As the summer comes to a close, many families in our community are looking for new childcare arrangements for the upcoming year. I understand well the pressures of hiring a nanny on short notice, and how essential nannies are to families with two working parents. But this past year my family had a devastating experience with a nanny, and I write to share a few painfully learned lessons with the hope of helping other families avoid the harm we have suffered.
1. References: Although I thought I had vetted the nanny by speaking with her reference, I wish I had vetted the reference as well. In retrospect, it was all too easy for her to convince a friend to pretend to be a reference and give all the right answers to my questions. I have since resolved to hire only someone whose reference I personally know, or at the very least, if I know someone who knows the reference and can confirm the previous family is real. This should be doable in our extremely interconnected community.
2. Google: I also wish I had simply googled the woman, which would have revealed enough to dissuade me from hiring her. In this day and age, when we google anything and everything, it seems so obvious in retrospect and it could have saved my family a world of pain.
3. Background checks: I found out, too late, that the Bergen County Sheriff’s Office website has a publicly available “inmate lookup” function. One would hope that a nanny you are considering hiring does not have a criminal record but, appallingly, in our case she did.
4. Cameras: While we have always maintained (and still believe) that if you need a camera to watch the nanny then you shouldn’t trust this person with your children, it would have been a good idea to have a camera in place for at least a short while, until we could confirm our absolute comfort with her.
5. Inside information: The woman we hired was Jewish, and while this fact alone did not convince me to hire her, she leveraged her inside knowledge of the community to put me at ease—she lived on the same block as a community rabbi, I knew her frum relatives etc.
6. Report criminal activities: My family was not the first victim of this woman, but I did everything I possibly could to facilitate her arrest and sentencing in the hopes of ensuring we are her last victim. Over the months of this ordeal, as friends sympathized with me, they have referenced other stories of a similar nature. I implore you: If you hire a nanny who commits criminal acts in your home, please report her to the police. Do not just fire her and let her victimize another unsuspecting family.
I was not absolutely reckless in hiring this woman—I was home with her every day for three weeks and did not notice any red flags—but could have done more research on her before entrusting her with my young children and leaving her alone in my house with valuable possessions. I hope that sharing these thoughts from our awful experience can help make others more cautious in the future.
Name Withheld Upon Request