PART 2: Teachers now Nannies

e, December 9, 2011. Simanskey, who has a Master’s degree in education, runs a daycare out of her home. (Keri Wiginton/Chicago Tribune/MCT)

A nanny typically cares for children at a family’s home, full time or part time.
The allure of the job is sweetened by a nanny’s earning potential. While nannies typically are paid $10 to $15 per hour to watch one child, those with teaching experience generally are offered $15 to $20.

By comparison, starting salaries for Illinois teachers with bachelor’s degrees were $23,042 to $54,747 during the last school year, according to the Illinois State Board of Education. That works out to a range of about $11 to $26 per hour.

In the hunt for the right nanny, families have split or paid the cost of health care, said Erin Krex, owner of First Class Care domestic placement agency in Chicago.

“I think that the teachers sometimes go into it as, ‘I’ll do this for a year and then I’ll go back into the classrooms,’ ” Krex said. “But then they actually stay way longer than they think they will.”

Because of this reality, some career nannies are frustrated with the presence of teachers in the industry, arguing that they’re taking all the good jobs with no promise of longevity, said Walker of SitterWorks.com.

“They were just very frustrated and thought that if they had 20 years of experience but they didn’t have a degree, they were being overlooked,” Walker said.

Some families who hire teachers as nannies worry the placements will last only as long as teaching positions are hard to find.

They often are concerned that if they bring on a nanny, it will be only a one-year-solution to their child-care needs, Krex said.

“The teachers, you always kind of have in the back of your mind, are they going to want to get back in the classroom?” she said.

That isn’t a concern of Heather Chase, 35, who was happy when she found Care in the Square, a home day care run by a former teacher in Chicago.

At the day care, her 2 1/2-year-old daughter, Amelia, has her day broken up into blocks of time, or “classes,” for such subjects as art and music.

Chase said she’s amazed that her daughter comes home each day pointing out letters of the alphabet, singing new songs and counting up to higher numbers.
“If someone has a background in childhood psychology or education, why would you not want to take advantage of that?” said Chase, adding that she and her husband also employ a high school teacher as an occasional baby sitter during the summer.

“Now that we know the market is out there, we’ll kind of always look for that,” Chase said.

The teacher, Sarah Simanskey, opened the day care 18 months ago while finishing her master’s degree in education at DePaul University.

Pregnant as she searched for jobs after graduation, Simanskey quickly realized that if she went back to work, she would pay more for her child’s day care than she would earn as a teacher, she said.

She charges $320 to $350 a week for children who attend full time; $85 to $90 a day for part time.

Simanskey said she believes she is helping educate the children she works with and doesn’t believe that she has made a choice between teaching or not teaching.

“I’m just teaching in a different way,” she said.