Hiring a nanny agency should help to make the hiring process much more streamlined than searching on your own. That said there is still an abundance of information that you should sort through before choosing an agency. When you start you search ask the agencies that you are calling the following questions:

1) What are the agency fees? Fees vary greatly between agencies. Be sure to ask what you fee covers. (Locating candidates, the screening process, background checks)

2) Are there any upfront charges for interviews or processing?

3) When are the fees due to the agency and is there a refund policy?

4) What is the process the nanny agency uses to screen the candidates? This should include things like checking references (how many), processing a criminal record check, requiring a written application and a personal interview.

5) How many candidates will the agency send you? In this case often less is more. You want the agency to be sending you only their best pre screened nannies.

6) Do they offer back-up care when your nanny gets sick or is on vacation?

7) Find out what information you will be receiving about the nanny. Will you receive copies of the nannies resume, references, the reference checks the agency conducted, the criminal record check?

8) Do they answer the phone when you call? If you cannot contact them easily now you will not be able to get in touch with them when there is a problem.

Michelle Kelsey is the founder of Nannies On Call. In 2001, Michelle launched a small nanny referral service with one pager, five nannies and a determination to never find herself without reliable childcare. Nannies on Call now counts over 250 nannies, with offices in 4 cities. www.nanniesoncall.com