‘Informal care’ is popular, inferior

Most infants and toddlers are cared for by babysitters in unregulated or very lightly regulated settings, writes Brookings’ Susanna Loeb.

“Over half of all one- and two-year-olds are regularly cared for by caregivers other than their parents but only about half of those, i.e., a quarter of this age group, are in a licensed formal care setting,” she writes. Four-year-olds are more likely to attend licensed centers and preschools, “but still many primarily experience informal, non-parental care.”

Babysitters spend less time on reading and math activities. Kids spend a lot more time watching TV.

“Four-year-olds in home-based, informal care watch an average of almost two hours of television per day, compared with fewer than 7 minutes in formal care,” writes Loeb.

Children in informal care learn significantly less in literacy and math, she concludes. These differences are not explained by differences in family background.

Stupidest bill ever

California Democrats are on their way to passing the “babysitting bill” —  or the end-of-babysitting bill.

Assembly Bill 889 requires a 15-minute rest break after two hours of work for domestic employees, including nannies, housekeepers, caregivers for the elderly and disabled and babysitters 18 or older (excluding family members).  It also requires a 30-minute meal break after five hours, worker’s comp, overtime and minimum wage, though the paid vacation was amended out. Employers must provide detailed pay stubs to domestic employees, including part-timers. The text of the bill is here.

It will ruin life for working mothers, writes Julie Ryan Evans on The Stir.

So pretty much forget ever going on a date night again, and as for us working moms — we’re totally screwed. Minimum wage, I get, and most people I know pay much more than $7.25 an hour for a sitter. But the rest of it is asinine and just another burden on women who work outside the home to support their families. It’s not even good for the babysitters!

The rest breaks in particular are just ridiculous because that means someone else would have to come in and cover for their breaks every two hours. If you’re a parent, you know how hard it is to find one good sitter, much less two; good luck finding one who’s willing to work for 15 minutes at a time.

. . . babysitting isn’t like an office job. The kids nap, they sleep at night, you can sit down and watch a movie with them from time to time, and even eat when they eat.

The sponsor, Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, claims babysitters aren’t considered domestic employees, though the law says otherwise.  Ammiano says the bill will protect housekeepers and caregivers for the elderly and disabled from exploitation. He’s protecting caregivers out of a job.

Imagine an elderly woman who forgets that she’s too frail to walk. One fall broke her neck and the next could kill her.  Imagine a dying man who needs help with his oxygen and his meds. Do you hire a caregiver who steps out every two hours for 15 minutes? Or do you give up on home care and call the nursing home?

The bill passed the Assembly with no Republican votes and is now in the Senate, which is controlled by Democrats. I predict the publicity will kill it before it reaches the desk of Democratic Gov. Jerry Brown. Lots of Democrats hire babysitters and caregivers.

England bans babysitting by friends

You thought No joy in Middleville was crazy:  A Michigan woman was told not to watch neighbors’ kids waiting for the bus without a license. Nobody can match the English for meddling bureaucrats:   Two job-sharing policewomen have been threatened with prosecution as illegal childminders because they trade babysitting for their two-year-old daughters, who are best friends.

But the mothers, both 32, have now been told by Ofsted that surveillance teams will spy on their homes to make sure they are not continuing to care for each other’s daughter.

For the past two-and-a-half years, one looked after both of the girls while the other worked a ten-hour shift. Both worked two days a week.

A neighbor’s complaint triggered the inspection.

The nanny state exempts only family members from the ban on babysitting for more than two hours a day. Both mothers have placed their daughters in child-care centers.  One mother, separated from her husband, has applied for government benefits to pay the cost.