Once upon a time, nannies were considered an extravagance of the well-to-do metropolitan family. There is, however, a sharply increasing rate of nannies in rural and farming communities. Here are ten of the reasons why more rural families are engaging live-in childcare providers and an increased rate.
- Difficulty of Locating Local Babysitters – The stereotypical neighborhood babysitter is a suburban teenage girl who lives just down the street. In rural communities where houses may be separated by miles, it’s a bit more difficult for parents to find adequate and reliable childcare.
- Loss of Family-Based Care – The majority of rural parents rely upon unpaid or low-cost family-based childcare, with extended family members shouldering the burden of childminding while parents are employed outside the home. While family-based care is still the primary means of childcare in rural communities, the number of parents relying on such care has dropped in many areas.
- Lack of Access to Center-Based Care – Accessibility to quality center-based care in rural areas can be severely limited, with the majority of rural centers catering mainly to government-subsidized care. This difficulty in securing high-quality center based care in a rural or secluded community can inspire parents to engage live-in help as a more palatable alternative.
- High Transportation Costs – As fuel prices rise, families who live in truly remote areas may find that it’s more cost-effective to employ a full-time live-in nanny than it is to transport their children to the nearest daycare center.
- Less Stringent Childcare Regulations – Betty A. Beach’s Perspectives of Rural Child Care claims that rural states provide less oversight and more lenient regulation of childcare than their urban counterparts, with workers and teachers in rural daycare centers averaging fewer years of education. Concerns that their children’s developmental and educational needs may not be met is a strong motivator for hiring a full-time nanny.
- Increasing Number of Two-Working-Parent Households – The Carsey Institute revealed that rural mothers with children under the age of six have a significantly higher rate of employment than urban women; because rural mothers are more likely to be employed outside the home than urban moms, the number of two-working-parent households in rural communities creates a strong demand for full-time childcare, which may not be accessible through public center-based models.
- Rising Levels of Education – While the number of college graduates in rural communities still lags a bit behind metropolitan areas in most cases, the number of college graduates in many rural areas is still higher than in previous years. This increased level of education creates more job opportunities and, as a result, a greater need for childcare arises.
- Concern For Cognitive Development – In addition to the increased job opportunities for the rising number of rural university graduates, this increased level of education may also heighten those parents’ awareness of sub-par educational programs in many rural daycare centers, and an understanding of the importance of early cognitive development, potentially spurring those graduate parents to seek private, in-home childcare as an alternative to flagging public daycare programs.
- Awareness-Raising Initiatives and Assistance Programs – Organizations like the Annie E. Casey Foundation and others of its ilk are dedicated to building stronger, more financially stable and educated rural families. As assistance programs and awareness-raising initiatives are put in place in rural communities, more parents come to understand that private in-home childcare may be more beneficial for their families.
- Urban-Rural Migration – Interest in homesteading and sustainable agriculture has inspired an exodus of city dwellers into the fields and fresh air of rural communities. Though these metropolitan refugees may leave many of their urban trappings behind, they invariably bring with them the private nanny culture. While they may trade the boardroom for the barnyard, they are still in need of quality childcare and are more likely to engage a nanny to fill that need.
Some rural communities are so remote and secluded that they are separated from metropolitan society by necessity; there are other farming communities deliberately established by the well-heeled as an escape from the city’s frenetic pace. One thing that both of these communities have in common is the need for childcare, and a common desire to see their children thrive.