More nanny schools after scandals

April 9, 1999

Publicity surrounding cases of children who died while in the care of nannies and au pairs has led to a rapid expansion of dedicated university and college courses in the United States.

Ann Hogan, director of a programme at Middlesex Community College near Boston, said: "Parents are becoming much more demanding in who they will have coming into their homes."

Twelve colleges and universities in ten of the 50 states now offer training for nannies leading to a professional certificate or associate's degree. The programmes range in length from nine months to two years and require as much as 792 hours of supervised work with children.

At Middlesex, where the programme is in its second year, students are trained in such issues as communication, conflict resolution, child development, nutrition, communication, first aid, legal issues, ethical standards, taxes, insurance and career planning.

"There is a great demand for in-home child care, but what's happening with the in-home care industry is there aren't enough people trained in child development and how to handle emergency situations before they can work with children," said Ms Hogan.

The demand for nannies means it is difficult to persuade them to enrol in classes that meet on Saturdays, one of their two days off, at a tuition equal to ten weeks' average salary. Ms Hogan said: "What is the motivation of being trained as a nanny when so many parents want a nanny regardless of their training?" There is no requirement that nannies receive any particular training or certification, despite calls for new laws in some states.

Amy Robeck, a Middlesex student, said: "There should be laws that people aren't allowed to watch children in a home if they aren't certified in first aid and cardiopulmonary resuscitation and all the things required in the programme."

Colleges have been encouraged to add nanny programmes because they can promise virtually guaranteed employment after a brief period of training, said Joy Shelton, president of the American Council of Nanny Schools. "Parents are expecting a lot more qualifications because they understand they are responsible if they put their children in an unsafe situation.

"Every time we have a terrible scandal or a child gets hurt, you're going to see more sensitivity."

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