Parents considering childcare for their children have many options at their access. A list of some of the most common childcare options is as follows.
- Nanny. A nanny is a childcare provider, typically full-time, who is employed by a family to provide supervision and a nurturing environment for the family’s children. A nanny provides these services without direct parental supervision. Nanny services are typically rendered in the family’s home, but a nanny may live in or out of a family’s home. The well-being, education and development of the child on a day-to-day basis are the primary responsibilities of the nanny. Job duties typically include child supervision, nurturing, bathing, feeding (including meal preparation), housekeeping (including the children’s laundry), homework supervision, errands, exercise, and transportation.
- Manny. A manny is a male nanny.
- Babysitter. A babysitter is a childcare provider, typically part-time and/or sporadic, who is employed by a family to provide supervision and a nurturing environment for the family’s children. These services are provided without direct parental supervision and may be rendered in the family’s or the babysitter’s home. Babysitters do not live in the family’s home. The responsibilities and job duties of a babysitter mirror those of a nanny.
- Au Pair. An au pair is a foreign young person, between the ages of 18-26, who comes to the United States to live with a family and provide full-time childcare for the family’s children. The responsibilities and job duties of an au pair mirror those of a nanny. Unlike a nanny, an au pair requires a commitment of twelve months. There are many requirements for the au pair visa, which is required for an au pair coming into the US. There are also fees that run between $5,000-$7,000 that must be paid in addition to a $500 educational stipend and weekly ‘pocket money’ expense of approximately $175.00. Au pairs are limited to attending to no more than four children from the ages of three months to 12 years. Families must go through one of 11 designated au pair agencies to obtain a J-1 au pair visa. Additional information can be obtained from the US Department of State.
- Governess. A governess is a childcare provider who is employed by a family to provide supervision and education for the family’s school-aged children. A governess provides these services, on a full- or part-time basis, in the family’s home and without direct parental supervision. A governess may live in or out of a family’s primary residence. The education and development of the child on a day-to-day basis is the primary responsibility of the governess.
- Mother’s Helper. A mother’s helper is similar to a nanny except that a mother’s helper works under the direct supervision of the parent and is not responsible for the children on her own. Her decision-making authority is limited. A mother’s helper is often a younger woman, in her teens, who may want to be a nanny in the future. She is not expected to have the knowledge or experience of a caregiver who calls herself a nanny or a babysitter.
- Baby Nurse. A baby nurse is not a medical professional; instead, a baby nurse is a childcare provider, typically full-time and temporary, who is employed by a family to provide expertise regarding the needs of healthy newborns. A baby nurse provides these services with and without direct parental supervision. Baby nurse services are rendered in the family’s home, and a baby nurse may live in or out of the family’s home. A baby nurse will work as a day nurse or a night nurse, but not both. If 24 hours of support is desired, two baby nurses will be hired, each working a 12 hour shift. A baby nurse educates new parents in the care of the infant. In the first few weeks of the child’s life, the baby nurse will take over the tasks of feeding, bathing, and diaper changes so the new mother can get her rest. If a mother is breastfeeding, a baby nurse supports the process and allows the mother to get rest between feedings. Newborns will need care for their healing umbilical cords and circumcision sites. The baby nurse will teach the new parents to understand the needs of the infant, including burping, swaddling, and creating a feeding and sleeping schedule for newborns. When the family’s youngest child has grown past infancy, a baby nurse’s job ends and a nanny’s job begins.
- Childcare Sharing. Childcare sharing involves, for example, one nanny, employed full-time, who splits her time between two or more families.
- Childcare Coop. A childcare coop involves parents taking turns caregiving for each other’s children. Parents who have available time take turns watching their own children and the children of others. This is typically a fee-free arrangement. A hypothetical situation may be as follows: two households have one full-time employed parent, one part-time employed or job seeking parent, and two toddlers each. The part-time employed or job seeking parents formulate a schedule in which one watches all four children on Mondays (7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.), Wednesdays (7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.), and Friday (7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.). The other part-time employed or job seeking parent watched all four children on Tuesdays (7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.), Thursdays (7:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.), and Friday (12:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.). By engaging in this fee-free arrangement, the families save the cost of a full-time nanny. However, the children may experience grief from being separated from their nanny, and when the laid-off parent secures new employment, a new, well-qualified nanny will need to be secured (the recruitment and selection process for whom can be time consuming and arduous).
- Family/Friends. Family members and friends can function as nannies, mannies, babysitters, or other childcare providers listed above.
- Day Care. Day care is an organizational setting, outside the family’s home, in which children from a variety of homes are being supervised, nurtured, educated, entertained, etc. in the absence of direct parental supervision. Daycare can be full-time or part-time.
- Municipal or Organizational Activities. Municipal or organizational activities can be arranged to supervise, nurture, educate, and entertain children. Examples include community arts centers (or museums, or other “kid zones”) that gives children exposure to the arts (or history or other facet of culture), YMCA’s/YWCA’s, summer camps, dance instruction organizations, municipal sports leagues, etc.
These are the most common childcare options available in most communities. No one option is right for everyone. By understanding their options, parents can make a choice that is best for their family.