Wednesday opinion: Why (some) nannies cheat the system

Will Park Slope Parents ever get a break? A few months back 40% of PSP members were busted for not paying overtime to their nannies (Daily News) and then publicly reprimanded by Domestic Workers United (DWU) and now they’re being bamboozled by unscrupulous Nannies on their notice board. 


First of all let’s add a disclaimer: This blog does not act as an apologist for poor nanny behavior. There can never be any justifications for lying or misrepresenting oneself at an interview or on notice boards. There can never be any excuses for denying the child in your care the full enrichment and attention that a parent would give. In fact this blog exists as a forum to expose such unprofessional conduct. 

Now let’s examine the Daily News/Park Slope Parents position a little. Allegedly some Nannies use the PSP notice board (a board available only to parents in Park Slope not Nannies) 1) posing as employers offering and recommending their ‘good Nannies’ for new positions to other members, 2) upon securing multiple interviews successfully employed Nannies then send their ‘friends’ and peers on their excess interviews, 3) Nannies have their friends pose as references. The not so subtle smack down by PSP regarding the “grammatically humiliating” posts adds a veneer of superiority and moral outrage to the mix. Clearly there are victims and villains here, and uneducated villains at that.
There’s a throw away line almost hidden in the fray:
“She (Fox, PSP founder) said the fakers (nannies) are “an extremely small percentage” of all posts and chastised parents who turn a blind eye to them.

“We’ve been dismayed at employers’ tolerance to breaches in integrity by their nannies,” she said.”

The facts are: 

the PSP forum is a posting site ONLY for parents recommending their Nannies.
A small % of Nannies pretend to be employers and post themselves on the forum.
A small % of Nannies send their friends on interviews after they themselves have secured a job.
A small % of Nannies ask their friends to be their references.

Let’s imagine for a moment that you are a PSP parent looking for childcare and you’ve recently had a lobotomy. You go on the PSP forum where you come across a badly written post (awful grammar) by a Mrs Very Waspy Sounding Name in Park Slope who sings the praises of her former Nanny ‘Betty’. You get in touch with: on her cell as she doesn’t have a landline despite living in a Brownstone, and a woman with an accent answers. This lady waxes lyrical about her ‘Betty’ and so satisfied are you that you immediately arrange for an interview. Only when ‘Betty’ shows up she’s actually called Lucy. ‘Oh well’ you think ‘it’s common to have two different names right?’. After the interview you call ‘Betty’ no ‘Lucy’s’ two references and they too sound like they come from far flung shores, but they have nothing but praise for your prospective Nanny. What’s left to do but hire Betty-Lucy? So hire her you do. A month later you discover that Betty-Lucy has no idea how to be a Nanny and it’s all the fault of the PSP forum.
I know … I’m exaggerating but you take the point. Any forum that requires email authentication will be open to intrusion by imposters. If you’re looking to check references do it face to face. If you’re suspicious you probably have a good reason to be. In other words the system itself is not a firewall you the parent are. When in doubt go through a reputable Nanny Agency. 

DWU weighed in on the issue:
“A spokeswoman for Domestic Workers United, which is fighting for labor rights for nannies, said the identity-swaps were “not surprising at all.”
“DWU doesn’t support fictitious references, but the way the industry is set up…this is the outcome,” said communications coordinator Helen Panagiotopoulos.
Many domestic workers are immigrants, the sole providers for their families, and living on a shoestring budget, so the thought of not finding a new job is terrifying.
“And we certainly have workers who have been with families for many years and when they decide to leave, those employers out of spite won’t give them references,” she said.”
While these reasons do not excuse misrepresentation to a family they do indicate that the industry allows for such conditions to arise. Any Nanny that cannot provide a reference is unlikely to secure another job. Most of us do not have to swindle others to feed our children but unfortunately there are some women who do. 
Then there are just dishonest or lazy Nannies. It’s a terrible reality of life. 
Park Bench Nannies

“Ahem … where’s your child?”

On the same day as the Daily News broke the above story, another ‘nanny’ site:

ran this story from a whistleblower (nanny) who observed the phenomena known as ‘bench nannies’:

“… I felt so bad for that little girl. It was wonderful day at park, so many things to do and that girl for more than 2 hours didn’t get to do anything except sit on the ground next to bench and watch other kids play. I didn’t hear her crying or being upset for not getting any attention, and unfortunately it seemed to me that she is used to being ignored.”

Click on the link above to read the full account. It clearly wasn’t a good day for NYC Nannies or parents for that matter. The crux of both stories is this: someone a family hires to take care of their most precious members can be anything other than good, transparent or honest. This has to be a classic American nightmare. It poses that anyone can be hoodwinked then betrayed … or does it?

Again … no. 
An essentially lazy person will evidence themselves in a multitude of ways. They will be creatures of habit and routine. They will visit the same playgrounds with the same ‘Nanny’ friends in the same neighborhoods. Neighbors may drop hints or comments about them. They may show up to work late. They may fail to follow even basic instructions. 
There are significent ways to monitor and track a Nanny’s performance. This site in previous posts has offered advice on how to spot a ‘bad’ Nanny. If you suspect your Nanny is negligent there are other credible ways to expose her behavior.

Contact me here for more information: