Did you know that a family in DC will spend an average of $18,200 per year on child care? According to the National Association of Child Care Resource & Referral Agencies (NACCRRA) recent study, many families pay more for a year of early child care than they would pay for a year's tuition at a public university!
Many new parents look into hiring a nanny to care for their infant - that is until they price the local nanny markets. Nationally a full time nanny earns $500 - $900 per week, and in major urban centers it can be difficult to find an experienced, legal nanny with references for under $700 per week. In markets like New York City or Washington DC this weekly rate is more often in the $800- 1000/week range.
Sharing a nanny helps a growing number of families manage their child care costs while providing their infants with high quality care.
With nanny shares, two families (typically) will share the services of a single nanny. Costs are split in any number of creative ways, most commonly evenly split between the families. A nanny in a nanny share arrangement often earns a premium over her counterparts employed by a single family - from 10 - 20% more. Split down the middle, however, this creates a win-win situation for the families and the caregiver.
A nanny is usually more flexible with hours than a center, and a nanny can provide sick child care that centers cannot. Families find that a nanny share reduces the number of early childhood illnesses as the babies' exposure is just to each other and their nanny. Typically one family 'hosts' the share. That is to say, the care occurs at the 'host' family's home. The other family in the share drops off and picks up their child daily.
Nanny shares, while a great cost cutting vehicle, have their own set of issues to be addressed by the families and the nanny. These include:
- Coordination of Schedules: A family will look for a share partner very similar needs for care. The closer the family schedules are to each other, the happier everyone will be.
- Child rearing philosophies: The nanny caring for two infants needs to treat them similarly. If one family believes in 'cry it out' and the other in 'attachment parenting' this is a recipe for a failed nanny share. Consider discipline (hard to imagine with a 6 week old, but definitely an issue coming in the future), diet, TV watching, outdoor activities, nap schedules and the myriad things that can create conflict between the parents in the share, or between parent and nanny.
- Ages of the children and the number of children: The most successful situations are arrangements where two children of similar ages are being cared for together. It is the exceptional nanny who can handle more than two infants and more than 4 total children all day. An infant who naps twice daily will limit the outdoor activities of older children in the home, an important consideration for many parents. Remember, in a child care center the caregivers are given breaks, and there is floating staff available in emergency or stressful situations (tummy flu anyone?). The nanny typically works for 8 - 9 hours at a stretch without a meaningful break.
- The anticipated length of the share arrangement: Many families enter into a nanny share as a stop gap while they await an opening in a day care center. Others are looking for home based, non-institutional, care for their child through age 2 or the start of pre-school. It is important that the families have a frank discussion of their plans and expectations. No one wants to come home on a Friday only to discover that their share partner got the coveted slot in the downtown daycare center and they will not be sharing the nanny going forward. Nanny also needs to be apprised of expectations, and given both notice and a reference when the share comes to an end.
- Sick Care Policies: Most families will agree that fever, vomiting, or diarrhea are all illnesses that should cancel the share for the day. But what about the nanny? Will she care for the sick child? The healthy child? What if the healthy child doesn't live in the home where the care is provided? Families need to be very frank with each other, BEFORE the situation arises, as to how this will be handled.
- Payroll Taxes: Both families are the nanny's employers, and each is responsible to report and pay their family's share of the payroll taxes. The nanny will receive a W-2 from each family.
- Compensation and Benefits: What about vacation and sick time? Will the families coordinate their vacation times with each other? If not, when does the nanny get vacation? What happens if the nanny is sick - will the two families alternate providing back up care, or each fend for themselves? Many shares dissolve when these logistical issues create tension between the parents or between parents and nanny.
- What about licensing and insurance? In some states such as Maryland and Washington, when two or more families hire a nanny to care for non-related children at the same time, a state family child care license is required. You will want to check you state's requirements, and the host family definitely needs to have a frank conversation with their insurance agent about liability (worker's compensation, claims by the non-host family, transportation liability).