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Au Pairs & Nanny Cams

We have all heard stories of childcare workers abusing young children they were hired to care for.  Perhaps you have given some thought to this and considered a "nanny cam" yourself.  Working parents worry about their children and particularly their babies, who cannot tell them they are mistreated by their au pair.  After all, your new au pair is a stranger, from a foreign country, young and perhaps inexperienced!

Do you have the right to install a nanny cam and record her during the day?  What are your rights, as parents?  What privacy rights does your au pair have not to be recorded without her knowledge and approval?

It is legal, in all fifty states, to use a hidden camera in your home

However, it is illegal to record someone's conversation via the camera without their consent in the following fifteen states: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Louisiana, Maryland, Massachusetts, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington.

If the prospect of video taping your au pair conflicts with your sense of ethics, be upfront and during the interview, ask her if she would mind being monitored while taking care of your infant.  You can tell your au pair that you would like to be able to see your baby while you are at work, and discuss the camera as a way to connect with your child during the day.  This explanation presents the nanny cam as a positive experience for the family, rather than a looming doubt on your part about her ability to care for your children.  In addition, most au pairs would bristle at the thought of being taped without their knowledge!   It is a matter of trust vs a feeling of deception. 

Caregiver surveillance is more common nowadays and is an integral part of any good daycare.  Some daycare centers now provide parents with the ability to check in and watch their child from their office - so it is not much of a stretch to consider installing a nanny cam in your own home.  The public in general is becoming more comfortable with camera surveillance and we know we might be on video shopping, going to the bank, entering apartment and office buildings, etc.  So, why not use nanny cams to protect children?

If you are considering installing such a device (and have the okay from your au pair), make sure you are not violating her rights by placing the camera in inappropriate areas of your home (her room, the bathrooms, etc.) where she does expect privacy. 

Nanny cams are usually placed in rooms where the baby spends most of her day: kitchen, her bedroom, the family room. 

There are many types of nanny cams available on the market and most are small and wireless so they can be tucked away without being noticed.  Just place the camera in a discreet location within the recommended transmission signal range.  Plug the receiver into your computer and it will lock onto the camera’s transmission signal. Video is then recorded onto the hard drive of your computer.  You can also set it up with software programs that enable you to watch the video live on the internet while you’re at work. 

After a while, the au pair will not even think about the camera and just get on with her busy day taking care of baby and you get the peace of mind that you can monitor your child's safety as well as checking in to see what your little one is up to, right from the comforts of your office! 

  • Au Pair in America has a German au pair who was allegedly caught on a nanny camera assaulting a young child.  She is being held on bail pending a trial.  Read this 2015 news story and the importance of au pair screening.  
  • We reported the host father who caught his au pair kicking his 3 year old on his nanny cam.  Having proof of abuse on video is an important piece of evidence if your au pair is arrested or charged in an abuse case - 2014

Caution - there are 15 states where you can be prosecuted for using voice video in a criminal case so check your state laws regarding nanny cam usage.

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Blog | by Dr. Radut