Skip to Main Content

Nannies have been a staple of European staffs for hundreds of years, often epitomizing the upper-class British childhood. They have captured our imaginations and have been the basis for fictional characters, such as Jane Eyre and Mary Poppins. In the United States, nannies or nursemaids have worked in the homes of the very wealthy for centuries. Only quite recently, however, has the role of the nanny entered into the lives of the middle class.

Because of the steadily increasing demand for highly skilled, reliable, private child care, nannies have gained such popularity that schools have sprung up across the country to train and place them. However, the vast majority of nannies come from overseas. Young women and men from the West Indies, the Philippines, Ireland, South and Central America, and other regions often emigrate to the United States to become nannies because of the poor economic conditions in their own countries. These nannies are often taken advantage of by the people they work for. They may be paid next to nothing, expected to be completely at the disposal of the family, even at a moment's notice, and they usually receive no health insurance or other benefits. Unfortunately, they put up with this sort of treatment mainly because they are afraid to lose the income, a large part of which they often send home to relatives in their native country.

With proper training and placement, however, nannies can find their jobs to be pleasant, satisfying experiences.