Is a Nanny, a Babysitter, or a Child Caregiver Right for My Family?

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Since 2001, over half of the children in the United States of America attend child care facilities where the average costs of childcare range from $5,000 to $15,000 per-child, per-year.

As parents, our children are the most precious and special people near to our hearts. And we all want to make sure that our children always have the best. That is why when it comes to childcare, it is important to know and understand the differences between who could be watching your children.

However, finding that person it is not always a straightforward task. Locating the right person for your family can be extremely difficult and depending on your requirements it can take days, weeks or even months to find that perfect fit.

To help you out, we have compiled a list on each child care position so you can be well-informed when it comes to selecting the right person for your child care needs.

Different Types of Child Care

Child care is a large category with a wide range of topics. The child care referred to here is the supervision and care of a child or several children. The individuals performing child care will typically watch children from the ages of 1 month old to 12 years old.

There are lots of different names people use for someone who watches and/or provides child care for the children of others. Below we have identified 7 popular child care titles and outlined the basic details for each.

What is a Nanny?

A nanny is an individual who typically performs child care in the family’s home on a long-term, regular basis.

A nanny is an independent contractor who operates their own small business. The roles and responsibilities for a nanny will vary from family to family and are typically found in the job description. For example, some nannies are required to speak multiple languages, hold certain degrees, or have very particular experience.

For nannies, such requirements are looked at with a positive view since someone with unique qualifications will fit with families who are seeking individuals with certain talents, backgrounds, experiences and educations.

There are several different types of nannies. Here are a few examples: live-in nannies, nanny shares (multiple families pay for one nanny to watch their kids), and night nanny.

Each state has different laws that require CPR, first aid, background checks and drug testing.

What is a Babysitter?

A babysitter is an individual who provides temporary, part-time child care while the parents are away.

Babysitters are typically +13 years old and in middle school, highschool or college. Babysitters usually do not have roles and responsibilities beyond providing child care for the children in the family’s home.

Often, this can be the most affordable method of child care for the family as many babysitters are too young to be eligible to work elsewhere. However, locating a reliable, acceptable babysitter can be a challenge and finding a backup is even more difficult to come by.

What is a Child Caregiver?

A child caregiver is an individual who is required to aid the child with the activities of daily living of which the child would not be able to perform otherwise.

Typically, a child caregiver is in the family’s home on a long-term and regular basis. The requirements for a child caregiver vary and might require a medical background, certain certification, or a particular degree.

For example, a child caregiver might be required to help a child with managing medications, managing a disability and preparing meals.  

What is a Vacation Nanny?

vacation nanny is an individual who provides temporary childcare for families when they are at an event, at a wedding, on a trip, traveling, on holiday or on vacation.

A vacation nanny can be self-employed, an independent contractor and/or work for an agency. The roles and responsibilities are usually limited to childcare. Often, they are insured by the agency they work for. Since they are required to work in a hotel, rental property or a resort, this insurance is a requirement. It is advised to book through an agency because self-employed individuals from marketplaces typically do not have liability insurance.

In Napa and Sonoma, the vacation nannies are often mothers, elementary school teachers, preschool teachers, nurses, and caregivers.

Each state has different laws that require CPR, first aid, background checks and drug testing. In the state of California, being registered with TrustLine is the requirement for all nannies placed by agencies.

What is Day Care?

Day care is child care in a facility/center/location with set hours that is delivered by one or more child caregivers.

Day care is where parents can drop off and pick up their children. Working parents will typically drop off their children before heading to work and then pick up their children on their way home from work or shortly after.

There are many laws and regulations that day care facilities and caregivers are required to follow.

What is Backup or Emergency Care?

Backup or Emergency care is designed to make sure parents have someone to watch their children in the event that their regular child care provider is unable to make it.

Different companies offer backup care services and a family can pay a monthly or annual subscription to make sure they have backup care.

Families in the Napa and Sonoma area use My Vacation Nanny for backup and emergency care to have a nanny sent directly to their home when they need one.

What is an Au Pair?

An au pair is an individual who is foreign to the country in which they are providing long-term, live-in child care. In addition, an au pair can also be a domestic assistant and responsible for typical housework and meal preparation.

The roles and responsibilities will vary by family and location. It is typical that au pair arrangements will be subject to government approval and age restrictions for the caregiver will typically apply.

In most countries, an au pair is considered part of the family. However, they are typically required to wear a work uniform or attire with an apron that matches what the host family finds to be appropriate.