Sunday, April 26, 2009

Chicago Tribune Article About Nannies

The following article can be found at: http://www.chicagotribune.com/

Lose the anxiety, find a sitter
www.chicagotribune.com/features/lifestyle/chi-tc-fam-babysitter-0514-0426apr26,0,4480663.story
By Heidi Stevens

Tribune newspapers
April 26, 2009

Whenever people ask why I chose a group day-care setting, rather than a nanny, when my daughter was an infant, I rattle off answers about socialization and lower costs and wanting my child to learn how to share and blah, blah, blah. The truth, of course, is much more embarrassing.

I conducted exactly two nanny interviews, and while both women were perfectly sweet and probably wonderful at their jobs, I couldn't shake the fear that I would return home from work one day to find my "nanny" had kidnapped my daughter and fled for the hills, never to be heard from again. In fact, I sort of worried about a mid-interview kidnapping. I know. Pathetic.

But finding a good baby-sitter (not necessarily a full-time nanny) does not have to be an exercise in anxiety and blind faith. It also doesn't have to mean hiring a blood relative or the neighbor next door, which seemed to be the dominant options a generation ago.

"The baby-sitting landscape has changed dramatically in the last 10 years," says Genevieve Thiers, founder and CEO of sittercity.com, a national online child-care service. "The Internet has become the place du jour to find a baby-sitter or a nanny."

Thiers says two major cultural shifts have changed the way we find sitters. "We've become much more transient, where we move from major city to major city, so we touch down and have no network. No family, no friends -- sort of a stranger-in-a-strange-land situation," she says. "In addition to that, the rise in extracurricular activities among high school students has led to the students becoming less and less available."

But Thiers contends that searching for a sitter today is actually safer and more reliable than ever provided you follow the correct steps. Whether you use a service like Sittercity, which has a database of more than 100,000 baby-sitters and nannies organized by ZIP code, or conduct your own search on- or offline, employ these tips for a worry-free hunt.

Know the lingo. Are you looking for a mother's helper (usually a younger sitter who comes over to tend to the kids while a parent is home), a baby-sitter (who comes to your house for fewer than 20 hours a week at an hourly rate) or a nanny (who spends 20 or more hours a week in your home and is paid like a full-time employee)? State your needs upfront.

Ask the right questions. Thiers says her big three are: "Do you know CPR, first aid and the Heimlich maneuver?" "What is your experience?" and "What are your theories on discipline?" You'll have a lot more questions about your specific needs, of course, but those three are critical.

Think about age. "The market trend is toward 18-plus sitters," Thiers says. "But the most important thing is for parents to have a clear picture of what they want before they jump in." Older sitters (meaning post-high school) are often more mature, have more experience and usually can drive. They also tend to charge more. Younger sitters may have a little more energy and engage your kids in more play. College-age sitters, once a rarity, according to Thiers, are quite prevalent now. And they tend to be available on weekends.

Know the going rate. You can find a rate calculator at but in general you should expect to pay $10-$14 an hour, depending on the sitter's age and experience, the number of children she/he will be watching and your proximity to a big city.

Talk money. Thiers recommends asking an interviewee about his/her preferred rate before making an offer. If it's much higher or lower than what you were planning to pay, you may want to reconsider your rate, assuming you like the candidate. Younger sitters will often answer, "I don't know," Thiers says, in which case you can throw out a number you're comfortable with and see how they react. The key is for you to go into the interview knowing what you plan to pay.

Screen them. Always ask for references and always check them out. Thiers recommends going a step further and conducting a statewide or national background check as well. You can use LexisNexis, backgroundchecks.com or just Google "background check" and find another outlet. Most checks cost between $10 and $80, depending on how far-reaching they are. All sitters listed on Sittercity have already been put through a national background check.

hstevens@tribune.com
Copyright © 2009, Chicago Tribune

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

I just posted this comment on the chicago tribune web site because I am sick and tired of nanny web sites averaging nanny salaries much too low! How does Ms. Theirs have the audacity to state an average when she is merely a web site not a nanny placement agency!!!

Ms. Theirs rate of hourly pay is way off base.

The rates listed of $10 to $14 an hour is not true at all here in New York, New Jersey, Conneticut area! I do not know any live-out nanny that makes less than $15 an hour!!! I make $25 per hour, plus benefits, generous bonuses and raises at the end of the year!! I bring home more than $1,000 after taxes per week.

Certainly live-in nannies and 18 year olds nannies might make merely $10 to $14 per hour but that is because in this part of the country being a live-in saves the nanny easily $25,000 per year in rent, food, gas, car insurance, and so on.

Nanny web sites ALWAYS list a rate much lower than any experienced and educated in-home caregiver makes!

I honestly do not know any nanny makiong less than $15 per hour here. Ask nannies in Boston and California and they do not make less than $15 per hour as live-out in-home caregivers.

Felicia Northern NJ

Anonymous said...

I agree with Felicia that the rate listed is much too low and this is commonplace on nanny web sites.

But, if we average the ENTIRE nation including small towns and midwest where the COST OF LIVING IS LOWER than the average salary may very well be lower than we are used to.

If sittercity did a poll to get these rates it just proves that higher-end nannies with experience and education are not using the web site to find jobs (are just did not take the poll).

It just proves that high-end nannies with experience, great references, even college degrees should not use nanny web sites. That has been my personal experience. Because, every interview I have gone on via nanny web sites end up saying "Well I've noticed in this part of the country the average is $16 per hour." Which is bull-s__t.

Anyway, parents using web sites instead of hiring reputable nanny placement agencies are trying to save money. Who wants to work for cheap parents/employers?

But, the overall article ends up being positive.
New York Nanny

Anonymous said...

The comments above are by PROFESSIONAL career nannies and not the typical, "average" nanny. That is why the rate that is quoted is low.

Parents should know that they get what they pay for. If they want an experienced, educated, career nanny they will pay more than an "average" nanny.
From Dallas, TX, Nanny at INA Conference!!

Anonymous said...

Parents should spend the money and use a nanny agency. They are in the business of screening nannies, interviewing nannies, background checks, everything!

Anonymous said...

I find this comment at the end of the article to be "untrue":
"All sitters listed on Sittercity have already been put through a national background check."

Really?
I don't think so...
Who is going to do background checks on all of the 100,000 sitters/nannies Sittercity- boasts that they have?
Not to add- a LARGE percentage of those listed on Sittercity- and NOT qualified!

***PARENTS***- please don't be fooled by ANYONE- On-line Site or Nanny Placement Agnecy saying the nanny has been screened!
Do you own in-depth background check- call all the of the sitter/nannies references YOURSELF!!!
Ask to see origionals of all documents-
Driver's Lic/ CPR/1st Aid Cert./Educational Cerficates/Diplomas.- and then after you hire them- Keep a copy Handy!

Aldona said...

Good information and this type of articles will be useful for the people!! By the way, have you heard of MiNeeds.com? It really simplifies finding affordable nannies. I used it to find them for my children. Essentially, after I described what I needed on this site, I received several competitive bids from local nannies. I liked the fact that I didn’t have to call around and negotiate with each, and that they actually came to me.

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