March 26, 2013: San Francisco came in as the most expensive city for hiring a babysitter at $14 per hour for one child. A nanny, who usually watches a child daily, is more expensive at $15.50 an hour. (These numbers are based on averages for the entire Bay Area so while parents might be paying $20 an hour for a nanny in San Francisco they might be paying $12 or $13 an hour in the suburbs.)
Amy Graff, who writes "The Mommy Files" blog for SFGate, read these figures from the second annual survey of national babysitting rates conduced by UrbanSitter, an on-line babysitting source -- and Graff decided to ask Bay Area parents about their experiences. She e-mailed a San Francisco Yahoo parenting group.
...I heard from over 30 different parents and while everyone had varying opinions on whether the rates are too high, nobody seemed surprised that San Francisco is higher than New York. Also, everyone agreed that for the actual city of San Francisco $14 an hour is low. The parents I heard from are paying anywhere from $15 to $22 for one child and $18 to as much as $30 for two or more....To reduce the cost of hiring a nanny, many parents are doing nanny shares, where two or three families hire one person to care for their kids. Instead of paying $20 an hour, you might pay $15 or even as little as $10 an hour.
Nanny shares? Giuliana Halasz, at left, president of PACEAPP, the Alternative Payment Program of the Professional Association for Childhood Education, a San-Francisco-based administrator of state-subsidized childcare, says, "One nanny taking care of two or three children sounds like a family day care home, without the license. These parents choose to turn down child care centers, for the convenience or because of the cost, and bring the nanny into the home. It's a choice."
Interestingly, Halasz notes, "It's all in the branding. When it's middle- or upper-middle-class parents making the choice for what is essentially, in the child care business, exempt care, then, fine. When it's CalWORKs parents, working class families, then everyone is concerned about 'quality.' These parents are making choices in the same way as parents in lower income families -- there's no discussion [in the SFGate article] about early education, about the child being mentally stimulated, it's strictly child care. It's not babysitting, not the occasional movie -- it's having someone full-time watching, and that's their word 'watching,' not 'educating,' the child.
"We who are advocates and professionals in early education in California are not as concerned about the formal description of a setting in which a child spends his or her day -- whether it's in a preschool, a childcare center, or in a home -- we are interested in the bottom line, which is: While the parent earns, the child learns."