Whether you’re working or not, some form of childcare during the early years is invaluable, especially if you’re here as an expat without family nearby to lend a hand. Thankfully, support in the form of preschools, nannies or helpers is readily available in Cayman.
Before considering the help you need, it’s important to understand the difference between a nanny and a helper. A nanny focuses on the children – they shop for children’s food, prepare meal plans and cook their food, organise children’s activities and clean their clothes. They do not do general house cleaning. A domestic helper, on the other hand, will do laundry, housework, cooking and drive children around to their activities (they don’t organise the activities themselves).
‘Child minding’ services, which are commonly available in the UK, are not on offer in the Cayman Islands. However, preschools, which take children from as young as 6 weeks, are. The following local preschools take children aged from either six weeks or three months:
They cost between CI$550 and CI$750 per month for a full-time place and will keep your children from 7.30am to 5.30pm. There are part-time or full-time options and they do not close for school holidays.
We asked local mothers about this option and were told that the school’s caregivers are “loving, kind and certainly knew more about childcare than I did as a new mum”. They could not recommend them highly enough! When choosing between preschools please ensure that you read up on Cayman’s School Inspection Reports on the Cayman Resident website: all preschools have different strengths and weaknesses. In all cases make sure you reserve your child’s place at the earliest possible moment. Preschools in Cayman are over-subscribed and places are few.
Once your child hits 18 months, all preschools are available to them. See ‘How to Choose a Preschool’ for more information on how to choose a preschool, and the ‘Nurseries & Preschools’ listings for a full list of schools.
If you are just looking for a short window of help each week, you could hire ad-hoc help or organise a weekly nanny via one of the agencies (AAA Caregivers or Best Home Care). They usually require a minimum slot of four hours. You can hire cleaners/helpers through the same agencies and on the same basis.
Choosing a nanny is a lot more complicated and there are numerous things to consider. For example:
What type of care do you need? Although you might think you only need part-time help, what will you do with your children during the school holidays or when they are sick? Do you need a nanny to help with homework? Or someone who will be the primary source of education, development and stimulation? A very good domestic helper will not only help keep your house clean but also engage your child in conversation, read to them and take them to activities so that they can socialise.
How much can you afford to pay? As with any job, the most qualified and experienced candidates will require a higher salary. There is a big difference in salary between an early childhood-trained nanny or teacher, to a cleaner with occasional evening babysitting experience. Both a full-time nanny and a domestic helper require health insurance; however, the law does not require you to pay the pension of a domestic helper. Remember that the minimum wage for any employee is CI$6 an hour, and extras (living-in, the use of a car) can only account for 25% of their total salary. See here for information on the logistics of hiring a nanny or helper.
Do you need a driver? If you require help with driving your child to and from school or after school activities, then a nanny who can drive is essential. Consider whether or not the nanny’s car is suitable and safe for your children to be driven around in, or whether you will provide a car for the nanny’s use. Remember to pay for their gas or give them a fair allowance towards the weekly cost of their fuel bill.
Live-in or out? Some positions that require long or late hours are more suitable for a live-in person. If opting for a live-in caregiver, you will be required to provide accommodation with sufficient space. If you are considering bringing a nanny on-Island, it is important to be mindful of the cost of living in Cayman for a single person, and factor that into your salary offer. If your nanny or helper is from Jamaica, or somewhere relatively close, most families will include a yearly ticket back home as part of their contract. If your nanny or helper is from the Philippines, then a ticket back every two years is the norm. In this case, your nanny will probably request to save two years’ worth of vacation so that they can go home for longer once every two years.
Experience and outlook. Early childhood care greatly impacts childhood development. Does the nanny have experience and qualifications? Do they speak clearly? Are they warm and engaging? Do you feel comfortable and relaxed in their company? Do they have a similar set of values to you? Does their outlook on child rearing and education match with yours? Are they willing to learn through on-Island workshops and training?
Where to look. The best reference for a nanny is a positive referral from a friend or colleague. However, if you are new to the Islands, take a look on Ecay Trade, KY Mommies on Facebook or ask agencies such as AAA Caregivers or Best Home Care. Cayman is a transient place and when families leave the Island, they will often try their best to find their nanny another position. You could also place an advert yourself on Ecay Trade or reach out to the KY Mommies Facebook group.
TOP TIP: Living so close to the water it’s important to know whether your nanny can swim. Sky Blue Aquatics is offering complimentary swim assessments for nannies and caregivers. See page 105 of the print or digital version of Cayman Parent for more information.
Family support. For many families with young children who have moved here from overseas, the lack of family support can make life seem difficult. Your children’s nanny or family helper, if chosen carefully, will become an important person in your child’s lives: your children will blossom if they are cared for by someone who truly cares for them.
Be realistic. Could you care for a baby, entertain a toddler, clean a house, do the laundry, iron, cook, run errands, take the kids to school and do homework with your children? Doing all of those things to a high standard is challenging for anyone. Prioritise your requirements and understand the difference between a nanny and a helper.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A NANNY
Choose which of these factors are the most important to you before you start the interviewing process.
For information on the logistics of hiring a nanny or helper – click here.
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