ADA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — Parents across West Michigan continue to struggle with finding a nanny to watch their kids.

Shelley Stahl, a mother who lives in Ada Township, said she had interviewed four nannies in the past two months, and each time the potential caretaker declined the job offer.

“The night before she was supposed to start, she just said it sounds like it’s going to be too much work,” Stahl said.

The nanny never showed up and left Stahl to scramble. Stahl has three kids and is looking for 50 hours of caretaking coverage each week. Still, her efforts have gone unrewarded.

“For the first time in the industry, there is more demand than there is supply,” said Jaynie Fawley, owner of Michigan Nanny Authority. The organization helps place nannies with families.

Fawley said since the start of the pandemic, the average hourly rate for caretakers has jumped from $16 an hour to $22. The price increase has forced some families to get creative to secure a nanny.

“We’re having to encourage families to do signing bonuses and offer health insurance stipends,” she said.

Daycares across West Michigan are also fully booked.

Stahl told News 8 that her kids are on several daycare waitlists, some of which have more than a year wait. The shortage of accredited caretakers has forced Stahl to hire last-minute sitters through Facebook.

“Do you breathe? OK. Can you make sure they don’t die? Great, you are hired,” she said. “That’s how I feel right now and that’s not how I want someone to (help) raise my children.”

Fawley said that there is a silver lining to the nanny nightmares: many teachers, nurses and special educators have joined the list of potential caretakers since 2020.

“Those who are working in special (education) have become private educators,” she said. “Where instead of working in private facilities or schools, they have been hired to help families with children who had (individualized education plans) and special needs.”

If a family can secure a long-term caretaker, the nanny may be more qualified than previous help.