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How to find safe child care during pandemic-related nanny shortage

Don’t take shortcuts, because it could end in a lawsuit.
Published: Aug. 30, 2021 at 7:14 AM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - The pandemic is making an impact when it comes to child care. Due to the high demand and lack of workers, one local nanny agency said they’re having to raise prices to pay high nanny fees.

“What we’re seeing right now is crazy in our industry. The pricing has gone up so much in terms of what families have to spend to get a high-quality caregiver,” said Rosalind Prather, co-founder of Trusting Connections Nanny Agency.

Prather said it all started because of COVID-19 shutdowns. A lot of day cares closed and a lot of parents no longer felt comfortable sending children to day care, so nannies were the best option.

“Parents are realizing having a private nanny at home is just as cost-effective, especially when you have multiple children, it can almost be cheaper, but it’s also safer because you’re minimizing risk of exposure,” Prather said.

August is always a busy month for Trusting Connections, but last Monday alone the agency received 40 calls from families searching for a nanny. Before the pandemic, they would typically receive around 10 calls a day.

“We have seen calls exponentially increase, so our staff is very much overwhelmed with those calls,” Prather said. “We’ve actually had to implement a waitlist at all three locations.”

Prather said prices have gone up since they opened in 2010, from $16 an hour to $23, because everything, such as insurance and taxes, has gone up significantly in price.

Prather said she believes the pricing is still fair and even competitive due to what their company is doing to ensure high-quality caregivers.

“We actually partner with a local licensed private detective that investigates all of our nannies by hand,” Prather said. “Drug testing is another super important piece. I can’t tell you how many families I’ve seen refer a nanny from family to family, and they look great on paper but no one has actually bothered to give this person a drug test.”

Prather said it’s important parents don’t take shortcuts when searching for a nanny, because it could end in a lawsuit.

“Legally, you’re not allowed to pay a nanny cash under the table,” Prather said. “A lot of families are paying part-time sitters cash and it is illegal, the IRS considers even part-time nannies and sitters always to be employees of the family they work for and never independent contractors.”

Ultimately, Prather said finding a nanny on social media is not the best option, no matter how desperate families might be for child care.

“We’re seeing this desperation and we’re hearing it in the voices of the parents who are calling us,” Prather said. “Parents are willing to take shortcuts and what happens when you take shortcuts is you end up with someone unsafe in your home or you end up putting yourself in a situation where you’re not doing things legally for the sake of expediency.”

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