People are living longer, getting married — and having kids — later in life, creating a sandwich generation that needs caregivers for both elderly parents and small children at the same time. That presents opportunities for caregivers, as well as challenges for people seeking care. However a relative handful of sites help both caregivers and care seekers find what they’re looking for.
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Sandwich generation needs caregivers
Notably, millennials are not the first generation to postpone marriage and childbirth. The age at which women have their first child has been rising steadily for decades and is now age 30 — up from 21 in the 1970s, according to the U.S. Census. That means the average woman is 60 when she has her first grandchild. Fathers — and grandfathers — trend even older.
The impact on caregiving work — and the need for caregivers — has been dramatic. That’s mainly because grandparents are important caregivers, with nearly 60% providing at least part-time care for their grandkids. But, starting a family at an older age means that grandparents are less likely — and often less capable — of providing care. Indeed, many need care themselves, looking to their children for help. In other words, this sandwich generation often needs caregivers for their parents and their kids at the same time.
Types of care
This trend has dramatically boosted pay for caregivers. At one time, for instance, babysitters earned less than minimum wage. Today, the average wage for a babysitter is over $20. And while teens might still charge just $15, adult babysitters often set their rates at $30 per hour or more. Caregivers for elderly clients charge between $17 and $50 per hour, depending on their credentials and the level of care required.
Meanwhile, as the demand for care has burgeoned, the market for offering and seeking care has fragmented. The best places to find a babysitter for a night out differ from the best place to find someone to transport your child to and from school or activities, for instance.
When seeking or providing care for the elderly, the best place to list — or look — depends on whether the client needs medical help or simply wants aid with transportation, shopping or household chores.
Here’s the run-down of the best places to offer — or hire — care, by category.
Night-out child care
When you need a sitter for the occasional night out, a good site to check is Bambino. The site enlists primarily younger sitters with Facebook profiles. What makes this site stand out for sitters is that it accepts youths as young as 13. (Most sites require users to be over the age of 18.) And, because Bambino connects sitters and families via shared social media connections, both sides know a lot about each other before jobs start. There’s also no cost for sitters to list their services here.
This can also be a more affordable option for parents because younger sitters typically charge less — $12 to $15 per hour. And, the only cost to book a sitter through the site is a $2 or $3 booking fee.
Regular child care
But the teens who list on Bambino are likely to have school during winter months. So, if you need regular daytime sitters, you may need to look elsewhere. There are three good sites to list or find regular child care — UrbanSitter, SitterCity and Care.com. All three sites work similarly, charging either monthly, semi-annual or annual fees to communicate with sitters (or clients). Sitters set their own rates of pay and get 100% of the rate they set. Neither sitters nor clients pay commissions.
The membership fees for both sitters and clients range from $12 to $40 per month (depending on the site and length of the subscription). Be sure to terminate the membership when you’re not using it, however. The one complaint we see about all three sites is that memberships automatically renew.
(Click here to sign up with Care.com)
In some cases, caregivers who list on Care.com, UrbanSitter or SitterCity can transport kids to after-school sports, events and activities. However, when transportation is all you need for children engaged in school or camp most of the day, other sites are a better match.
HopSkipDrive and Kango enlist background-checked freelancers with nice cars, pristine driving records, and age-appropriate car seats, to drive kids to and from school, activities and home. Freelancers signing up with these sites earn between $25 and $35 per hour. Parents are charged based on distance and the number of children needing transportation.
For help with a medically-fragile adult, there are only two good choices — a local eldercare agency or Care.com.
The benefit of an agency is that the agency will select a caregiver based on your needs and schedule. If that particular caregiver needs time off, the agency will send an alternate caregiver. However, eldercare agencies generally are employers that must comply with labor laws that demand overtime pay for anyone who works past eight hours. That even applies to live-in caregivers who may be sleeping during their shift. That can become prohibitively expensive — especially because agencies tend to mark-up caregiver rates by as much as 40 or 50%.
The caregivers that register on Care.com, on the other hand, are self-employed independent contractors. They negotiate their hours and rates directly with their clients. With independent contractors there is no specific overtime requirement. Caregivers can negotiate overtime pay if they choose to, but they are not legally required to.
Caregivers on this site are background-checked and many have nursing and senior-caregiving credentials. (Click here to sign up with Care.com)
Companions, shoppers, helpers
However, many elder care jobs don’t require medical skills or knowledge. Many seniors simply need help with transportation, shopping and light household tasks.
These are jobs for “taskers” — the independent contractors who sign up at TaskRabbit. This site enlists freelancers to offer a range of in-person services, from assembling furniture to painting. Hundreds of freelancers also offer housekeeping, shopping and companion care at rates starting at $10 to $15 per hour, depending on the job and city
Freelancers on TaskRabbit set their own rates. However, there is no need to buy a membership to list your freelance services — or to find help — here. This site only charges when a service is booked. At that point, TaskRabbit’s service fee is added to the customer’s bill.
(Click here to sign up with Task Rabbit)