So you need a nanny, and have no idea where to start looking.
 Lots of families looking for nannies are extremely busy professionals, who are time poor. These parents do not want to trawl through an enormous stash of unsuitable CV’s, not knowing which qualifications, amongst the myriad of childcare qualifications on offer, are the ones they should be considering, and which are not.  Then there is Ofsted registration, payroll, nanny contracts, – quite a maze for the first time employer, but very simply dealt with if left in the hands of a reputable Agency belonging to the Association of Nanny Agencies.

Selecting a Nanny is a huge decision to make, as your children’s welfare is so important.  You want someone who will be kind and caring, but who will also stimulate and encourage them in their development. You know that you don’t want someone who will just keep your child / children fed and watered, and sat in front of the TV. You want someone who will take them out, and engage with them, someone who sees your children as the individuals they are, and responds to their specific needs.
You as parents will always remain the most special people in every child’s life, but it has been shown that good quality, consistent childcare, as opposed to a stream of nannies coming and going, will be enormously beneficial to every child.
Of course finances are an issue, but an investment in the right person at this stage is like an investment in the right school. What is the point of everything else you do for your family if the person who spends most of the week with them is not the having the right influence?  It can make so much difference. Numerous studies have shown the impact that early years education and relationships have on children in their early formative years, as quoted in the famous words of Ignatius Loyola, “show me the boy before he is seven and I will give you the man.” 
It can make all the difference to your stress levels if you can relax and concentrate on your own work knowing all is going well at home.  Nurseries can be great when your children are a little older perhaps, but there is nothing to beat the one to one attention your baby or child will get from a nanny, or the flexibility in approach and working hours that a nanny can offer.

It is tempting to cut corners, to look on the on- line sites, and hire someone who is not a proper career nanny. The applicant may seem nice enough, they like babies, and they don’t charge much, they may be happy to work cash in hand, and even do some housework – no hassle, all done and sorted, you think!   However, unfortunately, this is rarely the case. You must not judge a person solely on their appearance, and we know from experience that many candidates can be very convincing.  You may be lucky, but more often these types of applicants will not stick around long. They may find their nanny friends at playgroup are paid more and leave you in the lurch, or they may spend the day texting friends and waiting for the day to be over.  We have all heard horror stories of nannies who were not properly recruited, including spending the day trying on the employer’s clothes while the children sit in front of the TV with a supply of sweets! There are many much worse stories than that!
As Agencies we tend to pick up the pieces after this type of situation and we hear stories like this every day.

Of course there are exceptions, and you can occasionally find decent candidates via on line sites, but a lot of the nannies are paying to be on the site because they do not come up to the standards required, and are therefore not accepted, by a reputable agency. It is illegal for an Agency in the UK to charge a fee to any nanny (or indeed any applicant) whom they register on their books, so you really should question why a Nanny would register online, when he/ she can be helped for free by a Nanny Agency.

 When you use a reputable ANA agency you will only be presented with CVs of candidates who meet your specific requirements. The Nannies will have had experience with your child’s age group, they will have excellent verified references from past employers, (to whom you can also speak), they will have up to date police checks (enhanced DBS), current paediatric first aid, and should also have nanny insurance. Their CV will show a steady work background which is childcare focussed, so that you are not looking for a replacement nanny in six months’ time.
Another reason why it is often better to use an agency, is for the advice and support you will get before, during, and after the placement.  You may know that it is illegal, as an employer, not to pay a nannies tax and NI, but do you know you should agree a contract with your nanny and always agree a gross salary on the contract? Do you know why? Do you know how many holidays your nanny is entitled to if they work three days a week, or four, or five? 
There are many pitfalls of which you may not be aware- consider for instance, that Ofsted registration does not mean that the nanny is qualified, or a better nanny, as Ofsted do not check the nannies background or call their references.  The nanny could have awful references, (but nothing criminal or illegal in their background) but because they have an up to date DBS, first aid, and nanny insurance they are considered a suitable person to be Ofsted registered!

 Reputable agencies will ensure that you (and your nanny) are fully aware of your own legal obligations, so you don’t get on the wrong side of the law. They will have done all the background checks on your nanny and will have spoken to the ex -employers before that person is presented to you to interview.  Your agency will be on hand for as long as your nanny remains with you. So whenever a question pops in to your mind, such as how much should you pay for a proxy parent weekend, or what happens with bank holidays, then they will be there to advise you. When you choose a nanny from an on line site you get none of this back up, and you certainly will not get a free replacement guarantee! 
At the end of the day as an employer you have choices.
There are many agencies and on line sites around from which to choose,  but you can rest assured  that a Nanny agency who meets with the stringent ANA agency criteria, will have checked your nanny thoroughly,  and will meet all good practice obligations, thereby offering a top quality, professional service to both parents and nannies. 

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