Top 5 Insights from the Nanny Survey 2019

As an education leader in childcare, Amslee Institute shares key insights into the nanny profession, articulates ways nannies can advance their careers, and educates families about the childcare industry.

As an education leader in childcare, Amslee Institute shares key insights into the nanny profession, articulates ways nannies can advance their careers, and educates families about the childcare industry. To support this mission, Amslee Institute sponsored the Nanny Survey 2019. While working relationships and qualifications were identified as the top issues, nannies and family-employers also face non-traditional work environment challenges including safety, privacy, and differences in job duties and expectations.

1. Nannies tend to want (and have) a close, personal relationship with children and families, but often struggle to navigate highly personal dynamics as an employee. 56% of nannies feel their family-employer treat them as a family member while 31% view their relationship with the family-employer to be a causal or close friendship. Only 13% perceive their family-employers treat them as an employee.

Close relationships often blur the family/friend and employee boundaries, which often leads to nannies feeling taken advantage of, disrespected, and under-compensated. Aspiring to be a family member or friend stems from a nanny’s love of children and being part of their lives but may cause significant challenges. First, nannies face emotional turmoil in the work environment when oversharing or misinterpreting social conventions between family/friend and employee. Second, nannies face greater difficulty determining when it is family/friend time versus compensated hours, generating resentment with misaligned expectations. Finally, nannies are often unable to obtain equitable pay if viewed as family/friend who is just helping.

To combat this issue, it’s important for nannies to be an employee first and a friend or extended family member second. This can be hard for some but is required for the position to be viewed as a job with agreed-upon duties. Although nannies may want to be friends with an employer, it’s important to remember that employers are not obligated to be friends and that friendships can and should be found outside of the workplace.

Two teenage girls sitting on the floor in a public library reading in a book

2. Nannies and the families that employ them hold different views about what being a nanny means based on qualifications, training, and skills. In part, this is due to nannies and families holding differing views of professional qualifications which create a disconnect around compensation, benefits, and overall respect for the childcare profession.

Families often equate nannies and sitters, failing to understand the difference in childcare skills. Families viewing childcare as a supervisory position requiring little training or experience offer $8-15 an hour and are best served by sitters. Families who view in-home childcare as an extension of the child’s education and development and are willing to pay $15-30+ per hour seek nannies with these skills. These families seek a childcare provider who can invest in the social, physical, emotional and intellectual development of their children. Distinguishing the job responsibilities between child supervision and child development differentiates sitters from nannies.

The Nanny Survey 2019 found that 59% of nannies believe families seek candidates with college-level training (Childcare Diploma and Certification, Early Childhood Education Associate or Bachelor Degree). The majority of nannies report that their family-employers support continuing education or childcare training with 52% of families currently paying for training, 31% of families are willing to pay for training, and only 17% are not willing to pay for training.

Work agreements

3. Work agreements are a tool to establish professional boundaries. Nannies and family-employers have difficulty talking about work agreements and thus fail to use this tool to establish a strong employer-employee relationship. A work agreement is simply a document that provides an opportunity to discuss, align, and capture decisions for all types of job-related topics including hours, job duties, compensation, plan for sick days, and many others. Setting these expectations and clearly defining them clarifies both the nanny’s and family-employer’s responsibilities.

Every nanny job is customized to a specific family, creating different duties and levels of responsibility. Nannies sign up for childcare but less than half (48%) of nannies feel their fundamental responsibilities include housekeeping skills (such as laundry, dishwashing, vacuuming) not directly tied to childcare. Only 14% of nannies feel their responsibilities include pet care, grocery shopping or other family services.

Work agreements should be updated regularly as schedules and needs change. Nannies often struggle with expanding job responsibilities and frequently have difficulty getting compensated for additional work. Families may ask nannies to work longer hours and/or complete tasks that were not originally defined in the job description. When this occurs, a discussion between the nanny and family-employer is essential to ensure complete understanding and alignment on the scope and compensation of the job.

professional nannies

4. To be respected as a professional, nannies should ensure they behave as professionals. Knowing that some families do not view nannies as professionals, effort is required to change this paradigm. Changing the perception of nannies as non-professionals starts with how nannies view themselves and handle themselves on the job. It’s important that nannies are aware of their behavior and ensure they are role models for the children in their care. As nannies strive to teach children responsibility, respect for rules, and how to treat others, nannies must exhibit these traits. This means nannies should arrive to work on time, dress appropriately, and be polite.

Although confidentiality and non-disclosure agreements are increasingly common as a condition of employment for nannies, families without these agreements still expect a certain level of privacy. Privacy is important to family-employers and 67% of nannies would not report infidelity even with first-hand knowledge. Only 33% of nannies would confront the spouse or partner engaging in infidelity.

Hipster woman with tattoos and child

5. Most nannies feel safe working in the family-employers home but 1 out of 3 faced a workplace issue. Most nannies feel safe working in the family’s home; however, 33% of nannies report feeling unsafe on the job. Verbal or emotional abuse was the most commonly reported issue (27%), followed by being physically threatened (11%), discriminated against (11%), and sexually harassed (9%).

Nannies should protect themselves as well as protect the children. For their safety, nannies should always tell someone where they are when interviewing with a new family. It’s also important nannies tell someone where they will be working, the hours, and how the nanny can be reached in the event of an emergency. It’s easy to rely on cell phones but nannies shouldn’t be isolated if their cell phone isn’t available. This is one reason nannies should memorize an emergency contact number.

It’s important that nannies establish boundaries, not only to be viewed as an employee first but also to ensure nannies are comfortable with tasks assigned. If a nanny is not comfortable, they should put their safety first and not hesitate to report anything that seems suspicious or is inappropriate.

To learn more about these topics and other issues facing nannies, read Amslee Institute’s Nanny Survey 2019 results. For additional information, please contact

4 Child Development Theories That Can Help You Better Care for Children

A few recognized theories can provide useful insights on early development that will help you better care for children.

Have you ever wondered what motivates thoughts and behaviors in children? Our understanding of human nature and child development is continually advancing but all children are different, and no one has all the answers. However, a few recognized theories can provide useful insights on early development that will help you better care for children.

woman with babyDuring our early years of infancy through childhood, we develop the basis of our intelligence, personality, social behavior, and capacity to learn. Four theories are worth reviewing and include attachment, psychosocial, cognitive development, and sociocultural theory.

1. Attachment Theory (Bowlby): This theory centers around strong emotional and physical bonds that create a sense of security in a child. Bonds are established with caregivers who are available and responsive to an infant’s needs. Thus, the infant knows the caregiver is dependable, which creates a secure base for the child to explore their surroundings.

Example: Six-month-old Jordan enjoys infant toys and interacting with others. Confident that crying brings help, Jordan responds to anyone and gets upset when someone stops interacting with him.

2. PsychoSocial Development Theory (Erikson): In this theory, social development occurs in stages based on turning points in a person’s life including hope (birth to age 2), will (ages 2-4), purpose (ages 4-5), competence (ages 5-12), fidelity (ages 13-19), love (ages 20-39), care (ages 40-64), and wisdom (ages 65+).

older woman reading to children

Example: Two-year-old Jennifer has recently begun squirming and saying “no” when her Nanny tries to secure her in her car seat. Jennifer has begun to develop a sense of self, separate from her caregivers. Her Nanny must consistently set limits and follow through with Jennifer, to keep her safe and secure while riding in the car. The Nanny can increase Jennifer’s willingness to comply by providing specific praise along with allowing Jennifer to pick a special toy to hold whenever she gets into her car seat without resistance. Selecting her own clothes will also help Jennifer gain more independence.

3. Cognitive Developmental Theory (Piaget): This theory is based on a four-stage model describing how the mind processes new information. The stages are sensorimotor (birth to age 2), preoperational (ages 2-7), concrete operational (ages 7-11), and formal operations (ages 12+).

Example: Five-year-old Zachary is still egocentric and struggles to see the perspective of others but is starting to think symbolically and use words to represent objects. Zachary loves reading and is building a foundation of language. At this stage, caregivers should continue to read books daily, encourage pretend play, share logical thinking. By explaining that it’s wintertime as grandma’s house and thus, a coat is needed will help Zachary, who lives in Texas, understand why a coat is being packed in the suitcase.

child holding puzzle piece

4. Sociocultural Theory (Vygotsky): This developmental theory evolves from children’s interactions with tools and other people in their social environment. Community, culture, and interactions are key to child development and learning.

Example: Seven-year-old Alex is struggling to solve a jigsaw puzzle. By interacting with an adult, Alex learns how to separate out the edge pieces, put together the border, and sort the interior pieces by color or design. By working with an adult, Alex develops skills that can be applied to future jigsaw puzzles.

There are other childhood theories that can help parents and other caregivers by teaching them how to spend more enjoyable time with their child, reinforce positive skills, monitor behavior and set limits, and reduce the use of harsh discipline methods. These essential caregiving skills help children develop pro-social behavior, self-regulation, and other skills they need to be successful in school and at home.

For more information about caring for children, a Theories of Child Development course is available within the Professional Childcare Certification Program from Amslee Institute.

Dr. Alaina DesjardinAbout the Author. Dr. Alaina Desjardin earned her Doctorate in Business Administration from Northcentral University, Masters in Public Administration from Ashford University, Master of Arts in Teaching and Special Education from New Jersey City University and Master of Urban Education from New Jersey City University. Dr. Desjardin is licensed in New Jersey as an Educational Principal, Education Supervisor, and Certified Teacher. Dr. Desjardin is also an adjunct faculty member of Amslee Institute, an organization dedicated to professional training and certification of elite Nannies, Au Pairs, Babysitters, and other childcare providers.

5 Questions to Ask Your Nanny

How can you learn their strengths and get insights that help you feel more confident they are the right person to care for your children?

young girl playing with dr toysWhen hiring a Nanny, you know the basic requirements and ask about their experiences. Hearing stories about how they interact with children and what ages they have cared for is a great way to learn about their skills. But how can you learn their strengths and get insights that help you feel more confident they are the right person to care for your children? Here are 5 questions to help.

1. Tell me about a time you had to handle an emergency. With this question, you can learn about a Nanny’s ability to manage the unexpected. If they’ve never been in an emergency, then it’s likely they are early in their career and you should be accessible while they care for your kids. If they can share an emergency experience and communicate they handled it as well as can be expected, they may be ready to care for your children when you are out of town.

2. Are you willing to get a flu shot? Vaccinations benefit the young and elderly as they are most at risk to have serious consequences if they get ill. According to Time, at least 30 children have died from this season’s flu ( A flu shot may not benefit a healthy adult as much, but a Nanny’s willingness to get vaccinated to reduce exposure to the children in their care is an important insight.

3. Do you have any pictures of the children you have cared for on your social media? Ideally, the answer is No to protect the privacy of the children. Only the family should post photos of their children. However, if the Nanny pulls out their phone and shows you photos, ask them if they have received the parents or guardians’ permission prior to posting. Some families may be comfortable with the Nanny sharing photos.

4. What training and certifications have you completed? An investment to develop professionally can identify those committed to providing the highest level of childcare. CPR and First Aid certification is often a requirement with an Amslee® Certification and lifeguard training as highly desired.

girls playing in sand5. Tell me about a time a child wouldn’t listen to you. What was the situation and how did you respond? With this question, you can get a better idea of how a Nanny manages stress and their approach to discipline. Did they send the child to their room for a time out; did they take a different approach and offer a reward; or did they delay and leave the matter for the parents? There is no right answer to this question, just make sure the response is appropriate and that it would be consistent with how the child is managed by others including the parents, daycare workers, and/or teachers at school.

These questions are designed to gain insights into a Nanny’s approach and perspectives when caring for children. After asking the standard interview questions and these 5 specific questions, you may be ready to hire a Nanny. To help, Amslee Institute offers a free online class on Nanny Employment Contracts (Work Agreements) with templates you can download and modify to fit your position. These resources can be found at

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