From getting the help of an au pair to babysitting, there are many options for child care in Panama City. It is not that common for expat family's in Panama to enlist the help of a nanny, but it is a possibility.
Many families opt for a Spanish speaking nanny, especially if their children are young, so that their children can be spoken to in Spanish as well
Families can also hire an au pair or babysitter through online web portals like Great Aupair, where they are subject to a background check before being hired. Au pairs will list if they have more experience with certain age ranges over others, if they are bilingual and the price they are asking for. Most charge as low as $300 and as high as $1000 depending on how many children they are looking after and the working hours.
It is important that you consider the age of your child or children before hiring someone to look after them. Some child care workers will have a lot of experience with infants and toddlers, but no experience with pre-teens or teens, and vice versa. You should also factor into your choice their location and their means of transportation.
Panama does not have substantial government programs or subsidies to help families.
Most child care programs in Panama are private, so it is good to connect with other parents to get some recommendations. You can try do that at work, at expat events and get-togethers, and by simply making conversation with people at parks and playgrounds.
Babysitters, which are called “la niñera” in Spanish, are generally employed on a temporary or short-term basis. Often they work on a specific occasion or specific night of the week.
They can be a friend of the family or relative that is employed for an evening to watch over the child at the parents' residence. Usually, young women are the babysitters and may offer their services as a side business.
Most families find a babysitter by word-of-mouth, letting friends and family know that they are looking. Parents may also try posting on bulletin boards at community centers, grocery stores, or expat hang-outs.
A great online resource is to post on expat classifieds, like on EasyExpat's babysitter search.
For more frequent childcare, you may consider an au pair. Consult the section on "Au Pair" under "Find a Job".
A professional babysitter could charge $30-$50 a day/night depending on their credentials. Casual sitters often charge much less.