Nanny vs. Day Care: What’s the Right Option for Your Family?

nanny vs. day careAmong the multitude of decisions that parents have to make is, if necessary, what kind of child care they will need. Should they hire a nanny? Should they use a day care facility?

While it’s an important decision, it doesn’t have to be a stressful one if the parents understand the differences between using a nanny and enrolling in a day care. There are pros and cons to each, and all must be considered.

Here are the key differences between using a nanny and using a day care center.

Nannies

The Pros

When a family hires a nanny, they become the employer. They make the schedules, they decide on the duties that will be performed, and they provide specific instructions for the child’s care. They also negotiate the nanny’s salary and benefits, so they know the exact cost of using this kind of child care. Many families value having control over the situation; schedules can be changed as needed, and parents can ask the nanny to provide updates throughout the day.

Families with non-traditional schedules can hire a live-in nanny to care for a child in the evening and during the night. There are certain requirements a family must provide in this situation, such as a private place for the nanny to sleep with a bathroom. But for families that can accommodate one, a live-in nanny may be a good option.

Some families want their child to have one-on-one attention from a caregiver, which a nanny provides. The nanny can adjust their approach based on both your instructions and how the child reacts to different things throughout the day. There is no competition for attention; a child may form a real bond with their nanny, and some families consider that a key piece of the child care puzzle.

Having a nanny can mean less busy work for parents. Lunches and snacks don’t have to be packed in the morning; the nanny can handle getting a child dressed, something all parents know can be a laborious task. Winter weather can make it even more difficult to pack up and get a child out of the house; a nanny can handle that instead. Some families have their nanny do the kids’ laundry, light house cleaning, prepare dinner, or other simple but time-consuming jobs that a parent would be grateful to find done when they get home from work.

Families that hire a nanny through an agency have access to helpful child care resources, along with guidance and support from the agency, including back-up care should their regular nanny not be able to come to work.

Using a nanny for child care means families may be eligible to claim the Dependent Care Assistance Program (DCAP) or Child and Dependent Care tax credit, which can help offset some of the cost of the nanny’s salary and benefits.

The Cons

If a nanny calls out sick one day, or needs several days off due to an unexpected emergency, families that hire on their own (not through an agency) will need to find a replacement or take time off of work to care for the child. This can be disruptive for the parents, but also for the child, especially if they have started to form a bond with their nanny. Being dependent on one person for child care can cause these inconveniences.

Many families find nannies through online job boards; these nannies are not required to have any specific education credentials or certifications (such as CPR or first aid). A family searching for a nanny with all the qualifications they require can be time-consuming, and performing background checks becomes the parents’ responsibility. While there are legal protections for nannies in many states, there is no regulation process for anyone who wants to be a nanny; all the hiring decisions are made by the family.

Any family that pays a nanny over $2,000 (2016) in a year must also pay employment taxes; families must file all applicable nanny tax forms, Social Security, Medicare, federal and state unemployment insurances, and income taxes. Some states also require that a household employer have a workers’ compensation policy in case a nanny is injured or becomes ill while on duty.

Hiring a nanny means a family is now running a business with one employee. They need to negotiate salary and benefits, such as vacation and sick time, health insurance, and even retirement benefits. Families are advised to create a job description, a work agreement, and must ensure they are complying with applicable discrimination and harassment laws. Figuring out all the obligations of being a household employer takes a lot of time and effort (but using a payroll service like our partners at GTM Payroll can take all that off your plate).

Day Care

Pros

Day cares provide socialization for children that many families find integral to their child’s development. Children in day care learn about sharing, playing with others, interactional behavior, and other social skills. They make friends and develop relationships with their peers.

Many day cares bring in special instructors for art, music, or dance, and day cares usually have far more toys, art supplies, and playground equipment than any one family. Children get to know many of the day care staff, not just the teachers in their room, so that when there are substitutions it’s not stressful for the kids.

Many day care teachers have educational backgrounds in childhood education and/or psychology, so they can form a curriculum based on the children’s ages and maturity levels. Children in day care often come home knowing their ABCs, numbers, colors, and shapes.

Day cares run on a set schedule, and many of them are open past 5:00pm to accommodate families getting off of work. Many also open early, around 7:00am, to assist families who need more time in the morning to get to their jobs.

Day care center employees have been background-checked and screened. Many require that their teachers have a degree in an appropriate field, along with CPR and first aid training. Parents may find peace of mind knowing that day cares are state-regulated and subject to laws regarding teacher-child ratios, safety, and cleanliness.

Many day cares provide snacks, and some also provide breakfast or lunch, which means families don’t have to spend as much time getting food together in the morning. Children are often exposed to new foods and learn to try new things at day care, something they may be much more reluctant to do at home.

Families can help offset the cost of day care through the DCAP; this plan allows individuals to qualify up to $ 5,000 of their annual salary federal and state income tax-free.

Cons

While some families value the set schedule a day care provides, it can become an inconvenience if a meeting is going late and a parent can’t get to the facility by closing time. Day cares charge extra for late pick-ups, so it may be a struggle to balance work responsibilities and the day care’s hours.

Some children may find the stimulation at day care overwhelming; new faces, lots of new experiences, and perhaps more noise than they are used to. While day cares emphasize socialization, it may not be the right environment for a child.

More kids mean more germs. Children are more likely to develop colds and viruses in a group environment, and then they bring those germs home, which mean parents and other family members may find themselves getting sick more often than usual. If a child has a fever or vomits, most centers will require the child stay home until for at least 24 hours (or as long as it takes for the fever to go away); that means arranging other child care or staying home from work until the child is healthy enough to return. Day cares charge their regular rate whether the child is there or not.

Along with being closed on major holidays, many day cares close on various days throughout the year for professional development and training, or for religious holidays. On those days, if the parents still have to work, other child care arrangements will need to be made.

Day care centers sometimes have high turnover rates, so if a child forms a bond with one or more of the staff, they may struggle if those staff members leave.

The Costs

For some families, after considering all the pros and cons listed above, their decision about child care may depend most heavily on the cost.

Nannies

According to the International Nanny Association’s (INA) 2014 Salary and Benefits Survey, the national average hourly wage for nannies was $18.66, with some wages over $22 per hour. 62% of nannies surveyed received paid vacation time, and 12% received either full or partial health insurance.

If a family hires a nanny for 40 hours per week and pays the average of $18.66 per hour, the cost to the family would be $746.40 per week, or $38,812 a year. That does not take into account the costs involved with the hiring process; using an agency means paying a membership or placement fee, and hiring through an online job board means families will pay for background checks. Workers’ compensation and health insurance are additional expenses as well. If a family decides to use their accountant or a payroll service to handle the payroll and tax responsibilities, those are also additional costs to consider.

Day Care

The cost of using a day care center varies greatly from state to state, and changes based on the age of the children. In general, the older the child gets, the less day cares charge; some centers also give families a discount if they have more than one child enrolled.

For example, according to Child Care Aware of America, the average annual cost for infant day care in New York is $14,144; for an infant and a 4-year-old in day care, the average annual cost is $25,844. In Florida, infant care averages $8,694 annually, and $16,362 for an infant and a 4-year-old. In Illinois, the costs using the same examples are $12,964 and $22,531 respectively.

Additional costs need to be considered for using a nanny or babysitter when the day care center is closed or if the child is sick and can’t attend day care.

Ultimately parents know better than anyone else what is best for their family, both financially and emotionally. It’s not a decision to be made lightly, but having all the information and understanding the pros and cons to each option will make the decision a little easier.

Back to School Transition for Families and Nannies

back to school transition for families and nanniesIt’s almost that time of year again when the relaxed schedules of summer end, and the rigid school day routines begin. With back to school season upon us, many families need to start preparing for trying to get their children back on a schedule. There will be homework and after school activities, and everyone has to be up earlier in the morning and in bed earlier at night. This is something the family prepares their nanny for as well.

Nannies should  know in advance what the criteria is for the school year in terms of the schedule and or any changes that will impact their jobs. Their job description may change with regard to the number of scheduled hours if she is caring for school-aged children, along with the demands of the job, such as getting the children up and ready for school, packing lunches, meeting the children at the bus stop, and helping with homework. If a family currently has a nanny who doesn’t usually perform functions like meal preparation, transportation, or homework help, they need to discuss these duties with their nanny and see if she is willing to take on these new tasks. If so, additional compensation may need to be negotiated. If not, it may be time to find a new nanny.

Another thing to consider is the age of the children. Often nannies who have been with a family for a while move on to another position once the children start going to school full-time. Sometimes that nanny will stay with the family and take on other responsibilities like housekeeping and running errands. But some nannies may only want to do full-time child care, and in that case, the nanny will move on to another family. This type of situation can be potentially difficult to deal with. The children she cared for during her employment will certainly have questions about why she’s no longer with them, and in the case of younger kids, they may have developed a real attachment that can be difficult to reconcile. The family should be involved in communicating an employee’s departure plans with the children. Families may ask the nanny to explain to children why they are leaving the home, what his or her plans are, and how the change may affect the family. Sometimes hearing the news from the nanny may allow the children to understand the situation better.

All in all, this time of year can be a little uneasy with regard to child care, but we are here to make the transition easier for both families and nannies.

Contact us at (518) 348-0400 and let us know how we can help.

Can You Manage Your Nanny’s Off Duty Behavior?

manage your nanny's off duty behaviorLet’s say a family friend saw your nanny at a social event, and they told you your nanny was engaged in questionable behavior (drinking, foul language, etc.). Managing your nanny’s off duty behavior may be a concern. Can you tell your employee how to behave when they’re not on the clock? How much influence do you have?

While employers have the right to regulate employees’ on-duty conduct, they are legally more limited in how much control they can exert when employees are not on duty.

We know issues may arise when employees engage in social activities after hours where they feel they can let loose or otherwise act in a way that is inconsistent with policies when they are working in your home. While an employer can’t regulate what goes on in that setting – in fact, many states protect legal off-duty conduct – you can expect and require that there not be any residual effects that carry over into the workplace. For instance, if a nanny made threatening comments about a certain religious group on their Facebook page, and these comments were seen by you or your child who then felt uncomfortable in the workplace (your home), you would need to address this behavior.

Keep in mind although legally you cannot control your employee’s behavior off the clock, you can ask for discretion in certain areas. Discuss the possibility of issues like this during the interview and early employment process, and lay out clear expectations. Advise your employee to limit who can see their social media activity and reiterate to them that their conduct, even when not on duty, is a reflection both on them and on the family they work for – you! The best thing to do is express your concerns up front. This should help limit problematic behavior when your nanny is off the clock.

For more information, contact us at (518) 348-0400.

Child Care at the Desmond Hotel

We’re quite busy this summer providing child care for company conferences all over New York! We’ve already been to Thousand Islands and Lake Placid, and last week we took care of some great (and cute) kids at the iconic Desmond Hotel in Albany during a Public Policy and Education Fund of New York conference.

Here are a few photos from the day. Give us a call if your company is having a conference or event and needs child care!

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Get Organized with our Featured Staff Member!

housekeeping servicesDo you ever feel like you’re so unorganized because you just don’t have the time to get organized? Do you know you could be using the space in your home or office better, but aren’t sure how to go about it? Then we’d like to you to meet Camilla, our featured staff member.

Here’s how Camilla describes who she is and what she does:

Organizing homes and doing interior decorating has always been a passion of mine since I was a child, and I have continued to live out this passion into my adult years. As I grew into a young adult, I went on to college and received my B.S. degree in Marketing Management, another major interest of mine.  After graduating from college, I wanted to add to my creative portfolio so I went back to school and took various classes in design, photography, and oil painting. My education served as the perfect background to enable me to work in a variety of positions on both the strategic side as well as the creative side of marketing and communications. While I have led companies in positions such as a Chief Marketing Officer and VP of Marketing/Communications, I’ve also had the pleasure of art directing creative teams of graphic designers, photographers, and videographers.

Over the years as I have worked with clients one-on-one and it has given me great pleasure to live out my passion for organizing homes and interior decorating, where I apply many of the same visual and organizational skill sets from my marketing and communications career.  Through my work, I have helped people function more efficiently, making their lives easier to manage by helping them utilize space to the maximum through experience and creative solutions. I believe that an organized home and office unclutters our life, therefore creating effective time management, and ultimately balance and harmony, not just within our homes, but also within ourselves.  And the end result is that clients feel their lives are simpler and less stressful.  

Sound like something you need? Give us a call and let us connect you with Camilla so you can see how she can help you get organized! Contact us at (518) 348-0400 to learn more about this service or to see how else we can help.

 

Summer Conference and Event Child Care

We’re already having a great summer, having provided child care for two conferences in beautiful locations! Early in June, we were at the 1000 Islands Harbor Hotel, and last week we were at the High Peaks Resort in Lake Placid!

As you can see, we provide child care for company events and conferences all over New York, customizing the activities for kids of all ages. Let us know how we can help!

Here are a few photos (click to enlarge). See more of them on our Facebook page!

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Celebrate Our 25th Anniversary with 25% Off!

celebrating 25 years with 25% offIt’s hard to believe that we have been in business for 25 years, but here we are, still serving the Capital Region as the only fully licensed and insured household placement agency in town. And as our way of saying thanks to all the families we’ve worked with over the years, we have a special offer for you.

Are you looking to hire a part-time or full-time nanny for the summer or when school starts up in the fall? Need a babysitter for a date night? How about some help cleaning the house for a graduation party or other get-togethers? Sign up for temporary services and get 25% off your membership fee, a savings of over $30!

Looking to hire a long-term nanny? Sign up for long-term placement services and receive 25% off your application fee – that’s a savings of over $55!

Contact us now at (518) 348-0400 to take advantage of our 25th Anniversary savings.

Is My Nanny an Exempt Employee?

is my nanny an exempt employeeThere has been a lot of news lately about the Department of Labor’s new rule regarding overtime exemptions for exempt employees. Many household employers may be wondering if they need to take notice of this rule and if it applies to domestic workers.

“Exempt” and “non-exempt” are employee classifications under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)—a federal law dating back to 1938 that requires certain employees to receive minimum wage and overtime pay. An exempt employee is exempt from these requirements.

The FLSA lists a number of exemption categories. The most commonly used are the executive, administrative, professional, computer, outside sales, and highly compensated employee exemptions. These are collectively known as the “white collar” exemptions.

Most of these exemptions require that the job pass a three-part test:

  1. Duties: The employee has to do specific things regularly, such as use independent judgement or manage at least two people. Each exemption has its own duties test.
  2. Salary level: A minimum salary must be earned; currently $23,660, but this will rise to $47,476 on December 1, 2016.
  3. Salary basis: The employee is paid the same each week regardless of hours worked or the quantity or quality of their work.

If an employee meets all of the criteria under at least one of the FLSA’s exemptions, the employee qualifies as “exempt” and is not eligible for overtime pay. If the employee does not meet all of the criteria under one of these specific exemptions, they must be classified as “non-exempt,” and given overtime pay when applicable.

Are domestic workers exempt employees?

Any employee that currently earns $23,660 per year or less ($47,476 starting December 1st), regardless of their duties, are not exempt. Most nannies, senior care workers, and housekeepers would not be considered exempt (due to their duties and varying hours) and therefore must be paid overtime. But some household employees like estate managers, personal assistants, or house managers may qualify as exempt if they spend the majority of their time supervising, rather than performing tasks, and make the minimum salary required for exemption.

Still unsure?

View this helpful chart to determine if you have an employee that will qualify as exempt. Contact us at (518) 348-0400 for more information.

Excluding Sleep Hours from Nanny’s Paid Time

excluding sleep hours from nanny's paid timeWhen the Department of Labor’s Home Care Final Rule was approved last year,  Fair Labor and Standards Act (FLSA) protections were extended to most home care workers in the United States. That meant household employers needed to start complying with the FLSA’s requirements; therefore, an employer must determine what time constitutes “hours worked.” In some cases, the time a domestic employee spends sleeping at their workplace (the home) can be unpaid, even if the employee is required to be there, leading to the exclusion of sleep time hours for domestic workers.

The Home Care Final Rule did not change any of the requirements regarding sleep time. Depending on the type of domestic employee (a “live-in” employee, those working a 24 hour shift or more, or those working a less than 24 hour shift), the rules for excluding sleep time hours vary. For employees to whom the exclusion rules do apply, if sleep time is interrupted because of work duties, they employee must be paid, and if interruptions prevent the employee from getting a total of at least five hours of sleep, they are entitled to be paid for the entire night.

To help explain the sleep exclusion rules and how they apply, the Department of Labor has provided this handy chart below (click to enlarge).

excluding sleep hours from nanny

For more information about excluding sleep hours, please see this section of the DOL’s website, or contact us at (518) 348-0400.

Negotiating the Right Pay Rate for Your Nanny

negotiating the right pay rate for your nannyYou likely have an hourly rate in mind that you’d be comfortable paying a nanny or other household employee. When determining your budget, keep in mind your tax responsibilities that need to paid on top of your employee’s pay. You may also need to pay for workers’ compensation insurance. According to federal law, household employees are non-exempt, which mean they are paid an hourly rate and not a salary. Understanding the difference between gross pay and net pay will be a big help when negotiating the right pay rate for your nanny.

Gross Pay
This is the pay for your nanny or household employee before taxes are withheld.

Net Pay
Sometimes referred to as “take home” pay, this is the amount of money your employee receivesafter all taxes have been withheld.

You should make it clear to a potential hire whether you’re offering gross pay or net pay to avoid any confusion come pay day.

To help illustrate how the difference between gross and net pay works out in real dollars, please watch this brief video demonstration from our friends at GTM Payroll Services.

Visit GTM’s Nanny Tax calculator to determine a gross pay and hourly rate for your employee that will generate a specific take-home pay.

We are also here to help you discuss salary options with your nanny. For more information, contact us at (518) 348-0400.