How much does after-school transportation for kids cost?
It’s 3 p.m., your son needs to go to swim lessons and your daughter has to get to soccer practice — but you 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 and aren’t ready to hire an Uber-style driving service 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 shuttling your kids around safely after school.
Hiring for school and activity transportation: How does it work?
You’re not hiring a car service; you’re hiring a caregiver. Even if you’re hiring the nanny or sitter 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 they have everything they need for practice or lessons or even waiting around while after-school activities finish and getting your child home afterward.
How much does it cost?
Here’s what to think about when setting up your budget for kid transportation.
Determine the going rate for after-school caregiving in your community
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 caregivers in your area to get a sense for how much you’ll likely pay.
"At the end of 2018, we're seeing the average rate for babysitter job posts reach $15.83 per hour," says Jacquelyn Booth, director of Analytics at Care.com.
But that rate might look different in New York City than it does in Jackson, Mississippi, or even from one neighborhood to the next. So it can be helpful to ask around or use tools like the Babysitting Rates Calculator to see what rates are like in your community.
Consider the qualifications of the after-school nanny or sitter
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 his or her 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 and 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 $0.58 per mile in 2019.
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 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle crashes are one of the biggest causes of both fatal and nonfatal injuries in the U.S. across all age groups. 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 wished she had had while working as an after-school nanny in Seattle, Washington. 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 $2,100 during the calendar year, you’ll likely need to pay nanny taxes on their behalf.
These taxes are often above and beyond 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 if we need child care and help beyond transportation?
Tacking on additional care and responsibilities, like cleaning or pet care, can up the costs of care, so take this into consideration when setting up your budget. The more you expect the caregiver to do, the more you can expect to pay.
Some added things you may want to hire your nanny or sitter to do may include:
Child care at home until you return from work
Errands or grocery shopping
Light house cleaning
When you’ve finally zeroed in on what you’ll pay your nanny or sitter for after-school transportation or any other duties, write it down. Putting it all in a nanny contract or babysitter contract can help ensure everyone is clear on what to expect of them and how much pay will be given in exchange.
Read next: All about ridesharing for kids