How to find another family

If you don't know another family who might want to share child care, you can use many of the same ideas and suggestions in this guide for recruiting a caregiver to help find another family. You might also want to look in:

pediatrician's or doctor's offices childbirth classes community centers gyms, YMCAs or YWCAs small play groups or library story hours children's stores and grocery stores or food co-ops parent's papers parks

Here are some questions to ask yourself and the other family to help all of you decide if sharing a caregiver will work.

Ages of the children. Are you looking for playmates who are the same age as your children? Would you consider sharing a caregiver with another family whose children are different ages than yours?

Schedules and fees. What if the other family's schedule is different from yours? How will you divide the hours and split the salary? (For example, what if you need care for only 20 hours, and the other family needs care for 40 hours?) Does one family pay more since the other family is providing the house and, probably, the food?

Salary, raises, and bonuses. What can each family afford? Timing for performance reviews and increases for raises should also be discussed before you hire a caregiver. Will you offer sick and vacation days? What about health insurance?

Geographic area and location. Although you might want care in your home, would you be willing to have it in another family's home? Would you be willing to switch on and off (for example, one month at your home and one month at the other family's)? If you are considering care in another person's home, you may be able to broaden your search to include the area near your work.

Number of children in care. How many children would you like in care? Will salaries and fees be divided differently between the families depending on who has more children? What are the state regulations for this type of care?

Communication. Working with a caregiver and another family requires putting a lot of effort into communication. Are you willing to take the time to make sure this works? If not, you may risk losing the caregiver and your relationship with the other family.

Group meetings. When will you set time aside to talk about the situation and the performance of the caregiver? Will everyone meet at the same time? Or will each family meet separately with the caregiver? What about the families meeting together without the caregiver?

Contact person. Who will the caregiver go to with problems? It is generally advisable for the caregiver to speak with one person, instead of several. This also allows both families to discuss the issue and agree on one response.

Caregiver qualities. What kind of caregiver do you want? Are you looking for someone with a background similar to yours? Or someone who has some diversity to offer? Does the other family share your preferences? Will you be flexible and bend to meet another family's set of requirements?

Job responsibilities. What does each family expect from the caregiver? (For instance, what if you want her to do some light housecleaning and the other family prefers that she does child care only?) What tasks need to be accomplished? How does the other family feel about defining duties? One good way to decide on job responsibilities is to have one adult from each family spend a day caring for the combined group of children. Having a realistic picture of the caregiver's day will help both families set reasonable expectations for the job. The checklist on page 18 can be starting point for discussing what responsibilities should be part of the job and how they might be divided between households.

Sick care. Will one parent stay home from work if the caregiver is ill? If one child is sick and not there, will the family still need to pay their share for that day? Where does the nanny go if one child is sick (to the sick child's home or the well child's)?

Liability. What if someone gets hurt? How would you handle damage in the home (for example, crayons on the wall, broken vases), especially when it could be difficult to determine who actually was responsible for the damage? What areas of the home are off-limits?

Environment. Visit each other's homes before deciding on sharing a caregiver. This will help you and the other family set limits and boundaries in both homes.

Meals and activities. How will the costs be divided? What will the lunch schedule be like? Will the child who does not live there bring his lunch, or pay for it?

Transportation issues. Will the nanny be responsible for any transportation? If so, whose car will she use? Does the other family feel comfortable with this? Will the nanny need to use her own car? Who will reimburse her?

Childrearing issues. You and the other family will want to discuss what is acceptable behavior at both homes. This might include discussions about toilet training, age-appropriate activities (such as how much TV, if any), meals (do the children clean their plates?), and disciplinary issues (limit setting, biting, etc.).

Equipment. Be sure to discuss the equipment needed in the homes (cribs, highchair, etc.). This can be especially important when a nanny is caring for two infants. (For instance, you and the other family may want to invest in a double stroller.)

You'll find a sample nanny-sharing ad on page 28 of this guide. If you'd like help working out a job description or writing an ad, or if you need information on agencies in your area that may place caregivers in shared situations call the program that sent you this booklet.

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