While school districts across the country are making plans for the fall school year, many parents continue to fill the gap in childcare with home care through a babysitter or nanny.
Becoming a babysitter can be a lucrative job with flexible working hours. However, there are some important considerations that anyone who wants to be a home carer should take into account, says Carrie Cronkey, Care.com's chief marketing officer.
Here's what you need to know to become a babysitter or nanny during the pandemic.
What the field of childcare will look like in 2020
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more than 1.1 million childcare providers in the United States, including those who work in daycare centers, in their own four walls, or in private households.
Median wages for nurses last year were $ 24,230 a year, or $ 11.65 an hour. (The median annual salary for all employees is $ 39,810.)
"Just before summer, it became more convenient for families to take a babysitter home, which led to a three-digit increase in the number of jobs posted on the care platform," said Cronkey. In a recent Care.com survey, the company found that 63% of parents were unwilling to return their children to group care facilities, and a third of these parents hired caregivers at home instead.
"When we start an upside-down schooling season, we expect parents to use home care or care items this fall as a viable and flexible option to arrange part-time school and distance learning plans," said Cronkey.
This is an opportunity for displaced teachers, day care workers and post-school counselors.
How to safely provide childcare during the pandemic
The key to protecting everyone in the current environment, says Cronkey, is communication between the employer and the caregiver.
“For those who look after at home, we strongly recommend transparent discussions with the family to set expectations and guidelines. These can then be reflected in a written contract to ensure that everyone is clear, ”said Cronkey.
Policies include taking off shoes when entering the house, best practices for washing hands, maintaining physical distance, wearing facewear, and reducing cross-contamination by putting on new clothes when you return from work in a home environment.
While home care may feel less formal than a traditional workplace, Cronkey stressed that you should consider your employer's home as your place of business and that best health practices such as those described by the CDC should be followed.
The CDC recommends that employees stay at home when they are sick except for medical care. For the family you are working with, each party should exercise flexibility and understand that there may be no advance notice when it comes to health-related absences.
It is also recommended that families and individuals avoid large social gatherings and, if possible, keep a distance (at least 6 feet) from others. While it may not be possible to keep your distance when caring for children at home, caregivers in parks and other public facilities should consider social distance.
Tips for nannies during COVID-19
Casey Hauptman, 21, has been caring for a family of two young girls in Massachusetts for the past two months, once a hotspot for COVID-19 cases.
When she met the family, Hauptman asked about their comfort when playing with other children, about hygiene, and other home care guidelines. "I think it's always important to feel good, and starting a job during a pandemic can raise some worried thoughts," she said. "Even if you're afraid to ask questions … just ask them."
Hauptman emphasized that she often washed her hands during the day, taking care of her own health and feelings. "If I had the feeling that something was wrong with me, I would never go in and take care of the children," she said. "I also make sure that certain things like drinks are not shared."
The family she works for live in a close neighborhood with children of the same age who like to play together. Hauptman makes sure that the children stay distant and play outside instead of entering someone's house.
"Some things the kids like to do together are walks to the pond, bike rides, and just playing," she said. "In this way, they can still have social distance from one another, but they can get in touch with their friends and play with them."
While the provision of childcare at home can pose significant new challenges given the ongoing COVID-19, experts say that the key to a successful employer-employee relationship is open communication, clear expectations, and compliance with laws and regulations of the pandemic.
"I worked in a restaurant for over four years and unfortunately they had to close due to the pandemic, so I lost my job," said Hauptman. “But luckily I was contacted by this family and now I see them three times a week.
"I love being a nanny, and I love the family I'm a nanny for."
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