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Nanny 911: Top Warning Signs You Need Another Nanny Check - And An Investigator

  • November 14, 2006
  • by PInow Staff

Parents are increasingly worried about the caregivers who care for their children. While carefully pre-employment screening can help parents find qualified nannies and babysitters, parents need to remain vigilant even after hiring, as problems can occur at any time.

According to 2002 census studies, about 360,000 US children (or about 3.7%) were cared for by non-relatives in their own home. These childcare workers included au pairs, babysitters, and nannies working in the child's family home. Given that so many parents are allowing caregivers into their home - and trusting these individuals with the welfare of their children - it is not surprising that many parents worry about the care their children receive. High-profile cases of nannies and babysitters accused of abuse only heighten anxiety.

Before Hiring A Nanny

To get the best possible care for their children, parents need to be proactive in hiring the best possible caregivers. Complex hiring laws mean that parents cannot always ask the questions they wish to ask in order to hire the best possible nanny or babysitter. Caregiver agencies may or may not have strict hiring guidelines in place, so an agency is not always a better option. To really find out whether a caregiver is safe, parents need to turn to an experienced, local investigator, who can conduct a completely legal but thorough pre-employment check on the caregiver.

Note: When hiring a company to do any type of pre-employment screen you should make sure that they are a licensed Consumer Reporting Agency and provide their services in accordance with the Fair Credit Reporting Act.

Potential Signs of Trouble

Even when parents have chosen a babysitter, nanny, or caregiver wisely, child safety is not guaranteed. Parents need to remain alert, since changes in the nanny's personal life may affect the caregiver's behavior after the caregivers are hired. A nanny may not have a record of reckless driving or criminal behavior but can develop serious problems at any time. Staying alert for signs of trouble include watching for the following signs:

  • Sudden lack of communication. Good caregivers spend time talking with parents and with children. This helps keep lines of communication open and helps put everyone at ease. If a nanny suddenly becomes withdrawn, there may be a personal problem or issue that needs to be resolved.

  • Changes in appearance, weight, or personal hygiene habits. Again, this can be a sign of a worry or problem. It can also signal a problem that can affect the caregiver's ability to do their job. Parents should ask whether everything is alright and make an offer of help.

  • A new group of friends that seem to be a bad influence. Not every parent knows who their nanny or caregiver socializes with. However, if a parent suddenly notices their caregiver spending time with questionable persons, that may be a sign of trouble.

  • Sudden changes in behavior.

  • Sudden changes in children's behavior. If children suddenly have an issue with the caregiver or seem to be having more accidents than normal, resulting in bruises, it is time for parents to get involved.

  • Others report signs of problems. Parents may be among the last to know that a caregiver is in trouble. All reports of potential problems must be taken seriously.

Any parent who notices signs of trouble after hiring a nanny should contact a qualified private investigator for help. An experienced private investigator can run a discreet and completely legal investigation to ensure that the children are safe and well cared for.

Are Nanny Cams The Answer?

Many parents worry even when there are no warning signs of trouble. After all, in some cases, there are no signs of problems until disaster strikes. Some people are simply very good at hiding neglect, criminal behavior, or personal problems. As a result, some parents consider nanny cams as a possible solution. These hidden cameras monitor nannies and caregivers occasionally or around the clock, giving parents a sneak peek at what goes on when the caregiver is left alone with children.

Nanny cams can uncover and stop child abuse and neglect. They can also be an inexpensive way to get some peace of mind. However, these types of spy cameras can cause a number of legal hassles. In many cases, videotaping someone without their consent can lead to lawsuits. In California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington it is illegal to tape someone without their consent. At the very least, videotaping a caregiver without getting their consent can lead to friction and to a termination of employment not what most parents want when they find a qualified caregiver.

The solution is to ask for permission before installing a nanny cam. Parents who think there may be something amiss need to take additional steps it is unlikely that caregivers will allow themselves to be caught on tape neglecting or abusing their charges. A better solution is a private investigator, who can set up a surveillance system in the home and legally gather evidence that will stand up in court. A qualified investigator will provide more thorough information than a nanny cam and will do a better job of protecting children from potential abuse and neglect.

Parents everywhere can use the Worldwide Directory of Private Investigators to find local, qualified investigators who can help them run nanny background checks or investigate caregivers. For real results from professional investigators, the Worldwide Directory of Private Investigators is the smart parents choice.

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