The term nanny popularly evokes images of Mary Poppins or Supernanny Jo Frost—a woman with a British accent who, through magic or management, solves all problems. Then there are the headline nannies whose exploits with celebrity employers are the stuff of tabloid titillation.

The reality in the 21st century is that a nanny may be a college-educated professional on the lists of some pricey agency or, more likely, a woman who has emigrated from the Philippines, Central America, or the Caribbean. She—nannies are predominantly female—is employed on either a live-in or live-out, part-time or full-time basis to care for children within the home, typically working from 40 to 60 hours per week. According to a 2006 survey by the International Nanny Association, a nanny's salary ...

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