sure to post email addresses only as contact information (even cell phone numbers have reverse directories, allowing predators to find home addresses), and to advise nannies to meet first in a public place as a standard internet safety precaution.

Boston Area Nanny Support Group
http://BANSG.info

Anonymous said...

Don't fret Janice, I doubt very much the nanny who wasn't liking her nanny group was talking about you. SHE WAS NOT talking about you is what I'm thinking. Nannies should network how ever they can as long as they do nothing their employers would not approve of during working hours.
Nanny Linda in Bay Area CA

Anonymous said...

In the unfortunate cycle of employer/employee abuses, the victims are too often the children. While employers often do not clarify everything expected upfront, dumb down the actual job requirements and after employment amend expectations, nannies with reservations about possible retribution frequently hesitate to communicate to employers when they feel tasks are being thrust upon them without their agreement. The recourse the nanny then takes is to complete tasks unsatisfactorily, punish the children for minor transgressions, use family resources to fulfil personal needs and many other unacceptable acts. It is necessary to enforce a clear contract at the inception of the business relationship to foster protection of everyones rights. I am unsure that any harm came to the children in the article. If they were harmed, shame on the nanny and justice be served. As it reads it seems there may have been only a breach of expected service.