It’s 3 p.m., your son needs to go to swim lessons and your daughter has to get to soccer practice — but you and your spouse don’t get off work for two more hours. How can a family of four be in multiple places at once?
If you don’t have a go-to friend or relative to pitch in with transportation for kids, one popular option is to hire an after-school sitter or nanny to lend a hand — and a spare set of wheels. It can be a helpful way to ensure someone you know and trust is safely shuttling your kids to and from school and even to their activities after school.
Hiring for pickup and drop-off transportation for kids: How does it work?
If you’re looking to hire for after-school transportation, it’s important to remember you’re not hiring a car service. You’re hiring a caregiver. Even if you’re hiring an after-school sitter or nanny primarily for school and activity pickup and drop-off, they will be expected to ensure your kids are safe but also cared for. So you can expect them to handle things like giving the kids snacks if they’re going straight to activities, checking that kids have everything they need for practice or lessons or even sticking around during after-school activities and getting your child home afterward.
How much does after-school transportation cost?
Here are the cost factors to consider when setting up your budget to cover transportation for kids.
Determine the going rate for after-school caregiving in your city
First things first, if you’re going to hire a nanny or sitter to drive your kids around, you’ll want to check out the going rates for after-school caregivers in your area to get a sense for how much you’ll likely pay.
Based on 2021 Care.com data, parents paid after-school sitters an average of $261 per week for one child. After-school sitters made an average of $17.40 per hour, working about three hours a day, or a total of 15 hours per week. Nannies made an average of $694 per week for one child, or $17.35 per hour, for a 40-hour workweek.
National Average Weekly Rates in 2021*
|Per Hour||Per Week|
|After-School Sitter||Based on 3 hours a day or 15 hours per week||$17.40||$261|
|Nanny||Based on 40 hours per week||$17.35||$694|
Of course, these rates might look different in New York City than they do in Jackson, Mississippi, or even from one neighborhood to the next. So it can be helpful to ask around in your parenting network or use tools like the babysitting rates calculator to see what rates are like where you live.
Figure out what other duties and tasks, if any, you need the nanny or sitter to handle
Next, the more you expect the caregiver to do, the more you can expect to pay. If you’re hiring a sitter or nanny to simply pick up your child every day after school and drop them off at home or to their after-school activities, the cost will likely be factored around the caregiver’s typical hourly rate and how much driving is needed.
However, if you’d like the sitter or nanny to take on additional responsibilities, like caring for kids or helping with homework after school, taking them to after-school activities and back home after they’re finished, or even some cleaning or pet care, this can up their typical hourly rate and the overall costs of care.
Added duties to consider when setting up your budget:
- Child care at home until you are off work.
- Transportation to and from activities.
- Snack or meal prep for kids.
- Homework help or tutoring.
- Errands or grocery shopping.
- Dinner prep for the family.
- Light house cleaning.
Consider the qualifications of the after-school sitter or nanny
The average rate for hiring a caregiver in your area provides a ballpark figure, but it’s just that: an average. The rate you’ll actually end up paying can move up or down from there, depending on a wide range of factors, including the credentials of the caregiver. In general, the more experienced and educated a caregiver, the higher their hourly rate will likely be. For example, someone who’s gone through an advanced driving course might get paid more to transport children than those who haven’t.
Other things that can affect the overall hourly rate charged by a nanny or sitter include:
- How many children they’ll be caring for.
- How old those children are.
- Whether the children have any special needs.
What are the travel-related incidentals and other costs?
If you’re hiring a caregiver to drive your kids, there are also a few transportation-related costs to consider, above and beyond whatever you end up paying the caregiver. These include:
Gas or mileage reimbursement
Over time, driving kids around every day can really add up for caregivers. Not only can it cost a lot in gas, but it can also lead to some extra wear and tear on a caregiver’s vehicle. That’s why some places like California, Washington, D.C. or Massachusetts, require employers (including families employing caregivers) to reimburse costs associated with driving on the job. When transporting kids is a primary responsibility of the after-school nanny or sitter, many families reimburse these costs using the federal mileage reimbursement rate, which is 58.5 cents per mile in 2022.
That’s how it worked for Christina Pillsbury. When she drove children around as an after-school nanny in Chicago, families gave her the federal mileage reimbursement rate on top of her standard hourly rate to offset the costs of using her own car.
Driving might be a normal, everyday activity in the U.S., but there’s a risk that comes with being on the road. According to the most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Childhood Injury Report, motor vehicle traffic incidents are among the leading causes of both unintentional injuries and deaths for children in the U.S. Even extremely careful, well-trained drivers can end up in a crash for reasons beyond their control.
If you hire an after-school nanny or sitter to regularly drive your children to and from school and activities, you might want to consider subsidizing your caregiver’s car or health insurance to compensate for the added risk all that extra driving entails.
That’s something Leigh-Anne Kelly wishes she had had while working as an after-school nanny in Seattle. Kelly had auto insurance, but she didn’t make enough to cover the cost of health insurance in the event of an accident. “If something had happened to me, I would’ve been totally out of luck,” Kelly says.
That’s not to mention the added liability she might have had had she been in an accident with children in the car — something she shudders to think about.
Even if you plan to offer up your own family’s vehicle for the sitter or nanny to use — including just in case of an emergency — be sure to add their name to your policy and verify they’re covered in the event of an accident.
If you expect to pay your after-school nanny or sitter more than $2,400 during the calendar year, you’ll likely need to pay nanny taxes on their behalf.
These taxes are an additional cost on top of what the nanny or sitter is being paid hourly, and so families might want to include them — and any payroll services you might want to use to calculate them for you — when weighing the costs of after-school transportation.
What else do I need to know?
Once you and your sitter or nanny have agreed upon what you’ll pay for after-school transportation or any other duties, write it down. Putting it all in a babysitter contract or nanny contract can help ensure everyone is clear on what to expect of them and how much pay will be given in exchange.