How Much are Pittsburgh Parents Willing to Pay for Babysitters?
Babysitting — the stereotypical teenage gig — is gaining more traction due to the pandemic and need for child care services.
When a family’s au pair decided to take a few days of vacation from her regular child care duties, the mom turned to a community Facebook group in the Cranberry area in search of a babysitter for her two children, ages 6 and 2.
“Pay range is negotiable starting at $20/hour,” the mother wrote on the private site that has more than 8,000 members. “Plus I’ll even buy you lunch on both days.”
$20 an hour? Lunch?
So it goes this summer as parents try to find child care help here – and across the nation. Teenage babysitters and other child care helpers are in high demand as many parents have to return to work as the pandemic subsides or are just eager to get out of the house.
No more do babysitters have to settle for the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal said teenage babysitters in some parts of the country are charging as much as $30 or more — because they can.
Chloe Washburn, a 20-year-old University of Pittsburgh student, gets paid around $20 an hour for her services. She noticed the parents are more willing to pay higher prices due to the pandemic.
“There’s been an increase in rates over the years,” she says. “I used to only do it for $7 an hour, but I haven’t started charging more — the parents have started giving me more, especially since the pandemic started. So many people are remote nowadays that they will pay whatever it takes to just go out and get some time alone or get work done.”
Emma Christmann, a 17-year-old Seneca Valley Senior High School student, charges $12 an hour for her babysitting services. She believes parents are willing to pay even more because teenagers have stopped pursuing this job.
“Parents are definitely willing to pay more,” Emma says. “I think parents are willing to spend so much because babysitters have been hard to find recently — not many teens care for it anymore so when they do find one, they are willing to spend a decent amount.”
A mother of four children in Edgewood pays $25 an hour.
College Nannies + Sitters Pittsburgh is an online platform that allows families in the area to find child care services. They provide both nanny and sitter services. Nanny services provide families with one consistent caregiver; sitter services allow families to schedule a caregiver on a flexible as-needed basis, providing access to a variety of individuals.
Nikki Rimer, the owner of College Nannies + Sitters Pittsburgh, states that babysitting rates in the Pittsburgh market now range from $12 to $35 an hour. These rates have increased significantly over the past few years, she says.
“When I first purchased my territory of college nannies and sitters in 2016, the ranges were different than they are now,” Rimer says. “We would see — for in-home child care — anywhere between $10 an hour and $25 an hour. Now we are seeing anywhere between $12 and $35 an hour.”
Rimer attributes this rate increase to the pandemic and the national shortage of child care workers. She says this allows sitters to charge higher hourly prices because parents need their services.
“There is a low supply and there’s a high demand, so there are so many opportunities for child care workers right now that they only need to choose the very best opportunity, and they can go ahead and do that,” Rimer says. “They’ve required more for their hourly rates and families are willing to pay it because otherwise, they don’t have child care options.”
According to Rimer, the pandemic spurred the increase in the need for in-home child care because day cares shut down and parents began working from home. Furthermore, parents found they enjoyed being close to their children during this new working situation, strengthening the need for babysitters.
“The other reason is that there is a national shortage of child care workers, and this affects the day care centers as well,” Rimer said. “We have a lot of families that are on waiting lists for day care centers, but they can’t get their children into day care centers. So they are pushed to do in-home child care while they are waiting to get into a day care center.”
KDKA News covered how inflation is also increasing child care costs, focusing on day cares in Pittsburgh. Ahead of the Curve, a day care in Plum, raised its rates in April to keep up with the competitive market. Susan Bia, the owner, said the $100 increase was necessary to keep the day care properly running.
“I had to increase to $100 in order to be able to afford to give our teachers raises, hire new staff and a competitive rate and to afford everything else,” Bia told KDKA News. “We provide food so the cost goes to groceries. Those are outrageous right now. Anything from Kleenex to ink for worksheets to wipies, cleaning products.”
High day care rates deter families away. If in-home care is similar in price, parents prefer to choose babysitters so child care is more convenient for them.
Josh Murray, a 23-year-old child behavioral technician, charges $16 an hour for his babysitting side job. He believes parents are willing to pay high prices because having a trusting babysitter is of utmost importance.
“Some are willing to pay $30 an hour if they leave their kids in the hands of someone else other than them,” Murray says. “They want to make sure it’s a good person who is going to take care of them just like the parent would, and they realize how important and meaningful that is to them.”
Child care is essential for families. Rimer said parents are willing to pay high hourly prices because they have no other options.
“That’s really why a family is willing to pay up to $30+ an hour for babysitting services,” Rimer said. “Because if they don’t, they may not have child care, therefore they cannot go to work or even work from home.”