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How to find and hire a nanny

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Find out what a nanny is and what they do, how much a nanny costs, where to find a nanny in New Zealand, and how to hire a nanny once you find one.

The term ‘nanny’ generally refers to a person who cares for children in their employer’s home. This is the broadest definition of the term.

There are several other terms based on education of the person, duties, hours worked and whether she lives in your home or her own home that are more specifically used to refer to the person who cares for your child in your home.

How to find and hire a nanny

The following are some of these terms and what their responsibilities may be:

What is a nanny?

Babysitter

A babysitter provides care for children on an irregular basis and may be a neighbour, family friend, an older friend whose children are grown and so on.

Au Pair (Foreigner)

An Au Pair is someone who is a foreigner visiting the country for a year or so to experience life in another culture while looking after children. This person lives as part of the host family and receives a small allowance in exchange for baby-sitting and helping with homework. This person may or may not have previous childcare experience. We have more about Au Pair’s here.

Parent/Mother’s Helper

A parent/mother helper generally provides full-time help with child care and domestic duties for the family. There is usually one parent at home with the helper most of the time. When there is not a parent present the helper will have responsibility for any children for a short term. This person may or may not live with the family and may or may not have previous child care experience.

Nanny

A nanny is employed by the family to carry out all the tasks related to the care of the family’s children.

The duties of a nanny are usually limited to child care and the domestic tasks related to it. Depending on her job description, a nanny’s domestic tasks may include cleaning children’s rooms, organising their washing, shopping for their clothing and organising birthday parties. A list of duties is usually agreed on when a job is offered.

A nanny may or may not have had nanny training and may have had training in Early Childhood courses. Nannies can work with any age group and whether they work full or part-time is up to her and the family she works for.

Trainee nanny

A trainee nanny is exactly the same as the above, but a trainee nanny will typically be aged 17-25 years old, with no formal training as a nanny. They may have had experience as a babysitter, or with younger family members, or even no experience at all.

As a trainee nanny family, you are responsible for the guidance of the trainee nanny. You must be based at home for at least 50% of the time the nanny is in your home. And you may be expected to complete some training paperwork.

The flipside to you helping the trainee nanny to learn their trade, is the substantial discount in cost. You will only pay between $100 – $260 for 2 – 4 days worth of work.

Nursery nurse

This is a term used in Great Britain to refer to a person who has received special training and preparation for caring for very young children. This person may work with the young child in or out of the family’s home and is responsible for everything relating to the care of the child in her charge. To be a nursery nurse a person must have specialised training in addition to having successfully passed the British certification examination of the Nursery Nurse Examination Board (NNEB).

For the purpose of this article the term ‘nanny’ has been used to refer to someone who works with your children in your home.

What does a nanny do?

In its most basic form a nanny’s role is to protect, love, play with, and teach the children in her care, and then to share her insights with you, the parent. As for specific activities, depending on how many hours/week a nanny is to work, most parents will want her to engage their children in activities that they’d like to do themselves, if only they could; some of that being a matter of time, some of it a matter of skills.

The other basic of the nanny’s duties is child-related housekeeping: care for children’s meals, laundry, rooms and personal belongings.

A wise word though. Don’t expect her to become the housekeeper, the maid, the family chauffeur and pet sitter, your personal assistant, or your best friend and confidant. Let her focus on your child.

Why would I hire a nanny?

Employing a nanny is another ECE option for you as a parent.

For some families, employing a nanny can often be a more practical and economical alternative to other childcare services. If you have two or more children at home that need childcare, having a nanny is often a cheaper option.

A nanny may have the advantage of being more flexible than other ECE services and having your child at home may be more desirable for you. A nanny may be able to cover those ‘emergency’ situations when you need to be at work and your child is unwell. Extended work hours can often be accommodated by a nanny also where other ECE providers may not be so flexible. They are also able to assist with after school care of your school-aged child/ren.

You also have the choice of employing a nanny who may ‘live-in’ with your family which would allow you even greater flexibility.

I want a nanny with qualifications. What should I look for?

In New Zealand the benchmark qualification for nanny education is the New Zealand Certificate in Nanny Education (previously known as the NZ Nanny Certificate). It is a qualification that is recognised overseas.

Undertaking this training ensures that a person receives both the comprehensive theoretical knowledge in the classroom and the very important practical skills they need to be able to look after children. This qualification assures potential employers that a nanny candidate is qualified to fulfil both the care and education aspects of the nanny role to a high professional level. This is a qualification you can expect your potential New Zealand nanny to hold.

You may find that there are nannies out there who hold no qualification at present but who are working towards an early childhood education qualification of some sort.

Where do I find a nanny in New Zealand?

In New Zealand there are many umbrella organisations that provide ECE services and more typically home-based care options (check our directory for options in your area).

These organisations act as agencies and make the connection between nanny and family very easy. The co-ordinator at the organisation will assess and match your needs against a nanny they have signed at their agency.

Alternatively you could advertise in your local newspaper for a nanny or ask around your community to see if anyone has any good leads on a nanny. Your research and interviewing will need to be a great deal more robust if you are going to take on the responsibility of finding a nanny on your own. A lot of the character and reference checks will have been taken care of already if you choose to go through an agency.

Whichever process you choose to go through we urge you to request and check references (or if going through an agency check that this process has happened), to interview thoroughly, and to have a trial run.

How much does a nanny cost?

The average hourly rate for a nanny is between $16 and $20 in the New Zealand provinces. However, if you are in Auckland you could expect to pay around $18 to $25 per hour, possibly up to $28 per hour for a top quality, highly experienced and qualified nanny.

It would also pay for you to get in touch with Inland Revenue as there will be tax issues you need to take into consideration when you are employing someone. They will be only too happy to give you accurate advice about how to tackle this. Alternatively you can visit their website at www.ird.govt.nz

There is also a Work and Income New Zealand (WINZ) childcare subsidy you may be entitled to. You may qualify for a Childcare Subsidy to assist in the cost of a Nanny if:

  • Your child is under 5 years, or under 6 years if you get a Child Disability Allowance.
  • Your family income is under a certain level.
  • You employ a Nanny.
  • You are a legal resident of New Zealand.
  • You commit to a minimum of two 6 hour days for a minimum of 12 Weeks (8 weeks if you have twins or triplets).

How many hours you qualify for depends on your individual situation. The minimum number of hours for application is 3, maximum is 50 hours per week. To see if you qualify visit www.workingforfamilies.govt.nz/documents/media-information/cca-and-asup-rates-2008.pdf

If you have a multiple birth you may also be entitled to extra funding for a nanny. Check the Multiple Birth Association website for info about this www.multiples.org.nz/index

How to interview a potential nanny

This can be the most difficult part of the process. There may be things you want to know but are afraid to ask in case they offend. You may also forget some ‘crucial’ asks.

It is also a good idea to do the interview in person. You don’t get quite the same response in writing or over the phone and you want to be able to gauge body language and tone in the answers the nanny will give you. Personality will be a huge part of how this person will fit in with your family so you need to meet them.

Following we have a list of questions that you may find helpful when recruiting a Nanny. You will want to pick and choose the questions that are right, and relevant for your situation.

Asking for examples is a great way to determine actual experience vs theory answers and saying the right thing.  The beauty of asking for examples is that “past behaviour is the best indicator of future performance”, they will help you get a very clear picture of how the Nanny actually handled a particular situation.

Question Area

Question Examples

Background/ Future

A picture of work history to-date and an idea of future plans that may or may not impact on your requirement

  • Tell me about your work history? Who have you previously worked for and for what period of time?
  • What is you most recent job? What was the reason for leaving?What is the best job you have ever had? What made it so good? What did you enjoy most about it?
  • What are your career goals 2 years and 5 years from now?

Child and Nanny Experience

Evidence and examples of experience and workstyle, demonstrating how the Nanny may interact and engage your children

  • What do you believe are the most critical factors in raising children?
  • What lead you to choosing ‘Nanny Work” as your career?
  • What do you like most about being a Nanny?What do you like least about being a Nanny?
  • What experience have you had, in working with children of similar ages to mine?
  • How would you deal with an upset and crying child?
  • What would you prepare for a full day’s menu for a child the age of mine? (ask them to include 3 meals and snacks)
  • How would you work with a child that may be a fussy eater?
  • In what instances would you discipline a child? How would you discipline them?
  • What would you do if a child was sick or had an accident?
  • What types of things would you initiate to resolve boredom?
  • If you had any issue relating to the child or the parent, how would you address it?
  • Can you give me an example of 6 activities you would undertake with a child of my age on any given day?

Organisational Skills

Ability to proactively plan, prioritise and take action

  • What types of household rules to you think are important? Why do you think that?
  • What types of household rules do you no like? Why is that?
  • Give me an example of a typical ‘Nanny Workday” and describe how you would go about organising that?
  • What types of planning do you do in advance to be ready for the activities in a workday?
  • How would you rate your self on a scale of 1-10 for organisational skills (1 being poor, 10 being outstanding)? Why do you say that? What do you think you could do more of that would close the gap between the rating you have given yourself and a 10?
  • How would you feel about meeting with us on a weekly/fortnightly basis so that we can keep open channels of communication to discuss upcoming events, focus for coming week and any concerns?

Preferences

Likes and dislikes in relationships and work activities

  • What’s important to you in the relationship you have with ‘the parents’? (What do you like and dislike in a parent / nanny relationship?
  • What child related chores are you happy to undertake? (e.g. Cooking, nappies, laundry, cleaning toys)
  • Outside of those child related chores what other household tasks are you happy to undertake? (Give examples of things you are looking for if they are not raised to check off that the Nanny can provide what you are looking for)
  • How would you describe you preference for work – ‘Proactive and take charge’ or ‘Reactive and what for direction’? Can you give me an example where you have used that style?

Live in Candidates

Those Nanny’s that may live in the family home as part of the requirement for the job

  • What would ‘the ideal’ live in situation be like for you?
  • What is the longest time you have lived away from home? How do you think you would cope with living away from family and friends?
  • How often would you like to be able to return home during a year?
  • Would inviting your family to visit you while you were a nanny with a family be important to you?

General

Health, safety, criminal convictions, work availability etc

  • How many hours are you willing and available to work on a weekly basis?
  • Are you available to work at short notice if needed?
  • Do you have any other commitments that may effect your availability to work?
  • If offered this job will you concurrently hold any secondary jobs?
  • If we decided to employ you, when would you be able to commence work?
  • Do you have a disability or medical condition that would affect your ability to perform tasks required by the position you have applied for? (If yes ask the candidate if they can give the details)
  • Are you taking any drugs or medication?
  • Are you legally entitled to work in this country?
  • Do you have your own transport?
  • Do you hold a current New Zealand driver’s licence? Do you have any endorsements (e.g. traffic offences or restrictions)
  • Do you smoke?
  • Do you authorise us to call previous employees for a reference check?
  • Do you have any other commitments that may effect your availability to work?
  • If offered this job will you concurrently hold any secondary jobs?
  • Have you ever been charged or judged guilty of any offence against the law? (If so ask for details)

If you require the Nanny to travel with you, you will need to ask if they are willing to travel and whether they have a current passport.

 

Kylie Valentine

Kylie Valentine is a qualified secondary school teacher, trained journalist, and the mum of two fabulous children.

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