Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Pre-Screened Nannies?

Three Nanny Web Sites Remove "Pre-Screened Nannies" from Advertising

We have all heard the tragic story of a nanny Douglas Shepherd, 23, of Fort Myers, Florida who has just recently been charged of aggravated sexual assault and lewd conduct with a child. The caregiver was hired by the parents who found the nanny on a nanny web site.

Yesterday, Be the Best Nanny Newsletter heard complaints from a nanny about parents in Bergen County, New Jersey that feel they were intentionally misled by a nanny web site that advertises that they pre-screen their nanny candidates.

The truth is that no nanny web sites pre-screen nanny candidates.
When the parents from New Jersey contacted the nanny web site for assistance with the troublesome nanny candidate found on the web site, the company just emailed the parents stating that they cannot help them with the matter.

There are also reputable nanny web sites that make it clear that the parents must do all screening and conduct the background checks themselves when using a nanny web site to find nannies. Most nanny web sites do not intend to mislead parents into believing they have screened nanny job candidates.

But, some nanny web sites intentionally mislead parents by stating in their advertising that their site contains pre-screened nannies.

This morning (Wednesday, July 8, 2009) we searched the Web by googling "pre-screened nannies" and found five nanny web sites advertising on the Internet that claim they list pre-screened nannies on their web sites. In fact, the very nanny web site the parents from New Jersey accused of falsely advertising they have pre-screened nannies, did indeed have that advertisement online.

The great news is: after we contacted that nanny web site about their misleading advertisement they immediately started removing the misleading information from the Internet. In fact, their web site was properly worded, it was just their advertisements that improperly stated, "pre-screened nannies."

We have also contacted the other four web sites. Two more of those web site owners assured us they have started removing the inaccurate information in their advertising.

We are still waiting for responses from two well-known nanny web sites that have stated in their Internet advertisements that they provide pre-screened caregivers listed on their web sites.

To give the web site owners more time to respond, we will continue the discussion tomorrow. At that time we will quote the responses we receive from the popular nanny web sites owners who were found to have misleading advertising.

We will also include information from reputable nanny web sites that do not mislead potential clients in their advertising and reputable nanny placement agency owners about this important topic.

14 comments:

Anonymous said...

I just want to say it's great that you influenced 3 business owners to adjust their misleading advertisements in less than one day. I know you said you weren't really looking for any misleading advertising -- but it just turned that way and sadly it turned out worse than expected.

It is just great news that 3 businesses are more than willing to change the wording of their ads promptly. I really hope they all continue to do so. It is such an important topic, caring for children and screening caregivers. Parents should never, ever be cheap when it involves their children's safety.

But some parents will still choose to overlook the facts stated right on the nanny web sites warning them to conduct the screening and background checks themselves. I look forward to tomorrow's update.
Au pair employer/parent
Glen Ridge NJ

Anonymous said...

I like a sight,,,yet they just post the information like a classified ad, then its up to both employee/employer to do further research.
Lee Ellen

Anonymous said...

No kidding that was fast. That's great news the business owners are willing to re-word their ads since they really are misleading. Filling out an online application isn't screening. I see the sites I have ever used all state they do not screen or check backgrounds. Now that I think about it I'm not at all certain my former employers did more than call my references. Uh oh.

I think it's also important to tell parents that you get what you pay for! If a parent thinks a ten dollar background check is comprhensive they are WRONG!

Prof Nanny Lauren, New York NY

Anonymous said...

I have a website where I used to allow for anyone to place their profile, now all nannies on the website will be interviewed, prescreened and background checked, as well as have each reference checked. My numbers of nannies will be lower and parents will have to pay more for service but in the long run. I will be giving parents quality and nannies, better jobs. I also will verify each family by doing a special background verification. More work, but in the long run I think quality will pay out. Not putting out my website until all work is done. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Excellent points about the misleading nature of pre-screening.
Bottom line is that the parent must exercise due diligence when hiring a nanny. Even if an agency has checked references, the parent must also do it, plus the criminal checks.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a parent but as far as I know no parent ever checked my background or credit history. Don't you have to sign to allow the background check? No one checked mine. References were called but you know people can fake references also.

Why didn't the anonymous website owner above that says, "now all nannies on the website will be interviewed, prescreened and background checked, as well as have each reference checked" didn't add that to the article itself? I'm just saying it sounds admirable so tell us in the article today? Right? The article says there will be quotes today.

Megan, NJ Nanny

Just g said...

Great job Stephanie. I am so glad you got results on this.

Anonymous said...

Seriously I just googled too and it's out of control especially sittercity.com and care.com

Glenda, Morristown NJ

Anonymous said...

I think Glenda in morristown should have waited to see the responses from the nanny web site owners what if those are the sites changing their ads? I did the same google search and found many more than just the two sites listed above, but you are correct that it is misleading and it is out of control.

NannyMichelleDE said...

Well nanny agencies (not all)are known to post misleading ads. I read on this blog once president of Alliance of Professional Nanny Agencies Annie Davis that proper practices of agencies are not to advertise classifieds as if they are parents than pull a switch when the nanny calls interested in the job saying something like: "Sorry that job is no longer available but we have others you might like." Sometimes they don't care about improper advertising methods because they don't care as long as they get the business.

Problem with nanny web sites advertising they pre-screen is that nanny placement agencies really only do that. Nanny web sites do not have the manpower to do that work. You really think they are pre-screening all of those hundreds of nannies by calling their references for example? In the definitions of pre-screening they would need to be calling references, checking if they are legal to work in the usa and more.... You think they are able to do that?

I'm not angry with nanny web sites they are great for parents and nannies, but they do not offer the services of placement agencies. They shouldn't be allowed to mislead parents into thinking they (the nanny web sites) are protecting them because they cannot possibly have that manpower to do the job of referral agencies.

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to put a name and face to what sometimes seem like faceless websites. My name is Monta Fleming, and I'm the President and founder of GoNannies.com. We're one of the largest nationwide online nanny sites. Thank you, Stephanie, for presenting such a balanced overview of a really critical issue. And double kudos for encouraging those 3 websites to take action!

People should know that, just like the woman who posted that she wanted to create a site of integrity, there ARE already a few of us out there. I have 3 small children myself and know first hand the concerns, questions, and even fears that parents have when they need to find a trustworthy nanny. I actually created the site for that very reason after I had my first child 7 years ago. Both my staff and I take extreme pride in the honesty, integrity, and hands-on guidance we provide to our customers to make sure they are aware of and guided toward conducting proper screening. We would never compromise our families' or our nannies' safety to win business and, quite frankly, marvel at how people who do can sleep at night. We sincerely feel that we offer the best of both worlds to our customers, providing experienced hand-holding and guidance via our live "Anything-You-Need" customer support paired with the undeniable conveniences both families and nannies gain from our online features. We feel that as long as we continue to be passionate in our efforts to keep our customers educated about how to conduct a safe and thorough screening process AND provide them the resources to do so, we are offering them an amazing value and service, WITHOUT compromising their safety.

I say all this to re-iterate the fact that not all online sites are the same. If you're ever unsure about the integrity of a site and the services they offer, call them and see what kind of response and support you receive--that will always tell you!

A technical note: People should be aware of how Google sponsored ads work when searching for the term "pre-screened nannies". Sites who advertise for the generic word "nannies" will show up whenever any term that INCLUDES the word "nannies" is searched for. So even though a site may be listed, does not mean it advertises specifically for that term. In fact, many of the sites returned for the search term "pre-screened nannies" do not actually advertise pre-screened nannies, including us. We do not, have not, and never will advertise that we pre-screen nannies in any way.

VaVoca said...

Another site where you can find nannies and babysitters, etc. is VaVoca www.vavoca.com.
A new startup that is a completely free concept for posting ads and finding service providers. Again, ALWAYS do reference and background checks on anyone you have come into your home. It's just the smart thing to do.

Anonymous said...

Nanny websites are bulletin boards. If anyone (nanny or parent) sees them as anything more they are mistaken.

People lie and it's easier to lie on a nanny website, craigslist and such than anywhere else.

Nanny website = bulletin board

Ana, Ocean City

Anonymous said...

I just googled prescreened nannies and sittercity.com and care.com still are advertising they have prescreened nannies.

sitter-finder.com operated by care.com advertising prescreened nannies in salt lake city and in Seattle Weekly

www.findmebabysitters.com/ advertises prescreened nannies and is operated by sittercity.com

I did notice many were removed from other locations though which is good.