All About Nannies

What is a Nanny?

A nanny is a childcare provider who is employed by parents to provide childcare for the couple’s children in the family’s private home. Since nannies provide childcare exclusively for the family’s children, they are able to provide customized and personalized attentive care that meets the children’s needs and fits the family’s parenting style.

Nannies are employees of the families for whom they work and may be employed on a full-time or part-time basis. Full-time nannies typically work between 40 and 60 hours per week. Most nannies commute to and from their employer’s home each day, but some nannies do live in the homes of their employers.

Qualifications

There are no universal qualifications used to determine if a nanny is qualified for a position. However, within the in-home childcare industry, a baseline of standards has emerged and continues to evolve.

First and foremost, nannies must have a genuine love of caring for children. Secondly, they must be trustworthy and responsible since they are solely accountable for the safety and well-being of the children when in their care.

Since nannies typically work unsupervised, they must also be able to confidently provide high quality care to the children whom they are responsible for. This means that they must have a basic understanding of child development and of the best practices in childcare, including and awareness of developmental milestones, developmentally appropriate discipline strategies, age-appropriate activities, nutritious meal planning and childhood health and safety.

Since nannies provide care so parents can attend to their professional or personal obligations, it’s also important that nannies be dependable and punctual. And because nannies serve as role models to the children in their care, they must be of solid character. Nannies must also have solid communication skills so that they can effectively communicate with both the children and the parents.

In addition to the personal characteristics and skill sets nannies should have, nannies should also have a clean background and driving record check, at least two years of professional childcare experience, several high quality personal and professional references, be at least 18 years of age, hold a high school diploma or the equivalent and be currently certified in CPR and first aid. Nannies must also be in good health and legally able to accept work in the United States.

Training

Many nannies glean their training from college courses dedicated to early childhood development. It’s not uncommon for nannies who hold associate’s or bachelor’s degrees in early childhood education or related fields to work as nannies. Some local and community colleges also offer special certifications for nannies.

Some nannies attend training programs or schools specifically dedicated to the training and professional development of nannies. The International Nanny Association (INA) maintains a list of member educators who offer specialized trainings to nannies and other in-home childcare providers.

Other nannies opt to take the International Nanny Association Nanny Basic Skills Exam or Nanny Credential Exam. These exams test a nanny’s childcare knowledge as it relates to providing in-home care. Those who pass the INA Nanny Credential Exam earn the title of INA Credentialed Nanny.

Many nannies strive to continue their education by attending nanny related conferences and other conferences dedicated to the educational of early childhood professionals.

Nannies can also enroll in distance learning and Internet based courses to develop their knowledge base.

Role

Nannies play an important role in the family’s for whom they work. Nannies provide support to the family and serve as loving, nurturing caregivers to the children. Nannies are responsible for the complete care of the children while in their care.

Most nannies and parents work together in a partnership. While the family’s care needs will determine exactly what role the nanny plays in the family, nannies are hired to serve as consistent childcare providers who provide a safe and nurturing environment for the children to grow and develop.

Depending on the type of nanny care that is employed, nannies may be full-charge nannies and serve as a third member of the children’s parenting team or they may be more closely directed by the children’s parents. While some nannies may have the authority to plan the children’s day and make decisions for the children in accordance with the family’s parenting philosophies and objectives, other nannies will be required to check-in with the parents each morning to receive instructions that outline the plan for the children’s day.

Some nannies will be treated as a member of the family and others will be treated more like employees. It’s important for parents to determine what role they want their nanny to play and for nannies to determine what role they want to play so that they can find a suitable employment match.

Responsibilities

Nannies are responsible for childcare, but for all tasks related to providing care for the children. In addition to being responsible for meeting the children’s physical, emotional, social and intellectual needs, they are also responsible for the tasks relating to meeting those needs. These tasks include doing the children’s laundry, preparing nutritious meals and snacks, and keeping the areas of the home where the children spend time neat, clean and organized.

Nannies are also responsible for disciplining the children in accordance with the parent’s preferences and engaging the children in age-appropriate activities. Nannies may also be responsible for planning social outings and transporting the children to and from appointments and activities. Depending on the family’s needs, some nannies will be required to travel with family or provide overnight care.

Having a written work agreement will ensure that both parents and nannies have a clear understanding of expectations with regards to the nanny’s responsibilities.

Salary and Benefits

Nannies are the highest paid of childcare workers. According to the International Nanny Association’s 2013 Nanny Salary and Benefits Survey, nannies earn on average $17.44 per hour with the median hourly wage being $16.

Since nannies are non-exempt workers, they must be paid at least minimum wage for every hour worked. Live-out nannies, as well as live-in nannies in some states, are also entitled to overtime at the rate of 1.5 times their base hourly wage rate for all hours worked over 40 in a 7-day period.

Parents who pay their nannies more than the annual wage threshold, $1800 as of 2012, also have tax obligations. These obligations equal about 10% of the nanny’s gross annual salary. There are, however, significant tax breaks that can offset the cost of employing a nanny legally. Nanny employer tax responsibilities include paying their portion of Social Security and Medicare and paying federal and state unemployment insurance and disability, if required by state law. Nannies are responsible for federal and state income taxes and employee disability or unemployment taxes, if required by state law. Nanny employers are also mandated to withhold the nanny’s portion of Social Security and Medicare. Since nannies are not independent contractors they must be provided with a W-2 at the end of each year.

Several factors influence a nanny’s earning potential. Geographical location, years of experience and educational level all significantly affect how much a nanny earns.

While parents are not required to offer their nannies benefits, most parents recognize that in order to attract and retain quality candidates they must offer a competitive salary package. This may include offering full or partial contributions to the nanny’s health insurance premium, paid vacation time and sick time and other fringe benefits.

Having a written work agreement will help to ensure that parents and nannies have a clear understanding of the salary and benefits package agreed upon.