50 years ago a nanny bore a remarkable resemblance to someone’s grandmother or aunt. Thirty-five years ago, our expectations of her were informed by a picture of a singing, dancing British governess floated to the doorstep by a fortuitous wind. Today’s nanny, however, is probably a certified and trained young woman or man sent by an agency. There are now hundreds of nanny-training programs worldwide training men and women, zealous to support and assist the numerous mothers who work out of the home or, for some other reason, require an in-home child-care provider. Nannies who are ordered through agencies are a select group. Nanny-referral agencies refuse as many as seventy percent of their applicants.
It’s important to recognize what type of child-care expert you want to hire before you begin to look for who could meet your needs. A nanny, schooled in child care, child development, nutrition, and first aid, attends to the needs of children in the child’s own home, while the nanny might “live in” with the family or “live out” in her own home. Besides child care, the nanny’s duties may involve light housework and some meal preparation. Nannies could earn $400 to $1,000 per week, depending upon their training and experience. The initial referral agency placement fee could range from $350 to $5,000. If the nanny is paid up through the agency, the agency will be accountable for such matters as insurance, medical care, social security payments, and withholding of taxes.
There are, on average, 5 applicant families for each available nanny. As a result, nannies have their option of positions and will be an active part of the interview procedure.
An au pair is somebody from a different country who is employed for a limited amount of time (normally a year) to help with child care. The au pair may or may not be properly trained. The au pair program, as presently constituted, started in 1986 when the U.S. Information Agency agreed to assign the program a cultural exchange to simplify the visa procedure for young people wishing to work in the U.S. Now, the services of an au pair must be set up through agencies sanctioned by the federal government. The rules regulating the hiring of au pairs are reasonably strict. In exchange for no more than 45 hours per week of service, the employer should pay a stipend (generally about $8,000 for the year), pay for the round-trip air fare for the au pair, pay tuition costs (au pairs are regarded cultural exchange students), and give a paid, two-week vacation.