Babysitters, Nannies and Parents' Helpers - What They Do

Home child care providers care for children on an ongoing or short-term basis. They care for the well-being and physical and social development of children, assist parents with child care and may assist with household duties. They provide care primarily in their own homes or in the children's homes, where they may also reside. They are employed by private households and child-care agencies, or they may be self-employed.

Job duties

This group performs some or all of the following duties:

Home child care providers

  • Supervise and care for children in employer's or own residence
  • Bathe, dress and feed infants and children
  • Prepare formulas and change diapers for infants
  • Plan, prepare and serve meals for children and may perform other housekeeping duties
  • Oversee children's activities, such as meals and rest periods, as instructed by employer
  • Maintain a safe and healthy environment in the home
  • Instruct children in personal hygiene
  • Tend to the emotional well-being of children and support their social development
  • Discipline children according to the methods requested by the parents
  • Provide age-appropriate educational training through organized activities such as games, crafts, reading and outings
  • Take children to and from school and appointments
  • May be required to keep records of daily activities and health information regarding each child.

Foster parents

  • Care for foster children, usually on an emergency or temporary basis, as a primary guardian under general direction of foster parent agency
  • Consult foster parent agency supervisors for advice and when problems arise
  • Administer foster care programs for foster children, as directed by foster parent agency social workers.

Job titles

  • parent's helper
  • nanny
  • babysitter
  • child care live-in caregiver
  • child care provider - private home
  • live-in caregiver, child care
  • foster parent
  • babysitter - fitness centre
Employment Requirements

This is what you typically need for the job:

  • Completion of secondary school may be required.
  • Home child care providers, parent's helpers and foster parents may require completion of a training program in child care or a related field.
  • Child care or household management experience may be required.
  • Demonstrated ability to perform work is usually required.
  • First aid certification and CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) training may be required.

Essential Skills


  • Read memos from members of the health-care team and notes from the client or the client's family. (1)
  • May read recipes to prepare food which clients request. (1)
  • Read newspapers and letters to the patient. (2)
  • May refer to orientation material and regulations on procedures, policies, behaviour and safety requirements set forth by home care agencies or foster parent agencies. (2)
  • Read newsletters from social service agencies or associations announcing workshops. (2)
  • Read reports from agencies outlining policy changes. (2)
  • May read notes from a foster child's case file about the child's background, medical history, mental health and special needs. (2)
  • Read first-aid manuals. (3)
  • Read text books, pamphlets and journal articles to learn more about health issues such as chronic diseases, mental disorders, exercise and nutrition. (3)

Document use

Visiting Homemakers, Housekeepers and Related Occupations

  • May read street signs. (1)
  • May record client names, dates, homemaker codes and expenses on an assignment chart. (1)
  • May read lists of phone numbers and addresses or use the phone book, for example, to arrange medical appointments or to contact emergency services. (1)
  • May read labels on medicine bottles and cleaning products to ensure safe use. (1)
  • May read sales receipts and banking statements for clients. (1)
  • May complete mileage reports. (1)
  • May read maps to locate new clients' addresses. (2)
  • May read work schedules and assignment sheets to determine work locations, times and duties. (2)
  • May read weekly activity schedules and menus. (2)
  • May review client files which outline the type and frequency of services delivered to each client and relevant history. (2)
  • May fill in reports or logs on daily care given to clients. (2)

Foster Parents

  • May read school report cards to determine where more help is needed. (2)


Visiting Homemakers, Housekeepers and Related Occupations

  • May write a daily log of work accomplished. (1)
  • May write short notes to the next worker or a family member about the client's condition and needs. (1)
  • May record reminders on a calendar. (1)
  • May complete a client report form, recording changes in the client's mental, physical or emotional condition. (1)
  • May complete forms for supervisors, outlining observations and comments on clients' daily activities, behaviour and special needs. (1)
  • May write personal and business letters for clients. (2)

Foster Parents

  • May write brief status reports to the agency responsible for child welfare. (2)
  • May write reports summarizing a child's activities and behaviour. The report must be factual, containing information such as progress at school and relationships with siblings and peers. The report should be suitable for use in court. (3)


Money Math

  • May shop for their clients, count change and complete expense forms. (1)

Scheduling, Budgeting & Accounting Math

Visiting Homemakers, Housekeepers and Related Occupations

  • May keep track of clients' grocery money and determine if they have enough food to last until the next visit. (1)

Foster Parents

  • May total the costs of clothing purchased for foster children and submit receipts to the agency responsible for child welfare. (1)

Measurement and Calculation Math

Foster Parents

  • May measure specified amounts of medication. (1)
  • May measure and record the height and weight of each child. (1)
  • May measure quantities of ingredients for recipes, doubling or halving as necessary. (2)

Numerical Estimation

Foster Parents

  • May estimate how much food to prepare for a client's meal, depending on the client's state of health and appetite. (1)
  • May when planning weekly activities, estimate the time it will take to do various chores. (2)
  • May estimate the amount of money to be spent on items for foster children. (2)

Oral communication

Visiting Homemakers, Housekeepers and Related Occupations

  • May contact medical staff in emergencies. (1)
  • May talk with grocery store clerks, doctors, physiotherapists or suppliers of items such as walkers, canes and oxygen. (1)
  • May discuss schedule changes, tasks and procedures with clients. (1)
  • May talk with the client's family to inform them of the client's progress and to learn about the client's condition and needs. (1)
  • May comfort clients or foster children if they are upset. (2)
  • May entertain clients by reading to them, talking to them or taking them on trips or visits. (2)
  • May talk to supervisors to learn about courses, report on the progress and condition of clients and discuss new cases. (2)

Foster Parents

  • May talk with doctors, teachers, guidance counsellors, school principals and other professionals who provide services to the child. (2)
  • May confer with court officials, if the child is the subject of a custody case. (2)
  • May talk with the Foster Parent Association supervisor, social welfare agency staff administrators and the child's social worker in group meetings or conferences to co-ordinate care for the child. (2)
  • May teach children how to get along with others and negotiate conflict when there are behavioural problems. (3)


Problem Solving

Visiting Homemakers, Housekeepers and Related Occupations

  • Encounter a lack of food to cook proper meals. They find what food they can and make the best of the situation or grocery shop for the patient, reporting the incident to supervisors if necessary. (1)
  • Determine why clients are upset and calm them down. This is particularly difficult when working with mentally challenged clients. (2)
  • May encounter resistance from clients who refuse to eat, take their medication or bathe. They explain the importance of keeping up with the necessities of life and use humour to make the clients feel more relaxed and willing to co-operate. (2)
  • May encounter problems setting boundaries and defining roles with a client. They explain in detail the parameters of their job and may call upon agency personnel to reinforce the information. (2)
  • May deal with hostile patients. They call upon family members or doctors to get to the roots of the hostility and to recommend a solution. (2)
  • May contend with medical emergencies. They may call an ambulance if the case is too serious for them to deal with. (3)

Foster Parents

  • May work with behavioural abnormalities in children. They call upon the resources of the children's aid agency to learn how to deal with psychological issues. (3)
  • May cope with a child's learning disability, which requires special attention both at home and school. They call upon teachers to provide advice and may seek the assistance of special tutors. (3)

Decision Making

Visiting Homemakers, Housekeepers and Related Occupations

  • May decide what patients' will wear and what they will eat. (1)
  • May decide whether patients are well enough to participate in outside activities. (1)
  • Decide the sequence of activities for cleaning. (1)
  • May decide whether to accept new clients. (2)
  • Decide whether a patient is receiving too little or too much home care and determine when to terminate care. (2)
  • Decide when they must call for medical or emergency services. The decision is based on their knowledge of the patient's medical condition. (2)

Foster Parents

  • Decide, with a team of social workers, whether a child should be allowed to visit its natural family, based on the child's feelings and an assessment of the natural family's condition. (3)

Critical Thinking

Critical Thinking information was not collected for this profile.

Job Task Planning and Organizing

Homemakers, housekeepers and workers in related occupations receive assignments and individual care plans from their supervisors in the agency. They plan a daily activity schedule to take into account duties such as cleaning, grocery shopping and making medical appointments. Depending on the clients' needs, they may need to adjust their schedule. Foster children often fit into a pre-existing family routine. (2)

Significant Use of Memory

  • Remember activities to record in a weekly report to the agency.
  • Remember emergency medical procedures.
  • Remember clients' favourite recipes.
  • Remember strategies for dealing with specific behavioural problems of children.

Finding Information

  • Use street maps to find the homes of new patients. (1)
  • Find recipes in client's kitchen files to prepare familiar meals. (1)
  • May refer to books to learn about a client's medical condition. (2)

Digital technology

  • They may prepare weekly or long-term reports. (2)

Other Essential Skills:

Working with Others

Visiting homemakers, housekeepers and workers in related occupations mostly work alone or independently. Some work with helpers or, in the case of foster parents, with other family members.

Some visiting homemakers, housekeepers and workers in related occupations work as part of a larger team which includes agency personnel and the professionals who provide support to the agency.

Continuous Learning

Visiting homemakers, housekeepers or workers in related occupations have an ongoing need to learn. Visiting homemakers and foster parents may require cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid courses and refreshers. Workers obtain new knowledge by attending seminars or workshops on specific health care topics which are applicable to their clients, ranging from mental health to palliative care or Alzheimer's disease. Home Support Attendant programs are available in many locales. Housekeepers learn new duties on the job in order to respond to specific needs of ambassadorial, residential or institutional clients.