As Ho Chi Minh City daycare centers shuttered by COVID-19, babysitting services are in demand

preschool, babysitting

Parents in Ho Chi Minh City are scrambling to find a nanny for their children after their kindergartens were closed due to COVID-19, which in turn drove hourly rates for the service to spike.

Communities of Vietnamese parents on Facebook are clamoring with job postings and advertisements on babysitting service, as both demand from parents and supply from preschool teachers are soaring during the current wave of COVID-19 infections in Vietnam.

High rate

Being mother to a four-year-old child who attends kindergarten in District 7 of Ho Chi Minh City, Nguyen Huong Ngoc said working parents in the city are struggling to get their childcare responsibility covered during the outbreak.

“After several discussions, we decided to look for a babysitter on a dedicated job matching group on Facebook,” Ngoc recalled.

One candidate sent us a private message, quoting VND450,000 (US$20) for 10 hours of childcare – a lunch break included.

The price was high as Ngoc saw it, but she accepted the quotation anyway.

“It would be great If the babysitter can teach coloring or singing, but I don’t expect too much,” she said.

Ngoc cannot really be sure of the babysitter’s itinerary either, so she has no choice but to believe the woman’s claim of “not travelling far from home” and entrust the child to her.

Likewise, Tieu Quyen from Ho Chi Minh City also have to settle for a high babysitting rate as her mother is too busy to take care of her three-year-old child, while the private kindergarten she sends her kid to is closed.

Quyen compared the rate in many Facebook groups and found the lowest quotation at VND350,000 ($15) per day, which will increase to VND400,000 ($17) per day later.

“I’m worried about transmission risks [from the babysitters.] Yet the best I can do is reminding the nannies to wear face masks and wash their hands before entering the house.”

Trustworthiness is key

While public kindergarten teachers have a stable base salary to fall back on during school closure, teachers at private preschools have to look for for seasonal babysitting jobs as their incomes are slashed, said Do Hoang Phuong Thao, a teacher at Be Ngoan Kindergarten in District 1, Ho Chi Minh.

“Private school teachers have to take unpaid leave, which is why they are picking up part-time babysitting jobs," Thao said.

"They offer what parents need.”

Nguyen Thi Kim Uyen, deputy head of the bureau of education and training in Ho Chi Minh City’s District 10, shares the sentiment.

“This is a completely fair situation regarding the needs of parents and teachers," Uyen said.

"Since the teacher is only babysitting, not teaching, we did not issue any official direction but a general guidance for COVID-19 prevention and medical declaration.”

Meanwhile, parents are recommended to discuss travel history with babysitters before hiring, or check out the candidates’ details at local health facilities if needed.

Others casts doubt on the rise of babysitting services, saying it might hinder the effort of COVID-19 prevention and control.

“Unregulated babysitting brings up many obstacles for epidemic prevention, as teachers have no grasp of the host family’s travel history, and vice versa," Uyen said.

“Families should prioritize relatives and acquaintances for safety."

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