Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Nannies from the Heartland, New Extended Guarantee

by Mary O'Connor

     We have adopted a new extended replacement guarantee to better serve our valued client families. This is the most comprehensive and longest guarantee policy of any nanny service in the Twin Cities. It is a rare occurrence, but does occasionally happen, that a client family needs to hire a new nanny after the 120 day free replacement primary guarantee period has expired. If this happens within the nanny's first year of employment, it has generally been our practice to give the family a prorated credit toward a new placement. This  prorated credit exceeds the 10% discount we have always extended to returning clients. Recently, we have better defined this practice and the extended guarantee is now included in the Agency Family Agreement.
     The Extended Guarantee: If the initial employment relationship is terminated between 121 and 365 days, the client family is entitled to a prorated credit of $135 per month toward the $1600 placement fee for a new employee.
  • Example: Placement ends after 9 months, family receives a credit of $405 (12 months - 9 months = 3 months x $135 = $405) which is subtracted from the new $1600 placement fee. In addition, the primary 120 day free replacement guarantee then applies to this placement. 
     We are able to offer our client families these generous guarantee options because we have great confidence in the screening process we employ and the quality of the experienced nannies we refer to our client families. There is only one other nanny service that we aware of in the country that offers such a comprehensive guarantee. We value our family clients and the many others that they refer to us and believe in treating them in a fair manner.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Arts + Crafts: Fundamentals Part 3

Getting Started: My Story (continued)
      Sometimes I introduced the children to the various materials we were planning to use. We’d start brainstorming on what ideas they had and then let them loose to create. Other times it was simply putting out the materials and letting them have at it – no explanations, no expectations. And still other times we had directions and materials to create a specific product, but if someone wanted to take that idea out of the box – I let them (well, within reason).
     Personally I love crafts – scrapbooking, sewing, jewelry, embroidery, papermaking, quilting, etc. – and I feel it has lots of room for personal expression. To make something tangible takes a variety of skills as well as creativity. I’ve followed directions to the letter on some projects and with others I utilize the structured techniques to create something really unique. At the same time I delight in art with no boundaries. Drawing is a great example; with pencil and paper I’m free to create whatever comes to me. Although I may use techniques and skills I’ve learned along the way, I’m not confined to them. This is the kind of attitude I like to use in working with children and art or crafts. We can

Friday, June 25, 2010

Arts + Crafts: Fundamentals Part 2

Space and Organization: My Story
      We set up an art area in a corner of our play room. There was the option to move into the kitchen or front hall area if needed, or even outdoors can be a great space for art. When indoors we did cover the floor using a tarp (this could be a large plastic table cloth) spread out under foot to catch messes and help with clean-up. By the way, we all participated in cleaning up – it wasn’t a "the nanny will do it" job at all. I recommend using paint shirts or cover-ups and wearing play clothes. I never wanted messes or the fear of making a mess to interfere with the fun and creativity. Dad’s old shirts make great art smocks – you can wear them button front or back and they are long enough to cover clothing.
     Materials were available to the children in easy to access storage containers (on their level if appropriate). This also helped with clean-up since everyone knows where materials go when they are done. A tub of crayons, another for colored pencils and a third for washable markers were always nearby. Depending on the age of the children the glue sticks were usually right there as well. We had a box with recycled paper which the children used for drawing or coloring. The area was set up “child friendly” and we encouraged careful use of all materials keeping waste to a minimum.
      I would rotate different materials in and out of our “art center” to keep things interesting and fresh but there would always be

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Art + Crafts: The Fundamentals Part 1

Creative expression is essential in a child's early years and beyond. Often we use “arts and crafts” as a description for creative expression with a variety of materials. So, what is the difference between them?
Art is an open ended expression of creativity using a variety of materials. Options could include; paints, paper, found objects, sculpting dough or clay, crayons, pencils, markers, beads, feathers, etc. It’s important to offer the opportunity for children to explore all types of materials completely without any expectations of any specific outcome. There can be parameters set on the activity in terms of the materials available, the time frame for the activity and the location.
Art is about the experience and process of creating rather than an expectation of the outcome. Children are free to express their feelings, illustrate experiences or simply open themselves up to the moment. The final product may not have as much significance to the child as the experience itself. 
Crafts may also include a variety of materials offered but with a specific outcome expected or desired. Typically there are several steps involved in the process from beginning to the end product. This could include assembling components or working through a step-by-step instructions to arrive at the completed project. Crafts have more structure and can be an asset in developing concepts of planning, implementation and completion. There are lots of kits

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Homemade Sidewalk Chalk Paint

Homemade Sidewalk Chalk Paint

2 tablespoons of cornstarch 
2 tablespoons of water
4-5 drops of food coloring
Directions:  Add the cornstarch first and then the water for ease in mixing. The amount of food coloring you use will determine the intesity of color in the paint. I mixed in plastic containers - small sized deli containers work great. Using an ice cube tray or mufffin tin can be a great base for your paints.

Tips: I liked to give each child their own tray with all the colors and a few open spaces for "mixing" their own combinations. You may also want to consider dividing up the sidewalk or driveway into sections so there are fewer issues with competing for space. Using several types of brushes can vary the experience. Because of the roughness of the sidewalk or driveway I wouldn't recommend the foam style brush as it tends to shred pretty quickly. Having small spray bottles of water handy can add interest to the experience. It's interesting for some children to see colors "bleed" into each other or to get an even more watered down color.

We enjoyed having an "art walk" after our creative sessions to enjoy everyone's masterpieces. It's good for the children to know that this isn't permanent before they get started. We tried to take photos of everyone's paintings so we had a momento.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

OVERTIME - The Law Applies, Even with a Salary

from Breedlove & Associates

In the past three weeks, Breedlove & Associates have encountered more overtime disputes than they did in the previous three years. As they analyzed each case, they realized one thing in common: the families offered a salary. There is, of course, nothing wrong with offering a salary - the law provides latitude for families to pay on either a salary or an hourly basis. However, the term "salary" means different things to different people. In each of our recent overtime cases, these different definitions led to miscommunication between agency and family about overtime pay requirements for salaried employees. Given the costly nature of overtime mistakes and the fact that there is no statute of limitations for overtime disputes, it is extremely important for agencies, candidates and families to fully understand the law. The good news: these expensive legal problems are easy to prevent with a little knowledge and discipline.

The Mistake    
A family hired a nanny and offered to pay her a salary of $720 per week for a work-week that was expected to be 45 hours ($16/hour x 45 hours = $720). The employee was happy with this compensation arrangement and agreed to the salary. The nanny was paid at this rate for three and a half years.On occasion, the employer asked the employee to work some "extra hours" for babysitting and overnight stays. They agreed that these hours would be paid at the $16/hour rate.

The Law

Thursday, June 10, 2010

National Get Outdoors Day Saturday June 12

     Celebrate National Get Outdoors Day on Saturday, June 12. It's a chance to put down the remote, log off the computer, and get outside to have some fun, be active and enjoy nature.
To help encourage people to join in and enjoy active living, Three Rivers Park District in the Twin Cities metro is offering many activities, rentals and programs for free.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Picnics Part III: Educational Activities

By Colleen O'Connor

Most children will find plenty of fun things to do at a picnic, especially if you visit a beach or playground. However, with a bit of planning you can turn your outing into a learning experience, too. Try these activities this summer:

Spread the Word!

INA Individual Nanny Memberships Now $35

     Since 1985, INA has been supporting nannies and working to raise the level of professionalism in our profession. Together, we can continue our mission and educate the public about competitive nanny salaries and benefits, Recommended Practices for Nannies, Nanny Placement Agencies and more!
     The International Nanny Association (INA), established in 1985, is the original umbrella organization for the in-home child care industry.
     INA is a nonprofit, educational association for nannies and those who educate, place, employ and support in-home child care providers.
     Membership in the INA is open to nannies, nanny employers, nanny placement agencies, nanny educators, industry service providers and those directly involved in the in-home child care industry.

 Since 1985, INA is proud to have:
• Established Recommended Practices for nannies and nanny placement agencies
• Produced a nanny basic skills exam and the first internationally recognized credential exam for nannies and an accompanying study guide/handbook, Beyond Parenting Basics: The International Nanny Association's Official Guide to In-home Child Care
• Created a Family and Nanny Work Agreement used by parents and nanny placement agencies across the United States
• Launched, an informational web portal for in-home child care
• Published Beyond Peanut Butter & Jelly, Time for Cooking with the International Nanny Association
• Conducted nationwide salary and benefits surveys for in-home child care providers
• Hosted 24 Annual educational conferences, across the United States
• Been recognized as the authority on in-home child care

Be part of the tradition of excellence
Get Involved Today!

Friday, June 4, 2010

International Nanny Association Awards Service Pins

Mary recently attended the International Nanny Association (INA) conference in San Francisco. She was presented with an INA 20 Year Service Award Pin in recognition of her service and contributions in the nanny industry.

Mary was recognized as founder and president of Nannies from the Heartland for the past 20 years. Her leadership in the industry included 10 years of service to the INA Board of Directors, two years serving as president, as well as hours of committee service to the INA.

In a special recognition breakfast over 30 nannies, agency/business owners and educators in the industry were honored. Each honoree was highlighted in a presentation booklet. The Service Award Program will continue to be part of future conferences.

"We are honored and excited to be part of the initial launch of this program and in the company of so many outstanding nannies, agencies and educators who contribute to the in-home child care industry on a daily basis!"

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Announcing the 2010 International Nanny Association Nanny of the Year

2010 INA Nanny of the Year

Greta Schraer
Batavia, Ohio

Greta has both a bachelors and masters degree in Theology. She began her nanny career in 1992, working as a full time, part time, temporary and summer nanny over those years. As a nanny in the Cincinnati area Greta found that there was a need for the nannies in the area to feel connected and so she began CincyNanny, a website and blog giving the local nannies their own community and families resources they can use.

Greta's current position is as the full time nanny of triplet boys. Jessica Shelly said, "She makes it a priority to see that not just the boys are taken care of, but that our family unit is supported and encouraged." Their family has an inside joke - when a challenging situation arises they think WWGD? or What Would Greta Do?

The INA Nanny of the Year is awarded to one nanny each year who exemplifies the professional nanny; who goes above and beyond to serve children, families and their community.