Child Care Worker, Private

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Child Care Worker, Private

Education and Training: None

Salary: Median—$8.06 per hour

Employment Outlook: Good

Definition and Nature of the Work

Child care workers look after young children. Those who care for children on a short-term or part-time basis are sometimes called babysitters. Child care workers who live in the family's home and work full time are called nannies. In family day care, children from different families are cared for in the child care workers' homes or in day care centers.

The duties of child care workers are many and varied. They may prepare, serve, and feed meals to the children. They may bathe and dress the children or help them bathe and dress themselves. In some cases they do the laundry or tidy the children's rooms. Child care workers may take the children for walks, play games with them, or entertain them in other ways. They keep a watchful eye while the children are playing to make sure they are safe.

Family day care workers who use their own homes must make initial expenditures for toys, outdoor equipment, first aid kits, extra toilets, and furniture. They must be aware of state regulations for the sanitation, safety, and health of the children. For example, these regulations call for smoke detectors on each floor and for electrical outlets to be covered.

Education and Training Requirements

Entry-level positions for child care workers usually require little or no experience. Although employers have no specific educational requirements, some prefer applicants with a high school diploma.

High school students who plan to work with small children should take courses in psychology, family and consumer science, nutrition, art, drama, and physical education. Local babysitting jobs and summer camp counseling provide valuable experience.

Formal training or certification is recommended for those who wish to advance. Many two- and four-year colleges offer certificate and associate degree programs in child care and guidance.

Getting the Job

Prospective child care workers can get a job by registering with an employment agency that specializes in placing child care workers. Candidates can go to local nursery schools to see if they need help, and they can check the classified ads in the newspaper and job banks on the Internet.

Many states and counties have their own family day care referral offices through which day care providers and parents can contact each other. For addresses of these offices, look up your local social services department in the phone book.

Advancement Possibilities and Employment Outlook

Some child care workers go into business for themselves by starting babysitting agencies. With some additional training, they may transfer to work in a nursery school or as teachers' aides in elementary schools.

As fast as average growth in job opportunities for child care workers is expected through the year 2014. Many openings will arise from the need to replace the high proportion of child care workers who leave this occupation every year. Family day care is also expanding as social service agencies recognize and coordinate day care provision.

Working Conditions

There are a wide variety of working conditions when child care workers babysit in the homes of their employers. Hours are usually irregular and often include evenings and weekends. Many work part time. On the other hand, family day care workers create their own work environment because they work at home. However, they may find the child care intrusive if the home is small.

Child care workers must be able to deal with the demands of children patiently and firmly. They may confront parents with attitudes that are different from their own. They should also be able to handle emergencies.

Where to Go for More Information

National Association for the Education of Young Children
1509 16th St. NW
Washington, DC 20036
(800) 424-2460

National Association for Family Child Care
5202 Pinemont Dr.
Salt Lake City, UT 84123
(800) 359-3817

National Child Care Association
2025 M St. NW, Ste. 800
Washington, DC 20036-3309
(800) 543-7161

Earnings and Benefits

Wages of child care workers can vary depending on their location and the situation in which they work. The median hourly wage is $8.06, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The lowest wages are usually earned by babysitters. Self-employed child care workers must provide their own health insurance.