SAVE THE DATE: OCTOBER 23-25 | APNA Annual Conference
SAVE THE DATE: OCTOBER 23-25 | APNA Annual Conference

Michael Jordan is the best basketball player of all time but he will not come close to playing at his best without his shoes. Onboarding a caregiver is like lacing up Jordan’s Nike’s and giving caregivers the opportunity to most effectively execute their role.

Most often the missing piece to swiftly receiving a caregiver’s best in the first week is onboarding. It is senseless for an agency to spend a significate amount of time and money recruiting a family’s “perfect fit” only to maroon the caregiver when it comes time to implement their skills. Agencies that help caregivers onboarding and provide career development reduce their agency’s labor loss from continuing to work with families and caregivers when post placement issues arise.

Agencies have the strongest voice in uplifting the perception and standard of the industry by providing caregiver career development and training. The unfortunate truth is that the at-home childcare industry is a bit of a wild west.  Without an agency’s guidance the industry’s general lack of official resources leaves many families and caregivers with the responsibility to reinvent the wheel of best practices for themselves.

Families usually aren’t apprised of the fact that they must suddenly fill the function of a corporate executive for their home, and in turn must implement rules, protocol, policies, and procedures. Fortunately, families and caregivers have most of what they need already but it is unorganized. Rules and must-knows drip out like a leaky faucet in the form of emergency texts, frustrating situations, and, “sorry, I forgot to tell you that,” conversations. Families and caregivers need the help of a professional to make sense of it all.

The benefits to onboarding are immediate for agencies and families. It doesn’t need to be difficult or time consuming. Even the best caregivers require time to become situated in their new role, but onboarding significantly shortens the runway and gets caregivers flying in their position sooner rather than later.

Agencies have numerous options to bring families and caregivers up to speed including outsourcing the job to companies that provide training course and ongoing career development specifically created for nannies and the caregiver industry. However, a family manual, schedule, notes, and a shadow day are the among the most inexpensive and easily achieved onboarding tools agencies can share with families to immediately elevate the nanny industry.

Family Manual

Like a human resource’s bundle of documents, every family should compile their caregiver’s must know information into a small binder or easily accessed e-document. Comprehensive Family manuals are available but sharing these basics can have a great impact for a family and caregiver. Each family manual should include the family’s schedule, emergency contacts, polices (paid time off, sick days), procedures (discipline, how-to specifics) house rules, approved food list, medical needs, and anything else that helps caregiver do their best.  Shannon Parola of suggests compiling this information long before the caregiver arrives.


A refined and referenceable schedule is one of the simplest methods to setting a caregiver on the right track and a family might already have one to hand to their newly arrived caregiver on their first day. An adult of the family can take the schedule to the next level by detailing duties, tasks, and the responsibilities required to maintaining the family’s daily standard of living.

Notes and Lists

A lot is happening the first few days and facetime with the adults of the family is usually limited. Agencies can recommend caregivers carry a notebook to track and keep a record of all the information thrown at them. It is important to keep details of how devices work, where items are kept, and how tasks should be completed, and reference them as needed. Comprehensive note taking ensures that caregivers only have to ask once.

Similarly, a list can go a long way in making responsibilities manageable and every family most likely already has one or more regularly used lists (i.e., emergency contact, to-do, grocery) that can assist a caregiver in performing their role.

Shadow Day

It is not always an option to have a caregiver walk a mile in the former caregiver’s shoes but the opportunity can have a monumental impact. A new caregiver can receive detailed and generally overlooked insights on their role that the family may never know or realize to share.

If not with the former caregiver, agencies can recommend the adults of the family to take some time and personally show the caregiver around inside and outside the home. The tour should include a complete look inside the home to point out where everything is located, specifically the first aid kit and fire extinguisher, as well as areas and items that are off limits. Additionally, an orientation outside the home should be recommended and include schools, stores, playgrounds, practices, and lesson locations. Be sure to share specifics on every location’s pick up and drop off procedures.

The Take Away

  • Agencies have the strongest voice to impact a family and caregiver’s “perfect fit” and to enhance the training standards of the industry.
  • Onboarding a caregiver reduces an agencies labor loss from spending time with families and caregivers on post placement problems.
  • Onboarded caregivers are more effective in the immediate than they otherwise would be and are more successful in their roles overall.
  • Agencies are not alone. There are companies with training systems specifically created to work with agencies and aid in the onboarding of nannies and child caregivers.
  • Agencies and families that onboard will cultivate the most successful caregivers.


Danny J Rosenthal, known as Danny J Nanny, is the author behind Nanny ABCs: The Sitter’s Handbook: A complete alphabet how-to guide for every child caregiver and host of Nanny ABCs: Next Step podcast. He has worked with children and families for over 15 years, been recognized for his outstanding performance by Chicago Collegiate Nannies, and his expertise has been featured by the US Nanny Association and Rosenthal created Nanny ABCs to give rocket fuel to childcare by providing courses, guidance, and resources on the nanny industry’s best practices to agencies, families, and caregivers. You can learn more about Danny J Nanny at and connect via social media

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