How to Use an Agency to Find a Nanny, Au Pair or Babysitter

Published on Monday, 05 December 2016
Last updated on Monday, 16 November 2020

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While it is possible to find a nanny, au pair or babysitter independently, using an agency can make the process easier and less time consuming by taking away a lot of the leg work involved in advertising for and interviewing potential candidates.

There are many advantages to using an agency to source a nanny, au pair or babysitter such as:

  • A good agency saves you time by using tried and tested processes for advertising, recruiting, and screening carers.
  • Agencies have established policies regarding things like placement and billing.
  • Established agencies with good reputations attract high quality carers which improves the choices for families looking for child care.
  • A good agency should be able to source a carer who matches your family and your specific requirements.
  • Agencies can assist with the interviewing and recruitment process by providing information on which questions to ask and how to make your final decision.
  • Agencies can help you write an employment contract covering things like salary, hours and leave entitlements.
  • Good agencies will maintain regular contact with families to ensure they are satisfied with the arrangement and to collect feedback on the carer.
  • Agencies can mediate between both parties in the case of disagreement.

Finding an Agency

Finding an agency you are happy with is the first step in the process. When contacting prospective agencies make sure you ask lots of questions and think about whether you are happy with the answers. Ask to see agency references and make sure to ask about the costs involved.

You might like to ask some of the questions provided below before you make a final decision on which agency to use:

  • How long has this agency been operating? What is the Director's background?
  • Does this agency have written references which you can read? This is helpful to ask if the agency is new.
  • How and where does this agency source its carers?
  • What qualifications and experience are carers required to hold to belong to this agency?
  • Do all carers hold first aid certificates?
  • Does this agency offer carers the opportunity to up-skill through training courses and other educational opportunities?
  • What is this agency's screening process? How do you conduct police and reference checks?
  • Can I come in and meet someone from the agency to discuss my family's requirements?
  • How will you match my family with the right carer for us?
  • What help will this agency provide to ensure we make the best possible choice and ask the right questions during the interview process?
  • What happens if the carer doesn't work out?
  • Can you help us write an employment contract and provide information on our obligations as an employer?
  • Do you use service level agreements to ensure a high level of care is maintained for the duration of the contract?
  • Can we contact the agency if we are having any problems with our carer and will you stay in touch in the long term?
  • What advice can it give parents about employment law and their responsibilities and risks as an employer?
  • What do you charge?

Agencies can charge widely different fees so make sure you understand the costs involved and what they cover. There will also be variations in cost depending on whether you are looking for a full time nanny or an occasional babysitter. Look out for:

  • A registration fee: Agencies sometimes charge a registration fee to cover themselves in the case of families sourcing a carer from somewhere else. Essentially it guarantees an agency payment for any time spent working on a placement even if the placement doesn't go ahead.
  • A placement fee: This is the fee you pay to the agency once you have employed a carer sourced by the agency. Agencies charge different amounts and have different terms of payment so make sure you ask about these things when you contact them.
  • Rates of pay: This is what you pay the carer and will depend on conditions under which they were employed. It will vary depending on the type of care you require and the qualifications and experience of the carer.

To ensure the relationship you have with your agency is an effective partnership you will need to communicate your needs and expectations as clearly as possible.

As you know, the main reason for using an agency to find child care is to find a match between your family and a carer. Therefore it seems logical to expect that both parties should be interviewed in some detail before a placement occurs. Be wary of agencies that only conduct a brief telephone based interview with you as they may not understand your family's needs all that well.

To make an informed choice about which agency to use contact a number of agencies and compare their policies, procedures, fees and manner towards you. The best choice you can make is an agency which promptly provides you with the information you need to make a decision. Try not to make your final choice until you have all this information to hand and you are comfortable with an agency's approach to your requests.

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