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LDS CHURCH IS ADVISING YOUNG WOMEN MEMBERS NOT TO BECOME NANNIES

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The LDS Church hasn't banned its young women members from becoming nannies, but it tries to discourage them from taking the baby-tending and housekeeping jobs, a church spokesman said Monday.

Too many unsuccessful experiences prompted the church to advise young women - some just out of high school - to pursue other employment, said spokesman Jerry Cahill."It's not a ban," Cahill said. "The church does not claim the power or right to do this."

"But, in response to concerns based on experience and observations by church leaders themselves, the church has felt a need to give this counsel. What people do with that counsel is up to them," he said.

Young, non-drinking, non-smoking Mormon women have been widely sought for years to become nannies in private homes, particularly on the East and West coasts. In some years, nearly 2,000 are believed to have accepted nanny jobs.

One Salt Lake agency working exclusively with nanny openings said it places as many as 500 each year. But the agency said placements have dropped off substantially because of the Mormon Church's position several weeks ago.

Cahill said church officials are concerned the young women are assuming major responsibilities without proper training. And specific employment terms such as pay, hours, days off, holidays, insurance, transportation and church attendance are not always defined, he said.

"It's really for them a dead-end career," Cahill said.

Gary L. Gale, president of Nannies Placement Services, said he has hired between 80 percent and 90 percent Mormons. And Gale said "85 percent are successful."

Gale said 7 percent to 10 percent of the women hired through Nannies Placement encounter problems, and that most of those problems were homesickness.

But Cahill said experiences in the Boston area indicate that fewer than a third of the women have been able to attend regular church services.

"They are cutoff from their normal support system of friends and family in a time of terrific adjustment with very great responsibilities," the church spokesman said. "They don't have someone to turn to when they need them the most."

He said that leaves the young women vulnerable to possible victimization, either by the family they're working for or by new-found friends.