In September, I had the privilege of attending my first Association of Premiere Nanny Agencies (APNA) conference.  35 reputable nanny agencies gathered in beautiful San Diego from all around the country to network, exchange useful information, gain insightful knowledge, and grow and develop their businesses.  It was a very educational experience for me and I walked away with a wealth of knowledge on the domestic staffing industry, a renewed excitement for being a part of this dynamic national association, and a new network of friends and colleagues. It is difficult for me to narrow in on only a couple core points that I retained from this 4 day APNA conference, since there were so many amazing speakers and topics shared.  The itinerary was jam- packed with so much valuable information such as: how to survive in an online world; how to build your brand with social media; how to meet and exceed expectations of employers; how to retain  your top

 talent in a competitive market; and how to survive and flourish in the nanny industry.  Plus there were several opportunities for me to network with other agencies to share ideas,  ask questions, and exchange business information, which was invaluable time spent.
Overall, the most important thing I learned is for us at Caring Nannies to lead with relationships and not tools. Relationship-building is everything to our families and our nannies. Those who deliver service and relationships will win.  Listening to our families’ and nannies’ needs, responding promptly, and communicating openly creates loyalty and builds lasting and trustworthy relationships.  That is our goal at Caring Nannies.
I was more than thrilled to represent Caring Nannies at this year’s APNA conference. Only the most professional Nanny Placement Agencies in the country belong to the Association of Premier Nanny Agencies.  They are a cut above the rest!  In order for a nanny agency to be a member of APNA, it must adhere to APNA’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Ethical Practices.  APNA promotes best business practices in all areas of the nanny placement and household staffing industries and their placement agencies have undergone extensive screening and scrutiny. Caring Nannies is proudly the ONLY nanny agency in the state of AZ that has the coveted seal of APNA and has been affiliated with APNA since….

So why choose an APNA agency instead of the others? They are the best of the best! It is highly beneficial to both nannies and parents to choose an APNA agency to represent them.  For nannies who consider themselves the best of the best in the childcare industry, they know that when parents want the highest caliber of nannies, they will look for an APNA agency nanny.  For parents, they can trust that a reputable APNA agency will be an honest, thorough, ethical business partner throughout this sensitive nanny placement process.  Both nannies and parents know that an APNA agency is going to be a constant source of comfort and support.

My 1st APNA conference was a huge success and I look forward to next year’s and many more to come.  Jenny Riojas, Placement Consultant.

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The difference between now and before the economic downturn is that instead of receiving 5-10 resumes for each position, today, we need to sort through dozens of resumes.  How do we go about matching the people who are best suited for your family?
How can personality testing help you in choosing the right nanny as well as securing an ongoing strong relationship with her?
Interestingly, many of our top tier nannies have their greatest strength in the “Supporter” or “Always there when you need them” Type “D” personality. The typical “D” personality doesn’t like change, and prefers to be given a set of guidelines to follow and they enjoy routine. They are very supportive of others and are the kind of person we turn to when we need advice. They are high in compassion and are happy and content with themselves and life in general. They are dependable, on time, adding balance and support in the home. We suspect that many of our clients are Type A personalities, described

as leaders, entrepreneurial, risk takers, independent, direct and to the point. They prefer to delegate routine tasks to others. Type “A” is often a business owner, manager, or in a position requiring a take charge, decisive, persistent person.
The “C” personality thrives on details, accuracy and takes life seriously. They dress impeccably, want to get the ‘facts’, are consistent, and predictable. They take a long time to make a decision, are deep, thoughtful and sensitive. They can get caught up in the details and not see the big picture.
“B” is the socializer, high energy one, who loves to be in a big group, and is the center of attention, and wants to have fun while working. They want to be liked, and can be sensitive. They are outgoing, persuasive, and talkative.

Although opposites attract, they can clash. Opposites can complement each other if they try to understand each other’s perspective. Opposite personalities often marry and it works since they make up for the other’s weaknesses. However, if a parent is expecting the nanny to do things in a way that is opposite her personality, there can be conflict.
If a neat, precise “C” personality is micro-managing a nanny who is creative, gets out the play-doh, or finger-paints, makes  tents in the living room, and shoots paper airplanes, this may not work out for long. Nothing is “wrong” with either person, they just need to have more insight into each other’s personalities and find middle ground. If the Mom is inflexible and demands perfection, it won’t surprise us to see turnover, especially if the nanny is a strong “B” personality.
Every family and company probably has all 4 personalities, and each one’s gift is needed to balance out the dynamics. The key is having the right understanding to identify these traits so you have the best chance of successfully working with each other.

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In our uncertain economy, many  of us feel it is a sacrifice just to have in-home help and the thought of  gifting our nanny seems out of reach. However showing appreciation need not be pricey. My most memorable gifts were homemade or showed that someone had put some thought into me, and noticed what I liked. So observe your nanny, see what she values, and involve the whole family.
1. PRAISE HER IN FRONT OF FAMILY AND FRIENDS Let your nanny hear you brag about her while you’re talking to others. She may blush or say something back, but secretely she’s feeling pround that you’re happy with her.
2. GIVE HER A SUPRISE DAY OR HALF OFF. If you can work from home one afternoon or secretly arrange for someone to watch your children, surprise her by giving her a few hours off, and perhaps top it off with a certificate for a pedicure, a massage, a movie ticket or resturant.
3. MAKE A SPECIAL DINNER FOR HER Find out what she likes and have the family prepare a homemade meal or take her out for dinner with the familly.
4. LEAVE SURPRISE STICKY NOTES IN UNEXPECTED PLACES Try leaving notes in odd places, like inside the microwave, the refrigerator or even on toilet paper. A good example would be to put one on a light switch that says, “You brighten up our home.”
5. TELL HER HOW MUCH YOU NEED HER Let her know your family just wouldn’t be complete if you didn’t have her. Tell her how much you appreciate how she loves and nurtures your children.
6. WRITE A SILLY SONG ABOUT HER make up a silly song or poem and video-record it or sing/read it in person.

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Each year, families across the country unlawfully categorize their employee by providing a Form 1099 (Form 1099 is used to report money paid to an independent contractor). The IRS has ruled that household workers are employees of the family for whom they work; attempting to classify them as an independent contractor by giving them a Form 1099 is considered tax evasion and does not absolve them of their household employer tax and legal obligations.
Of all the errors we see, this one is at the top of the list. The confusion stems from the IRS 20-point test to determine worker status. Many of the questions are ambiguous and/or subjective. Worse, a worker may appear to be an independent contractor on some of the questions and an employee on others. Which answers are right?
If even one of the 20 answers points toward employee, she’s an employee. To save you the hassle of the test, the IRS has ruled definitively that household workers should be classified as employees. Therefore, the family must handle all household employer tax and labor law obligations. Tax breaks make it cheaper than you’d think and if you use our recommended nanny tax provider, it is effortless.
Note: The IRS views worker misclassification as tax evasion and recently announced a major expansion of auditors to augment their enforcement efforts in this particular area. As further warning, the household employment industry was cited as one of the primary targets.

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Nannies have been fired for texting and calling on their cell phones excessively during working hours. What makes the nanny profession so different from any other child care job is that nannies are largely unsupervised.

The nature of the nanny profession can entail isolation and often work long hours, up to 10-12 hours per day. Nannies are asked to work 24/7 while parents are out of town. Some nannies barely get to the bathroom during the day. They rarely work a 40 hour work week and lunch time means feeding the kids, and they often don’t get a real break. If they can find windows during the day to get a few personal things done: making a doctor appointment, paying a bill, calling a sick relative, making a play-date with another nanny, or using their GPS to get directions, that’s good.  Sometimes it’s the only adult contact they have during the day. This isolation can be hard for nannies; however it also makes it easier for them to misuse this time to advance their own social agenda. A day care worker has a supervisor watching her!

There is a time and place to make personal calls during the day: nap time or waiting in the car for children to get out of school. Parents want and need to reach the nanny during the day, and many of our Moms prefer texting rather than phone calls for changes in schedules or last minute grocery items.  And what parent doesn’t love getting a photo or video of their child while they’re at work?

Nannies are paid professionals whose job is to pay attention to the children and put the family ahead of their own needs during working hours. And they are paid well, getting benefits, overtime, bonuses, holidays and paid vacations. We encourage our families to openly discuss cell phone use with their employees so expectations are clear, and there is a place in our working agreement to address it.

Open-ended discussions and trust bring better results than micromanaging.

A great nanny is present, observant and interactive, and having your cell phone with you at work can be useful, but disruptive. It is really hard not to get caught up with connecting all the time. Nannies and parents can be plugged in to the outside world but miss the wonder, creativity and joy of the children in their care. It’s actually refreshing to throw yourself into the life and needs of another so you have no time to think about yourself. Children discern their value from caregivers who give them eye contact, interact playfully and are fully involved. Use common sense, stop and think—don’t just react to the ringtone. Here are some ideas to help you stay balanced:

  1. Turn off your ringer and set it to vibrate, or have special ring tones for different people.
  2.  Use your cell phone only for important calls. Ask friends and family to call you after work.
  3.  Let the phone calls go to voice mail. It is more time efficient to check messages than to take the call and tell the person that you cannot talk.
  4.  Put your cell phone up when it is play time, meal time, bath time, when driving, and only have it on you when it’s nap time or the children are at school.
  5.  Turn off email, twitter, and facebook-all you need is the phone at work.
    Be all there, turn down the ringtones and you’ll have a lot more fun on the job!

Beth Weise, CEO

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Occasionally a nanny or housekeeper will work for years for a family and then get a bad reference,  no reference, or a 2 minute phone interview after 5 years of loyal service. Her career is basically over.

There could be several reasons why a family refuses to give a reference.
· The employee really wasn’t competent, or she wasn’t as good a fit as the children got older and the duties morphed.
· She gradually took more and more advantage of the family’s good will and the family wasn’t decisive. Dad is saying, “Get rid of her!” but Mom is hedging, “But she loves the children so much! Or “I don’t have time to deal with this now!”
· A nanny begins quietly judging your parenting style, has crossed boundaries or broken confidentiality.
· A bad judgment call resulting in immediate termination.
If I feel it’s a misunderstanding, I will encourage the nanny go back to the family and hash things out.
In these tough situations, the family needs to discern whether the nanny was just not a good fit for their particular family, or ages of children, or skill sets required, or if there are serious character flaws that should not be foisted on another family. Was it a onetime problem? Could she learn from it? Some Moms would prefer to let their nanny go rather than addressing things like macaroni and cheese left on the counter all day. They really don’t like the manager part of their role, and I can relate to that. I had to have a friend ‘hold my hand’ as I let my first employee go. It was painful, but she just wasn’t a good fit.
However, in these tough economic times, a family doesn’t want to cause someone to be struggling financially simply because personalities didn’t mesh, or they don’t like communicating.

Here are some guidelines to ease the pain.

1. It’s crucial to make distinctions, since the well being of other families and children are at stake. Reliability, trustworthiness and honesty are core values that you deserve and your children need to see lived out daily.
2. Sometimes personalities don’t mesh, communicationstops, and  attitudes and work habits worsen. If this is what happened, try to see both sides and be fair.
If you never told your nanny what frustrated you about her lack of effort, is it fair to put that on her reference? But if you told her and she didn’t improve, then you’re right.
3. When talking to another family, ask questions first. Maybe the problems you had won’t apply and she would be a better fit for them.
4. Bring out the good as well as the bad.
5. As an alternative, consider writing a letter of employment verification.
6. At her exit interview, gently and frankly tell her why you’re unhappy and can’t give a reference. This will give you peace of mind, and she will know her status and can move forward. You will save her weeks of wasted effort, giving your name out as a reference and wondering why no one hires her.
7. Learn from the experience and let go of it emotionally.

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In October, Caring Nanny staff enjoyed a fabulous APNA (Association of Premier Nanny Agencies) conference at the Firesky resort in Scottsdale, just two blocks from our office. Premier agencies from all over the country came to learn from each other and discuss our shared issues. Since we work in an unregulated industry, we find that we have to create and maintain ethical standards for self regulating.

Ann Klein from White House Nannies (author of the book by that title), taught us how to deal with difficult situations. We discussed how to recruit top nanny candidates, how to recruit and train quality housekeepers, building and retaining a great office team, and psychologist Ann Wycoff Ph.D. shared with us how to assess personality traits to select the best candidates for our clients. A team of attornies discussed legal questions. We got into small groups and hashed out sticky, nitty-gritty ethical questions.
Above all, we made friends with great people from all over the country who we realized we have a lot in common with. We all want to make our clients happy. We want them to like us and we can’t sleep at night if they don’t. We are an ethical group. We really love children and care about who is with them in their formative years. We like to laugh.
It took a lot of work for Caring Nannies to join APNA, and APNA works hard all year to make this industry professional.
Because of APNA’s high standards and rigorous screening process, only the best and brightest agencies belong. Nearly 4 years ago, we had to make significant changes and have all of our documents, applications, website and contracts scrutinized. We had to stop asking illegal questions, we must conduct ourself ethically and uphold professional standards. APNA spies called and caught us explaining that sometimes a nanny can just fill out a 1099, rather than a W-4  tax form. (We thought there were some exceptions, but they actually can’t.) Joining APNA means we commit to excellence in everything we do.

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Now that Obamas Health Initiative has passed, health insurance is on everyones mind. So that you know what may be expected as an employer, heres a quick summary of what youre responsible for.

First of all, the new legislation isnt in effect until 2014. Families are exempt from the requirement to provide health Insurance for nannies, since only businesses with 50 + employees are obligated.

Although the new legislation wont impact you directly, it is becoming more and more important for everyone to get Health coverage. There are benefits to offering your household employee health insurance. Several of our families are offering insurance as part of their benefits package and it is attracting nannies they may not otherwise have access to.You can contribute up to 100% of your nannys premiums. This is non-taxable compensation, meaning neither you nor your nanny pay taxes on that part of the pay.

For a sample of the tax savings you and your caregiver, download the PDF Health Insurance or give us a call.

We are here to help you, your family and your nanny with any payroll, tax or labor law questions. And what we dont know, we know who to refer you to.

Quick Tax Facts

$1,700: If Your nanny makes this much per year, you need to pay Social Security & Medicare
$2,500 : Total amount of tax breaks you can utilize when paying legally.
1.5: If your Employee works more than 40 hours per week, this should be her pay rate.
$0.50: Mileage reimbursement rate
$7.25: Arizona minimum wage
55: IRS estimate of annual hours needed to manage household payroll
$2: Daily cost to have a nanny tax service keep you in line with the law

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Each December, our staff likes to take a look back at our past year. We look at all the aspects of our nanny service from practical results as well as more important personal goals.
We invite our families and nannies to stop and consider the progress they’ve made in the past year in these infinitely more important dimensions.
We label our progress:
1. Doing Tremendous!
2. Making strides, but still a ways to go
3. A challenge area
4. Oops! Do I really have to do this?
You’ve had a good year if:
You spent more time evaluating your past year and planning for the direction of your life. We all have room to grow. How was your year?
Your family relationships strengthened. 
Did you spend more time of richer quality with your spouse and children?
Did you make more time available to your spouse and less to your hobbies or business? 
Did you spend focused time teaching your children values?
Did you eat dinner together as a family more and watch less TV?
Is your love and service to them greater than it was last year?
We can only bring to our career what we already have in our lives and in our homes.
Our outward achievements are only a reflection of our inward success.
If you saw yourself more as servant to your employees, clients, peers, and suppliers, with a goal to make them more successful, if you’ve made the effort to encourage and edify others, then you’ve had a good year.
You are even slightly less acquisitive. 
The urge to acquire things is very human, and there’s nothing wrong with having it, but stuff doesn’t truly satisfy. We know that there’s no joy or peace in material things. In fact, the more we get, the more were distracted, and the more work we have to clean it, organize it, insure it and store it. If youve extricated yourself, even a little, from its grasp, if you’ve reduced your debt, even a little, you’ve had a good year.
You are more grateful and content.
What do we have that we deserve? We live better than kings and queens in the past, so how can we not be grateful?  Can you say I have more than I deserve or need and really mean it?
You have more peace in your heart.
Its been a rough year economically for many.  If our peace depends on the Dow average, it comes and goes.
If you see blessings in all your circumstances, both good and bad, more clearly this year, you’ve had a good year.
You became more proficient in your job.
If you consider that your business or occupation is a gift that you’re to lead with passion and youve been learning and using better ways, you’ve had a good year!
You took better care of your body.
Did your exercise and diet prove you’re developing more self-discipline? Mastering yourself is a key to maturity.  If youre in better shape than a year ago, you’ve had a good year. 
I hope you have a wonderful 2010,
Beth Weise

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