Why having a nanny in the Czech Republic is more affordable than you think

We spoke to a Prague-based agency about how Covid is changing childcare in the Czech Republic as nannies fill multiple household roles.

Elizabeth Zahradnicek-Haas

Written by Elizabeth Zahradnicek-Haas Published on 01.04.2021 14:39:00 (updated on 07.12.2021) Reading time: 4 minutes

Now more than ever parents are in need of household help, faced as many of us are with the scheduling complexities and sheer fatigue of homeschooling and home office.

In countries throughout the world, the Covid pandemic has brought about a new demand for childcare services and startups while reinforcing the importance of childcare as essential infrastructure.

In the Czech Republic, childcare is increasingly among the most coveted of employee benefits and, during the pandemic, has become critical to maintaining work-life balance.

“A lot of families and even companies are asking us for help,” says Sarah Asfour, co-founder of the Prague-based Mary Poppins Agency, which connects nannies and families and has specialized in helping clients maintain work-life balance for close to seven years. 

Asfour says that during Covid restrictions, a number of Czech employers have responded to the crisis, either by providing a nanny to employees' homes or by creating a space for children directly at the company office that is staffed by outsourced caregivers.

Caregivers are becoming teachers in an era of school closures

Baby Mother Family Babysitting Care Kids Mary Poppins Agency, s. r. o.
Photo via Mary Poppins Agency.

Another trend that Asfour has seen emerge over the past year is the substitution of caregivers for teachers due to the closures of schools and clubs -- families frequently look to nannies just to take children to a park or to play with them at home.

"Right now I think this new need has been created for a household position that's a mix of caregiver and teacher because parents need someone, not just a babysitter, but a person who can take care of doing homework and lessons with the child, preparing meals, and doing activities or running errands as the parents work," Asfour says.

Mary Poppins Agency also provides care for newborns and toddlers. Asfour says that due to travel restrictions many new parents are unable to ask for help from extended family or friends during this critical time.

Despite Covid, Asfour's agency is still seeing a demand for nanny services for traditional reasons but with more of an emphasis now on ensuring proper safety and hygiene before the nanny comes into contact with the family.

"We still see a lot of parents hire a nanny to help with language acquisition, English for Czech children or, conversely, Czech for children of foreigners living here," says Asfour. Many families also seek out nannies for small children who didn't get into increasingly overcrowded Czech kindergartens or who are raising their children according to certain values or educational principles such as Montessori or Waldorf.

Does hiring a nanny make financial sense?

Mary Poppins Agency as well as others typically charge a one-time fee for matching a family with a nanny from their database of pre-screened candidates; the hourly rate and responsibilities are then determined by the family itself.

With tuition fees for Prague kindergartens varying depending on a number of factors, it's difficult to do an across-the-board price comparison. But Asfour believes that for some families, it makes financial sense when you take into consideration a nanny's scope of responsibilities vs. that of a daycare or kindergarten.

For a full-time nanny, rates in the Czech Republic range from CZK 27,000 to CZK 35,000, approximately from CZK 170/hour to CZK 250/hour. Part-time nannies who help with household management are also increasingly popular. In comparison, monthly fees for private preschools or nurseries begin at CZK 12,000-14,000 but can reach upwards of CZK 30,000.

"A good agency with a database of suitable providers which it pre-screens, verifies, and tests for Covid, can also save the family a lot of valuable time and cost," says Asfour. Families get nanny profiles that match specific criteria (languages spoken, education, personality, approach to discipline, suitability for a particular age) as well as the client's requirements for working hours and location.

In her experience, Asfour has found that when a family looks for a nanny on its own, they are tasked with contacting a lot of potential candidates, who may or may not show up, whose time flexibility is different than previously stated, and who do not have appropriate experience with childcare.

Is it safe to hire an outside caregiver during Covid?

Baby Mother Family Babysitting Care Kids Mary Poppins Agency, s. r. o.
Photo via Mary Poppins Agency.

For agencies, the process of screening and interviewing a nanny has changed considerably in the era of Covid, Asfour tells us. "Increasingly interviews with nannies now take place online via video call and when a nanny is selected, Covid testing is performed and strict hygiene precautions observed before he or she meets the family face-to-face," she says.

Asfour also says that their agency has made it a policy not to share nannies with multiple families during Covid for safety reasons. "Nannies work with a family on a long-term basis, one nanny to one family, no alternating between families."

One thing that hasn't changed is the intensive screening of candidates: checking a potential caregiver's criminal background, personal references, and verifying documentation is still essential to the process, one that can be simplified with the help of an agency.

Asfour believes that even in the best of times, finding the right match can be the most challenging aspect of hiring a nanny.

"In addition to being an experienced and educated person who will spend quality time with your child, he or she must also be a person who will be sympathetic and shares similar values to the family in terms of upbringing and education," she says.

She believes that professional in-home child care can still be a relatively safe and affordable option during Covid if the family and nanny keep the lines of communication open when it comes to risk mitigation both inside and outside of the home.

This article was written in association with Mary Poppins Agency s. r. o. To read more about our partner content policies see here.

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