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Position 11: IN HOME PROVIDER NANNY/ GOVERNESS / AU PAIR (Preparation Level 1) Caring for a child or children in the family's home

Definition: A person who is employed by an individual family to care for their children in the family's home.

Knowledge, Skills and Dispositions: The in-home provider has knowledge of child development, health, safety and nutrition. The provider uses good speaking and listening skills to communicate with children and their families. The provider plans routines and activities that contribute to each child's physical, intellectual, emotional, and social well-being. Critical thinking, problem solving and techniques of child behavior management are important skills for the in-home provider. This position requires a talent for working with young children, cooperation with the family's schedules and requirements, and flexibility.

Employment Settings: The setting is the family home or in travel locations. These positions are organized according to the needs of the family and may be a daytime work schedule or it may provide living quarters for the caregiver. An in-home provider receives weekly wages and may be requested to do light housekeeping related to the children's care. This position may require live-in arrangements for twenty-four hour care needs.

Required Qualifications: The in-home provider may be required by the employer to have education or training in child development, or early childhood education. They will require references.

Preparation: A nanny is typically hired to care for infants, toddlers, and preschool-age children. The American Council of Nanny Schools accreditation has training requirements that include extensive coursework as well as a practicum. Go to (opens in a new window) for more information. A certified nanny will provide warm, consistent care, carrying out the family's plan for the child's activities.

An au pair (pronounced "oh pear") is a young adult, non-American, recruited to provide child care in exchange for a one-year cultural experience in the United States. The meaning of the French term is "on even terms" or "equal" indicates this position is more of an equal family member, assisting with family duties of caring for the children. The host family also provides for post-secondary education of the au pair. There are several agencies authorized to bring au pair students to the United States, which are regulated by the U. S. Information Agency. Au pairs usually do not have any specific training although some may have received training/education prior to entering the program.

Governess is also a term for an in-home provider, very similar to a nanny. The term is often used for a person caring or supervising older children and may also provide educational experiences such as home schooling to the children in her care. Families hiring an individual for this position usually require a higher level of education than a nanny and these positions are more frequently include a live-in arrangement, often accompanied by extensive travel with the family. Wages and benefits are negotiated between the governess and the family.

Job Outlook: Job opportunities for people wishing to become private household workers are expected to be excellent through 2008, as the demand for these services continues to far outpace the supply of workers. Those with formal training or excellent recommendations from previous employers are particularly sought after.

Earnings: Earnings of in-home child care providers depend on the number of hours worked, required responsibilities, training and prior experience, and geographic location. Earnings vary from about $10 or more in a big city to less than the Federal minimum wage (since minimum wage laws may not cover private household workers depending on number of hours worked.) Some employment opportunities exist in major metropolitan areas that may yield $800 - $1,200 per week.

Opportunity for Advancement: Usually, in-home providers are independent workers with no opportunities for advancement. In a change of settings, the experience gained may be useful along with further education to advance in the field of early care and education.

Related Careers:

Serving Children Directly – Family Child Care, Center Based Child Care.

Serving Families Directly – Referral placement services for other in home providers, temporary employment service referral agency.

Providing Information Goods and Services – Writing instructional materials for in home providers.