INA Conference 2015 – Learning and Networking Caribbean Style!
INA is excited to share our hotel destination with you all! Iberostar Cancun is situated on one of Mexico’s most stunning beachfronts, and features a sprawling resort complex that will please all our conference attendees. This all-inclusive resort features spacious rooms with views of the Caribbean, four specialty restaurants and two buffets.
Nightly entertainment, recreation option, seven pools, a spa, and an onsite 18-hole championship golf course are just a few of the reasons to plan your stay at the Iberostar Cancun. You won’t want to miss this opportunity to celebrate INA’s 30th Anniversary in this gorgeous location!
A short walk and bus ride will take you to local shopping, restaurants and nightlife. Make plans and bring the family! Next week we will announce the AMAZING prices we’ve secured for our attendees and further details you’ll need to know when planning your trip to Cancun. Let’s make our 30th annual conference not just memorable, let’s make it UNFORGETTABLE.
Coming Soon! Registration information and exciting rates only available to conference attendees!
Nannies, do you and your nanny family have any type of nanny Emergency Plan in place? There are so many different scenarios is which one would be needed! According to the US Department of Homeland Security’s Ready Check program, the keys are to prepare, plan and stay informed.
There is the weather, depending upon where you live; you may need to know what to do in the event of a tornado or earthquake, flooding or blizzards. Have you and your nanny family sat down and drafted a nanny emergency plan of action? This can include things such as, where to go, what to take with you, what to do if the power goes out or there is no cell service and how to find one another if you are separated.
What about a non-weather related emergency, such as a gas leak or a fire in or near the home you work in. Do you have an established meeting place in your local area? Many times if there is a disaster in the area you provide care, no one will be allowed into that area, so to reunite the children with the parents you will need to take them to a designated meeting place.
There are also evacuations due to gas leaks, train derailments, and other man made disasters. And with the anniversary of 9/11 fast approaching, terrorism remains a concern also. What about an emergency plan, if heaven forbid the parents are in an accident or something happens that prevents them from coming home? Who would you call to notify, who would come and take care of the children or who would you take the children to? It’s important to know this information.
As a child care professional, you need to think of the ‘what ifs’ to be prepared and able to respond in any emergency situation. If your nanny family has not already discussed this with you, bring it up! They will appreciate your foresight and attention to the entire family’s well being.
When you care for children with special needs, you need to do extra emergency planning. The American Academy of Pediatrics has special emergency planning resources for children with special health needs.
Do you have a code word? This can be used if something is seriously wrong and you need the parents ASAP. We often hear about parents and nannies having a code word with school age children, and this same concept can be applied to home emergencies where you do not want to frighten the children but you want to notify the parents right away. You can text the code word quickly and the parents will know what it means.
You can even develop different code words for different situations. This may require a master sheet be kept with you, but it can be done.
Do you carry your ID on you when you are at work? What about identification for the children you care for? What if something happened and you were separated from the children or you were unable to communicate, who would know who you are? What if something happened to you and you are caring for a child that cannot communicate, how is anyone going to know who you are and who the child belongs to? It is beneficial to make a child ID card with the child’s name, parent’s name, contact numbers and any medical conditions or allergies. Carry this on you at all times when you are with the children. Take pictures with your cell phone of key information such as medical insurance cards, allergies and medical conditions – it is easy to recall in an emergency off your camera roll.
The main message is to be prepared. Have a plan of action. Know what to do and where to go in the event of any type of emergency. Know who to contact and in what means, either via text or phone call.
It is wise to be prepared and stay on step ahead!
Have you had to deal with an emergency as a nanny? Share what worked, what didn’t and please help us all be better informed child caregivers.
Sheri is very active with INA – in addition to the 2014 NOTY activities such as media interviews and speaking engagements, Sheri also serves on the INA Board of Directors.
The Nanny Tax Conversation: Nanny Agency Tips
You are helping a new client family do a needs assessment prior to beginning the nanny search. During the course of the conversation you query them about their childcare budget. How much do they plan to spend on their nanny? The family throws out a weekly number that sounds reasonable. You clarify that this is the nanny’s weekly wage, and that this is before taxes? The parents look at each other in puzzled manner, then turn to you and ask “What taxes?”
Every nanny agency faces this situation, and how you respond to it can either help you build trust with this family or undermine their faith that your nanny agency is a good resource for their family. You specialize in recruitment. Your primary focus is to match this family with a nanny that they will be delighted with long term. You are not an accountant, nor do you want to be! The nanny tax is complicated. What do you do?
- ALIGN YOUR NANNY AGENCY WITH ONE OR MORE INA-MEMBER PAYROLL FIRMS THAT SPECIALIZE IN NANNY TAX COMPLIANCE. These businesses can facilitate the conversations with your clients, answer their questions in detail, connect them with Workers’ Compensation Insurance firms, and help draft a FLSA compliant compensation offers to the nanny.
- MAKE SURE YOU AND YOUR NANNY AGENCY TEAM KNOW THE BASICS, AND TRAIN YOUR AGENCY STAFF TO REFER CLIENTS TO YOUR PAYROLL PARTNER(S). Take the time to prepare a quick script for staff to address key points. The basics include:
- A nanny is an employee, not an independent contractor. This is established under law, and is not a matter of opinion or a decision that the family and nanny can make together. There are online tools, videos and written advice you can steer your clients too.
- A family is responsible to report and pay the Social Security and Medicare taxes for their employee, and to contribute to unemployment insurance. The nanny cannot do this herself. Nanny tax compliance is the law. For budgeting purposes the family can expect to pay roughly 10-12% in employment taxes above the gross agreed upon wage, depending on the state.
- Workers’ Compensation Insurance protects the family from financial liability should the nanny suffer an accident on the job. (Your nanny tax partners can connect your client with appropriate insurance agencies.)
- Paying cash under the table is risky for families because when and if the nanny’s job ends the nanny can file for unemployment benefits, which can result in audit and hefty penalties once the state is able to determine the nanny worked for the family.
- FACILITATE THE WRITING OF AN FLSA COMPLIANT COMPENSATION AGREEMENT. Federal law establishes that all nannies are hourly employees, and that live-out or come-and-go nannies are entitled to overtime. Your state may have stricter overtime definitions. Putting these details down in writing when the job offer is extended protects all parties – the family, your nanny agency and the nanny – from misunderstandings or even unwitting violations of Federal or state law. Lean on your nanny payroll tax partners for help here – their staff will be happy to help you.
- REMIND THE FAMILY THAT A PROFESSIONAL NANNY EXPECTS TO RECEIVE HER WEEKLY PAY IN FULL EVERY WEEK SHE IS AVAILABLE TO WORK, WHETHER THE FAMILY DECIDES TO TAKE A HOLIDAY OR NOT. Follow that up by including this in the compensation agreement. All too many ‘good’ nanny job matches fall apart because there was not clarity at time of hire on this point. The family trusts your nanny agency to provide the necessary guidance that results in a satisfying, long term relationship with their nanny.
- FACILITATE THE DOCUMENTATION OF BENEFITS SUCH AS PAID HOLIDAYS AND PAID TIME OFF. Define which Federal holidays the nanny will be paid for. Define vacation and sick time pay if included. A key component of a ‘good’ nanny job match is mutual understanding on benefits and household ‘policies.’ Your nanny agency’s reputation is reinforced when you help the family work through these issues in advance.
A nanny agency builds trust and credibility when the agency provides the client with the advice, tools and partners that both manage the family’s risk and saves the family valuable time. Your agency reputation is enhanced when you guide the family through the hiring process and minimize their time spent on research. Your valuable knowledge and access to expert assistance differentiates your nanny agency from the less professional agency across town and from the national, online databases. Your clients have better things to do with their time!
The following INA-Member Nanny Payroll and Tax Services provide Sponsor Support to our Annual Conference:
A special thank you to INA-member HomeWork Solutions for providing this guidance. HomeWork Solutions offers both household payroll and household payroll tax compliance services to US families on a nationwide basis and has partnered with INA nanny agencies since 1993.
Do you have specialized knowledge, experience or resources that you want to share with your fellow INA members? We encourage you to submit original, informational articles to the INA to be considered for publication. Authors of selected articles will receive attribution in the post. Email your submissions to the INA Office.
Being a beacon of light for families that need guidance and resources to cope with everyday stress and difficult periods raising young children is a task that is not listed on many nanny job descriptions. However, parents, nannies and children cannot escape stress or mend a broken heart with a magic band-aid. During these times, many extended family members, friends and neighbors are eager to help and offer advice and ways to help “fix” the problem. How can you know who has the “right” advice for your family or your charges? Are there nanny resources available?
Family physicians, pediatricians, therapists and medical professionals are certainly the most credible voices of reason and a first line of defense against serious mental health issues. Except many matters may fall short of a traumatic event that demands medical attention.
What can nannies do when a medical doctor is too much and a band-aid is not enough? What nanny resources exist for caregivers? At Vanderbilt’s Center on the Social and Emotional Foundations for Early Learning, educators, researchers and therapists have created a storehouse of resources to address the social and emotional developmental needs of young children. These resources include practical strategies, family tools, videos and opportunities to participate in chat sessions. The US Center for Disease Control and Prevention also recently released an online resource center Essentials for Parenting Toddlers and Preschoolers that also has videos, coaching and practical advice for parents and caregivers. At difficult times, turn to credible resources for advice where the focus addresses on the foundation of what is developmentally age appropriate for young children.
Thank you to INA member Angela Riggs, Early Childhood Education Associate Dean, Sullivan University, Louisville KY for sharing these resources with the INA.
The International Nanny Association is aware of a recent incident involving a nanny in New Jersey who was hired to care for a child for 4 hours. According to sources, the mother found the nanny passed-out, drunk and the child crying and in a soiled diaper. The child was physically uninjured and the nanny was arrested. The family hired the nanny through an online service.
The International Nanny Association acknowledges that online child care services provide a quick and cost efficient way to secure child care. Parents using these online resources, however, assume total responsibility for all caregiver vetting – the websites have iron clad disclaimers that clearly state this. An interview, even an in-person interview, is not sufficient. It is imperative that thorough nanny background screening checks be run on any person one chooses to care for their children and that the caregiver’s references must be scrupulously checked.
The International Nanny Association suggests that parents seeking qualified and extensively screened child care providers consider a professional nanny referral agency in their local area. INA-member agencies are listed in our online membership directory. Experienced nanny referral agencies have deep expertise in caregiver screening, the kind of experience that comes from daily nanny interviewing, screening, and reference checking. Background screening will only reveal when an applicant has been caught and convicted of a crime. Putting a recruiting professional in your corner dramatically reduces the risks of a bad hire.
Emotionally and physically safe and secure in-home childcare is our mutual goal.
INA Nanny Background Screening Resources:
INA Nanny Employer Handbook - a Free download
Many, many professional nannies work for families whose children have special needs. But what about the situation when the Mom or Dad is actually the family member with a special need? Author and blogger Elizabeth Christy shares tips for nannies on caring for the family as a whole when a parent has chronic pain or illness.
by Elizabeth M. Christy
I am a 32 year old mother living with severe chronic pain stemming from autoimmune disease. I am unable to clean my house, care for my garden, and I also need a lot of helping caring for my 3 year old son, Jimmy (pictured with me). As a mom, I want to give him the world- take him to interesting places, go on hikes, pick him up and squeeze him.. but unfortunately, I am routinely unable to do many of even the most basic tasks of parenting. If you work for a family like mine, there are many simple things that you can do to help them; and earn their deepest gratitude and trust in the process.
Take the children on outings.
Children learn by exploring their environment. When a parent you work for has chronic pain or illness, they are likely unable to regularly do “special” activities with their child, or even basics, like simply walking their child to the playground, or pushing them on the swing. Make outings and “special” trips – family friendly farms, museums, markets, fairs, nature walks.. anything that gets the child out of the house and doing something active! Take pictures on your phone of the child during the outings. When you’re done; write a short note about the joyful time the kids had, and share photos. Hearing about their children’s experiences; even if they were notable to share them, is something that will be treasured and remembered; for years to come.
Teach and encourage organization and picking-up.
Picking up toys is probably the most difficult chore for a parent with chronic pain or illness. Even if they have a house cleaning service, children, as you know, can tear a room apart in a matter of minutes! Better yet, teach and encourage the children to pick up after themselves; even small toddlers are able to help clean up. That way, you will give the parents a gift that will last! Click here for a guide on how toddlers can help out around the house. *Pulling up weeds may also make a parent weep tears of gratitude!
Educate yourself, listen and support.
Google the condition that the parent has, so you can better understand how to help them. Demonstrate your support: People with chronic pain and illness often are afraid to be seen as “complainers,” or to be judged to be “a burden,” or “lazy.” Make it clear that you believe their pain is real (chronic pain is often invisible; the parent may look completely healthy). Ask them how they’re feeling that day, and if there’s anything special that you can do to help them. Even if they don’t specify anything, keep asking; once they gain your trust, they will be more likely to open up. Having someone that truly listens is pure gold to someone with chronic pain or illness. Support the children. Encourage them to talk about their parents illness; ask them how they feel, and validate them. The children may have feelings of sadness, or even anger. Read them books like “Why Does Mommy Hurt? Helping Children Cope with the Challenges of having a Parent or Caregiver with Chronic Pain, Fibromyalgia, or Autoimmune Disease.” Opening up communication in the family about a parent’s condition is another gift that could last a lifetime!
|Elizabeth M. Christy is the author of many freelance and online publications, and the best-selling childrens book, “Why Does Mommy Hurt?” She writes a blog for parents with chronic pain and disease: parentswithpain.com. Elizabeth is a autoimmune disease and Fibromyalgia “ninja,” and lives in Sterling, VA with her growing family. She also runs the non-profit “Books and Bottles,” supporting needy children and infants.|
Are you an all-star nanny? Do your employers tell you they don’t know what they would do without you? Have you had parents at the playground say they wish they had a nanny like you? Do you have friends and family members come to you for parenting advice? If this sounds like you, then you would make a fantastic Nanny of the Year Nominee.
The International Nanny Association’s Nanny of the Year (INA NOTY) award is presented annually to a deserving in-home childcare provider. This person must work full time as a nanny or a specialty nanny such as a Newborn Care Specialist, Night-time Nanny or Traveling Nanny. If you meet the eligibility requirements, talk to your employer, local agency owner, family member or even a friend about nominating you. Our 2015 NOTY Packet includes all you need to know about the process. If you have further questions you can contact the NOTY Chair, Marcia Hall.
The INA Nanny of the Year award has a 25 year legacy, and prior honorees have strengthened public awareness and perception the in-home childcare industry and raised the bar for professional nannies. A common thread all INA Nanny of the Year Nominees possess is their dedication to excellence in their career. We hope that you will consider a nomination to NOTY or consider the nannies you know who would be a great nominee.
The 2015 INA Nanny of the Year honoree will be announced at our 30th Annual Conference, April 23-26 in Cancun Mexico.
NOTY Portfolio’s are due to the INA office by January 10, 2015. Find details on what submissions need to look like in the 2015 Packet. Nominees will need to be registered for the 2015 Annual Conference, April 23-26th in Cancun, Mexico by February 1, 2015. INA’s 2015 NOTY will be introduced to the membership BEFORE conference this year but all NOTY Nominees will be celebrated before and after conference.
PLEASE SHARE THIS POST – GREAT WORKSHOPS WANTED!
Deadline September 15, 2014
The International Nanny Association is planning its 30th Annual Conference, to be held April 23, 26, 2015 in Cancun Mexico. This will be a gala celebration of INA’s achievements over the last 30 years, specifically in the areas of nanny education, standards and recommended practices in the in-home child care industry.
Do you have an idea for a great workshop that you would like to share? Do you know a professional whose knowledge and skills would benefit our conference attendees? Workshop Proposals are being accepted now through September 15, 2014. Find more information on our website!
This year our conference structure will change due to the unique opportunities we have in Mexico. For the INA 2015 Annual Conference the workshops will be longer in length (about 2 hours each) allowing for a more in depth presentation on the topics chosen. We encourage proposals that include hands-on learning opportunities, including skills practice, role playing, and other attendee engagement.
If you would like to present a workshop, please use this form to submit your idea for consideration. If your workshop is chosen you will be notified by November 1st 2014. In this electronic form you will need to include:
- Your biography
- Your contact information
- A workshop title
- A workshop description
- A short outline explaining specifically what you will talk about in your presentation
- Several other details regarding the specifics of your plans for a workshop
If you know of an amazing presenter who could speak to one or all of our INA Conference tracks (nanny, newborn care specialist or agency owners) please find out if they would be interested then pass their information along to the INA office or the program committee chairs.
- Marcia Hall is the chair of the Nanny Track
- Cortney Gibson is the chair of the Newborn Care Specialist Track
- Kathy Webb is the chair of the Agency Track
For questions contact Kellie Geres the Conference Coordinator.
Please note: While some references in the article below are to Australian law, all observations and recommendations apply equally in the United States.
I was recently interviewed* about the ‘ins and outs’ of hiring a nanny, during which I summarized five important things that need to be remembered during the hiring process. While many readers will be familiar with some or all of these, I thought it might timely to go over them again, as a reminder for those who might be about to hire a new nanny, or a guide for those looking to employ their first nanny.
1. Start by being really clear about why you are hiring a nanny, and having a clear job description. A nanny is someone who will provide proactive, professional child care for your children in their own home. She is not a housekeeper, a personal assistant or a home renovator. She is not even a babysitter – in the sense of someone who passively minds the kids. It is amazing how often this is misunderstood. A clear job description is essential, right from the beginning, in order to avoid potential confusion and misunderstandings. (We can provide help with compiling this if you need it.)
2. Be careful to screen applicants properly, including reference checks. This is obviously really important but as it can be time consuming there’s a tendency to cut corners. Make sure that you are shown the originals – not copies – of documents like a current Working with Children Check and written references. It is always a good idea to check references with a phone call as well. Obviously we will check these documents ourselves if you are hiring through us, but there’s nothing to stop you asking to see them yourself as well. It’s also wise to agree on a trial period to make sure that all the various parent/nanny/child relationships look like they are going to work. This benefits everyone involved.
3. Nannies must be formally employed – by the child’s parents or an agency – and paid the award wage as a minimum. Many people don’t realize that nannies are not independent contractors working under their own ABN. This is because contractors, under the ATO definition, must be operating as if they were a business. That means setting their own working conditions, such as hours of work and job description, and replacing themselves with someone else if necessary. Obviously none of these apply to in-home child care.
4. As employees, nannies must have their superannuation payments, work cover insurance and ‘pay as you go’ tax instalments managed by their employer. All this can get complicated and time consuming, which is why many people choose to use an agency like ourselves with a full payroll service. It’s just simpler. However, whether you employ and pay your nanny yourself or through an agency, the important thing to remember is that she is an employee and so entitled to the same rights as any other employee.
5. Include plans to give your nanny professional development opportunities. Being a nanny can be a lonely experience in many ways. As much as all nannies love working with their children, they need adult conversation as well. Most don’t usually get to even speak to an adult except at the start and end of the day, and interaction with others in their profession can be very rare indeed. For this reason we put a lot of emphasis on creating frequent professional development opportunities for all our nannies. They give carers a great chance to bounce ideas off one another (while keeping details, including names, confidential), as well as keeping them in touch with all the latest thinking in child care and related areas. Professional development keeps nannies energised and excited about their work.
Of course there is so much more to employing a nanny than just these five things, but these are the most important things to consider at the start. Having hired your nanny, the single most important things to remember are respect and communication. I’ll come back and talk about these in a future issue.
Available to members and the general public, this handbook offers expert tips on:
- Interviewing Candidates
- Negotiating Salary and Vacation Time
- Writing A Work Agreement
- Identifying and Managing Problems
- Employer Tax Obligations
- Sample job applications, performance review forms, home emergency templates and more
Publication of the Nanny Employer Handbook supports the International Nanny Association’s educational mission. If you too support excellence in in-home child care, we invite you to support the International Nanny Association.
A special thank you to INA member Louise Dunham for contributing this article.
Louise is the Managing Director of Placement Solutions, a nanny referral service in Melbourne Australia.
Louise also serves on the INA Board of Directors and chairs the Ethics Committee. She is the only international member to serve on the INA Board.
by Stacie Steelman
We have been asked recently to give our opinion on the case of Diane Stretton and the Bracamonte family of Upland, CA, better known as “The Nightmare Nanny” or “The Nanny Who Won’t Leave”. It is a very interesting case and not typical in nature. Room and board in exchange for childcare is not considered in the eyes of the industry to be a “professional nanny” employment arrangement. There are some legally significantly items that would better define a “professional nanny” employment arrangement that were not implemented in the process of establishing the Stretton-Bracamonte work arrangement.
Let’s review and discuss the simple steps you can take to avoid having something like this happen in your home.
As the CEO of a Southern California Nanny and Domestic Referral Agency, and an acting Board Member for the International Nanny Association (INA) I recommend the following practices to legitimize the process of hiring a nanny or domestic employee, and most particularly a live-in household employee. Clearly neither I nor the INA are offering specific legal advice; however, these are some solid suggestions and precautions that bring assurance to the hiring process.
- Establishment of a Written Employment Agreement, including a valid compensation agreement that meet’s your state’s minimum wage standards.
- A properly worded clause in the agreement that states that the Live-In Nanny is not a tenant. Tenancy laws vary by state, and an employment attorney can assist you here.
- A thorough assessment of the candidate’s background should be done INCLUDING an evaluation of civil cases that the potential candidate may have in their background to better evaluate character. This particular nanny had over 36 civil cases in her background. Additional recommended searches are a local county and or state wide search if available, a DMV report, a National Criminal Records Locator, a Social Security Verification, a Sexual Offender Registry search, a social media check, and in some cases a drug test. Take advantage if your State offers a regulated live scan/fingerprint technology program similar to California’s Trustline program. Learn more about the INA’s Recommended Practices for Nanny Background Screening.
- Speak to the prospective household employee’s references! Reputable nanny placement agencies heavily rely on reference checks, including speaking directly to the managers or heads of the household of the potential household employee. Ideally we look for applicants with a stable work history of at least 3 long term employers when possible.
- Conduct a through evaluation of the candidate’s employment history and relationships including an evaluation of their address history (an essential part of a nanny background screening process).
Keep in mind, credible professional nannies can be located from a variety of sources such as personal referrals, professional nanny referral agencies, the internet, and print publications. Look for professional nanny referral agencies who belong to and support professional organizations such as the International Nanny Association.
The practices you put in place surrounding hiring, retaining, and letting go of that nanny are the most integral part in the chances of a successful process. The above list of recommendations can be greatly expanded upon; however, I feel this is a good foundation to begin with. More information is found in the INA’s Nanny Employer Handbook, available as a free download.
It is extremely unfortunate that this Upland family and Ms. Stretton found themselves in this situation. I sincerely hope they are able to reconcile the situation as quickly as possible. In the meantime, if you follow best practices in household employment you can avoid placing your family in a similar situation.
Stacie Steelman is the CEO and Founder of Crunch Care, a full service nanny and domestic staffing agency in both San Diego and Orange County California. Stacie has over 10 years in the corporate staffing sector and has been in business in Southern California for almost 10 years.
Today Stacie sits on the Board of Directors for the International Nanny Association and acts as a local expert in the field of domestic employment, and acts as legal expert witness in cases that pertain to domestic employment.