DEAR HARRIETTE: I have a young child, and I have been looking for a nanny to help me take care of her when I go back to work. I know a few moms who have nannies, but I’m really at a loss for how to find someone I can trust to watch my child. You hear horror stories about how other people take care of your children. Those stories are getting under my skin, and I am not sure how I should proceed. Do you have any recommendations? -- Need a Nanny
DEAR NEED A NANNY: In different towns, infant and child care is handled in different ways. Sometimes a day care center that has been accredited by the city or state can work perfectly for you and can be more affordable than an individual coming to your home. In other places, a nanny or a live-in au pair is common.
In all cases, you should rely heavily on referrals. Look for someone who has been recommended by people you know and trust. Research organizations that insure their staff and do background checks before they present potential employees to you.
In many cities, people hire undocumented workers or people for whom they do not pay taxes in order to get a lower rate. You should think twice about this. In no way am I condemning these people as being untrustworthy. But the downsides for you include your inability to get that legal background check and the liability that you will have for hiring someone illegally.