Now that stay-at-home orders are being lifted, states are re-opening their economies, and businesses are returning their employees to work in an office, parents are facing difficult decisions on childcare.
They are going back to the office and they need someone to look after their children. In a world where the pandemic may be slowing but is still ongoing, safety is the primary concern.
Should parents bring their children to a daycare facility or look for other options like hiring a nanny for private, in-home care?
Parents will want a childcare solution that minimizes their children’s exposure to the coronavirus. No course of action will be 100% foolproof but steps can be taken to help keep children safe and reduce the spread of the virus.
What are the risks to your children?
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that “based on available evidence, children do not appear to be at higher risk for COVID-19 than adults” and “while some children and infants have been sick with COVID-19, adults make up most of the known cases to date.”
That is reassuring for parents who want to do their best to protect their children from COVID-19.
However, children with no symptoms might still be carriers of the virus and could unknowingly infect others more susceptible to contracting COVID-19 – including elderly loved ones and those with compromised immune systems or underlying health conditions like severe obesity, diabetes, kidney disease, or heart disease – even without getting sick themselves.
German researchers found that children and adults who are infected with the coronavirus have similar viral loads, which is a measure of the amount of virus being emitted from their cells. It can determine how infectious someone may be. Based on their results, they cautioned “against an unlimited re-opening of schools and kindergartens in the present situation” as “children may be as infectious as adults.”
While that may be true and is a critical concern, you also cannot ignore the pandemic’s direct risks to children. Among those under the age of 18, those under the age of one had the highest rate of COVID-19 hospitalizations. Children with underlying health conditions like respiratory issues are also at higher risk.
Another study found that “children of all ages appeared susceptible to COVID-19.” In fact, seven percent of infant cases required critical care.
Despite the chances of infection being low, children can still contract the virus and get sick or spread the illness to others. That means your childcare choices should be predicated on finding an environment that will reduce the risk of getting and passing on the coronavirus.
Number of contacts
The idea behind stay-at-home orders and social distancing is limiting the number of people you come in contact with every day. By limiting interactions, you can help stop the spread of the illness. A report from Science showed that decreasing the number of daily contacts “leads to a dramatic reduction of SARS-CoV-2 transmission.”
In a daycare center, your child will come in contact with other children, their parents, and staff which can increase the chances of infection and opportunities to spread the virus to others.
With a nanny, you’re bringing one person into your home limiting the number of people your child encounters during their day. It is not an absolute way to avoid coronavirus transmission as even the most cautious nanny could bring the virus into your home. But by communicating with your caregiver on how to reduce their chance of infection combined with a return to work plan can help create a safer environment for your child.
Consider the age of your children
The age of your children may also determine how you proceed with childcare. Older kids may be better at social distancing, not touching their faces, and following hygiene guidelines. But children under the age of 5 may have a difficult time with these new rules. They put things in their mouths and are unable to keep their hands off each other. Now imagine even just a dozen or so preschoolers or toddlers in a daycare center and you have a recipe for rapidly spreading illnesses that they take back to their families. You see it with the common cold and other ailments that are easily passed around by children and then to their homes. It could be no different with the coronavirus.
The youngest children are even more vulnerable. Infants need diapering and bottle feedings, which means almost constant close contact by adults and increasing the risk that the virus gets passed on.
Beyond the logistics of trying to corral children into following social distancing and hygiene rules, consider the stress of the situation that you, as parents, and daycare teachers may feel. This anxiety can certainly be felt by your children who already may have their own fears. It could cause behavior changes adding another challenge to the classroom.
With a nanny, your children remain in familiar surroundings of your home with a caregiver who can give them their undivided attention. This may ease some of your – and your child’s – stress around staying safe during the pandemic.
By going with in-home care, you can work with your nanny to get on the same page with a safety plan that meets your expectations and an approach to discussing the pandemic with your child as well as closely monitor any changes in their demeanor.
Guidance for daycare centers and nannies
If you’re returning your child to a daycare facility, make sure they’re following guidance for childcare programs issued by the CDC. It may be hard to determine if these guidelines are being followed during the day and some – like cloth masks for children over the age of two – seem difficult to implement. Children will likely find face coverings hard to wear all day. They may remove them and touch their faces, which will contaminate themselves and create a risk of spreading the virus.
Even if the daycare center intends to follow CDC guidelines, they may struggle to obtain the proper supplies. In California, for example, 62 percent of daycare facilities, were having trouble getting cleaning supplies or personal protective equipment (PPE) for their staff.
At the very least you’ll see how they’re handling pick-up and drop-off as well as screening children when they arrive.
With private, in-home care, you have more control over the childcare environment. It is your home. You’ll need to do your part to keep your house clean and disinfected and talk to your nanny about what they and your children need to do throughout the day to help reduce any potential spread of the virus.
Even the most conscious nanny could be a risk to your family’s health if they do not adhere to hygiene and social distancing standards when they are off the job. However, with a nanny, you are exposing your family to one caregiver. Childcare facilities and day camps introduce more teachers, counselors, children, and others into your child’s life increasing their possible exposure to the virus.
There could be other factors that may influence childcare decisions. Some daycare centers are not offering refunds or credits to families that decide to keep their children home while the facility is open.
If you decide to hire a nanny on a temporary basis – maybe until you feel it’s safe to return your child to daycare – you’ll continue to pay the daycare center on top of paying your nanny – unless you take the risk of losing your spot in daycare. With facilities limiting the number of children in their centers and some of them closed permanently, it may be difficult to place a child in daycare.
In either situation – daycare or in-home, private care – if your child is sick – even just slightly – do not send them to daycare or have your nanny come to work. Symptoms include coughing, difficulty breathing, and fever. That list does not include all symptoms but can be some warning signs to seek medical attention.
GTM can help
Hiring a nanny? Leave the nanny tax and payroll management to us. We’ll handle paying your nanny, withholding taxes, all of the paperwork and tax forms, and federal and state tax filings. That’s a lot less for you to worry about and more time to spend on things you’ll actually enjoy doing. Questions on how it all works? Give us a call at (800) 929-9213 for a complimentary, no-obligation consultation with a household employment expert.
Hiring a nanny?
Download Your Guide to Hiring a Nanny. In this guide, we lay out the steps on how to hire a nanny the right way and maintain a strong relationship with your employee.