I caught my new nanny doing drugs
July 24, 2014 9:22 PM   Subscribe

I hired a new nanny. Today is her 2nd day. As I had bad experiences with nanny before, I set up a nanny cam. After I came home today, I reviewed the video clips and found my nanny took out a prescription bottle, took a pill out of the bottle, kind of smash something on the table and then use a small paper roll and then it looks like she inhales it into nose. I reported to police right away and will definitely fire her. I don't know what else I can do or what else I should do. Any suggestions? Thank you
posted by kktony to Education (38 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Could you clarify what exactly she did to warrant a phone call to the police?
posted by KogeLiz at 9:24 PM on July 24, 2014 [8 favorites]

I'm confused, what did you see on nanny cam that the police needed to become involved over?

Specifically, what did you see that you feel you still need to do MORE about?
posted by Cosine at 9:26 PM on July 24, 2014 [4 favorites]

Could you clarify what exactly she did to warrant a phone call to the police?

uh blasted a rail of oxy while she was s'posed to be watchin kids I assume. I mean sure you didn't have to involve the police but I would have, I mean shit.

Check for thefts and make sure you get your keys et cetera back. Take a few minutes to inventory anything that she would have had access to and make sure it's all in order. Addicts are serious trouble and anyone gonna crush a pill and snort it while working as a nanny, that's a person I'm gonna feel safe assuming is an addict.

When you fire her don't be alone.
posted by Sternmeyer at 9:30 PM on July 24, 2014 [59 favorites]

I am also thinking that calling the police was, I don't know, too far. Drug addiction is awful and I would NOT want the person caring for my kids, or any kids, to be high as balls. But our legal and penal system will take an addict who needs help and destroy them. If you got a referral from an agency, you should let them know. Otherwise, I think you are done.
posted by Foam Pants at 9:36 PM on July 24, 2014 [22 favorites]

When you ask what else you can or should do, can you clarify as to what end you are trying to achieve by taking said additional action against the nanny? That might help people to answer the question.
posted by univac at 9:36 PM on July 24, 2014 [4 favorites]

If she was given a set of keys to your place that she took home with her, you will probably want to re-key any of the locks she has keys to. Bummer, but better safe than sorry.

If you hired her through an agency, let them handle the firing, and hit them up for the cost of the lock replacement.
posted by nacho fries at 9:46 PM on July 24, 2014 [27 favorites]

There are two distinct parts to the question.

One is how to feel safe in your home having opened it to someone you believe to have an addiction problem, and I think the advice about locks and inventories is sound.

The other is how to punish the nanny, and I think the difference of opinion here is pretty clear.

What's important is that the choice with regard to the second part doesn't really have a bearing on the first one.
posted by holgate at 10:54 PM on July 24, 2014 [4 favorites]

I too am confused as to why you would have chosen to involve the police. I initially read the question as that you saw the nanny steal medication from you and then snort it, but upon closer inspection I see that she simply ingested her own prescription medication in a manner you found unacceptable.

Fire her and be done with it. Also do take the excellent suggestions above to contact the nanny agency if applicable.
posted by elizardbits at 10:54 PM on July 24, 2014 [9 favorites]

If you hired her through an agency, ensure that they know exactly why you're done with her.

Report her to the state (and any local) supervisory agencies that cover childcare providers. This is not someone who should EVER work with children.

And oh heck yes you did the right thing calling the police. You have evidence of a crime - along the lines of child endangerment - perpetrated against YOUR child. I'm all for "nailing *** to wall" with someone that irresponsible and clueless!

The reason she's working as a nanny is because she passed a background check - the goal is to make sure she doesn't pass one again!
posted by stormyteal at 11:00 PM on July 24, 2014 [16 favorites]

uh blasted a rail of oxy while she was s'posed to be watchin kids I assume

Was she was nodding out on the couch all day? If not I'd guess Adderall -- which may have been legitimately prescribed in pill form -- and which you'd never know about if she had just taken them orally.

Fire her? Yes. Call the agency? Yes. I don't know why you called the police, but I admit I'm curious what they said to you. I guess you should re-key the place, but what else is there to do to the nanny?
posted by Room 641-A at 11:01 PM on July 24, 2014 [3 favorites]

I'm also not clear why people would jump to oxy or whatever when it's just as likely Adderall or something--especially if she had the energy to continue being a nanny for the rest of the day. I mean, totally fire her, since you're obviously not ok with this, but take a breath.

Re: What you can do: Change your locks. Fire her.

You say this isn't the first time it's happened, so what you can do in the future: Go through a service, if you didn't. Tell people up front that you have a nannycam and will be checking in on them. Require that your nanny be drug tested (which, obviously, is something you would pay for and investigate before hiring them). Do a background check.

If you've had two nannies and they're both bad, maybe it's chance. More than two, though, and it's arguably worth looking at how you could be contributing to this--are you paying a living wage? Are you insisting on references and/or an agency, or are you finding a college student who wants to nanny after class? If you're not willing to pay enough or offer good enough terms that you can get someone whose background and everything else checks out, then you don't realistically make enough to afford a nanny and should probably investigate other childcare.
posted by MeghanC at 11:03 PM on July 24, 2014 [15 favorites]

give her a list of local detox programs and strongly suggest she give them a call.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 11:43 PM on July 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: The reason that I called the police is simply because that I was not sure what is the right thing to do. Talk to police and put something to record is the first step that I can think of. I am a foreigner here so I am not even sure if this is a crime or not.

And the reason that I post this question here is because I don't know what are other things to do to protect myself and my baby. Changing key is a good suggestion so I'll do that the first thing tomorrow.

I do pay a decent rate to this nanny.I know I am hiring someone to look after my kid and I always pay little bit better than average rate to keep the nanny happy. This nanny is a professional social worker who works with moms and babies.

My kid is a difficult one. The previous nanny did something not so kind to my kid so I fired her. When I found this seemed so very qualified woman, I gave her very nice rate wishing to keep her. I just couldn't think about someone with her background would do something like this.

I don't really want to punish her or ruin her life. She is overall nice to my kid. But addiction is just something I cannot tolerate.

I probably won't hire a nanny again. This is scary enough for a mom.
posted by kktony at 11:53 PM on July 24, 2014 [12 favorites]

Professional social worker is good information.

You probably checked her license before you hired her, but if you didn't, you can do so here. Assuming that she's actually licensed, it looks like this page has both an email address and phone number that you can use to contact the regulatory agency. They'll probably investigate her for misconduct or something similar--it may or may not end in anything happening, but at least it'd be on file in an official kind of capacity.
posted by MeghanC at 12:36 AM on July 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

How old is your child? Where do you live?

I'm sure TONS of MeFites can provide leads on safe and experienced childcare options in your area - try us!!

PS - as a mom, I totally think you did the right thing calling the police. soliciting and performing childcare jobs while on drugs is beyond dangerous for anyone relying on them for care. there are laws about this because it keeps children and the infirm safe.
posted by jbenben at 1:29 AM on July 25, 2014 [7 favorites]

Occam's razor says this is drug abuse, but I wanted to point out that there are plenty of medications prescribed to be taken nasally and it can look remarkably similar to "blasting a rail of oxy." My own husband has to bang the powder on his doses of a pulmonary medication before putting it in a cylinder to inhale. Because it looks sketchy as hell, gets him Looks in public bathrooms but nonetheless must be taken three times a day, he carries the powdery stuff in a prescription container It would really suck if you fired and called the cops on your "very qualified" nanny for something innocuous, like allergy medication.

I am not a parent, so take this with a shaker of salt: I don't know the full circumstances, but it sounds like you fired the last nanny after one suspected strike as well. It seems to me that if you don't feel comfortable at least trying to resolve trust issues that come up with openness and honesty with somebody (there will be serious weirdness and doubt in a relationship like this! it's so bound to happen that it's the control variable!), it's probably not a great idea to have somebody at home alone with your child.
posted by sweltering at 2:54 AM on July 25, 2014 [10 favorites]

If you are sure she really did get high while taking care of your kids (my ideas about nanny cams being too grainy to tell may be out of date), I'd further report to child protective services or DCF or DCFS. Child protection can revoke the nanny's ability to register as a caregiver on the basis of the tapes. A caregiver who got high while watching a baby, a very vulnerable being, should not ever be able to do so until she's changed a lot. I suggest having your baby examined by a doctor for possible injuries ASAP (in case anything legal results - and in case anything happened outside your camera's purview). Man, a baby - that's sucky behavior. I can only imagine.

Finally, I'm so sorry. I suggest counseling to deal with this trauma and how powerless you must feel - if you have an EAP, avail yourself of it.
posted by sweltering at 3:15 AM on July 25, 2014

As far as I can tell, you saw her crush a pill from a prescription bottle, take it in an unconventional manner , and therefore called the cops on her.

I truly am sorry for your prior experience, but I think that you might want to talk to her about this. Of course neither of you will want to continue this job for her, but it might give you some peace of mind if it turns out that she's taking a perfectly harmless medication, but has to take it in that manner due to other issues, like the medication irritating her stomach, or the pill being too big for her to take orally.

I suppose it's too late for that, though. Maybe after she's processed by the cops, you can get in touch with them to find out if this was something that would have have lessened her ability to care for your child.
posted by Meep! Eek! at 3:31 AM on July 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

Maybe the barn door is closed after the horses are out, but if you're looking for another nanny in the future (I know you said you won't), you might consider getting a CORI form (or the equivalent in your area) from the prospective nanny.

Of 5 nannies we had over the years, we had one turn up something and the nice, staid, veneer of this applicant melted in our presence. Turns out she wasn't stable.

Also, we made a policy of never interviewing nannies at our house.
posted by plinth at 3:32 AM on July 25, 2014 [7 favorites]

An idle thought when hiring future nannies - if one of them discovers an employer filming her secretly for unknown purposes, you may develop entirely different retention rate issues. No one I know - and I do know a couple of career nannies who have, to my knowledge, no dubious habits - would stay in a home like that one minute longer than needed.
posted by Frowner at 4:44 AM on July 25, 2014 [8 favorites]

I can't disagree more with the posters in this thread explaining this away. You have no obligations to this person and you're in a situation where you have:
1. A nearly complete stranger
2. Who has lapsed in their professional duties that you hired them for
3. On the 2nd day of work
4. And has keys to your home
5. And knowledge of your young children
6. And likely has a substance abuse problem

It is completely appropriate to contact the cops and whatever professional licensing and child safety departments exist in your state.

Nanny cams are not some new invention - the fact that you could be a nanny twenty or thirty years after they entered technical feasibility and popular consciousness and still ON YOUR 2ND DAY OF THE JOB think of nothing of crushing and snorting a pill with no prior mention of any strange health conditions that are treated in a way that just happens to look like snorting a line of amphetamines or painkillers is ridiculous.
posted by Metafilter Username at 5:05 AM on July 25, 2014 [22 favorites]

I definitely agree that this behavior needs to be reported to police.

If you simply fired her, she would get another job with another family.
Those suggesting that it should not be reported are basically saying that the this woman's right to abuse drugs trumps the safety of the children she is minding. Insane position.
posted by Flood at 5:19 AM on July 25, 2014 [8 favorites]

OP, you did just fine. The cops aren't going to show up to the nanny's apartment with a SWAT armored vehicle and drag her away by the ponytail and lock her up in solitary. They can't prove shit based on webcam footage...they aren't going to go all CSI ENHANCE!!! and see the 6-point font on the Rx bottle and then drop all their other work to go after the nanny. Here in the U.S. we have due process, and we also have laws that divert drug offenders to treatment.

People need to caaaaaaaaaaaalm down with the fear and loathing re: the calling the cops.

If the nanny is perfectly innocent -- if the substance she crushed is in fact an Rx (unknown at this time), and is in fact an Rx in HER name (unknown at this time), and is in fact a drug that doesn't impair her functioning (unknown at this time) -- then if (and again this is an awfully huge if) any sort of legal action comes of this, her innocence will come out. Yeah, bummer if it gets that far, but on the other hand, tough shit. An employer has a duty of care to know that his/her employees aren't dicking around with dangerous substances, esp. when there is a child involved, and esp. when the employee is in the employer's home, where there are a shit-ton of personal/homeowner liability issues at play.
posted by nacho fries at 6:45 AM on July 25, 2014 [7 favorites]

I 100% agree with calling the police. If it is a valid prescription all she'll have to do is show it to the police and that will be the end of it and she can get a job elsewhere. If its not valid then you've saved your child from potential harm as well as any family who would have hired her after you. Using drugs while caring for children is 100% not okay.
posted by julie_of_the_jungle at 7:09 AM on July 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

I probably won't hire a nanny again. This is scary enough for a mom.

I don't know if this is an option in your area, or financially feasible, or right for your child, but consider looking into the large daycare facilities in your area. One with multiple classrooms, real administration, etc., not one in someone's house. There are downsides to this -- less individual attention than from a nanny, etc. But there are huge upsides, too, one of which is that you never have to worry about leaving your child with some single person you barely know. There are too many teachers, too many rules and procedures. It has been a huge relief to me, at any rate, not to worry about someone doing drugs, or shaking my baby, etc. (I mean, sure, that stuff could happen in a large center, but it's orders of magnitude less likely.)
posted by kestrel251 at 7:21 AM on July 25, 2014 [5 favorites]

I understand that MetaFilter is generally soft on the recreational use of drugs, but no matter how libertine one's mindset, it is not acceptable on the job, more especially when the job is tending to the welfare of minor children. I have a liquor cabinet but the nanny would not be entitled to drink a shot while on the job. I think appeals to it being Adderal or some other legitimate medication are not well taken because snorting is an off-label use that usually indicates abuse. (and every dry powder pulmonary medicine I have heard of is inhaled through the mouth, not snort through the nose) I have yet to hear of the prescription drug with the instruction, "snort one line twice daily".

I agree with the more recent comments that calling the police was a good idea. If this was an illegal act, it should have been reported so that she has a record that will put other parents on notice if she plans to continue working as a nanny. If this act were somehow perfectly legitimate, that will come out as well.

Otherwise, I don't think there is anything more for you to do but change your locks and cooperate with the police if they contact you regarding this incident.
posted by Tanizaki at 7:31 AM on July 25, 2014 [10 favorites]

Response by poster: Thank you all for your reply.

I am not angry toward the nanny, I'm more like scared and disappointed. Like I said, she is overall nice to my 7 month old baby.

I seek for suggestion because I am not familiar how to really handle this properly in this culture. Whether the nanny is using legit medicine or drug, I guess I don't really care now. It's a better safe than sorry thing.

With the decision made(report to police and fire the nanny)
I have the following things to handle

1. My family's safety.

2. The nanny's future.
Like I said, I don't want to punish her. I understand everyone has their own story and life sometimes is difficult. For this thing, I only wish everything can be undone and I can get the remaining of the prepaid salary back.

On the other hand , I am not sure if this is right. She is a someone who works with babies very often.

Since I've reported to the police, I don't know if the police will contact her employer. I have mix feeling about this if she does lose her because of this.

Here are to clarify other peoples comments if you are interested in reading

1. The nanny cam is not hidden. I might pick the word incorrectly. It's a general surveillance
camera. I had it installed in the living room next to TV in a very obvious place. I guess the nanny simply didn't realize that camera has a wide angle and is capable to catch what she's doing on the side of the living room. I didn't have one installed in our bedroom where the baby crib is. Now I'm worried and guilty imaging what she might did to the baby.

2. Talk about trusting issue. I might and might not have trusting problem. I guess I should not be the one to say about this. I did had a wonderful nanny who worked with my older child till 2 years old when we moved to another state.

Unfortunately we don't know people who can refer us a nanny here .I first hired a nanny through sittercity and later found she's not gentle enough when handling with my 4 month old. Then I went through a thorough interview trying to find someone reliable for my baby after previous bad experience. I thought I did a good job picking the right one. But here I am today puzzled about whats wrong with the world (and my bad luck).

I agree I am a nervous mom. In the beginning I do wonder whether I'm overreacted or not.
After reading all of your posts, good and bad, I am more confident that I should report to police. But I'm just not so sure if this is right to affect the nanny's FT job. (I don't even know if there 's any way for me to kind of help her keep her job after reporting to police)

3. Thanks to all who gave nice suggestions about hiring nanny or finding good daycare. Those are really helpful if I need it in the future (I will probably wait until my kid can talk so that she can at least tell me what happened when mom is not around)
posted by kktony at 8:03 AM on July 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

I would definitely think it is appropriate for others who might hire her in the future to be aware of the drug use. Maybe some people just shouldn't be in child care until they take care of their addiction. You have every right (and some people may feel it's an obligation) to report this to her full time employer if she is working with other babies.
I wish you good luck in your search for childcare. This would not be acceptable to me at all.
posted by photoexplorer at 8:17 AM on July 25, 2014

One more suggestion: I'd actually not tell potential new nannies that there is a nanny cam. If you do happen to end up with an repeat of this kind of person, you'd just drive their behavior off-camera. (Although you might double check the laws regarding camera placement in your area.)

And I'm not a parent but please don't say you overreacted or are a nervous mom. Your kid is your responsibility and you have every right to expect the best from people you entrust with her care.
posted by Beti at 8:23 AM on July 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

You're not a nervous new mom. You're a mom. You love your baby. Your baby is the most precious person in the world to you. If somebody does something with/to/around/in front of your baby that you don't like, you have every right to remove your baby from that situation immediately without an explanation. You're still grappling with hormone fluctuations, sleep deprivation, and huge changes in your daily life. Don't let people slap some guilt trip on you about not being sensitive enough to the needs of someone whose job it is to exercise good judgment and, instead, snorts lines of medication off your coffee table on the 2nd day in your employ.

You know what somebody who actually worked with addicts would tell you? They would tell you that indulging this kind of crap with an addict is enabling them to remain an addict. They'd tell you to absolutely show zero tolerance for this kind of thing and stay firm to your bottom line. We don't know if this person is an addict or not but you can't afford to assume the best when your kid's safety is at stake.

You did the right thing. If you live in NYC, me-mail me and I'll help you find a nanny who isn't either a.) a drug addict or b.) a fool.
posted by TryTheTilapia at 9:27 AM on July 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

You absolutely did the right thing by calling the police. If the prescription is, in fact, legit, and the instructions are to crush the pill and take it nasally (which I highly and sincerely doubt), then the legal process should discover that.

If not, well... if she's going to be high while taking care of children -- hers or anyone else's -- then the authorities should know that, her employer should know that and fire her, and future employers should know that too. Yeah, okay, it sucks, and perhaps you feel bad for her, but there's a saying that you reap what you sow. She chose to snort a line while on the job, now she has to face the consequences.
posted by tckma at 9:28 AM on July 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

I agree I am a nervous mom.

OP, I don't think anyone suggested that her behavior -- if indeed illegal -- was acceptable in any way, or that your instincts about protecting your child were off in any way. While there may be disagreement about calling the police (or calling them first) please don't leave this thread thinking anyone is questioning your parenting skills.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:36 AM on July 25, 2014 [4 favorites]

OP, definitely not questioning your parenting skills or your love for your child, or his/her well being.

Whether or not to call the cops first was your call. (They will, indeed, find out the truth of whether or not she had a prescription, and if not, whether or not she's a recreational user, or an addict.)

I was thinking along the lines that if you approached her about it, and saw it was a valid prescription, you wouldn't be questioning your own ability to judge another person's ability to be your nanny. I personally loathe being left in a position where I question my own judgment.

I certainly was not saying that it's okay for anyone to take any mind-altering substance (drug or alcohol) while caring for a child.
posted by Meep! Eek! at 10:18 AM on July 25, 2014 [2 favorites]

Since I've reported to the police, I don't know if the police will contact her employer. I have mix feeling about this if she does lose her because of this.

You really, really need to call the employer and tell them what happened. This is even more important than your decision to call the police.
posted by vivzan at 10:56 AM on July 25, 2014 [3 favorites]

I think you should call her employer if she works with children. I mean she didn't even have teh sensibility to go do it in the bathroom where presumably there are no cameras. Can you imagine the crap she gets away with in the role of a social worker if she works with kids whose parents don't give a fuck?
posted by WeekendJen at 12:14 PM on July 25, 2014 [1 favorite]

I first want to congratulate the OP on her obvious concern about balancing care for her child and doing the ethical thing in regards to the person she employed. OP, all things considered, I think you did the best you could under worrying circumstances. As to what else you can or should do, I think you've covered your bases.

However: I'm disturbed by the "burn it with fire" level responses here, relative to the suspected drug use. Simply put, as outlined, this is a situation where informing the nanny -- and the service -- about the reasons for termination is sufficient. Involving the police is at best a waste of time and resources. At worst, it runs the risk of seriously damaging an already troubled person's life.

(OP: Please don't take the following as direct criticism of what's already happened, but as something to consider if you find yourself in a similar situation in the future.)

To dig down: The OP's responsibility here is to the security of her household, and the safety of her kid. Removing the nanny from the equation solves that problem. The only known offense here is that nanny appears to have abused the trust of OP/broken the reasonable conditions of employment (e.g. don't do rails of something, while on the job).

In cases like this, law enforcement should be involved when harm has occurred. Not when harm could have occurred. Not when harm might eventually occur. Honestly, the cops probably aren't going to follow up on this at all (see "time and resources," above). But let's say they did. What would happen? Well, they can't really do anything about the alleged behavior in OP's home; that happened in the past and harmed no one. They can punish the nanny for whatever they find her doing (or possessing) when they interview her. So, what advocates of involving the police are actually advocating is for OP to seek punishment for behavior completely removed from her/her family, in both space and time. It could happen to be analogous behavior, or it could be something else altogether. But it literally can't be the behavior that OP has a right to seek justice for.

I understand the logic behind the proposition that things will shake out within the criminal justice system, but I think it's based on a flawed understanding of how that system actually treats perceived drug offenders (in the US, at least). Fines/court fees are assessed, regardless of the outcome of the case, and are difficult/impossible to reverse. People can be held in custody, pending trial, and they don't magically get that time back if the charges are reduced or dropped. Property can be seized, on the flimsiest of pretexts, with little-to-no recourse if found innocent. Criminal records can follow someone for years, hampering their employment prospects and civic participation. I'm not saying that people should never be punished for legitimately harmful drug-related crimes, but simply that accusers should weigh the costs with appropriate gravity.
posted by credible hulk at 9:28 AM on July 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

I think there is a very strong argument to be made (and it has been made already by others here) that the OP was exercising her duty of care as a citizen to bring to light potentially dangerous behavior that might impact others outside the "walled garden" of her home. It is a preventative gesture, not a punitive one. She is very clear that she doesn't want to punish the nanny; she (I think correctly) wants to make sure those who have the power to prevent harm are given the info they need to do so.

Yes, there are many stories of addicts who had their lives permanently marked and constrained by the involvement of law enforcement. But there are also others, such as myself, who would probably be dead (or walking dead) if others hadn't stepped in to intercede when the anti-social aspects of our behavior started having potentially dangerous impacts on the people around us. A person with a black mark on her record at least has the chance to re-make a life for herself, even if it is a somewhat constrained life due to those black marks; the person who is allowed to free-fall to oblivion does not have that same chance, and may very well take down other people on her way down.

I agree it is a difficult ethical choice to make, but there is compassion and help to be had via "the system"...not just judgment and punishment.
posted by nacho fries at 10:03 AM on July 26, 2014 [2 favorites]

To be (extra) clear, I understand OP's motives (as described by nacho fries), and largely support them. I just think that both the concerns about direct risk to OP's family/property and the wider community are effectively served by 1) firing the nanny, and 2) complaining to the broker/service. Calls for legal "punishment" are clearly coming to her as advice, not originating with her.

(I may be misreading the intent of that advice, but it is the vibe I'm getting.)

I'm also a former addict, who managed to rack up a few minor charges over the years. For me, those punishments only made my wiser in terms of how to avoid future punishments. (Meanwhile, their effects just pushed me further into the societal margins.) It was personal shame and personal (not legal) interventions that actually helped me turn the corner. Obviously, nacho fries' mileage varied, nanny's mileage may vary, etc. But it is a serious ethical call to make, and shouldn't be pursued as an automatic or knee-jerk response. That's all I'm trying to get at.
posted by credible hulk at 10:52 AM on July 26, 2014 [3 favorites]

« Older Need suggestions for women's dress socks to keep...   |   BotonyFilter: What is this baby tree (urban-wild... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.