The murder of 2 children in NYC by their babysitter/nanny has everyone horrified and distraught—especially parents who have hired childcare for their family. It has every nanny agency owner –almost all of whom are parents—grappling to understand what could have gone so wrong. How did a seemingly capable caregiver go from loving nanny to murderer? Believe me, I have been reading every shred of news I can find to try and understand how this tragedy could have ever happened.
Those of us owners who belong to an organization called APNA (the Association of Premier Nanny Agencies) subscribe to the highest level of screening practices. I know we are all wondering, if this woman had come to us, would we have picked up something about her which would have eliminated her from placement. The truth is without all the facts of the case, we don’t know.
Here’s what we do know. Careful screening of caregivers by professionals does help weed out people who should not be taking care of children. Real background checks—not the cheap ones provided by online sites—are part of the process. But in this case, the woman probably had no prior record. It does appear, however, that her life was unraveling and she was becoming psychologically untethered.
This case is a statistical anomaly. There are thousands upon thousands of wonderful nannies providing excellent care for children and allowing parents to go to work knowing that their children are in loving hands. But just one case like this is one too many. No one wants to be that anomaly. When the facts emerge about this woman, I hope we have some take away that will make us better at what we try to do best– protect the safety and welfare of children.