Morgan Tait

Morgan Tait is the NZ Herald's consumer affairs reporter.

Nannies on march into Kiwi homes

In-home childcare enjoying steady growth as subsidies cut cost and research points to benefits for tots.

The nanny industry is experiencing a growth. Photo / Thinkstock
The nanny industry is experiencing a growth. Photo / Thinkstock

Once a luxury for the rich and famous, having a nanny is becoming an affordable childcare option for New Zealand families.

Convenience, government subsidies, increased variety and research into the benefits of in-home care for young children are behind a growth in the nanny industry.

In-home childcare provider Porse said client numbers had more than doubled in the past decade, from more than 1,000 in 2003 to almost 2,050 last year.

General manager Erin Maloney said the business had a number of initiatives, including nanny-sharing between families and an internship programme, that eroded one of the biggest barriers - cost.

"It means that families can share the cost of a nanny, yet benefit from having all the benefits of a nanny in their own home," she said.

The internship programme, which already operated in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Hawkes Bay and was about to launch in Tauranga, had provided 80 families with nannies.

"We have an extra 80 families that would never have been able to consider having a nanny in their home because of affordability.

"It's also about more than affordability. The growth of the nanny role is probably due to the growth of in-home roles as more and more parents are becoming informed around the importance of relationships during those early years."

The managing director of nanny company Rock My Baby, Janine Bayley, said nannying in New Zealand was experiencing "huge growth".

"So much so that we've taken the working model from New Zealand and applied it in other countries," she said.

I think the growth comes from the convenience and that lots of families believe their children learn better within the home.

- Janine Bayley, managing director of Rock My Baby

Since 2008, the business had expanded out of Waikato to have around 1,300 nannies around New Zealand and more than 3,500 in Australia, Israel, Switzerland and the United Kingdom.

"I think the growth comes from the convenience and that lots of families believe their children learn better within the home.

"It's the big convenience of coming home and having the evening meals prepared, and children are content in their own environment."

There was also a range of nannying options available, including live-in nannies, part-time nannies and those who work alongside stay-at-home parents, she said.

Ashton Warner Nanny Academy principal Amanda Shribman said that of the 60 students who finished the course each year, more than 80 per cent were leaving with a job.

"Every week I get more phone calls asking for jobs.

"Last year was definitely slower and I have been here 15 years and the volume is definitely growing."

The calibre of nannies was also improving, with more qualified school leavers and older students who were re-entering the workforce, Mrs Shribman said.

"We deal with nanny agencies here and overseas. We deal with some quite high-profile people who don't have flexibility of working hours and with a childcare centre you have set hours where you have to be home, but nannies can work longer.

"More parents are reading the research that shows for under-3s, the home is a better place than an institution - for very young children to get that nurturing."

Mrs Shribman said nannies could be paid anywhere between $16 and $30 per hour, depending on their experience. Wages were negotiated between nannies and their clients, not usually through agencies, she said.

A government subsidy available for approved providers was also driving the growth.

A Work and Income spokesman said there was a range of support available to help people with childcare costs, depending on their circumstances.

To receive a subsidy to help with the costs of home-based care, the carer must be registered with an approved early-childhood education programme or a home-based childcare provider.

- NZ Herald

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