Making the decision to have children and then finding someone to help you take care of them are two of the most important decisions you will ever make. Locating the perfect nanny to care for your bundle of joy can be a challenge. Where do you start?
Two of the most popular routes are hiring an agency to find a nanny for you, or searching for one yourself through a nanny-finding website like Care.com. We compiled a list of pros and cons for each so that you can decide which one will work best for you and your family.
How They Work
Online services act as a partner in helping you source candidates. While there are a variety of websites, they differ in what they offer. For the most part, you post a job on their site and are presented with a list of applicants based on your criteria. Once you have narrowed down your search, you can contact caregivers for a fee.
- Easy access to caregivers: National online sites list applicants from all over Canada, giving you the flexibility of accessing caregivers even when you’re travelling! You also have the option of searching and emailing applicants 24 hours a day. This is a great option if you want more control over your search and want to choose the candidates to interview.
- Online screening process for applicants: Many online sites take certain precautions to ensure that all of their members are appropriate. For example, Care.com carefully screens both its care seekers and care providers by checking member information against various databases and other sources for criminal or other inappropriate activity. Learn more at Care.com’s Safety Center »
- Access to resources and tips: Online sites often provide resources that are similar to the materials that agencies use. Care.com offers free online guides and articles covering a variety of topics, ranging from how to interview a nanny and how to handle reference checks to how to have a great relationship with your nanny.
- Affordability: Online services are a much less expensive option for families who can’t afford a full service placement agency. Online services typically offer subscriptions from one month to one year. Care.com’s rates start at $45 per month — giving parents the option of only using the service as they need it.
- A team of caregivers: Sites like Care.com let you work with numerous caregivers simultaneously at no extra cost. Maybe you need a nanny during the week and a babysitter every other weekend. And these sites aren’t just for nannies. They can help you find senior care for your parents, a pet sitter for your dog, a housekeeper to keep your home tidy, etc. You get more flexibility to work with an unlimited number of caregivers to fit your life’s specific needs.
- Time: Online rates may be inexpensive, but it ultimately boils down to how much time you can invest in the search. Sometimes you may luck out and the first person who emails you is perfect for the position. Sometimes it may take a little while to weed through the applicants.
- Personal research: Many websites’ resources are in the form of articles that parents must search for and read on their own. You may have to figure out the best options for your situation and the advice that applies.
- Expertise: If you’ve never hired a nanny before, you may not know what you’re looking for or where to even start. Maybe you’ve read the articles, but you’re still lost and need more of a helping hand.
How They Work
Agencies offer a full service approach to finding caregivers and charge a placement or referral fee for their services. They take care of the entire process from finding candidates to screening them, and they guide parents during the hiring process and offer support after placement.
- Simplified hiring process: Agencies often go through a lengthy process of screening applicants, from phone and in-person interviews and resume reviews to reference checks and background checks. Some even use an assessment exam to analyze an applicant’s knowledge of childcare.
- Ongoing support for parents: Some parents find that one of the best parts of using an agency is the professional tips, tricks, and on-going support that is offered. Full-service agencies are able to educate you about topics such as getting your nanny on payroll and offering benefits or perks over the phone instead of in articles. Most agencies also provide ears to listen to help guide you even after the nanny has been hired.
- Replacement options: What happens if your new nanny doesn’t work out? Many agencies will find you a replacement within the first three months. We suggest asking the nanny agency if they provide temporary nannies to fill in if the first nanny isn’t a good fit. Online services don’t usually replace nannies for free, but with your subscription, you have the option to search and choose another one anytime.
- Nanny training and support: Many agencies offer on-going support for caregivers that can be useful. Your nanny may be eligible for occasional training in things like child development and communication strategies.
- Price: All of these great offerings do come at a price. Nanny agencies typically charge anywhere from $900 to $4,000, depending on your location and what type of nanny you are hiring. You should discuss the agency’s fee structure early in the process — so you aren’t surprised by upfront registration fees, placement fees when you hire a nanny or additional charges later on down the road.
- Handing off control: While agencies take care of the searching, screening and qualifying of potential candidates, some parents prefer to be in control of the entire process themselves.
- Refund policies: Before you sign on the dotted line, check what the nanny agency’s refund policy is — if there even is one. Some agencies only replace nannies and only for a short period of time. Ask about different “what-if” scenarios and make sure you’re comfortable with the fine print.
The Bottom Line
There is no one right way to find a nanny. It’s important to think about what you’re looking for as far as support, personal control and flexibility over your search, and what your budget is in order to pick the one that works best for your needs.