When Jenny Riojas walked into the Caring Nannies’ office in the spring of 2011, our staff agreed unanimously that Jenny was the “It” girl we needed in our office! But Jenny had come in for a part-time nanny position, three long days per week, and at that time, she wasn’t wanting to work full-time. We definitely needed someone five days per week.
She had every quality we could ever want: 10+ years of nanny experience, 3 years of office experience,  prior experience as a Placement Consultant at ABC Nannies in Denver, Colorado. She was professional, with a Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary Education,  well-spoken, warm, animated, and experienced both as a nanny and a Mom, with two boys, ages 6 and 4.  It took some convincing to get Jenny to agree to work in our office! Happily for us, the family we sent her to did not interview her fast enough–that does sometimes happen– and we worked out a compromise: she could work at home two days per week to be Mom to her boys, and in the office three days per week.

In the five years since the day she walked in, Jenny has taken Caring Nannies to new heights:  by expanding our Temporary Services to include Event Care, and Corporate Back-up Care; by initiating a new software program that saves our staff valuable hours;  by being an integral part of our education / training programs; and by continual growth of the domestic staffing side of the business. Her husband Jason has now taken over the accounting and bookkeeping as well.

Our own personal families have grown close over the past 5 years and Jenny has offered many a time to fill in the gaps with my own grandkids when I can’t be there. She brings Jason and her boys, now 11 and 9 to family parties and celebrations, where her parenting skills always bring remarks, like: “Those are the sweetest and best behaved boys I have ever met!”
At the end of 2015, Jenny purchased Caring Nannies from me after 32 years. I thought that after all that time, I would feel like it was one of my kids and miss it terribly. However, I am so busy with my second career, that I hardly have time to even think about it. I have five grandchildren that are five and under, with two more in the works. I enjoy teaching English to new refugees, going to hot yoga in the middle of the day, going on 20+ mile bike rides with friends, gardening, coordinating a class, studying, and a myriad of fun activities that don’t require me to sit at a desk all day! I think I am busier than before I retired!
I am grateful to Jenny for all the years of service she’s given our families and nannies and our corporate clients, and I’m excited to see where she takes Caring Nannies!
Beth Weise
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Nanny of the Month, Tina Steinke, is a down to earth Phoenix nanny with three years of professional experience with ages newborn through five years. She loves everything domestic, teaching and encouraging children and making a home run smoothly and effortlessly. She loves the physical part of this career, including playing, being creative, teaching, organizing, cleaning and cooking. She tells us, “I could be out in the corporate world, but I feel that family life is so important and if children can have that stable person in the home that brings them security, I can bring that to them.”
She’s worked in homes with at-home Moms, and says, “Juggling a home and young children is a lot”. She’ll clean the kitchen, stock the diaper caddy, get meals together, clean and do laundry, allowing an at-home Mom more quality time with the children. Her biggest strength is her ability to multitask and her organizational skills. Tina has a calm, effective manner and an upbeat, happy, energetic and cheerful personality. Some of the fun activities she sets up for children are little tubs of water outside with plastic cups for water play, paper crafts, art, music, making obstacle courses, ribbon flags for twirling or dancing.

She loves taking children to the park, stroller walks, or making pictures for Mom and Dad. She home-schooled her children for eight years and incorporates reading books with every activity. “There’s so much

activity that makes children’s brains mush.” Tina is good at talking to children and teaching them about the world and then helping them connect the dots, think about things and be creative. She asks questions, asks about feelings, sings songs while in the car or on walks. When we asked Tina about her favorite memories she mentioned, “The precious and humorous things that come out of a two or four year old’s mouth. The way they process things is so funny. The big smile that comes on their face when they know I’m cooking their favorite meal.”
During down time, Tina is happy to straighten, organize a pantry, clean out a fridge, prepare food, go grocery shopping, or organize. “I love doing that, making things more user friendly, and I do family laundry in between. “I really enjoy when the family gives me responsibilities. That’s why I love children and home management, because it’s active work.” Tina recently accepted an after-school nanny position in her North Central Phoenix neighborhood with an eight year old boy and a six year old girl, and is doing a trial week with the family to assure it’s a good match. In her free time, Tina enjoys sewing, swimming, hiking, biking, playing games, crafts of all kinds and reading.

Beth Weise

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More than ever, families are wanting a nanny who can give their child an edge in an increasingly competitive world. Working Moms want to trust that their children are getting personalized attention and the best possible preparation for academic and social success. They want the education, but also the nanny experience, and the more degrees the better.

When the Great Recession hit, we got calls from college grads  wanting  nanny  jobs. But if they didn’t have the nanny experience, we couldn’t help them.

“There’s a world of difference in someone who has professional experience”, Jenny Riojas, our Family Placement counselor, tells us, “in someone who has worked in a private home for a couple of years. Nannying is different from any other childcare profession, in that you’re working independently without supervision most of the time, and there is just so much you just need to know that you can’t learn from a classroom or a board room.”

A college graduate who nannied and babysat through college, however, is in high demand.

What’s drawing college educated candidates into the profession?

Amy Farris, now a Junior at ASU, has one more year to get her BS degree in psychology and is planning to get her Masters’s in child counseling. She has an AA degree from PVCC in Early Childhood Development and Nutrition. She fell in love with child care with her first position, 30 hours per week as a Mother’s Helper (working side by side with an at-home Mom) with a six month old. She realized then that she wanted a career making a difference in children’s lives. Since she does online classes, she’s able to give her family flexible hours. Raised by a Doctor Dad and RN, stay at home Mom, Amy had a typical childhood in a small Texas town. Her Mom instilled a love for serving people and playing soccer throughout high school drilled in the value of hard work and goal setting.

Amy was hired by a doctor a year ago for her then 22 month old daughter and a baby on the way after interviewing several candidates and a one week working trial with Amy that the agency strongly recommends.

“For me”, Amy tells us, “nannying started out as a way to make money and turned into a passion and a way to impact children’s lives in a big way. I consider it far more than an occupation. “I’ve been told that I’m very patient, and I have so much fun playing with them and teaching them.”

We asked Amy how her  education has helped her nanny career.

“I would say my education has helped immensely, for example, when the kids are going through a new phase or challenging me in a new way, my first thought is to research to find a physiological understanding of their behavior. With three to four years of nanny experience, Amy obviously loves being with children, playing, reading, singing, dancing or cooking with them, and sees herself as teacher, mentor, tutor and big sister. She brings a lesson plan for every day, with a weekly theme, color, letters, and integrates textures, music, lunch, crafts, and museum trips around the themes. She thoughtfully and intentionally gives babies lots of sensory activities. “Everything is new to them.”

During down time, Amy plans for the next weeks curriculum, reads child development books and articles, and helps out with light housekeeping, dishes, family laundry, kids bathrooms, bedrooms and play areas, and tidying up. In the past, she’s done dinner prep or complete family dinners as well as grocery shopping. Her current family has also hired a chef through Caring Nannies, so her culinary skills aren’t as needed.

Do degreed nannies earn more? In an annual survey conducted by the International NannyAssociation this year, nannies reported a median salary of $16 per hour. College educated nannies can receive salaries equal to entry level jobs in other careers for grads. It can save a family the cost of tutors who can charge $25 to $60 per hour. Parents today often want someone with as much education as they have.

Born in Venezuela, Lisbeth Mendoza-Ferger moved to the US at age five with her family of eight. Her Dad, a CPA, wanted a better education and life for them. He insisted on preserving the history and culture of their native country, so he gave them additional history and Spanish lessons after their regular homework was completed. As a result, Lisbeth speaks perfect English and perfect Spanish, and is a fascinating mix of Spanish, Norwegian, Scottish, German and Castilian Spanish.

Lisbeth returned to college for a BS in Business management later in her adult life and after 15 years in the medical field and 10 years in the insurance industry. She took a semester in early childhood development through PVCC, taught preschool and then started nannying. She’s raised her own children and volunteered in community children’s activities and her children’s extra curricular activities.

“Knowing that I’m partnering with the parents’, she explained to us, “and providing for the kids what no one else can, I find it rewarding to be ‘family’, ‘best friend’ and ‘care provider’. I’m organized, manage time well and love the kids intensely and they know how much I care for them.”

We placed Lisbeth one year ago with a family with a four year old, a three year old and a baby on the way. She keeps the parents involved by taking pictures throughout the day and sharing details each night.

We asked Lisbeth how her education has helped her in her day to day job. “My nursing experience and education has helped me with taking care of the children when sick, managing my time and financial obligations with the family expenses, buying groceries or kids clothes. I have to be a good steward of the finances they’ve entrusted me with.”

“When I was in school, being a nanny wasn’t in my plans. I dreamed of having my own business in a service industry. I love helping people. It wasn’t until I was laid off that I fell into what I enjoyed the most, playing and spending time with kids. My education has helped me in teaching the kids how to develop their minds, critical thinking skills and reinforcing what they learn in school as well as teach them the love of reading books to broaden their imaginations.

We asked Lisbeth if she saw herself as a career nanny.

“I do. I love the family I work for and they love me and appreciate my time, efforts and sharing my life experiences after raising my own kids and grandson. I find this career more rewarding than my two previous careers. Being a nanny has made me a better mother, grandmother, wife and most important, kept me young at heart and active.” Lisbeth normally does a lesson plan for every day, a theme for the week, colors, letters  and combines this with textures, crafts, lunch and books they read.

But what really makes a great nanny? How important is education? Is this just a post-recession trend?

A doctor Mom with newborn twins called me six years ago asking for a nanny with a college degree and I sent Charlene, a seasoned nanny with 20 years experience and a high school diploma. Charlene has a warm loving demeanor, knowledge of children’s developmental ages, the ability to multitask and organize, and a wealth of knowledge about raising children. Charlene was hired on the spot and stayed for the next 5 years and is still part of their lives.

Caring Nannies places candidates who have just a high school diploma, but with years of experience. Being bi-lingual is always a plus. Caring Nannies gets requests for nannies who speak Spanish, French or Mandarin.

We asked Lisbeth’s family if they felt her education makes a difference in their family. Amanda, the Mom told us: “I don’t know if that has made a huge difference in our interaction and overall experience with Lis. I think most important is that she’s open to feedback and we collaborate on parenting techniques. It’s extremely important that we be on the same page…Lis reads parenting books and does research on items as they come up with the kids. I’m sure her college education helped her develop those good habits…but don’t think it necessary.” We also asked Amanda, “How would you weigh her experience raising her own children and her character and personality versus her degree?” Amanda remarked: “Her character qualities and fact that she has had her own children have made the biggest impact on our family and have led to the great relationship we share. Having gone through much of what we are going through…Lis often gives good advice and helps us not worry about the small stuff. She’s a great nanny!”

“We look at the whole person,” Ashley Zehring, our nanny recruiter tells us.”The most important qualities we need are experience, great references, creativity, a sweet personality, warmth and interaction, and great communication skills. We want nannies who are basically happy. Cheerful. Curious. Playful. Fun. Flexible. Interested. Patient. Nurturing. Someone who’s passionate about what they’re doing can teach a child far more than someone with a PhD, who isn’t excited about being with a child.”

Beth Weise

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Caring Nanny article in the East Valley Tribune on May 28th, 2013
  • Thursday, May 30th starting at 7:00 PM and ending at 8:00 PM MST

May 30 – FREE Seminar for Parents on ‘How to Hire a Summer Nanny’ at The Play Factory
For parents of babies, toddlers, and young children who are considering hiring a professional nanny, or a temporary “Summer Nanny” for their children this summer, The Play Factory at Desert Ridge Marketplace will host a helpful and free information seminar on Thursday, May 30, from 7 to 8 p.m. Guest speaker will be Beth Weise, owner of Caring Nannies staffing agency in Scottsdale. Weise will teach parents how to hire a nanny and explain what the most important questions to ask are.
Nannies are paid $13-$15/hour or an average of $400 to $500 per week, depending on the number of hours and job duties. Advanced registration is required by May 29. All attendees will also get a chance to win a $100 gift basket that includes: a certificate for a free nanny for up to four hours, two Harkins movie tickets with popcorn, a bottle of wine and two wine glasses.
The Play Factory is located at 21001 N. Tatum Blvd., Phoenix. To register, call Caring Nannies at (480) 946-3423.

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On Saturday November 3, Caring Nannies held it’s four hour Nanny Boot Camp.

This free course is designed for all nannies placed or being placed through Caring Nannies, and empowers them with greater skills and professionalism and gives families a higher level of care and service. Caring Nannies offers three training events per year, and we require our nannies to attend two.

Nanny Boot Camp is an ongoing event and our goal is to see every nanny have a chance to attend. It covers communication, boundaries, constructing a Working Agreement, developing a weekly Play Plan, using the Nanny Log, improving children’s behavior, consistency, age appropriate activities, child health and safety, discipline techniques, establishing routines, defining your role. We teach using role-playing, discussing typical scenarios that come up and the ethical way to handle them, practice writing out a typical curriculum for several ages, conflict resolution, developing a resume and portfolio, and interview success.

Comments from attendees included these: “Thank you for the time, caring and thoughtfulness that went into your Nanny Boot Camp today. You have helped all of us to step up a notch in our chosen profession. I value that you understand our genuine service and love for the children and families we serve while we carry on that service in a pretty hidden manner and are often not openly valued. I believe we all get that, and recognition, and appreciation are not our motives…. was kinda fun to hear that you ‘get it’.”

“Thank you for helping us serve that much better.”

“It’s great to hear from other nannies and real experiences. I appreciate your kind support to us. Your continued education and conferences equals professional nannies!” and “You’re making us feel valued as nannies. We nannies work pretty much alone and without support.”
We applaud the nannies who gave up their Saturday morning to increase their skills, and connect with us and others in their profession! These are people who keep on learning, growing and stretching to be the best of the best! Thank you for coming! We know there were many others who wanted to come but had problems with  scheduling, and we’ll host another class early next year.

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Jessica was downstairs with the children, ages 11 months and 2.5, when she heard an alarm go off upstairs once, then twice. She called 9-11 and police came and apprehended an intruder. Avery accidentally locked herself outside while the boys 2 and 4 were inside. She contacted the Grandma who lived nearby, who had a spare key. Kelly, one of our star nannies, noticed a man in the playground who didn’t seem to belong to the group and she called 911. The man was picked up, a registered child molester.

We don’t normally get tornadoes, hurricanes or flash floods in Phoenix but we have had dust storms, power outages and Arizona does have some slight earthquakes. You buy fire insurance and auto insurance, but have you discussed emergency situations with your nanny before they occur? What are your directives in the following situations: a stranger knocking at the door, power outage, car accident, flat tire, running out of gas, the alarm going off,  a runaway pet or  a child needing stitches?

Here are a some tips to insure your priorities are followed.

1. At your next monthly meeting, outline some possible scenarios and steps of action with your nanny
2. Consider getting CPR training yourself. When your nanny’s expires may be a great time to go together or simply review a youtube video.
3. Post a fire evacuation map with 2 ways to exit and a safe meeting spot outside the house. Nanny can practice Stop! Drop! Roll! with the children and crawling through the house in case of smoke.
4. Pool Safety. Fence the pool. No running around the pool. No children allowed outside without an adult.

Community Emergency. Carla, one of our veteran nannies, takes community preparedness classes and tells us the most important consideration is water. Electricity is what pumps the water when the generators go out, so on a long extended power outage there will be no water to flush the toilets, wash, cook or drink. We do have loss of power in Arizona occasionally. Think through all the scenarios if you have an extended outage. Don Sherman, a local Gilbert resident has free readiness workshops regularly. Check out his website, www.iwillprepare.com. Carla takes his workshops and is prepared to eat out of the refrigerator and then start canning what’s in her freezer.

Here’s what’s most important:

1. Water. Have a gallon of water per day per person for a period of two weeks. Have 5 gallon jugs stored.
2. Light. What will you do if the electricity goes out for an extended period of time? Do you have candles, and a way to light them? Candles can be set in a sink and burn safely. If you store batteries, recycle them periodically. Candles also bring a sense of warmth and comfort.
3. Food. Have canned food in the house that everyone will eat, like tuna, canned fruit, and cold cereal that the children will eat without milk.
4. Comfort food. Protein bars, hard candy (chocolate melts).
5. Fuel. A way to cook your food and a barbecue grill. Restaurants won’t have electricity and stores may be out of supplies and electricity. Their registers won’t run.  Have an extra propane tank or charcoal-plus extra  to boil water. Carla has almost 300# in her garage. You can get it on sale during holidays like 4th of July.
6. Fires. What will you do if the firefighter comes to your door and says “Get out! Your neighbor’s house is on fire.” Have a 72 hour kit, for food, medications, water, change of clothes, small first aid kit, a copy of important and irreplaceable documents and a current photo of you and everyone in the family in a ziplock bag.

This weekend, we’re conducting our Nanny Boot Camp covering the following topics. If your nanny hasn’t attended this 4 hour training session encourage her to get signed up. We have a few spaces left. Here’s the link 

Curriculum Planning & Scheduling
Child Development-Ages & Stages
Discipline & Building Self-esteem in Children
Physical Care & Safety
Nanny/Family Relationships
Professionalism: Ethics, Respect, and Responsibility
Situational Role Playing
Domestic Duties

Beth Weise 

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