Recruitment services are experiencing increased interest from working parents looking to hire nannies after a Productivity Commission report released last year recommended they be eligible for Federal Government subsidies.

The commission’s Childcare and Early Learning report found families were struggling to find flexible and affordable childcare to meet their domestic and workforce needs. It recommended the subsidy be made to informal carers, including grandparents.

Perth Nanny Network director Amanda Spencer-Teo said demand for nannies had increased rapidly over the past six months and the commission’s report had only added to the level of inquiry the agency was receiving.

“Mortgages are increasing and more families are finding that both parents need to work to get by, ” Ms Spencer-Teo said. “Daycare is not for everybody and places on the days parents need are hard to come by. Many parents will work until 7pm — there are not many long daycare centres that will cater for after-hours care.

“Our clients are predominantly professionals — lawyers, doctors and directors — who require flexibility from their carers, and many of our nannies also like the flexibility involved.”

Ms Spencer-Teo said she was placing three to five new nannies every week, doubling the number of placements she was making three months ago. Casual, part-time and full-time nannies were required.

Enquiries were also coming in from workers of all ages and she was looking to bring new business partners on board to service the needs of new clients.

Nannies, unlike au pairs, generally did not live with the family but cared for children within the family home, Ms Spencer-Teo said.

Australian Nanny Association president Danielle Robertson said the demand for nannies was expected to grow as shift workers, paramedics, nurses and defence force personnel were all looking for flexible childcare arrangements.

Mature workers over the age of 45, younger workers in their 20s and qualified childcare workers were all looking at becoming nannies as work was increasingly hard to find.

“There is a growing acceptance that nannies are not just for the rich — working parents are finding that quality childcare options are dwindling and the flexibility of having one dedicated carer looking after their children in their own home is becoming more attractive, ” Ms Robertson said. “A great majority are coming from care industries — nurses, teachers and childcare workers who want to continue to make a difference in the lives of families.”

An estimated 45,300 Australian families use nannies, according to the Productivity Commission. The ANA estimates there are 30,000 nannies working across the country. It’s unknown how many are employed in “cash-in-hand” arrangements.

Ms Robertson said anyone considering nanny work should look carefully at their options. It was important to remember that registering with an agency allowed workers to qualify for mortgages and car loans. Those who were working for cash payment would find it more difficult to secure their economic future, she said.

Most nanny agencies would require a working with children check, police clearance and a first-aid certificate. Professional qualifications were always an advantage.

Kelsey Hutchinson, 27, became a full-time nanny four years ago after working in the childcare sector. She said working with a family was a much more personal way of caring for children and was very rewarding.

“People who are keen to stay working with children should give it a shot, ” Ms Hutchinson said. “It’s a comfortable arrangement because the children are happy in their own home and there is a lot of flexibility involved for both the nanny and the family.”


© The West Australian

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