So you're looking for a caregiver for your kids. You're determined not to hire a total weirdo so you sit down at your computer to write down every question you can think of to weed out anyone that won't be a good fit for your family only to realize, you aren't really sure what you should ask in the first place. It happens more than you think. In fact, most of the parents I interview for start off strong with the basic questions and then begin to waiver when they realize they want more information but don't know where to start.
So where should you start? I always suggest security first. State issued fingerprint clearance card (not a website background check because they are typically less accurate) CPR and first aid training or certification, at least 3 references that can give you a character analysis of the person you're interested in and if the person carries any weapons that your child might be able to reach. And that's before you even invite them over for an interview.
The next set of questions I would suggest are the experience and discipline questions. How many years have they been caring for kids and in what capacity? Meaning are they a stay at home mom, a professional nanny, or teacher. How old were the children that they watched? What was the most number of kids that they have cared for at one time? Have they ever had an emergency on their watch and what actions did they take? A person should answer with what happened and what their priorities were during the emergency. If they have never had an emergency then they should still have an emergency protocol prepared that would list their priorities. What are their discipline methods? These should closely mirror your own beliefs and practices if you have young children so that they know what to expect. If you don't believe in time out, yelling or spanking neither should your caregiver.
Don't hesitate to come up with scenarios that would ask the caregiver to tell you what they would do in those instances. Those types of questions are powerful tools that help you to deduce if a caregiver really will handle things the way you feel comfortable with.
Finally, the fun part. The personal and compatibility questions. I love these types of questions because they give the parents I interview for a glimpse of who I am, as well as, providing me with some insight into who they are. They can be questions that ask what type of activities the caregiver thinks are appropriate for the age group they'll be watching. How much T.V. they feel a child should watch. How they prefer to resolve issues with parents if there are any. How long they plan to stay with your family. What their child rearing philosophy is.
Some of the more creative and thoughtful questions have always been my favorite though. Questions that included what child development books do I like. What my favorite age group is and why. What I'm most proud of in my child care work. What I find most challenging about watching kids and when was a time I lost motivation in my work and why. If a potential caregiver says they have never felt watching kids, especially young kids, was challenging or demotivating at some point then that should be a big red flag. As parents we know that caring for kids isn't all rainbows and unicorns. Even the best kids can have tantrums that will challenge your resolve. Caregivers who answer honestly should get points for said honesty.
My favorite question of all time was "If our roles were reversed, what would you look for in hiring a caregiver?" This question is such a great way of seeing how seriously a person takes not just what they do but also the security of any family that they are interviewing for even if they don't get the job.
Use this article to build a questionnaire that will fit your family's needs and give you the confidence to hire the right person. Good luck on your search.