“Nanny cams” are hidden cameras placed around the home to record what happens in the home while the parents are away. Typically used to deter wrongdoing by a caregiver, these cameras are a source of controversy within the industry.
As a nanny agency, we understand the inclination to use a camera to capture all activity; after all, your child is your most precious asset, and of course you want to be absolutely sure he or she is safe. However, we advise any parents who are considering using nanny cams to inform all prospective nannies that you have a camera before they are hired. Why? It’s important information for nannies to have!
Remember, there is a distinct difference between monitoring and spying. Many workplaces have surveillance cameras for safety purposes, but workplace privacy laws generally state that workers should be informed if they are being watched.
No parent should install a hidden camera because they expect to find the nanny doing something wrong. Trust is the cornerstone of any successful nanny-family relationship, and that trust should go both ways. Your nanny should be able to trust that your family is not spying on her in secret, just like you should trust her to be the best possible caregiver for your child in your absence.
In an ideal situation, a nanny cam should be used simply for extra assurance that the child is happy and well cared for while parents are away, or to observe events in the child’s life that parents might not otherwise get to see.
It’s a good idea to have your nanny sign a written release stating that she’s aware you’re using a camera. While cameras to monitor nannies are legal in most U.S. states as long as they aren’t recording audio, you should always check your state’s privacy laws to be completely sure your setup is legal. Be aware, though, that using such a camera without the nanny’s knowledge can be a major breach of trust if she stumbles upon it. This can potentially ruin your relationship with her. If your nanny signs a written release, you can feel confident that she is comfortable with the idea of being recorded.
Remember, a nanny cam should be used to prevent bad behavior, not to spy on your caregiver. If you do not trust your nanny and feel the need to spy on her without her knowledge, you have probably not hired the right nanny for your family.
How can I guarantee the same sense of security if I don’t use a nanny cam?
- Enlist the help of a nanny agency. By using a nanny agency such as the Nanny Authority, you can be sure that every nanny you’ve met will have already been vetted by the agency and will have the experience your position requires.
- Make sure to run a thorough background check on any nanny you hire. If you’re working with an established agency, this step will be completed for you. At the Nanny Authority, we run a comprehensive background check on each nanny when he or she is hired, which includes social security verification, a nationwide criminal search, and sex offender registry search. We also run a driving check, should your position require driving.
- Make sure your nanny has verifiable references. This step will likely have already been completed if you’re working with an agency. A reputable nanny agency will verify and speak to a nanny’s references before she is sent to your family. When you are seriously considering hiring her, the agency will then provide you with those references and phone numbers. We always advise that families speak to a nanny’s references personally in addition to the reference checks we perform.
- Use a nanny contract. When you hire a nanny, it’s always a good idea to write up a nanny contract detailing the position’s duties and responsibilities. If you have never drawn up a nanny contract before, it can be helpful to consult the placement counselor at your nanny agency.
- Keep the lines of communication open. A good nanny-family relationship is built on trust and communication. Your nanny should keep you informed about your child’s activities throughout the day, and you should always feel comfortable bringing up any behaviors you want to discuss. The more openly you can communicate with your nanny, the better. If you do not trust your nanny or are not comfortable speaking with her, she may not be the right fit for your family.