Nanny Rights and Responsibilities

FACT: Training and education of caregivers is one of the most important factors associated with the quality of the child care they provide. This is especially true of caregivers who are not associated with a professional organization like NAEYC (National Association for the Education of Young Children).

Take a minute to really think about that. It’s pretty amazing that investing a couple of hours a few times each year can have such a powerful effect on how well a nanny does her job. It’s also pretty amazing, in a shameful way, that we as an industry haven’t demanded that basic and ongoing training be a requirement for working as a nanny. We’re the only segment of the greater childcare industry that hasn’t stepped up and set standards for our caregivers.

The ongoing conversation about domestic workers rights keeps bringing me back to the idea that yes, we have rights but we also have responsibilities. We should expect fair and legal treatment from employers but they should expect us to put in the time and effort it takes to be a quality provider. I can almost hear the chorus of “You can’t teach a person to love a child!” out there. And of course that’s true. But we’re not getting paid to love a child. We’re getting paid to provide quality childcare. And yes, there is a difference. Ask any nanny who’s left a job and had to explain to a child that although she won’t be taking care of her anymore, she will love her forever.

So while we’re out there fighting for our rights, let’s start accepting our responsibilities. Agencies, start requiring the nannies you place to have a solid childcare knowledge foundation and start offering and requiring regular ongoing training. Online sites, start educating parents that training is a critical part of the qualifications puzzle and start offering training opportunities. Organizations, both nanny and domestic worker, start offering trainings in formats that support and help your particular members. And please don’t use language, education level, time, or cost as a reason not to do it. In every state across the country caregivers working in other settings, from every ethnic background, with a wide variety of written and verbal skills, who are busy and can’t afford a whole lot, are taking training. If they can do it, we can too.  Parents, start hiring nannies that have passed a basic childcare training course and are committed to continuing education. Then invest $100 or $150 a year to pay for it. Nannies, get trained. Attend classes through your local nanny agency, resource and referral agency, community college, favorite online site, conference, whatever. Just do it. We can’t keep proclaiming we’re committed to children or demanding to be viewed as professionals or raging against unfair treatment if we’re not willing to step up and do our part.

Remember training doesn’t have to be at a college level or take months to complete or be really expensive. Two classes on a Saturday morning with a fun and engaging trainer and other caregivers who really understand what’s it’s like to be a nanny can make a big difference.

To support this goal, I’m organizing a National Nanny Training Day. It will be an annual event on the last day (Saturday) of NAEYC’s Week of the Young Child. This year’s that’s April 28th, 2012. My goal is to get businesses, support groups and individuals to come together and plan a training event open to all in-home caregivers in their local communities or regional areas. By working together we’ll increase the visibility of the event, make new connections in our local areas and promote quality nanny care and the important role training plays in the big picture. This ties in perfectly with The Week of the Young Child’s purpose to “focus public attention on the needs of young children and their families and to recognize the early childhood programs and services that meet those needs.” WOYC already draws national media attention so this a great event and organization to hitch our wagon to.

Don’t know about The Week of the Young Child? It’s is an annual celebration sponsored by the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), the world’s largest early childhood education association, with nearly 80,000 members and a network of over 300 local, state, and regional Affiliates.

NAEYC first established the Week of the Young Child in 1971, recognizing that the early childhood years lay the foundation for children’s success in school and later life. The Week of the Young Child is a time to plan how we – as citizens of a community, of a state, and of a nation – will better meet the needs of all young children and their families.

If you want to be involved with an event, please let me know. The official planning won’t start until after the first of the year but it REALLY helps when I know what cities are in. I’ve created a new facebook group and email list to get us connected.

As always, if you have any questions please email me. I’m excited about this new project and I think it can lead to some great things.

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