Saturday, January 3, 2009

Nanny Cams

How to Build Trust Between Parents and Nannies.

This week we will discuss issues of privacy for nannies. We will start by discussing nanny cams.

It is estimated that more than one million cases of child abuse occur in the United States annually. A very small percentage of these cases involve nannies.

In 2001, the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention reported that merely four percent (4%) of child abuse cases were caused by caregivers, nannies, and baby-sitters. http://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/ojjdp/189102.pdf

What can and should employers do to prevent abuse or neglect by nannies?

The Best Defense for Parents is to Conduct:

1. Comprehensive Interviews
Although parents can start interviewing nanny candidates by exchanging emails or by speaking on the phone, parents should have an in-person interview before hiring a nanny. Find interview questions at: http://www.bestnannynewsletter.com/moreadvice.htm#8

2. Diligent Background Checks
Ask to see originals of the caregiver’s driver’s license, social security card, CPR/First Aid certificates, and diplomas. If the parents are hiring a caregiver without the assistance of a nanny referral agency they ought to perform inexpensive background checks themselves. http://www.bestnannynewsletter.com/moreadvice.htm#5

3. Criminal Checks
One of the advantages of using a reputable nanny placement agency is they know how to perform background checks and criminal checks. But parents can perform a criminal check on a nanny candidate themselves for about $50. http://www.bestnannynewsletter.com/moreadvice.htm#5

4. Reference Checks
Even when parents hire a reputable nanny placement agency to help hire a caregiver, they should call the job seekers references themselves to ensure the references are valid and to ask the specific questions important to the parents.

Even after conducting thorough interviews, background checks, and reference checks some parents may still feel uneasy or suspicious leaving their children alone at home with a new caregiver or worry about damages to their homes or theft of personal property.

Using nanny cams in homes is an emotional debate between parents and nannies.

But, surveillance cameras are an extension of what is already present in most stores, malls, and daycare centers throughout the nation.

It is legal to use nanny cams in private homes. Parents may install visible or hidden surveillance cameras that may record or transmit the activities of nannies in their homes. The cameras do not abridge the rights of nannies when they are placed in the public or common areas of homes.

Cameras may not be placed in bedrooms or in bathrooms. It is also illegal in 15 states to record sound. It is illegal to record speech without a person's consent in the following states: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington.

Many nannies feel that the use of nanny cams is insulting and a sign of mistrust.

Whether caregivers approve of the use of video surveillance in the homes they work in or not, nannies prefer being told if cameras are installed rather than stumbling across the surveillance by accident.

OTHER WAYS NANNIES CAN GAIN TRUST OF PARENTS:
1. Introduce their employers to their friends and family.
2. Show accountability.
3. Listen to the parents and honor the parents’ concerns.
4. Be open about anything concerning the children.
5. Do not gossip about the family.
6. Keep a daily log to communicate about the children. http://www.bestnannynewsletter.com/moreadvice.htm#17
7. Have informal weekly meetings to maintain open communication with parents about the children and the job. http://www.bestnannynewsletter.com/advice.htm#2

We will continue discussing privacy issues for nannies tomorrow.

Have you ever worked for a family that uses nanny cams? Comment below.

22 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yes. Of all my family-employers, one set of parents had cameras running all over the house. Although there were three children and I had some contact with all of them, my only duties were the care of a very sick infant. The job lasted for a year until the baby had recovered. Although no one mentioned the cameras before hiring, I saw them in action soon enough since all action could be viewed through a main computer. The fact of the cameras didn't bother me at all.

Anonymous said...

I have never seen any nanny cams in the homes I have worked in but I would be very insulted if I accidentally ran across them.

I don’t know how to ask parents if they have nanny cams. Although I should ask parents if they have nanny cams I have worked for five families and never asked if they had nanny cams.

How do you ask that without sounding paranoid?

Kelly Lawlor
Nanny of 2 boys in Northern NJ

Anonymous said...

I am a parent and the nanny cam is there to help you the parent protect your children and your home when you are not.

Nannies, don't be insulted they are used nationwide in street lights, stores, hospitals, daycares, everywhere.
Pamela mother in NJ

Anonymous said...

Hi, it's Nanny Bethany in Florida.

Wake up parents! You want to prevent the abuse from happening in the first place! Catching abuse after the fact is the worst possible outcome.

The tips above of conducting proper interviews, reference checks, and background checks are more effective then trying to "catch" a caregiver slip-up with a video camera. Much better to ensure you are hiring a great, trustworthy, caregiver than catching the nanny mess-up.

Take the preventative measures of interviewing and spend a little cash to perform background and criminal checks, and call the references as listed above. If the nanny lies don't hire her!!!

Anonymous said...

Kelly L. You just ask. They won't think you are paranoid. It is just a question, one of many you ask while interviewing.

Anonymous said...

It doesn't bother me. I'm confident I do my job well. Lisa in New York

Anonymous said...

If the parents expect that a nanny will do something worth catching on a nanny cam they should not hire the nanny in the first place. If they suspect that the nanny is doing something wrong, then the employee should be fired right away. Nanny cams should't be necessary.

Melissa in VA

Anonymous said...

I am happy to read the ideas on how to prevent hiring the wrong person. Prevent the abuse rather than trying to find out about after-the-fact. I think stroller license plates and nanny cams make parents feel paranoid. I don't think nannies should not feel badly if they are being taped by video surveillance simply because the worst thing the parents will ever see me doing is overeating. Their kids are safe in my care.
Nanny in Arizona

Anonymous said...

My suggestion is to be an open book. I answer any question the parents ask during an interview. No one wants to be asked about religion, sexual preferance, age or so on during interviews. I let them ask anything. Give me a drug test. Video tape me. I have nothing to hide. That way they can trust me and we can talk about anything.
Tanisha, Nanny in Nevada

Anonymous said...

I read in this newsletter before the advice columnist Anne Merchant wrote something like "Go ahead and tape. Boring footage." The parents will tire of watching nannies reading to their kids, making them lunch, and possibly even taking a rest with the child (oh the horror!). Good nannies have nothing to worry about.
Wisconsin nanny

Anonymous said...

I am a good nanny and will never hurt a child. But, I still don’t want there to be a nanny cam in the house I work in. Logic has nothing to do with it. I would be insulted if I figured out there were nanny cams. Makes me 100% uncomfortable. Doesn’t matter that my worse sin will be either overeating or sitting down for half an hour to take a rest while an infant sleeps. To stumble on video cameras would bother me big time! Waste of the parents’ time and money. Why spend all the time and money on background checks if you don't trust the employee anyway? Fidning a nanny cam unexpectadly would make me want to find another job.
Nanny in Hawaii

Anonymous said...

Does anybody really schedule weekly meetings without the children present? I mean we try but it's nearly impossible with the 55 hour week the parents are out of the house working and commuting each week. I write in the log, that's helpful for sure. We just don't see one another enough to meet weekly.

Re: Nanny Cams: I too would be insulted if I found nanny cams. The other ideas listed in article make more sense as ways to prevent hiring a potentially abusive nanny in the first place. If nanny cams really work then parents should tell nannies they have them even if they don't to promote good work.

Nanny in the Seattle Area

Anonymous said...

All the time I wasted complaining to the nanny cam thinking the parents could hear me?!

Janice St. Clair said...

One nanny (from Nanny Alliance of NY and NJ) summed up a discussion on nanny cams from a chatlist, and I think she did a great job:

When dealing with the media-
  Stay positive, don't let them sway you into telling YOUR bad nanny stories...
  (we all know that the media thrives on that...and will dig and dig and then twist your words or just use half of your sentence and leave off the rest-
 
  A while back we all tried to come up with a united viewpoint on NannyCams-
  The following was what I  came up with after hearing everyone's input.
  ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Nanny Cams have their place, and might catch the few abusive childcare givers out there, but it is ALWAYS -AFTER the abuse has occurred. NOTHING can replace careful and thorough screening by the parents before hiring a nanny.

The most essential thing a parent can do to keep their children safe is to do
extensive interviewing, background checking, and reference checking to find a
nanny they are comfortable with. Making sure the nanny has the proper training,
CPR, 1st Aid, etc. is also key.

I personally would not leave a child under the age of 4 with any
caregiver who does not have at least 2-3 years full-time nanny
experience and a stellar background, current CPR and 1st Aid Training and membership in nanny/childcare organizations.

I am not saying that nanny cams are a bad idea...
but they should NOT be and CANNOT be a parent's first line of
defense.

It's a parents responsibility to keep their child safe,
therefore, as I already said, they should rely far more on
interviewing, reference checking, and background checking to find
the best possible nanny for their family. Parents should never leave
their child with anyone they have concerns with.

Andrea Flagg said...

I understand the delima of parents trying to ensure the safety of their children.
At my first nanny job I was nanny camed.
At the first interview the parents asked me:
"How would you feel if we used a nanny cam, so we could see how our child's day was going?"

I was a new nanny, and knew the parents were weary becuase it was the hieght of the "Louise Woodward" au pair trail.

It takes a while to earn the trust of a parent.
But how can nannies do that without having parents resort to using a nanny cam/GPS/Stroller Lic.Plate or the posts of I saw your nanny?

It's so sad that these "nanny industry products" or websites NEVER tell families on how to screen nannies better!
You may think the idea of a nanny cam, stroller license plate, or a website dedicated to tattling on nannies is a good idea, but in the end-... it's just a band-aid on the problem of families not being confident in the nanny they have chosen.

In my opinion having an outward sign like a stroller license plate just screams out to the public: "HEY I DON'T TRUST MY NANNY!"……I hope by putting this stroller license plate on my child's stroller, strangers will tattle on my nanny, so I can be sure my nanny is not hurting or neglecting my child!"

If parents want to check up on the nanny- there are better ways- than relaying on strangers or busy-bodies to tattle on a nanny.

I think there are several options to nanny cams- and ensuring you have a good nanny.

*HERE ARE SOME SUGGESTIONS:
*Check references yourself- don't rely on nanny agencies to give you all the details.

*Ask to see originals of the nannies: driver’s license, CPR/1St Aid. Cards/Diplomas ( a good nanny will be proud to show her accomplishments!)

*Call home at different times during the day to check in.
If your nanny often sounds frazzled or upset or if the children are usually crying- that should be a warning sign.

*Drop by at unexpected times.

*Have neighbors, friends, or relatives drop by unannounced while the nanny is working.

*Ask your child’s teachers what their first-hand feedback is regarding what they see whle the child is with the nanny.

* Meet up with the nanny during the day for lunch or at your child's classes/ OR~ have someone else you know have playdates with them, and then give you feedback on how they feel the nanny and your child interact.

*See how your child responds to the nanny-
see how nanny responds to the child(ren)-
Are they happy to see each other? (I know there can be certain separation anxiety issues, but on a whole, is the child comfortable with the nanny?)

*How does your home look at the end of the day? Is the nanny able and capable of completing her required duties each day? Does the nanny take care and pride with your child's things? or does she just throw them around?

*Communicate and let your nanny know she/he can talk openly with you at anytime.

*Have the nanny keep a daily detailed written child/nanny log, it does not have to be fancy, a note book works well, with a run down of your child(ren)’s day. It will help greatly to open the lines of communication as well as help you keep an on-going record of your child's day. In addition it will offer the opportunity to write notes back and forth to each other on various issues/topics/reminders.

*Have the NANNY video tape and take pictures.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
A serious nanny will:
~ Continue her involvement in child-related education.

~Keep current her CPR and 1st Aid Certification.

~Be a member of a nanny support group. http://www.nannycredential.org/page/page/4225840.htm

~Be a member of a nanny organization, such as, the National Association for Nanny Care (NANC) http://www.nannycredential.org/page/page/4225838.htm
~or~
National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).
http://njaeyc.org/
International Nanny Association (INA)
www.nanny.org

I feel if a parent has a bad feeling regarding the care their child is receiving from the nanny they need to act on that and go with their gut immediately. That is why I strongly feel that families should only hire nannies with at least two full years of nanny experience and stellar references if their children are under 4 years old.

*Other good signs to be certain your nanny and your child are a good match are:

~Is your child thriving under the nannies care?

~Is the nanny enthusiastic to share new developments and milestones your child has reached or gives you feedback on how to help your child?

These are the things that are going to give you peace of mind.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I hope anyone that disrespects nannies reads these posts someday. There are some great, smart, educational comments. Thanks. I'm learning a lot. Sarah in Boston

Anonymous said...

Great advice from newsletter and great informative comments ladies! See, nannies are smart!!

aaronasjones said...

Thank you for sharing this information.
"Nanny Cams

Clifford said...

Very nice tips. Thanks for sharing!
Nanny Cams

background check said...

it's good to have background check first before you get a nanny for the protection and safeness of your family especially to your children because many nannies are abusing or neglecting a child.

Abbey Hudson said...

Nice information thanks for share,get related like your post on A little advice on the use of a nanny camera .

Vitus said...

This week we will discuss issues of privacy for nannies. We will start by discussing nanny cams. It is estimated that more than one million cases ... nnannycameras.blogspot.com