Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Send in the Nannys

Anyone who has children knows what a stress and burden they can be sometimes. "No!!", you love your kids and want to spend every moment with the....c'mon...who are you kidding? For all the love and joy we get from our kids, the fact is that taking care of them means that you can't do some of the other things you want to do. These days though, with 2 income families and more hectic lifestyles, the need for alternative childcare is growing and it is a potentially burdgeoning market .

Today, the Chosun Ilbo features not 1 but 2 articles with mention of nannies. One talks about the headaches that working mothers are having with the current supply and quality of nannies in Korea. The other one discusses the "nanny" business as a booming niche market that is ripe for those ready to take entrepeneurial action.

I have been thinking this for years! I have wondered why it is almost impossible to find a good nanny or even a short time babysitter so my wife and I can enjoy a night out without the kids. Since we don't have family closeby, there are not many options available. And since we don't live in Seoul, there are few options.
Sure, there are services that charge reasonable fees for babysitting, but there is a problem of a different kind; Cultural taboos! Most Korean moms, my wife included, can't imagine allowing some stranger to come into your home and take care of your child while you go out and work or have a good time. If it's not family....NO WAY!! What qualifications do they have to take care of my baby? I hear excuses and questions like: "they might do something bad," "What if there is a problem, how will they know what to do?," "Someone who is not family cannot possibly really CARE for my child." "How do you know if they are REALLY qualified to watch and take care of children?" The list of reasons is seemingly endless so, alas, no nights out for a while; at least not until the mother-in-law can come and visit.
So, in my quandry, I have come across some ideas. Maybe someone with some money and a gumption (that's what I said...gumption) might read this and make a million. If you do, please give credit where credit is due (money is good too). At least give me free lifetime service. Here goes:

Most junior colleges have an "Early Childhood Education" major. Some of these colleges could have a few classes like "In-home childcare" and "Introduction to the Au pair" as elective (or required courses). These courses would be specifically designed to give these young women the basic knowledge of what they should and should not do in the business.
Colleges often have on-campus business that operate either as a school entity or separate within the campus. Either way, the colleges could have an "In-Home Childcare Center" that would be staffed initially by experienced child care providers (divorced or widowed mothers, grandmothers in good health, sheep stolen from other services, etc.) who are hired and screened by the college faculty in charge of the ECE programs. These child care "mentors" would take second year students (only those who have taken both of the courses mentioned and passed them with the highest grades) for some practicum work. Basically, they go out with the pros and learn the ropes. Paid (minimally) or not, the students get good and REAL experience in taking care of children. As the business grows, the students who do well in their classes and their practicum and demonstrate a genuine ability and desire to take care of children would be able to get a well-paying job right out of college.
This affords the college an opportunity to do what Colleges around Korea are supposed to students get a job, provide social benefit to the local community, as well as potentially make a profit.
Some students may even decide to go to their own home areas and start a nanny business of their own: another bonus; successful students.

I guess there are some naysayers out there who will shoot down or otherwise pick apart this idea and that is exactly what I would like to have happen. So, fire away!!


EFL Geek said...

Sounds like a great idea to me. My wifes family lives 4 hours away so we very rarely get time alone without the kids.

I really wish that another mixed couple lived close by so we could trade off on watching kids for one night a month to go out and enjoy ourselves. But no-one lives close enough to us to make it practical.

fencerider said...

where do you live E? I'm in daegu

Anonymous said...

Perhaps you ought to look at what is being done in Hong Kong. Plenty of college-educated Filipinas work as nannies. For less than what many families pay to send their toddlers to preschool, especially those that purport to teach English, a Filipina nanny can be hired. Those whose visa status permit them to do here have been hiring Filipinas for years.

fencerider said...

I don't think that the Korean government is going to let fillipinas, educated or not come to Korea to be nannies for Koreans...even if they could speak Korean the government is VERY protective of the job market...The soldiers on base (and off) that have been hiring filipinas as housemaids and nannies have been doing so illegally (at least that is what I understand). Also, the point here is that the working Korean families NEED this service dearly...I would love to see the government allow foreigners from PI and other south asian countries to come here as au pairs but I just don't see it happening....SO, in light of that, i think some proper training of local help would be in order.

EFL Geek said...

I'm in Seoul.