Tuesday, September 25, 2012

What Parents Should Know About Nanny Certifications

Most people assume that there are some basic requirements for working as a nanny, however that isn’t actually the case. There are no legal minimum standards for nannies – meaning they’re not required to have any training before taking a job, nor do they have to complete any continuing education during employment.

During your nanny search, you may interview a nanny that has a nanny certification in her portfolio. There are several different certifications in the nanny field, and it can be confusing for families who are trying to figure out what the certification says about the nanny’s education or skill level.

There are two types of certifications a nanny can receive: a Certificate of Completion or Attendance and becoming “certified” in a particular topic or by a particular organization or educational program.

There are many professional development opportunities for nannies to take advantage of, and many of these programs offer high quality training and help the nanny gain knowledge and improve her skills in a particular topic. These trainings are offered through online sites, local and national workshops, and conferences. They generally offer a Certificate of Completion or Attendance. This means the trainer or the organization has not evaluated the caregiver in any way to see if she learned what the session was intended to teach. They simply show she attended and/or completed the class. While there isn’t any competency standard to go along with the certificate, it’s helpful when hiring a nanny to look at the type of professional development sessions she’s taken. It will give you a good idea of her commitment to ongoing training, her interests, and the range of information she’s been exposed to. It’s also a great jumping off point when talking about related topics during the interview.

There are also certified titles that carry an evaluation from the issuing organization or school. The important thing to remember here is the certification is only as valuable as the validity of the issuing organization, school, or trainer.

A perfect example of this is a CPR / First Aid certification. If your nanny has taken her training through the American Red Cross or the American Heart Association then you know she’s taken a 4 to 6 hour class and has passed an evaluation by a qualified trainer before receiving her certification. Both of those organizations are authoritative and have strict and transparent training and competency guidelines in place. If your nanny has taken her training through ABC Association (or any generic association or program) then you have no idea what the certification means. She could have taken a 45 minute course, or even an online course. Although both nannies have been certified in CPR / First Aid, what those certifications mean in real world situations are completely different.

Look at nanny certifications with the same eye. Some questions to ask about a nanny certification issuing organization or school are:

  • What standards is the certification based on?
  • Do the standards fit into the Developmentally Appropriate Practices, which is the accepted standard for policy makers, administrators, teachers, and childcare providers for developing programs and approaches?
  • Are they transparent about what knowledge or skills the nanny must demonstrate to receive the certification?
  • Are they affiliated with the National Association for the Education of Young Children, which is the umbrella organization for the childcare industry and authority on DAP (Developmentally Appropriate Practices)?
  • If the certification is issued by a school, have they been accredited by a higher learning accreditation body?

There are four main types of competency based certifications available in the nanny industry.

1. The International Nanny Association offers the INA Nanny Credential Exam and the INA Nanny Basic Skills Exam. Those who pass the INA Nanny Credential Exam earn the title of INA Credentialed Nanny. Those who pass the INA Nanny Basic Skills Exam receive a certificate stating that they’ve successfully completed the exam.

2. The American Council of Nanny Schools offers a Certified Professional Nanny certification through their member schools.

3. Nanny schools not associated with the American Council of Nanny Schools offer various nanny certifications and diplomas.

4. Some businesses offer a stand-alone nanny certification.

Nanny certifications can be a great indicator of a nanny who’s committed to quality care and has a specialized skill set. However not all certifications are created equal, and it’s important to accurately evaluate just how a certification will apply to care in the real world.

Taken From Nanny Interview Questions

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