I’m asked this question surprisingly often. Parents want to know if they can hire a great nanny for a low wage. It isn’t a simple yes or no question. I always need more details about their definition of “low wage” because that term means different things to different people. Kinda like the term “light housekeeping”.
The earning range for nannies is huge. Entry level caregivers in the Midwest can expect to start out at $12 to $15 an hour. Experienced nannies in large metropolitan areas can command $35 to $40 a hour plus a generous benefit package and a nice end-of-year bonus. That’s why the most common answer to the question “How much should I pay my nanny?” is “Well, it depends.” Because it depends….on the location, the job description, and the type of caregiver the parents want to hire. So low wages in one area can mean market value in another. That difference doesn’t affect the quality of care.
But there are jobs that pay so far below market value, the ones that pay $5 to $8 an hour or a weekly stipend of $100 plus room and board, that it’s next to impossible to find a quality caregiver to accept them. Why would she when she can go to an agency or online site and at the very least, double or triple her hourly wage? Remember, when I say quality care I’m not talking about a warm body that watches the kids. I’m talking about someone who consistently provides a high quality caregiving environment. In this case the age old adage “you get what you pay for” is generally true. In this case low wages generally mean low quality care.
That’s not an insult to the women working in low wage jobs. You can be an amazing person and not have the qualifications for a particular job. Or be caught in circumstances beyond your control that make finding a job equal to your qualifications near impossible.
It’s also not an indictment of parents that can’t afford to spend $30,000 or more a year on childcare. They’re only trying to do what’s best for their children. However the reality is nanny care is the most expensive type of childcare and it’s out of reach for many families. It’s a much better choice for parents with a limited budget to invest their childcare dollars into quality family care or day care rather than into a unqualified nanny.
It is an indictment of parents who have ample resources and choose to pay their caregiver a far below market wage. Shame on you. (Someone had to say it.)