In general, a “share care” is any arrangement where two or more families cooperate to hire one nanny to care for the children of all the families. Typically, a nanny will require only a slightly higher hourly wage for more children. However, the cooperating families are able to split all the costs among the entire group, so all things being equal, if two families hire a single nanny, the on-going costs to each family can be cut just about in half.
In these uncertain economic times, that makes a lot of sense. The best child care providers are seasoned, experienced professionals with an established earning history, and a share care holds some potential to allow caring families to stretch their child care budgets. But these arrangements also present a number of unique issues that the participating families are wise to consider up front.
Over the next several blog entries, we will talk about some of the issues inherent in share care arrangements. For those who decide the arrangement is right for them, we will try to provide some tips and resources to help you make the arrangement work.
If there is one theme that will come through loud and clear, it is that communication is key – communication among the families, communication with the nanny, communication up front, and communication at every step along the way. So it’s no surprise that the first key to a successful share care is to make sure that all the participating families are able and comfortable talking through all the issues, some of which may end up being awkward or even contentious. At Town & Country, we are very happy to work with families who have decided to do a share care to help them find just the right caregiver. However, we have not been successful trying to match up the participating families – that is, the participating families should organize together first, and start working with an agency or otherwise finding their nanny second. We suspect that most agencies that are able to successfully find caregivers for share care families take a similar approach.
For Carrie and me, some of the issues we’ll talk about here come from personal experience. We did a share care for our first nanny, mostly for the cost savings, but also because we partnered with families that were literally “family.” This meant that our kids spent a good portion of each day with their cousins. Of course, everything changes, our needs changed, participating families came and went, and we learned a lot in the process. Hopefully we can share some of our experience with you here.
So with that introduction, to close our first post in this series, here are the main issues that we plan to discuss in upcoming posts:
-The Partnership: Choosing the families in the share care – costs, savings, complexity, how many kids?
-Making the big decisions
-Practical day-to-day issues
- Full and part-time schedules – sharing the costs fairly
- Taxed position or cash? Some practical considerations
- Whose house? Where will the Nanny take care of the kids?
- Establishing “Rules of the Road” – driving, mobility, activities and other questions
-Leaving the group, adding new members
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for our next Town & Country Blog entry.
Jens Hillen, Co-President Carrie Hillen, Co-President