August is a busy time as parents work to secure an after-school care for the coming year. The scarcity of after-school care options is a major issue that deserves discussion on multiple fronts. In this article, we focus on the decision to hire a part-time after-school nanny.

For parents sourcing a nanny on their own without an agency, finding a part-time afternoon nanny is often where frustration levels soar. Many parents express that applicants for these part-time roles seem to be among the most inconsistent or unreliable, turning the search into an ordeal. If you’re considering an after-school nanny for your family, here are 10 valuable tips to help:

1. Set your budget for a part-time nanny. This will determine the experience level of the nanny you hire. After-school positions less than 10 hours per week are often ideal for college students. These caregivers are at the start of their working life and earn a more entry-level wage. In the Boulder, CO, area, college student typically charge between $23 and $26 per hour. For comparison, in 2023, McDonald’s in Boulder started entry-level workers around $20 per hour for a fast-food position with no prior experience.

Typically, highly experienced nannies’ rates range between $29 and $35 per hour for very part-time commitments. This helps them to ensure that the part-time commitment makes financial sense overall. Meanwhile, parents often think of the after-school time block from 3 to 6 pm as “a quick, easy job” and conclude that a lower rate would make sense. From the parent’s perspective, this after-school gig is pretty easy and the nanny has other hours of the day to earn more elsewhere. They don’t realize that an experienced nanny’s time has a baseline value, regardless of the job’s level of difficulty. As well, driving someone else’s child is actually a heavy responsibility.

Bear in mind that high school and younger college students most likely have a few years of experience as neighborhood sitters, and may have no experience with driving children. They will require more guidance and training from you, but it can be a rewarding experience.

2. Connect with parents at your child’s school to combine a nanny position. You will struggle to find a nanny for 10 hours or less per week. Teaming up with another parent improves your chances by enabling you to offer higher wages for the limited hours you both need, or to offer one nanny more hours per week. Example: you need two days per week and another parent needs two different days per week.

3. Use a payroll provider, and speak with your accountant about the right way to pay a nanny. Many parents come to my agency with misconceptions about pay because they know other parents who pay their after-school nanny by Venmo or cash every Friday. Naturally, they approach my agency with the hope that we can facilitate this and connect them with someone for the same type of arrangement. As a staffing agency registered with the state, we provide parents and nannies with the facts. Parents are often surprised to learn that, in most cases, hiring an after-school nanny classifies them as an employer according to state and federal regulations. This entails employer taxes, legal payroll, and offering paid sick leave mandated by our state. Nannies receive a W-2 and cannot receive a 1099.

You may think that using payroll for an after-school nanny sounds heavy-handed. Consider, however, that over the course of a school year a nanny working 15 hours per week for your family, at a rate of $25 per hour, will earn nearly $15,000.00. Use of a payroll and a W-2 also communicates that this a legitimate job and you will attract better candidates.

Although all of this may sound daunting or expensive, there are very economically priced payroll companies which specialize in nanny payroll and can provide a low-stress experience. These include Poppins Payroll, GTM, or Homework Solutions, to name a few.

Nannies often don’t know that receiving weekly untaxed pay through Venmo or in cash can result in doubling their taxes owed at tax season. This happens because their employer, the parents, did not pay their portion of employer taxes. Nannies can take parents to court to recover this money. If you’re thinking, “My nanny would never do that,” please reconsider. It’s more common than you think, especially if your nanny does the math and realizes how much extra they’ll pay at tax season. Parents who think that nanny taxes and payroll sound like a hassle should contemplate the alternative: facing small claims court proceedings or an IRS audit.

4. Make a call to your state’s Department of Labor before you hire your nanny. While informal payment arrangements may work for some, it’s important to understand that having an after-school nanny does make you an employer. Gather information about your rights and responsibilities as an employer. I recommend that parents take this step seriously. Legal responsibility remains with you as the employer, even if you or your nanny were unaware of specific regulations. Your legal obligations as the employer are not waived even if your nanny explicitly requested exceptions to the laws, such as asking to be paid “under the table.”

Nannies who join my agency are often surprised to learn of that they are eligible for state-mandated employee benefits like accrued sick leave and family leave. During the COVID-19 pandemic, I encountered many nannies who were completely unaware of our state mandate guaranteeing them two weeks of paid leave for pandemic-related work absences.

5. Start with a job post that includes necessary details and is written with professionalism. You’d be shocked by the volume of grossly unprofessional job posts that nannies encounter, with rude details such as, “lazy people need not apply,” and “must have common sense.” Many posts include discriminatory requirements such as, “looking for someone in their 20s,” and, “no overweight applicants.” I have seen a lot of inhumane expectations, such as, “Not interested in a nanny who is pregnant,” and, “We need a nanny who will never call out sick.” Can you imagine applying to jobs in your career field and seeing statements like these?

You can attract better candidates with a posting that clearly lists job duties, schedule, pay, and benefits. Most good nannies scroll past listings that don’t include pay range, as they reasonably assume that pay is probably low. Would you spend time applying for a job that didn’t list any pay range at all? Would you be interested in a posting with vague statements like, “benefits available for the right person?” Probably not.

As you consider the qualifications your nanny should have, also consider what you bring to the table as an employer. Include this in your job posting. Examples include a supportive and respectful work environment, benefits, guaranteed hours, meals or snacks available during the nanny’s shift, a cell phone stipend towards use of their phone for work, use of the family’s gym membership, and so on. By taking this balanced approach you will attract responsible applicants who value a respectful working relationship.

Finally, avoid writing phrases like, “We’re looking for someone who will love our kids as much as we do,” “We’re looking for someone to become like family,” or, “Looking for a unicorn nanny!” …Why? These phrases are red flags. They attract unstable applicants who lack boundaries, and they repel candidates who have professional boundaries and a healthy sense of self-respect. There’s no question that your nanny will have love for your kids, but becoming like family happens organically over time. You can’t screen for that in a job interview. Looking for that magical connection distracts you from asking pertinent questions and hiring the best person for the job.

6. Use correct industry terminology to recruit the type of worker you need. Terminology is understandably confusing for parents because, of course, only people working in the childcare industry will be fully versed in this terminology. A person who comes to your home every week on a set schedule is a nanny. They are not an after-school sitter or a “consistent sitter.” The term nanny indicates a recurring position with a set schedule. It holds higher expectations regarding reliability and experience. The terms babysitter and sitter denote more occasional or casual work. The most common misnomer I see is “consistent sitter” used to describe a nanny who comes every week.

7. Guarantee hours. Guaranteeing hours means that your nanny has the financial stability of receiving the same paycheck every week even if there are days when you do not need their services. This covers events such as grandparents visiting or your family vacationing during Spring Break. If you leave early Friday morning for a holiday weekend, pay your nanny for the day. Lack of guaranteed hours is one of the leading reasons why nannies have to resign from part-time positions. Another leading reason is when a parent attempts to fill those hours with tasks unrelated to the nanny’s scope. I have spoken with after-school nannies who, went grandparents visited and took the kids, were asked to do chores completely unrelated to their job scope, such as to wash windows, take the dog to the groomer, detail the car, paint a room, and even weed flower beds. This undermines the professional nature of their role and erodes the working relationship. Think about it: Would you ask your housekeeping service to go rake the backyard? Would you ask the lawn service to come vacuum your living room? You wouldn’t, because these tasks are not within the scope of their profession.

8. Offer benefits commensurate with a part-time position. Offering sick leave and PTO communicates that you are a dependable employer seeking a dependable employee, and that this is a legitimate and important job. Example of part-time employee benefits: if your nanny works Monday through Friday from 3 to 6 pm or 15 hours per week, provide them with 30 hours of PTO if they will be with your family for one year. This is equivalent to two standard workweeks. Prorate the amount to one week of PTO if they will work with your family for less than one calendar year. For after-school nannies, paid time off can often align with your family’s time off around the winter holidays.

Your state’s Department of Labor can tell you about the benefits required for hourly workers in your state. In Colorado, the state where my agency operates, hourly employees are required to accumulate a minimum of 1 hour of paid sick leave for every 30 hours worked. To enhance your appeal as an employer, offer a predetermined number of sick days instead. It could take a long time for your part-time employee to accumulate even one day of sick leave, based on this 1-hour-per-30-hours-worked formula. Offering a day of sick leave upfront demonstrates your concern for the well-being of your valuable employee. Be sure that the amount of sick days you offer are at least equivalent to your state’s minimum requirements.

8. if your nanny uses their own car for the job, address car cleaning and gas. Offer a family vehicle for the nanny to drive the children, if possible. If this is not possible, include some car cleaning in your nanny’s benefits. The majority of after-school care providers would be happy to use a family vehicle rather than incur wear and tear of transporting children in their own vehicle. A nanny using their own vehicle for transporting children will need have their vehicle thoroughly cleaned at least twice per year. In some cases, especially with active children who play outdoor sports, it is best to have the vehicle cleaned quarterly. The wear and tear from young passengers inevitably leaves its mark over time through scattered bits of snacks, water spots from tumbling water bottles, grass and dirt from soccer cleats, paper remnants from peeled crayon wrappers, and small dusty footprints imprinted on the backs of the seats.

Provide gas mileage reimbursement if your nanny uses their own vehicle to transport your children or run family errands. Across the vast majority of industries, it is standard practice for employees to receive gas mileage reimbursement when they use their personal vehicles for employer business. The nanny industry lags behind. A straight forward solution for parents is to utilize the IRS gas reimbursement rate. As of 2024, the current rate stands at 67 cents per mile.

9. Provide safety products used for children’s transport. Provide and install the carseats if they’re needed. Provide backseat mirrors or booster seats, if age-appropriate. Driving is a routine activity and it’s easy to lose sight of how inherently dangerous driving actually is. Simply put, driving is probably the most dangerous task your nanny will perform.

I recommend that parents install the car seat into their nanny’s car. At my agency, it is a requirement. This guarantees that the car seat is correctly installed according to the parents’ standards, leaving no room for doubt. If the nanny will be responsible for taking a baby with them to school pickups, buy a backseat mirror for their car. This allows them to keep an eye on your baby while driving, even for short distances.

If school is within walking distance with access to safe sidewalks and crosswalks, opting for walking when possible is often the safest choice.

10. Use a written contract. It surprises me how often parents enter into childcare arrangements based solely on verbal agreements, despite the fact that parents rely heavily on childcare in order to keep their own jobs! If your nanny is reluctant to use a written contract, it typically indicates one of two things: they are relatively new to nannying or unfamiliar with this industry standard, or they don’t want to create written proof of their employment and earnings.

You can download a decent nanny contract online and, with a few days of effort and research, edit it into a suitable contract. At the minimum, your contract should include:

  • the start and end date (or contract renewal date) for the position
  • expected daily duties
  • benefits
  • rate of pay and designated payday, overtime pay rate, process for correctly using PTO, calling out sick, and giving notice if leaving
  • names and ages of children who require care
  • expectations around care of sick children
  • car insurance requirements if driving is one of the nanny’s job duties

If you choose to work with a childcare agency, they should be able to provide a very comprehensive contract tailored to your family’s needs.

An employment contract is a legally binding document. I strongly recommend that parents have an attorney review the document for accuracy and compliance.

The bustling back-to-school month of August spotlights the challenges of hiring an after-school nanny, and the role of parents as employers. I hope that this article provides practical insights. By approaching hiring a part-time afternoon nanny with this knowledge, you can greatly increase your chances of securing a great childcare arrangement that mutually benefits everyone involved.