This month saw the launching of a new EU-funded child-care project aimed at helping families with young children juggle work and family. In view of the lack of day nurseries and kindergartens around the country the Brno Centre for Family Planning and Child Care has launched a “rent-a-granny” scheme along the lines of the Oma Dienst project successfully implemented in neighbouring Austria.
Irena Mala is more than a babysitter- she is a replacement grandparent who now looks after two young boys several days a week. The boys’ parents were one of the first to respond to the “rent a granny” scheme launched by the Brno centre. Gabriela Vybiralova, one of the project’s organizers, says the name of the project –Clover – denotes a bond between three generations: seniors, young parents and children.
“We launched the Clover project only this month and the idea behind it was to help mums who do not have grandparents to help them out return to work once their maternity leave ends. Many worry about leaving their children with babysitters but what we offer is highly personal childcare by someone motivated by family contact rather than financial gain. There are many retired women who have free time on their hands and find great fulfillment in this. We select our grannies carefully and try to match them to the right families –in terms of location and interests. What we insist on is regular contact –at least once a week in order to support the process of emotional bonding between granny and the kids.”
Irena Mala who is retired with grown children of her own–and no grandchildren to fill her time – says she is very happy in her new role.
“These kids keep me young and spending time with them is most enjoyable. We chat, we play games, go to the playground, buy ice-cream–the kind of things you would do with your own grandchildren. I have plenty of other interests and hobbies – but this is something more –it is an enjoyable and useful way of spending my free time.”
Rented grannies are mainly there for the children –they should not be expected to clean house or cook. They have no specific certifications, but they all have childcare experience and some have formal training. They are ready to offer love, support and protection and are in fact very much what a biological granny would be. The set rate is a minimum of 50 crowns per hour, though there are no objections to reaching an individual agreement.
I asked Gabriela Vybiralova how much interest the scheme had generated so far.
“Well after the media attention the project received in the past few days we have been bombarded by calls from around the country. We are filing all offers and requests though we had expected to expand more slowly from our home base in Brno, Moravia. We are already struggling to meet demand – we have 50 grannies and 90 families who want to rent one.”
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