Just when parents think that life will be easier now that their childcare needs have lessened, they are faced with a new dilemma. We know all about this dilemma in our office. The children are in full-time school, so goodbye to beloved nanny of 5 years. The family only needs part-time help. At first, families think that this evolutionary change is a good thing. They will be able to cut down on the expense of having to employ a full-time nanny. They only need 4 maybe 5 hours a day of after school care. This all sounds really good until parents start looking for the illusive part-time caregiver who is interested in their part-time job.
There are lots of people looking to be nannies. Maybe 5% of those job seekers offer truly quality care. And those caregivers tend to be focused on the 0-5 age range and want to work 40-50 hours a week. But as children age, theirs and their family’s needs change. The wonderful baby/toddler/preschool nanny may not be as well equipped to deal with older children. Or doesn’t want to be in a house where there are no children home until 3PM. Parents may also want a different model nanny. One with a college degree to help with homework, a car suitable for driving kids to their after-school activities, culinary skills to help whip up dinner, and the wish list goes on.
Here is the problem. There is no work force or pipeline for these 4 to 5 hour jobs. Not enough hours; not enough money. If the family is willing to change caregivers every 6 months or hire multiple caregivers to cover the week, then maybe. I don’t know too many families opting for the revolving door of nannies. It’s tough on the children and the parents. No sooner is one nanny broken in than she or he is gone.
College students are great until they aren’t. Until their major course requirements conflict with hours they are needed on the job. We know who’s going to come up with the short end the stick. Degree will always trump part-time job. Everyone needs an after-school wife!
What to do? Some parents pay very attractive hourly rates ($25 an hour and up). While that can be an enticement, it won’t necessarily keep someone in a part-time position for any length of time. Ideally, finding some who only needs or wants those 4 or 5 hours a day is best. When a family’s requirements dovetail with a caregiver’s needs, the result is an ideal if rare situation. Unfortunately, even those great matches can be fluid. A full time offer of employment comes out of nowhere. The family is left. Another option is for families to morph the current nanny into a nanny manager (40 hours a week) in order to keep her on. Unfortunately not all nannies can or want to change their job descriptions.
I’m laying out the facts because as we look toward fall, we take on the stress of our client families. The calls have already started to pour in. We desperately want to help fill these positions. We are equally frustrated with the marketplace. And, this isn’t just a DC problem. It’s a national crisis which no one seems to be tackling.We’re working on ideas and would love to hear yours!