Family Needs Assessment

This post is part of a multi multi-part blog series under the headline, “How to Find a Nanny, and why Simply Searching “Best Nanny Agency NYC”, or simply “Nanny Placement Agency” into Google Doesn’t Work.

In my prior 2 posts, I introduced the concept of figuring out “who you are” by completing a Family Needs Assessment and started to work through some instructions on how to complete it.  In this post, I walk through the final 6 steps for doing that in greater detail.

Let’s jump right in, since hiring a nanny isn’t easy!

(In case you didn’t get a chance to download your FNA from the prior post, click the below button to get started)

Tammy Family Needs

  • Do you need your nanny to drive? If you live in an urban area with an extensive public transit system and walkable neighborhood, maybe not. But if you live in the suburbs, a nanny who drives is almost always helpful, and even if there is a parent at home. You should also think about under what circumstances your nanny will drive: will she simply drive as a part of her commute, or will she be driving your children to different activities and running errands that require a car?
  •  If your nanny will be driving… The next few questions prompt you to think about logistics and possible “Musts” for your job description that are related to having a driving nanny. For example, will she be using one of your cars, or will she have to provide her own? Will she be covered by your auto insurance policy or will she have to supply her own? In addition, if she will be using her own car to shuttle your children around town—rather than just getting to and from work—it is standard for parents to provide either a weekly stipend for gas, or reimbursement based on mileage, so you will need to budget for this and factor it into your weekly costs.

Keep in mind that any nanny who is going to be driving on your watch MUST have a valid driver’s license, and therefore she will need to be a legal resident or U.S. citizen. This is something that you will need to screen for and confirm as you go through the hiring process.

  • Does your nanny need to know how to swim? If you have a pool, or spend summers at the beach, it is highly advisable to have a nanny who swims, epecially if she will be supervising the children on her own. In urban areas, finding a nanny who swims can sometimes be a challenge, so I always ask parents if they are willing to pay for their nanny to take swimming lessons. If so, you should broach this with any non-swimming candidates to see if they are open to learning.
  • Would you like your nanny to speak a second language? Parents tend to get very crazed about this because they love the idea of their child learning a second language, and it feels like another way to maximize their dollar. But I think that second languages should be viewed as a “Plus” rather than a “Must,” because requiring someone to speak fluent French or Mandarin Chinese to your child all day long will greatly narrow your list of potential candidates.  Second language scenarios usually works best if at least one of the parents is a native speaker. This is because sometimes a nanny who speaks a certain language may not be the best cultural match for your family. I had one client who insisted on hiring a Spanish-speaking nanny, but she also wanted someone on the quieter side and she just couldn’t handle the typical high-energy, vivacious, Latin personality. On the flip side, I had a Chinese working mother who wanted to hire a Chinese nanny because she felt that it was the best way to replicate Mom. She wanted the nanny to look and sound similar to her, and she wanted her own particular Cantonese dialect to be spoken to her baby around the clock. In this case, because the nanny and the mom were a cultural match, they understood each other and it worked perfectly.

Whenever foreign languages come up, I remind parents that while a good nanny is a teacher in a hundred small ways every day, teaching foreign language skills is not the most important part of their job. Furthermore, as a parent, you always want as much information as possible about what’s going on with your nanny in your house, and if there’s a language barrier, you won’t be getting the full picture. If foreign language exposure is very important to you, it can be one of the factors in your decision–but only if the rest of the match is right.

  • Will your nanny need to be able to travel? Travel is one of the main areas where a nanny’s legal status can present a problem. A nanny who is not a U.S. citizen or legal resident, or who does not have an appropriate visa, will be unable to travel domestically by plane, or leave and re-enter the country. If you are going to need your nanny to travel, you will need to make sure that she is comfortable with the prospect and can provide documentation that proves she is able to do so.
  • If you said Yes to travel… This series of questions asks you to think further about the details of any travel, so that you are prepared to outline your expectations to the nanny. You will need to give her a realistic sense of how frequent the trips will be, and how long they are likely to last. You will also need to agree on a travel pay rate. Travel rates will vary depending on your market and what a nanny received at her previous job, but a flat rate of around $50 extra a day for weekdays and $75 extra a day for weekends is not uncommon.
  • Are there any other benefits or perks you will provide? This is the time to think about any special perks and non-monetary enhancements that you can offer your nanny based on your family’s unique work and home situation. These special add-ons can come in extremely handy when you are negotiating, especially if the nanny is choosing between you and another family. For example, if you work from home, maybe you can offer her half-day Fridays, or one Friday off each month with pay. I’ve also seen parents offer things like a monthly yoga pass for their Live-In nanny, personal use of the family car, free use of the family accountant when doing tax forms, and classes for their nanny, anything from English as a Second Language (ESL) to Continuing Education or CPR.


In the coming posts, I’ll discuss:

  • Salary Logistics of Hiring a Nanny
  • And much, much more…

I hope that you find this content helpful, informative, and educational as you embark on your journey!