By Tracie McMillan
Daily Intelligencer • April 24, 2007
It’s nerve-racking enough to find a nanny in this city — well, at least so we’re told — and now it seems you can’t even trust the agencies that are supposed to help ease the process. The City Council released a study last week showing that about half the nanny agencies surveyed break the law: A four-month survey of 37 out of the city’s 52 nanny agencies (as well as interviews with a handful of nannies) turned up infractions running from the bureaucratic (leaving license numbers off public advertisements) to the dubious (overcharging both parents and nannies for services; operating without a license).
That’s a considerable improvement on the last survey, in 1992, when 90 percent of nanny agencies were flouting the rules. But the best part is a detailed comparison chart — with agency names — that outlines the surveyed agencies’ fee structures, licensing status, and policies on background checks, references, and refunds. It’s invaluable information for parents looking for child care, of course, but even families who’ve settled in with a nanny will want to see what comes next: a few voyeuristic gems from researcher interviews, tucked neatly into the comment section. One nanny, for example, told researchers she was forced to give foot massages and sleep in a basement with an active sewage leak. And an agency seemed to be particularly attentive to customers’ needs. “We’ve got Philippines, Africans, Indians, African-Americans,” one rep said to a researcher posing as a parent. “Whatever you want.” And you thought it was hard to find good, casually racist help these days.