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Hiring nanny without qualifications....opinions?

(41 Posts)
runikka Thu 04-Sep-08 22:42:33

Good evening

I posted a few weeks ago about hiring a nanny to help with our two children, one of whom is autistic. We have since put in a few small ads and are waiting to list with an agency.

We have received a reply from someone whose e-mail really stood out in terms of enthusiasm, honesty and general manner. Having spoken to them on the phone it has reaffirmed that we could work with them.

The only downfall for us is that they have no formal childcare qualification. They DO have experience with it in an adult capacity and have experience with care work. They have had limited childcare work but from the e-mail seem to appreciate exactly what would be involved.

My first thoughts were I cannot leave my children with someone who has had no training and limited experience...then I realised that is exactly what I was before I became a parent!

I have considered whether we could work on a three month trial where I am around whilst she gains more experience and I can be certain she could cope with sole charge before actually agreeing to it. I just dont know whether I can get past the fact that my little ones are too precious for me to risk "training" on.

We are new to this so really do not know what to think for the best.

nannynick Thu 04-Sep-08 23:23:50

Having care experience is useful. They will have dealt with bodily functions for instance.
Having common sense I feel is important.
What are you expecting someone to know about childcare? They may learn sufficent from reading some parenting books.
Meet them, see how they interact with your children.

Skramble Thu 04-Sep-08 23:37:30

Even those with formal childacare qualifications will probably not have any solecharge experience or worked in a domestic setting. They may also have limited hands on training with under 3's.

I would have a sort interveiw first when you can chat and ask questions then have a longer interview with the kids present to see how they interact.

I would probably want them to have some sort of first aid training, but if they didn't have this already you could offer to pay for it and make it part of the contract to be completed during the initial trial period.

runikka Thu 04-Sep-08 23:44:16

Many thanks for your replies. You have put my mind at ease. They do have first aid training and the care experience definitely counts. I dont really know what I expect in terms of specific training, I suppose it would just indicate they have a fuller understanding of what they are getting into :/ We are considering meeting up next weekend but I guess it is just a scary process.

Skramble Thu 04-Sep-08 23:51:20

My childcare training didn't really cover much on special needs and we only spent 2 days in a special school. Never did any training on specific special needs like autism. So a qualifed person could be quite unprepared anyway.

wellbalanced Fri 05-Sep-08 08:45:52

I would def consider her/him. Meet them see if you both get on and take it from there.

silverfrog Fri 05-Sep-08 09:01:15

I was in exactly the position you describe a few months ago.

I have a part time nany who comes to do ABA for my autistic dd1 (and also covers times when i need to go out without either dd)

My nanny is great, but did not have a great deal of experience. she did, however, get on with dd1 right from the start - in fact, we knew she would before she even met dd1, and that, we felt, was more important.

Obviously a lot of other things were considered - confidence with children/babies, common sense, etc.

Although her experience is, imo, limited, she had had more exposure to babies/children than I had before I had my two.

What i was looking for was experience of special needs, and willingness to deal with bodily functions - both of which we got.

Anyting else, i thought would come in time, given that dd1 and her get on so well, and it has.

I don't know your situation, but i do not work - we wanted our nanny to help with ABA - and i think that made me be a bit more relaxed about experience to start off with, as I could be around generally, and not have to leave her with sole charge if I wasn't comfortable initially. (having said that, she was left with both girls for the whole day the weekend after she started - longest i'd been away from either of them at that point, so she really was capable!)

I hope it works out for you

chapstickchick Fri 05-Sep-08 09:14:23

Im not disputing that in this lady you may have found your ideal nanny.

But please consider how much work an NNEB trained nursery nurse has undergone throughout my 2 year full time course i studied intensively all aspects of child health, education and psychology,we had extensive experience of working with varying disabilities and able bodied children we had equal amounts of time with new babies and with primary age children.

In my placements i experienced nannying with a new baby,shadowed a health visitor,spent time at booth hall childrens hospital,private nursery,school nursery ,primary school,special need schools and social service nurseries.

working with a family with an autistic child wouldnt have phased me or my fellow students in any way.

If you feel you have found your nanny then thats very fortunate but plese dont underestimate the work that goes behind the qualification,contrary to a lot of peoples belief true childcare isnt easy and not everyone can do it.

Simplyme Fri 05-Sep-08 09:22:56

Good childcare imo is based on many factors. Experience, knowledge, patience, sense of fun/humour, common sense organisational skills and so on....

People have a lot of these skills naturally and gain more skills as time goes on.

I believe there are two types of learning - formal education in a college/school and life education by experience. Both of these are great ways to become learned and experienced.

In an ideal world when looking for a nanny they would perhaps have gone to college and have years of practical experience and be naturally patient and loving etc

However if it was to be between a nanny with a formal qualification or a nanny with experience who is to say which is the better one? It also narrows down to personality and common sense.

What I'm trying to say is not that qualifications aren't important because they are but that they are not the only reason someone is a good nanny. Go with your gut feeling. If you feel this nanny would be good for you and your children and she has some experience then give her a chance. She may turn out to be the best decision you ever made! But I would do it on a trial 3 months first to eadse your mind. Good luck

Moomin Fri 05-Sep-08 09:23:03

With respect, chapstick, I don't think you can safely state "working with a family with an autistic child wouldnt have phased me or my fellow students in any way", due to the complex nature of each individual autistic child's specific needs. As you know, the autistic spectrum is vast and the needs of each child with autism would vary enormously. Practical experience of some aspects of autism can be worth much more than however many books or even observations or shadowing.

I think it's much more important in this case for the OP to gain confidence and trust with someone who can cope with the specific needs of her dc - as long as she at least comes with some references, is CRB checked and fits in with the family.

silverfrog Fri 05-Sep-08 09:38:59

chapstickchick - I'm not sure whether your comments were in reply to my post.

If you re-read, i said she had little experience, not no experience. I should elaborate, i suppose, and say she had less experience than i was hoping for.

I was in no way underestimating the amount of work that goes into childcare - I do know from personal experience.

however, moomin is right - when you say "working with a family with an autistic child wouldnt have phased me or my fellow students in any way" I think you are vastly undeestimating the skills required. just as not everybody is suited to a career in childcare, not everybody in childcare is suited to a SN placement.

The biggest issue we had to overcome was that of dd1 accepting our nanny, whoever we hired. We could have had the most qualified, experienced nanny going, but if dd1 will not play with her, then it is money wasted.

Gut feeling is something that has to be listened to - in an ideal world I would not have wanted an inexperienced (well, less expereienced) nanny, but I was pointing out to the OP that sometimes, instinct can work.

chapstickchick Fri 05-Sep-08 10:09:30

with respect moomin what i was suggesting was that i or my fellow students would have investigated and learnt as much about the 'individuals' needs of that child not neccesarily the autistic child as i dont think the autism is the child iyswim the child has the autism and whatever needs that child has wether related to his condition or not would need to be met.

I do think its a specialised field that not every childcarer would choose such a challenging position but what i wanted to say in my post was that if your nanny had had the extensive training she would perhaps have had greater experience of meeting individual needs would already have links within the health sector ( being able to describe ill health or child development to relevant healthcare officials etc etc for example when my sons were at primary school I was often asked to help assess a childs needs (usually speech therapy occasionally with an ed psych and write up a short report to support applications for funding)because i knew the 'lingo' and understood a childs needs in the classroom be it physically emotionlly or socially i was able to do this with a lot of success.

What the general point of my post was - if you have found your ideal nanny thats fab and very fortunate -good nannies are hard to find BUT dont expect trained qualities from someone untrained.

overthemill Fri 05-Sep-08 10:11:15

i wuld take them on for the trial. good child care isn't all about quals although i'm not knocking quals either. for your special child you need to go on gut and this is obviously saying go for it
good luck

botherednanny Fri 05-Sep-08 10:38:40

I think that you have to go on your gut feeling+above all, if your child takes to the candidate. Last year I went for a position with an adorable little girl with who was blind, couldn't talk, had cerebal palsy+had no real use of her limbs. I was shortlisted with 3 others, 2 had worked in special ed schools+1 was a nurse. I got the job because the little girl started giggling when I spoke+kept trying to turn her head towards me. I had 7 years of exp but no quals@ that point.

botherednanny Fri 05-Sep-08 10:41:28

Also, I think it shows a desire to learn+commitment to her role as a nanny to go for a position that she might find challenging to begin with. We all have to begin somewhere+where better to start than in a hands on role?

MarmadukeScarlet Fri 05-Sep-08 10:50:10

I have never hired a Nanny, but have had several APs (yes much different I know)

The ones that were best with my DS - who has SN, not ASD, genetic condition more like mild DS - were the ones with less experience and more enthusiasm.

They had few preconceived notions of what a child 'should' be like or be able to do. They seemed to have boundless energy and more positive attitude.

I think it is all down to individual personality and adaptability.

Good luck.

<small hijack> Silverfrog hope all ok? Would be interested if your Nanny was looking for a few extra hours per week for DS.

<as you were>

MarmadukeScarlet Fri 05-Sep-08 10:52:40

PS a NNEB qualified nanny who had also done a foundation degree in early years was my DS' keyworker as the SN nursery he attended.

She started one term before he did - never have I met someone with so many qualifications and so little ability with my SN DS. She left after a year to go back to nannying.

callaird Fri 05-Sep-08 11:33:48

I agree silver frog. I have 22 years nannying (no NNEB but B'tec in community care, which includes caring for the elderly, children and SN), have looked after many ages of children, including 2 which have autism.

First one was severly autistic, problems with mobility, no speech etc, second was mild, both were 12 years old, the child with mild autism was such hard work and I spent a lot of time in tears because I couldn't help him, he was very frustrated because he couldn't make himself understood, even though he could sign, he would get so frustrated when I didn't get it straight away, he was so strong and would try to hurt himself or younger siblings (all of who were amazing with him!)

To be honest and I hate myself for saying this and really wished I had stayed but I left after 4 months because I just couldn't cope with him! I told MB after 2 months and stayed until she found someone suitable to replace me.

I thought that I was strong and could cope with anything but I was wrong and I applaud all the people that care for SN children.

I think you should go with gut instinct and think that a 2-3 month trial is a brilliant idea, I am sure that the nanny would be happy with that if she is interested in the position.

Loads and loads of luck.


Moomin Fri 05-Sep-08 11:38:20

Don't hate yourself callaird. I think it takes a very caring person to be able to admit they cannot meet the needs of a child: it shows conscience and a true desire to want the best for that child. I'm sure any parent would want the person best suited to looking after their child and someone who is struggling is just not going to be able to do that, as they won't be so happy in their work.

squiffy Fri 05-Sep-08 11:40:35


I canot emphasise enough how much you need to check up on references if you take on someone unqualified. We chatted to an unqualified nanny once who had decades of experience and came across brilliantly in email and initial meeting, but when you unravelled the experience you found, for example, that the 3 years 'working in a creche' was actually 3 years working in the creche's canteen, as a dinner lady shock.

Simplyme Fri 05-Sep-08 12:32:59

but squiffy wouldn't it be fairer to emphasise the importance of checking references regardless.... Being qualified does NOT make you a good nanny! It educates you and prepares but the real test is reality and actually doing the job

silverfrog Fri 05-Sep-08 13:36:04

<waves at marmaduke scarlet>

all ok-ish here - we are, as you know disputing the SN nursery... dd1 did not attend this week, and probably won't at all. she is back at ehr mainstream pre-school for now, and is being urgently referred to next authority over for entry to the unit. this meeting happens next week. TW county panel have agreed mainstream+unit is the way to go, now just need to wait and see whether they let her start this acadmeic year (think this term is scuppered tbh, despite our best efforts)

will ask my nanny if she wants anymore hours, but she is a student, going into last year, and does 20hours with us already - not sure she has much more time!

if it ever stops raining do you fancy a meet at, say, bedgebury or similar?

MarmadukeScarlet Fri 05-Sep-08 13:41:52

Yes would love a meet at Bedgebury.

(You know you get free annual membership if you get DLA, CA or IB?)

imananny Fri 05-Sep-08 13:57:09

I LOVE bedgebury smile

I think that all childcare workers should be qualified, it pisses me off that i trained and worked hard for two years to get my NNEB and then anyone can work with children and call theirselves a nanny


equally experience is good as well - ref should be checked regardless of qualified or not

Trust your gut instinct, and if you like and get on well with this lady, then a trial sounds good

I have worked a little with specail needs and did my NNEB work placement in a SN nursery/school - it was very hard, though fullfilling - tbh I am the same as callird I dont think I could be a fulltime nanny to a child with SN as I dont have the patience

navyeyelasH Fri 05-Sep-08 14:05:25

IMO at the end of the day a qualification (in any field not just childcare) is not and should not be the be all and end all. In my opinion it is a factor in deciding who you would take on as a child carer but it should not be a defining factor.

For instance a qualified lawyer is a different thing entirely to an excellent lawyer, a qualified GP is different to an excellent GP etc. A piece of paper saying you have passed exams does not equate to someone who will met your and your sons needs . I personally am a highly trained individual (blows trumpet wink) but I know that the career path I have trained in will not make me happy and in turn that would mean that I would not good at my job.

I work as a nanny but I have no childcare specific qualifications such as an NNEB; no offence to anyone here that has done an NNEB qualification (it's a hell of an achievement!) but I personally feel that hands on working knowledge, your personality and how you gel with the children you may be looking after is far, far more important than anything you can learn during a course.

I think that suggesting a shadowing period where you and the potential nanny work together is a brilliant solution as I totally understand (and I bet she does too!) that a parent would have reservations with leaving their children with a relative stranger. One word of caution would be to not under-estimate this potential nanny; I have found that my main employers can do this quite a lot to me and it does make you feel a bit deflated at times. But other than that I hope you have a fab working partnership; do not be put off by lack of qualifications is she ticks your other boxes and has been checked out security wise.

Good luck!

*PS. Sorry if have offended anyone - totally not my intention!*

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