Day care vs. nanny share: Which one's right for you?
Considering sharing a caregiver? Be sure to do your homework: Nanny shares and shared care arrangements may be subject to various licensing requirements or prohibited in certain states and jurisdictions. Research local laws and regulations.
Weighing the pros and cons of the many child care options out there can be stressful. The two most obvious options are day cares or babysitters. But have you also thought about a nanny share? It’s becoming an increasingly popular alternative to day care centers or single-family caregivers.
Care.com talked with parents from across the country to help you decide which option is best for your kids. The parents we talked to said things like cost, proximity, and caregiver-to-child ratio were top factors in this very important decision.
According to Care.com’s 2017 Cost of Care Survey results, the average weekly rate at a day care center is $211, and it’s only rising. Parents in a nanny share have more control over pricing and can negotiate their nanny’s pay. Nanny share hourly rates vary by location, the nanny market, and a family’s finances. Members of Brooklyn’s Park Slope Parents group report hourly rates of $20 to $26 for a two-child nanny share.
We spoke to one mom from South Boston who decided to send her first son to a day care center. When her second child was born, she weighed the cost of two children at her son’s current day care.
“It was prohibitive,” she said. “We knew a nanny share was a little bit cheaper.”
We also spoke to Ken, a dad from New York, who looked at day care centers first. He said he was concerned about their cost and their often long waiting lists. He tried to enroll his daughter, but in New York’s competitive market, he couldn’t find a spot anywhere.
“So that really made us go the whole… nanny share route,” Ken explained.
He also said he paid $6 to $9.50 per hour as part of his nanny share deal.
Another mom from Boston told us that she received tuition quotes from a number of different day care centers in her area; on average, they all charged about $2,112 per month for four days of infant care per week. She found a nanny share for $20 per hour. That means four eight-hour days of nanny share child care per week came out to $2,560 per month -- or only $1,280 for her portion of the payment. Wanda saved $832 every month by sharing a nanny.
Someone will need to do daily drop-offs and pickups, so finding a day care center close to your home or work is crucial. Try to find one on your commute, or if you work from home, explore your neighborhood. Consider a day care center’s hours. Can you drop your children off early enough to get to work on time? Can you pick them up early enough to avoid rush-hour traffic? Will the hours work for everyone’s schedule?
In a nanny share, you’ll create a schedule and agree on the care or host location. A nanny will come to your home or go to your share family’s home.
“When my kids were little, I felt it was easier to have someone come to our house,” added Boston Mom #2.
She said a friend introduced her to a family that lived only a few blocks away, and they created a convenient nanny share.
We also spoke to one day care center worker from Massachusetts who noted that each day care center is licensed to care for a certain number of children of a specific age. Some parents prefer a lower caregiver-to-child ratio than a day care center can offer.
One mom from the Bay Area said she would count heads and compare it to the number on the licensure on the wall when she toured day care centers.
“I didn't want to send my baby, who can't even sit up, to someplace where he's with 14 other kids,” she explained.
Children in a nanny share enjoy a stable ratio of one caregiver to just a few children. Some parents arrange for their nanny to spend one-on-one time with each child, as well as in group play.
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