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Schools for Nannies Meet Pressing Needs of Modern Mothers

May 31, 1987|KAREN KENYON

SAN DIEGO — There is a poster at the school of a baby in a packing crate like a computer comes in. The poster reads, "Too Bad That They Don't Come With Directions." That's what we're doing here in the program. We're learning directions on how to raise children.

Nanny student Patricia Sanders

When you hear the term nanny, what comes to mind? Turn-of-the-century proper prissy lady with lovely English accent in charge of elegantly dressed tykes? Wendy and Michael's dog, Nanny, in Peter Pan? Mary Poppins?

Nannies are coming out of storybooks, across the seas and into America in the '80s.

There is a National Nanny Newsletter in the United States and a Southern California Assn. of Nannies. In June, the second International Nanny Conference will be held at Scripps College in Claremont, Calif.

In September, Grossmont College began its Nanny Household-Management Program, the only one in the San Diego area at a community college, and one of approximately 33 nanny training programs either being offered or in planning stages in colleges in the United States and Canada. There are 36 private nanny training schools in the United States, Australia and England, most of which have started in the last two to five years. In Australia, there's even a Dial-a-Nanny service now.

According to 1986 figures from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are more than 19 million U.S. mothers in the labor force with children younger than 17. Figures for 1980, the most recent available, showed nearly 140,000 such women in San Diego County.

'Great Demand'

While a growing number of women seeks employment outside the home, others are willing to take on child care duties. "But not enough, so far," according to Ann Daluiso, coordinator of family and consumer studies at Grossmont College.

"The idea of a nanny is something this country isn't familiar with," said Daluiso, one of the creators of Grossmont's Nanny Household-Management Program. "The dilemma is that there is a great demand for nannies, and so far, not enough nannies being trained. In spite of various day-care situations, baby sitters, and household help from Mexico and Central America, more qualified nannies are desired than are presently available," she said.

"We are on a list of colleges that train nannies and we get calls all the time from potential employers, many from the East Coast." Daluiso added that the ratio of current placement openings per nanny is 15 to 1.

Nannies are usually not respected in the United States as they are in countries like England and in Australia but, said Daluiso, "becoming a nanny is a viable alternative for those who wish to provide child care."

"In Europe," said Eva Harkness, coordinator of the Grossmont program, "there is a long history of nannies caring for children. There is prestige. For example, Winston Churchill is supposed to have had a wonderful nanny. And, of course, Charles and Diana hired a nanny. Here we generally think taking care of children doesn't take intelligence. But finally we are crawling out of that attitude. Mothers need acknowledgement--and nannies (do), too."

Grossmont College's nanny training program hopes to bring about a more positive attitude and bring status to the endeavor by adding skills and services that can make the nanny an invaluable part of a household that can afford her.

"Our thought in starting the program (in September) was to help provide the best help we could for individuals in a family setting. The traditional family no longer exists. Twenty-five to 30 years ago women were in the home. Now all of that has changed. We felt nanny training could help fill a need."

Eleven women will complete the program (which includes 144 hours of work or volunteer experience in a day-care center, preschool or home) and receive a certificate from Grossmont Tuesday. Five of the students are already employed as nannies.

An associate's degree in nanny household management can be obtained with the completion of six additional units of family and consumer studies classes, plus the college's general education requirements. The Grossmont course is funded by the federal Regional Occupational Program for vocational study. The federal program provides tuition, books and job placement.

"The goal of our program," said Daluiso, "is to be the best possible care-giver to the child. In addition, the trained nanny is supportive of the parents and is education-minded. It is also true that today there isn't always an extended family, so there is often no one to show new parents how to handle a baby."

Besides the individual care she can give, the nanny offers more than a day care center, Daluiso said. "Nannies are trained to be family care-givers, to understand the interaction of all members."

Fee Is $200-$250 Weekly

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