Your Complete Guide to Hiring In-Home Child Care

Part Three - Other Words of Wisdom

Employment Agreement

No matter what form of child care you use, be sure to get the services in writing either by using an Employment Contract or some other form of written job description. The contract should include everything from the hours and days of care to the rate of pay and all it includes, and from parent/provider responsibilities, to termination of services. As a general rule, most agencies have their own standard contracts. Make sure you understand the terms of the agreement before you sign. When hiring an independent Nanny or Child Care Provider, using a well-constructed contract is a must, for your protection as well as the Caregiver's (see our Hiring a Nanny Worksheets and Forms for more information and publications containing sample contracts).

Permission Forms

Permission forms, whether they be for administering medication, seeking emergency medical treatment, or allowing your child to participate in field trips, provide much needed assurance that your child will be well looked after. They are as basic as saying that you, the parent, allow the Nanny (use her name) to take your child to......... or the Nanny is allowed to administer such and such medication . . . (give specific instructions or information here), as well as where you can be contacted in the event of an emergency. Permission forms for administering medication, emergency medical care permission, and travel permission are available on our see our Hiring a Nanny Worksheets and Forms page.

Special Diets

If your child is on a restricted or special diet of any kind, your Caregiver must know about it, in detail. Make note of everything your child is not allowed to eat and which foods contain the ingredients he or she is allergic to. Give examples of menus or suggestions for meals and snacks. Explain the symptoms of a reaction and what the Caregiver should do if a reaction occurs. Provide the Caregiver as much information as possible including contact phone numbers for the doctor, emergency contact person if you are not available, etc.. As they say, "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

Back-up Plan

It happens without warning. Your Child Care Provider phones in sick, quits without a moments notice, or calls you at work with the bad news that your child is sick and you have to come home - now. Understanding the potential for problems and establishing a back-up care plan can save you a lot of stress and worry. Perhaps a relative can help you out in a pinch or you can make arrangements with a local emergency care centre. Whatever you do, don't leave yourself stranded.

Access to Grandma

Give some thought also as to who is allowed to pick up or visit your child. Grandmas have been know for wanting to pop by to see their grandkids simply on a whim. Unless you're having relationship trouble with your in-laws, I'm sure you'll want to give the okay for Grandma Jessie to drop by and take your child out for lunch on occasion. Take some time to introduce your new Nanny to those who'll likely be around from time to time. And if need be, warn her of those people you'd rather not have around when you're not home.

Injury Reports

To take proper care of an injury you first have to know about it. Let your Caregiver know that you expect a written report of any injuries your child suffers from during the day. This includes not only major injuries, but cuts, scrapes, bruises and bites as well. It is better to know what happened than to discover the injury at home and try to find out from your one year old how he or she got hurt.

Daily Communication Notes

You are in a rush to get out of the house most mornings. The Nanny arrives, you give her a briefing for the day and head out the door. Then half way to the office you realize you forgot to tell her your baby was up all night with an upset stomach and could use some extra rest. The Nanny doesn't understand why the baby is crying historically as soon as you leave. Had she know about the happenings the night before, she would be in a better position to provide quality child care for your baby. Likewise the Nanny is as anxious to leave at day's end as you were to get to work on time. The result is a lack of communication that hampers the care your child receives. It does little to establish a working relationship between you and your Nanny so important to your entire family.

One solution is the use of daily communication sheets. On one side you make special notes about how the baby is feeling, what special activities you'd like the Caregiver to do with your children, or a few simple words or praise for the work the provider does and how much the children adore her. On the other side, the Nanny can note how the children were during the day, what they ate, a funny incident or two, of if everyone had a good or bad day. This helps you understand what happened while you were away, things you can talk to your children about, and so on.


Despite your best attempts to ensure the Nanny's safety in your home, accidents happen. Some can be serious enough to warrant hospitalization, or cause the Nanny to lose time from work. For that reason you would be well-advised to ensure your homeowner's policy is adequate enough to cover any liability and/or accident that might occur. This must include vehicle insurance to cover additional a secondary driver. Get on the horn and talk to your insurance broker about your family's plans to hire and possibly house a Nanny.

Paying the Nanny What's She's Worth

Taking care of children is a very demanding job. As a parent you know that better than anyone. Compensating your Nanny well is worth every crisp new dollar you'll dole out. After all, you expect to be compensated fairly and well at your job. Why should your Nanny expect any different? Chances are too, that she puts in a lot more hours than you do too. So if you want her to stick around - pay her what she's worth. If you're not sure, work through your stipulated trial period and conduct a Job Performance Evaluation (copies can be found in our Hiring a Nanny Worksheets). If you seem to check off more high scores than low ones, buck up and kick in a raise. Even a quarter and hour would be appreciated. When all is said and done, like everything in life, you get what you pay for. I can't imagine putting a low price tag on your child's well being. Can you?