Good Help!

Oh Yes – It’s Possible to Find

It’s no easy task for active families to find the time to keep the household running smoothly, serve on charitable committees, attend meetings and events, not to mention going out to enjoy the Miami restaurant and nightlife scenes. That’s why more and more families are seeking help in the form of nannies, housekeepers, cooks, and babysitters.

Crunch Care, a South Florida service that provides household help, is a leader in this arena.

Crunch Care started in San Diego and earned a sterling reputation as an agency that listens to clients’ needs and sends appropriate people to fill their positions. It’s like a dating service with a lot more at stake – children’s safety. That’s what attracted Joanna Harris to the possibility of opening the second Crunch Care in the country.

Harris, the mother of two young children, knows the ups and downs of searching for in-home caretakers. Through the years she was on a see-saw of dealing with fairly competent people to those who were just downright dreadful. In searching for her own “super nanny,” she used a lot of time and energy to research and interview prospective people and most often had disappointing results.

Crunch Care takes the guess work away, which is especially important for the professional mom who desperately needs help and doesn’t have time to interview lots of people sent by agencies that don’t meet the requirements.

“That is one of the things that separate us from other agencies in the area. I listen to the job requirements and only send over the right people to interview with the family,” said Harris. “I typically narrow it down to two or three pre-qualified candidates for the client to interview, which is a big time saver.”

Joanna Harris

Many positions Crunch Care fills have a unique set of circumstances, and they are able to effectively assess each individual situation and find a caregiver who will be a perfect fit.

The agency also places senior companions, a growing need as baby boomers grow older. Services range from taking the person to doctor appointments, making meals, doing housework, or all of the above. Everyone’s needs are personalized.

Harris went to San Diego for extensive training before opening the South Florida Crunch Care location.

“Crunch Care clients become like family,” she said. “I get to know them throughout the process, and even after someone is placed in their homes, I follow up often to make sure that everyone is happy.”
Harris banks on her gut feelings. “As a Mom, I have an intuition about people, and if I don’t feel comfortable leaving my own children in their hands, I won’t refer them to another family,” she said.

Here are tips for interviewing prospective.

  • Be selective about who you spend your time interviewing.
    In this job market you may get flooded with applicants but few have quality experience. Never consider someone without professional experience in this field. Look for a minimum of 2 years experience.
  • Standardize your interview and look for red flags!
    Make a standard set of questions and stick to them for each interview so that you can easily compare applicants. Dig into work history within your questions and be consistent in looking for patterns. If you notice most previous positions didn’t last very long, ask more questions, as this is a major red flag.
  • Ask age specific questions to determine whether they are familiar with different developmental stages in a child or infant’s life. Their experience should correspond to your children’s ages.
    Put together some appropriate questions to test their knowledge:
    What would they do to stimulate a 5-month old baby? A two-year old?
    What are items that should not be placed in a crib with an infant?
    What should be packed in a diaper bag if going to the park with a 14-month old?
  • Determine their overall philosophy on discipline.
    This philosophy will vary but must fall in line with what works for your family. Determine whether they are willing to follow your philosophy or if they seem to be set in their ways.
  • Discuss expectations, flexibility and commitment.
    Have a clear idea of what your specific needs and expectations are – days, hours, rate of pay, responsibilities, etc. Be clear about the duties of their job so that there are no surprises later on. Don’t make assumptions. Ask if they are going to be available for more than the basic schedule and how they feel about being flexible. Setting a general schedule is important, but we know things can change on a daily basis. Working with someone who is flexible can be so much easier on your life. Ask the tough questions, such as how long a commitment they can offer to the family. Ask if there are any upcoming vacation plans that might affect this job. Making sure that you are on the same page is key to a successful match.

After the Interview:

Take your interview to the next level if you want to move forward with a candidate.

  • Check References – at least 3 references from prior positions.
  • Background Check. In addition to a standard criminal background check report and social security number verification, consider other reports you might want to obtain, such as a DMV report if driving is part of the job.
  • Trial Period. Before making a job offer, consider a trial for several days in your home. This can help you decide whether this is a good fit for your family.
  • Follow your intuition. You may have a gut feeling about the person one way or another and paying attention to these feelings is important.

Hiring a caregiver can be a lengthy and frustrating experience, but keeping these tips in mind can make it a lot easier.

Crunch Care will handle the entire process for you, from screenings, interviews, reference and background checks, salary negotiation, providing a sample contract. The agency provides back-up care when a nanny or caregiver is sick or on vacation. A qualified temporary worker who fits with your family and your needs will be available.

You can reach Crunch Care by calling 954-703-1701, emailing them at, or visiting them online at

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