CASTLE ROCK, Colo. — Shalin Cruz works in construction full-time and is the mother of two young boys.
“Working with my job, I don’t have a set time where I go in or a set time where I get off,” Cruz said. “I need a nanny that’s flexible.”
She went on Facebook after close friends and family fell through, posting full-time job openings for a nanny in various groups around Castle Rock. She finally connected with one woman who was flexible and could fill the job. The nanny had a young child of her own, and started looking after Cruz’s kids and kids from her extended family. The nanny's child was at Cruz's home as well.
Cruz says she did not run a background check.
“Talking to her and talking to people that have known her, no one had anything negative to say,” Cruz said. “I was desperate at that point. We needed to get someone and we needed to get them fast.”
Cruz says she started seeing warning signs and heard concerns from other people using that nanny’s services. Her neighbors also told her about shouting happening in her apartment while she was at work.
Cruz decided to keep the nanny employed, but installed a nanny cam. Video shows the nanny shoving, swearing and even hitting her own child with a wooden spoon. The nanny even kicks Cruz’s kitten at a point.
“I was fuming,” Cruz said.
Cruz says she didn’t pay close enough attention to the warning signs and her children’s behavior changing.
“My children are starting to act out,” Cruz said. “They won't talk. They're scared. They won't talk in front of her. Obviously, something's going wrong, and the way to catch her was for me to buy a nanny cam and see for myself.”
Cruz says she tried reporting the incident to police, but was told it doesn’t reach the threshold for criminal charges. Cruz says she reported the nanny to Child Protective Services.
Castle Rock police shared the following tips for vetting nannies before allowing them into your home:
1) Have the potential nanny fill out an application with work history and previous addresses.
- References are always a good place to start, but make sure they provide families that they have worked for.
2) Complete a background check.
- Look for a company that provides not only a criminal record, but also their driving history.
- Background checks should not be “instant.” It takes a bit of work to sift through all of the information.
3) Social media accounts of the applicant can be a good resource, but always make sure you still complete the application process and background check.
4) “Nanny cams” are a good way of checking in from time to time, just make sure that they are not in private areas like the bathroom or the nanny’s bedroom.
5) If all of this seems overwhelming, there are nanny agencies in Colorado that work just like other employment agencies.