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Babysitter, Nanny, Family Assistant: What Do I Need?

Childcare is a must, so where do you start?

You have young children and need time to work. Childcare is a must, so where do you start? Do you need a Nanny, a Family Assistant, or should you use daycare and augment with a Babysitter? There are so many different terms and titles, it can certainly feel overwhelming! “A big challenge in the industry is that terms are often confused. It leads to a disconnect in expectations making it harder for families and nannies to manage expectations about job duties and compensation.” Shares Daryl Camarillo, Owner of Stanford Park Nannies.

While there are training programs and state requirements for daycare workers and teachers, no qualifications are required for nannies and sitters who work in our homes. “Licensed childcare certification programs for nannies, are vital in helping families ensure their children are cared for by qualified persons” shared Dr. Lauren Formy-Duval, a child psychologist, adjunct professor, and a mom. “Nannies and Sitters investing in affordable and high-quality training not only gain practical skills but also enable a career path, just like teachers and other professionals.”

Understand Your Family Needs

Childcare costs are often the second largest family expense and the salary you can afford to pay is one of the most important elements to finding a great nanny. What is your budget? When you have determined how much you can invest in childcare, you can then determine the tasks you need completed. How many hours of childcare are needed? Do you need backup care if the nanny isn’t available? Do you need overnight care? Take time to write out as many of the logistical needs as possible and create a separate list of all the activities and tasks that need to be completed.

Align Your Needs to Childcare Job Titles

Matching the family needs to childcare job titles and skills is vital to find the best fit. Families can’t realistically hire Nanny Poppin at a babysitter rate so it’s important to understand the different types of sitters, nannies, and family assistants. Babysitters provide for the safety of children for several hours, often with the family members nearby and available by phone. Babysitters may have some childcare experience but are often early in their childcare career.

1. Parents’ Helper

Parents’ Helpers are considered babysitters-in-training, as they help care for children under the direct supervision of a parent or guardian. Often too young or inexperienced to care for children independently, Parents’ Helpers play with children, feed babies or make easy lunches, and perform light housework. An entry-level position in childcare, Parents’ Helpers should have CPR and First Aid training but may not have experience working with children. For those less than 16 years old, the American Red Cross offers an online class and local YMCA’s may host a babysitter training day.

2. Babysitter

Babysitters provide for the safety of children for several hours, often with the family members nearby and available by phone. Usually working for a few hours in the evening or during the weekend, Babysitters may supervise playtime, provide parent-approved snacks, and help children get ready for bed. Sitters may do light housekeeping, such as washing the dishes or emptying the diaper bin. Sitters should have CPR and First Aid certification and it’s recommended they compete for childcare training.

3. Nanny (Part or Full Time)

Nannies have contracted, consistent work for at least 3 months but usually a year or more. Nannies are responsible for one or more children throughout the work day while family members are at their places of employment. Care includes providing meals and activities for the children and may also include taking the children on outings and providing additional support such as transporting children to and from school, from school to clubs, sports practices, play-dates, and other activities. Nannies work autonomously and may have full responsibility to care for the children when families are out of town.

All nannies, whether part or full time, should have CPR and First Aid certification and invest in childcare training that teaches age appropriate growth, development, and activities from newborn through primary years. Nutrition, fitness, health, art, music, and communication courses provide practical skills to help nannies excel as in-home childcare providers.

4. Professional Nanny and Family Assistants

Professional Nannies are the central core to managing all schedules, logistics, and needs for the entire family. Daryl Camarillo describes the role of a professional nanny. “Families think of [professional] nannies as in-home professionals who do everything to care, nurture, and develop the children. These include household duties related to childcare and the upkeep of the home such as washing bottles, meal preparation for the children, emptying diaper bins, and the child’s laundry. Families are seeking nannies to take the child to activities and invest in their development and growth. They view the nanny as part of the childcare team.”

Professional Nannies can have different types of specialization based on training and experiences that elevate their skills as family assistants, early childhood educators, or special needs caregivers. Family assistants (sometimes referred to as Household Managers or Nanny Managers) perform childcare duties with additional responsibilities such as managing a weekly schedule, scheduling and attending doctor appointments, picking up the dry cleaning, planning and hosting birthday parties, household organization, shopping, pet care, meal planning, and preparing meals for the family. Family Assistants are often committed to the role as their primary employment and have the maturity to work unsupervised while remaining responsible for several children and an allocated budget.

Family Assistants have a combination of childcare experience, training, and organizational skills. Family Assistants often have between 2 to 5 years of in-home childcare experience with additional experience managing their own household or working in the service industry as a personal chef, pet sitter, or cleaning service provider. The majority have CPR and First Aid certification, and most have completed childcare and household management programs.

Specialist Nannies have varying qualifications that often include college degrees in Early Childhood Education, Special Needs Education, or Psychology with diverse work experiences as a nanny, in daycares, teaching, or advocacy positions. Specialists may also be travel nannies or are specially training in Montessori, RIE, or Waldorf child development approaches. Specialist Nannies are passionate about their work and are often leaders in the nanny industry. Many Specialist Nannies work for high profile and/or high net worth families and find themselves extremely desirable within the nanny market.

Leverage Resources

After listing your family needs and matching job titles, you can use online resources and local networks to seek candidates or work through a nanny agency. Many families network with other parents, talk to daycare and children activity leaders, as well as use online job boards to find great nannies and sitters. “It’s time-consuming to screen and interview potential sitters,” said Lisa Merriweather, a working mother in Los Angeles. “I look for an investment in childcare training and I always call their references after conducting a background check.” A reputable nanny or domestic placement service can also help find top nannies and sitters in your area, saving you time and effort.

Top 10 Benefits to Nanny or Babysitter Certification

Families, agencies, and employers are always looking for high quality babysitters and nannies so set yourself apart as a certified childcare provider.

Want to be a babysitter or nanny? How can you compete? Families, agencies, and employers are always looking for high quality babysitters and nannies so set yourself apart as a certified childcare provider. According to Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce*, on average, certificate holders earn 20 percent more than high school-educated workers. Moreover, even when certificates don’t provide an earnings boost, they make individuals more employable.

With 5 licensed and industry respected certification programs from Basic to Advanced and Professional, you can pick the certification that patches your career goals. Here are the top 10 reasons to invest in certification.

1. Childcare Knowledge.

Having solid knowledge of child development is a key piece of quality childcare. Knowing what is typical or common at different ages is important in providing appropriate and effective care for the children placed in our supervision. This training includes the major developmental stages of infancy through elementary and middle school age; discussion of the physical, cognitive, and social-emotional milestones within each stage; and activities that encourage healthy child development. Learn the basics on positive discipline from a child psychologist, nutrition for children from a clinical dietitian, and important employment information from a lawyer.

2. Practical Skills.

From diapering infants to temper tantrums to helping with homework, these courses provide practical advice and tools that you can apply when caring for one child or a group of children. Faculty experts also share how to create daily schedules, support the child athlete, and help children learn to cope with stress.

3. Better Job Opportunities.

Are you applying for your dream job working with children? Training and certification increases family and employer’s confidence in your skills and creates a competitive advantage for positions. With advanced certifications that require work experience, you may even earn a higher wage. If certified by Amslee Institute, you get job placement support including resume writing and interview preparation.

dad and child feeding kangaroos at zoo4. New Places.

Want to travel or live in new and exciting locations? Certified applicants have greater opportunities to work at resorts, on cruise ships or find employment in another city or country. Completing a well-designed curriculum demonstrates broader childcare knowledge as well as specialized skills required for in home care.

5. Demonstrated Commitment.

Children need stable environments so families as well as employers look for someone who will commit to the position – often for at least a year. An investment in training and certification demonstrates this type of commitment to a childcare career.

6. Confidence.

By completing the courses and passing the proficiency exams, you can be confident knowing you’ve learned the skills you need to be successful. Attaining a professional certification shows that you have done the work – you set a goal, worked towards completion, and earned a certification.

woman using laptop7. Continuous Learner.

According to the Guardian**, there’s a strong correlation between learning and sustained employment. Employees who demonstrate that they’re conscientious about their personal development are likely to be seen as highly motivated and engaged. With 5 certification levels, you can improve your skills and knowledge over time to demonstrate you are a continuous learner. Part-time babysitters can start with the Basic certification and as they gain experience, seek additional certifications. Experienced nannies may start at the Advanced or Specialist level and progress to the Professional level.

8. Leadership.

The Professional certification program includes a student project that requires the students to share their expertise with others. Mentorship opportunities are also available to allow Professional certificate candidates the opportunity to help those early in their careers.

certification9. Simplified Hiring Process.

Amslee Institute certification programs require completion of First Aid and CPR certification, passing of proficiency exams, written recommendations, and documented work experience. These job requirements and achievements can be shared with an official transcript. This will streamline the hiring process with potential employers. In addition, when certification is completed, Amslee Institute will help connect graduates with potential employers.

10. Community.

Students become part of the Amslee family and can network through classes, join the private Facebook group with other students and faculty, and participate in on-line discussions where fellow students and faculty share best practices and answer questions.

Certification can fast track a childcare career in weeks with training that is specifically designed to provide students with the mental, emotional, and social skills needed to positively influence the development of young children. With job placement support and demonstrated skills, an industry respected certification may earn higher compensation.

For more information about childcare certification programs, visit Amslee Institute at

*Carnevale, Anthony P., Rose, Stephen J., Hanson, Andrew R. (2012, June). Certificates: Gateway to Gainful Employment and College Degrees. Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. Retrieved from

**Mills, Corinne. (2013, May 6) Keeping your professional development continuous. The Guardian. Retrieved from

8 Role Model Behaviors for Nannies and Babysitters

Ensuring children are around positive role models and childcare providers will help them learn a vast array of social skills.

It’s so cute when a 3-year old boy wears a team jersey and cheers for his dad’s team. It’s adorable when a 4-year old girl wears mom’s shoes and carries her purse around the house. Imitating the behaviors of adults and other children is commonplace from infancy through adulthood. It’s amazing how much children learn from watching others. Ensuring children are around positive role models and childcare providers will help them learn a vast array of social skills.

As a nanny, you spend a lot of time with children. These children look to you and will learn from your words, actions, and behaviors. Here are 8 things to consider when you are working with children:

1. Lead by example.

When you are driving and another car cuts you off, it is often tempting to yell at the other driver. If there are children in the car with you, think about the message you are sending to them. You don’t really want them to think it’s okay to shout or say mean things to others. Instead, keep the words of annoyance and frustration in your head. Speak to the children and share that the person driving the other car made a bad choice or a mistake and that you are going to focus on making good choices. This teaches accountability and independent decision making.

2. Listen to children.

Children see the world in wonderful and surprising ways. Because of their curiosity, they often see things that adults overlook. It’s easy as an adult to ‘half-listen’ when a child is sharing something with you. Instead, focus on what the child is saying and ask questions to really understand what the child is thinking or trying to communicate. This teaches children that what they say is important to you. It also teaches them active listening and social skills. Adults can also benefit from this as they often see things from a different, and sometimes a more interesting perspective.

3. Use positive re-enforcement.

Caregivers can get into the habit of saying “No” a lot. Of course, in a situation where the child may get hurt – “No” is important and children must be kept safe. But if you find yourself saying “No” to everything – you may want to rethink your approach. If Johnny wants to go outside and it’s raining – instead of just saying “No’, you may want to say “Johnny, it’s raining so we can’t go outside right now. Would you rather play with your blocks or train set?” If you get down to Johnny’s level with open body language and a pleasant voice – Johnny will most likely choose one of the options and begin to play. If you encourage his selection and comment on how nicely he is playing, everyone is in a better day!

child playing with blocks4. Creative and positive outlets.

Everyone has stress in their lives. Having a way to manage stress positively is important for childcare providers and children. When you are feeling stressed, don’t be afraid to show children how you handle it. Let them see you taking a few deep breaths or jogging in place. When you recognize stress in children, help them cope by doing deep breathing exercises with them, or playing soft music, or running with them to let off steam. Children who learn stress coping techniques will fare better at handling adult stresses later in life.

5. Be confident.

Children want to feel safe and secure and if they think an adult is scared or unsure, then they may feel insecure or anxious. In day to day interactions, using a strong voice and clear sentences conveys confidence. If you tend to talk out loud to yourself and you say, “I wonder if we have food for lunch”, it may make a younger child worry about their next meal even if the kitchen is fully stocked. Watch what you say and think about how a child might interpret it. If you are thinking about lunch, ask Sally if she wants a sandwich or chicken for lunch instead of wondering what is available. This provides Sally confidence there is food and empowers Sally in the decision-making process.

6. Be Respectful of others.

Being disrespectful is often easy to see in others but harder to see in ourselves. The grimace on our face when we disagree with someone on the news or the comment about the woman in line who is wearing too much perfume are both behaviors that will be mimicked by children. To teach positive behaviors, we need to exhibit them, so this means saying please, thank you, and excuse me to others. It also means paying attention to our body language. When our words differ from our actions, children get confused.

7. Positive relationships.

Children will learn how to build relationships with family, friends, and future romantic partners based on their relationships as children. If a family hugs and freely shares their feeling, then children will be comfortable with these behaviors. If friends are treated kindly and show understanding and forgiveness, then children will be better able to adopt these traits.

8. Be humble and kind.

Teaching children about charity and kindness can help them see past their daily needs and understand more about our world and the power of working together. Children watch our daily interactions with others and we need to make sure they learn humility and politeness. Holding the door for the next person to enter a building, giving up your seat on a bus or subway car, and smiling at people you meet are all ways to show a child how to be a better person.

While it is incredibility rewarding to work with children, it also has important responsibilities including role model behaviors. As young children learn by watching others, it’s important to demonstrate the behaviors you want children to mimic and learn. If you want children to be patient, then show them how to patiently wait for an appointment to help them learn this skill. From fist pumping when our favorite football team scores a goal to calming an upset friend, children will mimic you. Take a few minutes to think about how you can use this to your (and their) advantage.

For more information about role model behaviors for childcare providers, a Professionalism course is available within the Basic Childcare Certification Program from Amslee Institute.

About the Author. Karli Ortmann is a professional nanny with over 8 years of experience and is currently earning a Master of Art in Counseling from Chicago Professional School of Psychology. Karli is also an adjunct faculty member of Amslee Institute, an organization dedicated to professional training and certification of elite Nannies, Au Pairs, Babysitters, and other childcare providers.

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