How to select a placement agency

Even if an agency has an excellent reputation, its services may not meet your specific needs. As in any business transaction, it is wise to find out as much as you can about the company you're dealing with and to evaluate its methods of operation as they relate to your own preferences or style.

You can use the following questionnaire to help gather information about the different agencies you are considering. As you talk with people at the agency, pay attention to how they respond to you. Are they asking you a lot of pertinent questions about your children and your job requirements? Are they making suggestions to help you clarify your expectations? An agency that doesn't have information about your preferences and family needs will require sheer luck to make a good match. And always remember, even when working with an agency you trust, your own screening and interviewing of applicants are your best safeguards.

Keep in mind, too, that some in-home placement agencies are not large or sophisticated organizations. Many operate out of the owner's home with just two or three part-time employees. Because of this, you are likely to get an answering machine or an answering service when you call. To get the best service, be sure to leave a clear message, including the reason for your call. If you want a brochure or need to speak with someone, state that in your message, along with your name, address, telephone number, the best time to reach you, and when you need a caregiver to begin.

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