Recommended Practices for Agencies

ABOUT INA

INA is a private, nonprofit educational organization serving nannies and those who educate, place, employ and support professional in-home child care providers. INA serves as the umbrella association for the in-home child care industry by providing information, education and guidance to the public and to industry professionals.

Since its inception in 1985, INA has been dedicated to improving the quality of in-home child care by providing nannies with educational resources to aid in their professional development.

THE BENEFITS OF IN-HOME CHILD CARE

Children thrive when they are well cared for by a nurturing and attentive child care provider in the comfort of their own home. The one on one care and interaction that a nanny provides gives children a deep sense of self worth and security. Since nannies typically stay with a family for a minimum of one year, the consistent relation­ship that children have with their caregiver allows them to develop a meaningful bond with a caring adult that has the children’s best interests at heart.

For parents who need flexible child care arrangements, or wish to direct their children’s daily activities and care structure, nanny care can be the perfect solution. Since the parents are the nanny’s employer, they define the nanny’s role and responsibilities and manage how the nanny spends her time with their children.

And because the children are cared for in their own home, parents don’t have to rush to get everyone out of the house in the morning and off to day care (which often leads to a chaotic and stressful start to the day for everyone), providing the ultimate in child care convenience.

Children cared for by nannies are also less likely to become sick because they aren’t exposed to the many germs that large groups of children bring into a traditional day care environment. And unlike child care centers, nannies are able to provide child care for mildly ill children, therefore parents don’t have to rearrange their work schedules or find last minute backup care should their child become sick.

For parents with more than one child, nanny care can be cost effective. Unlike traditional day care, parents don’t have to pay an additional fee for each child. Nannies are paid one rate to care for all the children in their employer’s family.

THE ROLE OF NANNY PLACEMENT AGENCIES

Nanny placement agencies play a valuable role in the in-home child care industry. As service companies, placement agencies strive to match the skills and qualifications of nannies with the needs and preferences of families seeking an in-home child care provider.

Members of the International Nan­ny Association agree to abide by INA’s Commitment to Professional Excellence and Recommended Practices.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES FOR RELATIONSHIPS WITH FAMILIES

INA recommends placement agencies:

Disclose the method of interviewing candidates referred for in-home child care placement. 
INA recommends that candidates be interviewed in person. When personal interviews are not possible, the prospective employer should be advised which interview method was used (by telephone or by an agent acting on behalf of the agency).

Check candidate’s personal and employment references.
INA recommends that the family be provided with information on a candidate’s employment history. At a mini­mum, two references should be checked by telephone. The agency should disclose all information about the candidate verified through personal and employment references, as allowed by law. Families should be pro­vided with information and encouraged to check references for themselves.

Provide information on the candidate’s job qualifications to the prospective employer.
At minimum, INA recommends that agencies accurately disclose to the prospective employer information obtained through a candidate’s references and background screening. Agencies should also disclose the methodology used to obtain the information, as allowed by law.

Prepare a written agreement with each client family, which specifies the agency’s fees, refund/replacement policies and services to be provided by the agency.
INA recommends that there be a written agreement between the agency and the prospective employer to facilitate an understanding of the obligations and expectations of both parties. Both the agency and the prospective employer should keep a copy on file.

Make adjustments/refunds promptly and in accordance with the written policies of the agency.
INA recommends that any replacement and/or refund policies be clearly outlined in the written agreement or contract made between the family and the prospective employer. Time frames and any other conditions regarding replacements or refunds, such as limits on the number of replacements or amounts that will be refunded, should also be included.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES FOR RELATIONSHIPS WITH NANNIES

INA recommends placement agencies:

Respect and regard nannies as clients.
INA recommends that agencies regard nannies with the same respect as client families by considering each nanny’s preferences and qualifications when making referrals to prospective employers. INA also recommends that agencies accurately and truthfully describe job duties and responsibilities, working conditions, hours, salary and benefits for in-home child care employment opportunities.

When a nanny asks an agency about positions available, INA recommends that only currently available jobs be described.
The description of job duties, hours, salary and benefits of a potential position should be based on information available to the agency for a current, bona fide opening.

Help the nanny develop a written work agreement that accurately describes the conditions of employment arranged with the family.
INA recommends that agencies ensure that all terms of employment agreed to by families and nannies be summarized in the form of a written work agreement. At minimum, INA recommends that a work agreement include: job duties; hours and days of duty; salary amount; when and how paid, and compensation for overtime worked; employer’s legally required tax obligations; fringe benefits such as health insurance, holiday and vacation policies, sick leave if offered; probationary period; frequency of work agreement review; terms of notice of termination and grounds for dismissal.

Provide a written explanation to nanny candidates regarding applicable fees and/or agency services to employment applicants prior to rendering services.
INA recommends agencies inform nanny candidates in writing of the agency’s obligations to the nanny prior to and after placement. Such an explanation of services should include fees, if any, to be paid by the applicant, the agency’s responsibility to the nanny in the event a placement is unsuccessful and the agency’s policies regarding payment for travel costs for interviews or relocation to accept a position.

Make family information available to nanny candidates.
INA recommends that agencies provide nanny candidates with descriptive information on prospective families and the positions that they are offering. In addition to details pertaining to the available position, such information might include the parents’ childrening philosophy, and a profile of the family including their special interests and specific needs.  Family references may also be provided to the nanny candidate.

RECOMMENEDED GENERAL PRACTICES

INA recommends placement agencies:

Respect the work agreements in force between families and nannies.
INA recommends that nanny applicants not be solicited for other positions while they are still in the employ of a family, unless the nanny requests assistance with finding a new position.

Respect the proprietary promotional or company-sensitive materials of other agencies.
INA recommends that agencies independently develop all materials related to the operation of their business. If others’ forms, brochures, training manuals or other printed materials are used, permission should always be obtained in writing and the source of materials acknowledged.

Abide by all pertinent laws and regulations.
INA recommends that agencies be knowledgeable about and comply with all applicable laws and regulations affecting placement operations in their jurisdictions, including but not limited to licensing requirements, immigration laws, and wage and labor requirements. INA urges nanny placement agency owners to check with their state Attorney General, Department of Labor, Secretary of State or the regulatory body that oversees business licensing in the location where the agency will do business to find out what licensing, if any, is required. INA recommends placement agencies carry professional insurance if obtainable.

INA’S COMMITMENT TO PROFESSIONAL EXCELLENCE

+ Respect the contributions of individuals and organizations involved in
professional in-home child care.

+ Maintain high standards of professional conduct.

+ Respect and support families in their task of nurturing children.

+ Promote the physical, emotional, intellectual and social development of
children.

+ Support the lifelong process of personal growth and professional
development.

RECOMMENDED PRACTICES FOR BACKGROUND SCREENING

INA recommends placement agencies:

  • Verify and authenticate a nanny candidate’s identity to ensure that the candidate is using real and accurate information about his or her own identity.
  • Verify employment and educational history and applicable credentials and licenses.
  • Perform state and county criminal record searches for every jurisdiction where the candidate has worked and lived, using any and all names the candidate has used, for at least the past seven years, depending upon applicable state laws.
  • Perform a sex offender registry search for all 50 states, D.C., Puerto Rico and Guam.
  • Review the candidate’s driving record.
  • Comply with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and all other applicable local, state and federal laws.
  • Perform periodic updating of background screenings for all placed nannies and nannies who provide temporary services.

In addition to these screenings, agencies may wish to consider obtaining a credit report as well as conducting a civil records search to expose lawsuits, liens and judgments.

RESOURCES FOR NANNY PLACEMENT AGENCIES

INA provides resources for nanny placement agencies including:

The INA Nanny Basic Skills Exam
The INA Basic Skills Exam is a 40 question multiple choice exam that agencies can use to test the basic child care knowledge of a nanny candidate.

The INA Nanny Credential Exam
The INA Nanny Credential Exam is a 90 question multiple choice timed exam that is available to be taken on­line. The exam is designed to test a nanny’s practical knowledge of child care. Prior to testing, a proctor must be secured by the exam candidate to administer the exam.
The exam addresses:

  • Child Development
  • Family/Provider Communication
  • Child Guidance
  • Multicultural/Diversity Awareness
  • Learning Environment
  • Personal Qualities of a Nanny
  • Safety
  • Management Skills
  • Health
  • Nutrition
  • Professionalism.

Beyond Parenting Basics: The International Nanny Association’s Official Guide to In-Home Child Care
The International Nanny Association has published an authoritative guide to in-home child care. The INA’s Official Guide to In-Home Childcare is the perfect resource for nannies wishing to prepare for the INA Credential Exam or to hone their child care skills for the in-home environment.

The INA Family/Nanny Work Agreement
The INA Family/Nanny Work Agreement was developed by industry leaders to help nannies, families, and agencies negotiate and solidify work agreements. The agreement covers a wide variety of topics, including salary, benefits, health insurance, tax considerations, family and nanny expectations, household information, emergency procedures, meals, vacation time, holiday time and more.

These resources are available for purchase online at www.nanny.org.

LEGAL RESPONSIBILITIES OF HOUSEHOLD EMPLOYERS

Nannies are not independent contractors but are employees of the family for whom they work. For this reason, parents who employ a nanny must take the steps necessary to establish themselves as legitimate employers. These steps include securing a Federal Identification Number with the IRS (by completing form SS-4) and obtaining an employer identification number from the state in which the family resides (by contacting the state office that handles employment). Parents may also have to report “a new hire” with the office that handles employment in the state where the family resides.

Federal law also requires that all nanny employers pay a portion of their employee’s Social Security taxes, state unemployment taxes, and in some states, workers’ compensation.

Parents must also file the proper year end tax forms and supply their nanny with a W-2 form by January 31st of each year. Parents must also file form W-3 with the Social Security Administration by February 28th of each year.

A list of INA members who provide payroll services and legal counsel to employers of nannies and who agree to adhere to INA’s Commitment to Professional Excellence and Recommended Practices can be found at www.nanny.org.

DISCLAIMER

The International Nanny Association recommends these practices, but has no authority to require a member to adhere to them. INA does not represent that the Association has the authority to discipline a member for a violation of the letter or spirit of what is recommended. Consequently, INA assumes no responsibility or liability for the action of any member of the Association.