How to Choose a Nanny for Your Child With Special Needs

Having a nanny provide one-on-one care for your child with special needs can be a true blessing to your family. She can deliver hands on childcare, offer household support, be an important connection between home and school, and contribute to the team of professionals devoted to helping your child. But how do you find the right candidate? How do you know if a person will be successful in your position? Here are a few questions to ask when considering different candidates.

Does she have a connection to your child? There are many things that make a great special needs nanny. Nothing is more important than a positive connection between your child and nanny. Sometimes this happens right away. Sometimes it takes a while for the connection to develop. So how do you know during the interview stage if that connection is there? It is hard to tell because your child and your potential nanny don’t have a lot of time to spend together. But even from the beginning, you often see a spark. Plus, a big factor is the nanny’s willingness to do whatever she needs to do in order to make that connection. Ask her about the other children with special needs that she’s worked with and how she connected with them. Talk with her about your child’s personality and get her ideas on how she could work best with him. If the nanny has a true love of kids, is comfortable with special needs and is willing to work to build a relationship with your child, chances are she’ll be able to build a great connection with him.

Does she have relevant training? All nannies should have some training, including CPR/first aid certification and an understanding of basic child development knowledge. For nannies wanting to care for children with special needs, the nanny should have additional training to help her understand and effectively work with your child. This may include additional medical training, Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) training or a variety of other specialized training. This training will help the nanny understand the unique challenges your child is facing and give her the skills she needs to help him. If you are interviewing a great nanny that doesn’t have the training she needs, consider enrolling her in helpful courses. It will help both the nanny and your child.

Does she have the right kind of personality to work with kids with special needs? All nannies need to have a positive attitude, a true love of children, flexibility, patience and a problem solving outlook. Nannies who work with special needs children have to have all those traits in spades. They also need to be undaunted by failure, be able to think outside the box for new solutions or approaches, and have a willingness to learn and adapt. Not all nannies are well suited for these positions. Talk with each candidate about how she’ll tackle the challenges that come with the job

Is the nanny a team player? When you have a child with special needs, your nanny will need to work closely with you, the school and other professionals that help your child. Being a team player is a requirement. Hire someone that understands the need to openly communicate with everyone else on the team, who is open to learning new ways of doing things, who can make recommendations based on her experiences with your child, and who can effectively work side by side with you and other professionals. Talk with her about these issues during the interview and also cover this issue when talking with her references.

Can she be a support person for you? Working as a nanny involves hands on childcare, but it also includes household tasks that support the parents. These can consist of laundry, meals, grocery shopping, errands, household organization and keeping the schedule up to date. You may need extra support in some nontraditional ways. Before you begin your nanny search, create a list of the ways she can support you and incorporate those things into your job description. Candidates may not be willing to take them all on, but it’s always worth talking about your needs. The right candidate will be willing to pitch in and help you manage the extra work that often comes with parenting a child with special needs. It’s also important that your nanny supports you emotionally. She shouldn’t be your only support person, but it’s important that she understands your challenges and is willing to support you in your parenting choices.

Guest Post from:


Great new position working with an eight year-old autistic child in Atlanta, Georgia

Position: Professional Family Consultants, LLC is currently accepting applications for a Full-time Live-In Specialized Nanny skilled in working with autistic children. The position is with a wonderful high-profile African-American family in Atlanta, Georgia. The mother and father work full-time between Atlanta and Los Angeles. There are two children, ages eight (8) and seven (7). Both children attend private school in southwest Atlanta. The family travels nationally and internationally for work and the Nanny would be expected to travel with them to help care for the children.

Hours: Live-In position; 40 + hours a week

Schedule: The schedule varies depending on the mother's work schedule. During busy seasons, the Nanny's two off days will vary. During non-busy seasons, the Nanny's schedule will be M-F. Flexibility is key and the Nanny must be a self-starter who is able to anticipate the family's needs.

Pay: Commensurate with experience. The Nanny will receive a weekly salary of $650 a week plus room and board in a private suite in the home. The Nanny will also be provided a vehicle to use during working hours. 

The eight year-old boy has a speech-delay, apraxia and complex partial seizure disorder and Sensory Integration disorder. He's well behaved, fun loving and needs very little redirection from the Nanny. He responds well to ABA therapy and the mother tries to maintain an ABA approach to parenting and caregiving. The boy shy and needs help interacting appropriately with peers. He's in special education classes and has seizures at night, which would need to be monitored by the Nanny. He needs help with life skills like getting dressed, hygiene and brushing teeth as well as help with homework in the evenings. The seven year-old girl is typically developing but has signs of ADHD and needs some redirection. 

Candidate must have a background in ABA therapy and/or speech therapy and experience working directly with children on the autism spectrum. Candidate should also have experience providing positive reinforcement and knowledge of reward-based systems. Candidate should be knowledgeable of conflict resolution techniques and have the ability to mediate behavior issues. A Certified Nursing Assistant or medical background in seizure attendance is also a plus (but not required). The ideal Nanny is someone who is well-qualified and knowledgeable of autism and the various coping strategies and techniques for engaging children with special needs. The Nanny would also be expected to cook various meals and assist with keeping the house tidy as it relates to the care of the children. The Candidate should have a degree in special education, social work, psychology, or a similar field and have direct experience working with children who have special needs. 

Interested? Interested Candidates should fill out the Candidate Application through the website ( and submit your resume through that portal. Qualified Candidates will be contacted immediately. The position starts ASAP.


Hiring the Perfect Nanny

When a family decides to hire someone to care for their child with special needs, they are making an important decision that could have lasting effects on the child and the family as a whole.  When a family engages PFC to assist in this process, we understand the monumental importance of this decision and do our very best to not only offer our support and guidance, but to provide each family with access to some of the best and the brightest special needs caregivers in the industry.  Through our collective experiences, we have learned some of the key aspects of hiring the perfect nanny. 

1.   Ask the Right Questions

Not only should a family ask general questions about the Candidate's past experiences, the family should also ask targeted questions about the family's current dynamics.  The goal of these behavior-specific interview questions is to ascertain how the Candidate will respond to the specific needs of the family.  During PFC's initial interview with the family, our team will help the family develop goals for the Candidate and create specific questions aimed at the family's needs. 

2.  Meet the Children!

Some families prefer to interview Candidates while the children are not around.  While we respect the family's decision, we advise against it.  It is vitally important for each Candidate to spend some quality time with each child and for the parents to observe the Candidate's interaction with the children.  Without having these moments, the parents are potentially setting the Candidate up for failure.  

3. Match the Specific Skills and Training 

Because families choose PFC to assist in their childcare needs, families will interview only candidates that have the specific skills and experiences that match the needs of the child.  If the child has autism, for example, PFC will send the family Candidates who have training in ABA therapy and other developmental modalities.  Even though all Candidates will be fully qualified, families are encouraged to inquire into the Candidates specific training to ensure their needs are met. 

Caring for a Child with Autism

Caring for a child with autism can be a difficult and taxing experience if you're not prepared.  That's why we recruit experience and skillful professionals to work as Specialized Nannies along side the parents of children with autism.  Our Nannies who specialized autism care often have experience in ABA therapy, floortime, and other neuro-developmental therapies.  It is our belief that the more prepared families are when caring for their autistic child, the better parenting experience and family life for everyone.  Here are some of our tips for caring for a child with autism.  

1.  Become an Expert

The best way parents can learn about their child's development is to study their "quirks" and triggers and figure out what causes stressful responses and positive responses.  Armed with this information, parents and caregivers will be better equipped to troubleshoot pending challenges. 

2. Create a Safety Zone 

Children with autism often need a place to feel safe in their home.  Visual ques are often important and parents may need to safety-proof their house in case the child engages in self-injuring behaviors. Use items to create boundaries in the home and to mark safe and unsafe areas. 

3. Make Time for Fun

Even though children with autism are often engaged in therapies and programs to address their challenges, parents still need to find ways to have fun.  After all, children with autism are still kids.  Think about activities that make the child smile, laugh, and come out of their shell.  Use these activities to create fun-time and a deeper experience with your child.   

4. Explore Different Treatments 

We also recommend parents talk to a variety of professionals when they are seeking therapies and programs for their child with autism.  Because our Specialized Nannies are often skilled in autism therapy, parents should feel comfortable talking about their choices with the Nanny. 

Frequently Asked Questions - PFC

1. How much do Specialized Nannies charge? 

Depending on their experience, Specialized Nannies we work with charge anywhere between $450 - $800 a week for full-time (40 + hours a week).  PFC assists in negotiating the rates between families and nannies.  

2. How does PFC recruit Specialized Nannies? 

Many of our Candidates find us online themselves and apply on their own.  We also utilize professional recruiting efforts and work within our special needs network throughout the country.  Most of our Candidates have been special education (or regular education) teachers, therapists, social workers, speech pathologists, and mental health clinicians.  We have a vast database of Candidates currently available throughout the country with a variety of skill sets.  When families apply, we search our database first to see if there is a suitable match based on our knowledge of special needs and the family's requirements.  If a Candidate is not readily available, we utilize professional recruiting efforts to source qualified Candidates.  We contact roughly 10% of the Candidates that apply for positions through our company.  We are highly selective and only contact those Candidates that have meet specific requirements. 

3. What is the matching process like? 

We employ a holistic matching process that takes into consideration the dynamics of the entire family.  We focus on deeply understanding the family's needs and the child's special needs.  We seek to understand the family's goals for the placement and the development of their child.  After a full family evaluation, we begin evaluating current and potential Candidates for the position. Each Candidate is extensively vetted and personally interviewed to ensure a perfect match.  We look for similar personality traits, strengths and weaknesses, and specific skills and education that meet the needs of the child.

After the Candidates are fully vetted, we contact the families and coordinate interviews. All the family has to do is provide their availability and we ensure the Candidates are ready and able to interview at the selected times.  

4.  What happens after I hire someone?

After the family selects their Specialized Nanny, PFC takes care of the offer letter, background checks, reference and employment checks, and other pre-employment activities.  The family is provided with a packet of information detailing the Candidates background.  The offer letter is sent to the Candidate on the family's behalf and is contingent on a successful background check.  PFC also provides an employment agreement and performance evaluations for the family to use. 

After the Specialized Nanny begins employment, PFC remains involves with the family and the Nanny.  PFC keeps the Nanny abreast of training opportunities in their area and ensures that both the family and the Nanny is satisfied with the arrangement. 


Welcome to our new website and blog!

We have finally gotten around to setting up a new website.  The impetus for creating another website was not only the increased functionality, but also to incorporate this blog as a resource for our clients and caregivers.  We hope to offer an array of blog topics relating to caring for children special needs.  This blog will also focus on tangential topics such as parenting, special needs schools and classes, IEP's, medication management, behavior management, and other relevant issues for families.  We will also feature guest bloggers who are experts in their field as it relates to families and children who have children with special needs.  

Please let us know if you have any comments or questions.  And if you have any special topics you are interested in, by all means, get in touch with us and we will get the information you are looking for!