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Creative Care

There are few industries that were expected rise after the economic problems of 2008 and subsequent layoffs and firings. One industry that thrived was the child care industry; specifically private child care – Nannies and Babysitters.

“Qualified persons who are interested in this work should have little trouble finding and keeping a job,” reported the Bureau of Labor Statistics. By the end of 2009 the unemployment rate dropped to 10.4 percent, from a steady 4-5 percent. The child care industry is one that’s on the upswing. Employment of child care workers is expected to raise 11-13 percent from 2008 to 2018. The employment of child care workers has risen 7 percent since 2009.

The reason for this is due to the fact that parents started going back to work. They had to take 2nd or 3rd jobs to make ends meet. At that time available jobs were either for entry level jobs with hours that were too long, too little pay, inconvenient travel, or difficult co-workers.

When I started looking I saw nothing. I worked at a bunch of odd jobs, I was an Administrative Assistant for a marble granite company. The owner was crazy. He would never come in and when he did he was usually drinking,”  said Lauren McGreal.

Many parents will do what they have to do to keep their heads above water for the well-being of their families and will go out of there way to make sure their children have the best. That means going back to work and getting an Independent Child Care Worker (ICCW) to fill in the gaps of care.

Just Starting Out

There are many misconceptions out there about what a Nanny is or is supposed to be. Most people think of TV shows like The Nanny or Supernanny to fill in the holes.

“The first question I get when I tell people what I do… ‘You mean like the ‘Supernanny?'”

Lauren McGreal, 35, doesn’t fit the bill of ‘super’ and knows that, but is very good at what she does. She stumbled upon the field as a way to earn extra money while pursuing an English degree. Lauren had also always wanted children of her own and admits that being a Nanny was a good substitute to having kids of her own. She said she learned a lot about children in the process as well.

Child care wasn’t her first choice.

“I did clerical work just to get my foot in the door something. Without real experience at a job on a resume it’s hard to get an interview. I wasn’t looking to be a Nanny… I just figured, ‘Why not?’”

It’s true that in a lot of ways parents are often looking for that “super” person to take care of their kids. They often look for someone willing to do some of the things with their children that they don’t do themselves, like tutoring, artistic or creative activities, teaching language and reading, all while making dinner, cleaning and throwing in a load of laundry.

It’s also important to outline what it is an employer wants from a Nanny before hiring, to make sure the duties they’re looking for are realistic.

“When I first started, I watched this ladies kids for four years… She would ask things of me that a maid should do. I think it was wrong to polish silver. I mean, that’s ridiculous.” Lauren laughs about the craziness of the job demands now, but when she left for a daycare job, she got an understanding of her rights. “I had to set some boundaries. You give an inch and they take a mile.”

Jackie Ferland, 19, has a different story. “It is something that I always have wanted to get involved in since I was little.” She started babysitting for local families then go a break with a friend of the family hired her to work with the children to get some experience. “I start helping out at a home daycare run by my neighbor. Then once I was 16 I started working at Small World Childcare and learning Center, where I am now.”

Jackie loves the work and admits she would still come in to see the kids even if they didn’t pay her.

Is There Money In It?

Many people believe that ICCW’s don’t get paid very well. In some cases this is true. The real truth is that it varies. Usually ICCW’s already have a rate they would pay for the type of work that’s asked for them.

Everybody wants to be paid well. The demands of the job are tough. When you’re on the floor cleaning feces from a broken diaper, trying to calm down a 2 year old having a temper tantrum, or thinking of a million other things in your life that have to get done, you want to be able to remind yourself of the importance of the job you’re doing and feel appreciated. Not like the Jones’ are really trying to save a buck. Kids are expensive too.

Coming to agreements with families is part of the job. ICCW’s rates change and are particular to what people can pay, not to any industry standard. There isn’t a standard. Where a family of one child in Southington is use to paying $12 per hour for her one child, a mother of three in East Hartford may see it as being unfair to pay her nanny more than $6 and hour for all three. “They’re really good kids and will be sleeping half the time!” She doesn’t tell you that she needs a list of housekeeping work done during those times.

Nanny’s (working for a family with between 1 to 3 kids) generally make $600-$750 per week (works out to about $17 to $20 per hour) for a full time job.  It’s expected that they will do all the things expected of the mother as well as be a good example and help them academically if they can.

The big difference between Babysitter’s and Nanny’s in the field is that Babysitters are almost never asked to clean. “The definition of a Babysitter,” according to Tokayer, “Is someone who keeps the child safe, just attending to their basic needs.” Some families will pay as high as $15 per hour for a sitter, but most make $10 per hour for one or two kids.

“I worked full-time in a daycare. You make no money in daycare,” Lauren explains. “Pay depends on the relationship between parent and caretaker.” A good relationship means that the family appreciates the ICCW and doesn’t want to lose them to another family.

When Ferland started babysitting, she was making five dollars per hour for 2 kids. That was low even for the standards then, but luckily she didn’t know any better, so she took what she got and gained experience.  “I am now studying to receive my degree to become a teacher. Downsides: I don’t get paid enough. Upsides: I get to work with kids, I enjoy it, and hours are really good,” said Ferland.  She doesn’t make enough to support herself so she lives with her parents and pays rent.

Daycare’s provide steady employment and in some cases, health benefits and paid holiday’s.  Ferland believes the drop in unemployment since 2008 did have and effect on the ICCW business in a positive way.  “I think the daycare business has been getting the same amount if not more.  I think the change is because of the economy and many parents can’t afford staying home with their children,” Ferland said.

Independent Child Care Worker

When people picture a babysitter they often envision the teenage girl with braces who lives in the community. Today babysitters differ in style and skill. The misconceptions about them is that they don’t have the skills to provide the “professional” care of a Nanny and are prone to become overwhelmed by the child’s needs and behaviors.

Independent Child Care Worker (ICCW) is the best way to describe all child care workers (i.e.; not linked with an agency or daycare) in a more professional manner. ICCW includes Babysitters, Nanny’s, Mother’s Helpers, and Doula’s, to name a few.

Independent child care is a shaky business. Without adequate training it takes a long time before someone will trust you. Even after a babysitter or Nanny works with a family for a period of time, they may decide to go in another direction or maybe the teenager next door wants $3 less and hour. There is little to no real job security.

Most ICCW’s, like Babysitters and Mother’s Helper’s aren’t affiliated with an agency, or in many cases don’t have prior experience working with children in a professional setting. They are on there own.

Some parents will accept ICCW’s with as little experience as taking care of siblings when they were young, while other’s won’t except anyone with less that 3 professional references, transportation for the kids, CPR certification, and a classes, if not a degree in teaching or early childhood education.

In addition, many families find themselves out of an ICCW within 2 years or so of hiring them. The average job duration for a Nanny is 1 ½ to 2 years before moving on to bigger and better things. They quit to fulfill family responsibilities, to pursue a degree, or for a better job. The truth is that high turnover actually furthers job opportunities.

Remaining Professional

“The nanny with a master’s degree wasn’t much help at all” said a frustrated mother in an article called Nanny Wars: Parents Ask, Whose Child Is It Anyway? “She refused to vacuum or pitch in with housework, feeling it was beneath her.”

The expectations of people hiring ICCW’s can be very high. Parents want educated and engaging people to watch their children, yet also need someone to cook, clean, be engaging… and change diapers

International Nanny Association VP, President of Family Helpers agency, and Mom

Susan Tokayer is President of Family Helpers and Co-Founder of the International Nanny Association (INA). The INA is a non-profit company made up of members involved in the child care industry in many different capacities. She doesn’t agree that all ICCW’s need to have a extensive classroom education or a professional background to take care of someone else’s children.

On the other hand, Tokayer wouldn’t take any child care worker with less than 3 years professional experience on as a client with Family Helper’s, a search agency for parents looking for long-term, established ICCW’s. She does feel that it depends on the standards of the family to make the decision on who’s going to be right for the family.

“If one of those novice sitters came to be and said ‘I want to break into the business, but I don’t have a lot of experience’ I would tell them they would have to get more experience.” Tokayer agrees that finding a family that will trust a sitter and teach them “the ropes” are great for gaining paid experience. Tokayer suggests that parents go through a clear screening process (steps on how to do that are listed in Nanny.org).

Competence

Many of members of the INA have gone through schools or child care workshops held at the yearly INA Conference. Tokayer notes that Nanny Schools are a great experience for many people serious about learning. “The job of a Nanny ranges from cooking, helping achieve developmental milestones, planning place activities, outings, play dates… you have to be able to keep up with their demands and know what you’re doing is right.”

Muniba Massod, 35, has had four nannies since 2007.  In her accounts she tells a story of the job of the perfect nanny. She believes that all 4 have something that the others lacked.

Masood says:

Aliza (left) and Sanya as a newborn

“I started utilizing a nanny in March of 2007 when my daughter was a little over 2 years old. I started my own business and I wanted to have someone watch her and help me with the house work. I was not ready to send her to daycare and wanted her to remain in the home environment. The nanny took her to parks, museums and play dates while I was working. She also helped me with laundry, meal prep, and any other house work that was needed.

We really like to develop a relationship with our children’s nanny. We welcome an open exchange of ideas and dialogue. That I think is the key to a successful working relationship with a nanny!”

Massod’s way of bringing ICCW’s into the family is quite common. Many people are seeking people to be part of a family and free communication, and want an interaction that is more “personal”. Massod said she pays her ICCW (in her case more of a Mother’s Helper) between $12 per hour for watching the children, playing, activities, light house work (putting in a load or two of laundry, loading and unloading the dishwasher, folding clothes, vacuuming, etc.), cooking, school pick up and drop off, and running the occasional errand… or two.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Independent child care is a shaky business. Without adequate training it takes a long time before someone will trust you with their children, but finding the one that could get your foot in the door to newer and better things.

Self employment comes with a lot of positives, as well as drawbacks. ICCW’s have the freedom to make their own hours, negotiate pay, decide what duties they will or won’t do, and have a vibrant, inquisitive, imaginative co-worker making everything more interesting is what you can expect.

Jackie Ferland attends Asnuntuck Community College in Enfield. She plans on transferring to Eastern Ct State to major in early childhood education. She lives in Suffield, Conn.

Lauren McGreal was married last year currently getting ready to have her first child. She has not been working as a Nanny for the past 3 months and doesn’t know if she will go back.

Muniba Massod hired her fifth Nanny back in March. Sanya has taken to her new nanny very will. Aliza and Sanya are 7 and 2 years old.

Susan Tokayer is preparing for the next annual International Association of Nanny’s convention in June.  It will be in Florida this year.  She looks forward to it every year.

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Categories: Uncategorized

Bristol economic projects leave citizens un-stimulated

On March 8, 2011, the Bristol City Council focused on investments in the city to stimulate the economy and job growth. Members of the community felt the actions were bad business and took money away from the tax paying community.

Bristol resident Stephen Butler had something to say on how the city was wasting money in projects he called “unnecessary and poor spending.”

Butler held a piece of paper with a list of his major concerns. At the top of the list was the city’s $9,500 repair to a book drop outside a church that had been ruined by the series of winter storm last month. Butler said if the book drop was up on crates the water rot would have never happened and that it was of poor design. “Now that’s coming out of my taxpayer money,” Butler said.

Another item was the construction of subsidized housing for lower income families in the Downtown Bristol area. Butler couldn’t see the cost benefit and claimed that Bristol had enough low income developments and it didn’t seem to be doing anything beneficial for the city.

“Build more apartments? In this part of town? I would never live down here.”

John Rudnick, an Iran War veteran and long-time resident of Bristol stepped up to the podium to oppose a recycling transfer station located very close to his property at 685 Lake Avenue. Both Butler and Rudnick apposed the recycling center’s presence in the city and didn’t appreciate the $25 increase for each additional bulk collection on top of the $145/year recycling tax fee. “I can’t spend anymore!” stated Butler.

Rudnick turned his attention to the Liberty Realty, the owners of the land the recycling center is built on. He claimed that Liberty wasn’t licensed to operate in Conn. The council seemed familiar with his concerns about this. “We would, again, direct you to speak with the zoning board about that,” said Chairman of the Council and Bristol Mayor Arthur Ward. Rudnick feared that his concerns may not me heard because he wasn’t a resident that had a lot of “clout” in the city, but said he would attend the meeting anyway.

Both Rudnick and Butler weren’t present for some of the line items that were to follow including two economic development grants to the DuPont Systems on Halcyon Drive, and HRF Fastener Systems in Farmington.

The grant to DuPont System was approved for $40,000 and proposed by the Board of Finance. The grant was approved for the “economic development” of the city. DuPont also receive $25,000 in new funding grants, and $15,000 in reprogramming funds.

An “economic development” grant for $30,000 was also approved for the relocation of the HRF Fastener Systems Co. from 111 Brickyard Rd. in Farmington to 70 Horizon Dr., Bristol.

The Board of Finance or City Council didn’t elaborate on the projected cost benefit of either projects, but it’s implicit that the grants may be related to a series of federal dollars that were given to the states for various economic stimulation projects.

The meeting adjourned at 9:40 p.m. The next meeting is scheduled for March 14 at the Bristol Public Library. Governor John Malloy will be holding a series of Town Hall meetings to discuss job growth and unemployment in the City Council Chambers.

~ Jaymi Harrison

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Mississippi River Flooding Taking Toll

. Due to all of the rain that the country has been having along the Mississippi River has been flooding a lot into the nearby areas down south. Many of the states down there have been raising prices on gas and food because they are losing a lot of money down there due to all of the flood damage. A good amount of crops are being ruined by the immense amounts of rain that has caused all of this flooding. Less and less barges are traveling in the area and shipments have been forced to go over roadways which is taking longer because they aren’t able to deliver as many things as they want at a time.

Jim Zacharias

Categories: Uncategorized

Dodgers Up For Sale?

could be up for sale pretty soon if the owners of the team can’t come to a settlement. Frank and Jamie McCourt are getting a divorce and with that could be half of the team going to each of them. The MLB led by Commissioner Bud Selig is afraid that the Dodgers won’t be able to pay the rest of their May salary because of all of the money that the team has spent. Apparently the McCourt’s had been using money made by the dodgers for personal use which is why this problem had started in the first place. If the McCourt’s aren’t able to pay the players at the end of May then the MLB will step in and pay the players and start negotiating a sale of one of baseball’s most famous teams. The team could be sold for estimately $800 million with a possible ceiling of $1 billion.

Jim Zacharias

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NFL & Player’s Organization Making Progress

The NFL and the Players Union are making more progress than ever with getting together and reaching an agreement. Currently the NFL owners have locked out the players and the players are unable to sign contracts or practice with their teams. talks about everything that has been done so far. Most people wonder why people care so much about this topic and the main reason is that if this doesn’t get fixed there may be no NFL season this year. The NFL lockout will continue for a few more weeks and isn’t scheduled to meet until June 6 for more talks about coming to an agreement.

Jim Zacharias

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New Insurance for Athletes

Recently in the last week the popular Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) organization, Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) has made it official that starting on June 1 that all fighters will have insurance outside of when they fight paid for by the UFC. This can be read in this article. The UFC had already been paying for fighters insurance claims if they got hurt during a fight but had never covered them in the times leading up to fights. Now fighters won’t have to worry about the possibility that they will lose out on a lot of money if they get hurt before a fight and fear that without the money won’t be able to pay bills. Fighters had been known for going into fights already injured and not fighting up to their potential and the UFC is trying to make themselves more like the major sports organizations like NBA, NFL, MLB and NHL.

While the UFC is making moves forward and putting more of the weight on their backs professional wrestling company, World Wrestling Entertainment is making it mandatory for all of their wrestlers to have medical insurance. However the WWE isn’t going to be paying for the insurance for their wrestlers. They are making it mandatory for each of the wrestlers to have it but the insurance has to be paid by the wrestlers themselves. While this is something that is good for the sport you would think that an organization that has been around as long as the WWE that they would have had this already in the past and would be paying for their wrestlers expenses like this.

Jim Zacharias

Categories: Uncategorized

YouTube beating of a 16-year-old male

Jarrell Kershaw, 20, of New Britain was arraigned May 17 at New Britain Superior Court and is being held on a $100,000 bond for his involvement in a beating of a 16-year-old male that was later broadcast on YouTube.

Kershaw was charged with 2nd degree robbery, conspiracy to commit robbery, assault and larceny in the 2nd degree for his role in the assault in the Willow Street Park in March 2011.

The two beatings were taped by an unnamed female.  The first beating happened when the 16 year old arrived at the park being told his friends were meeting him, and a second after the female told him to return to the scene so they could apologize.

“The OSN (Oak Street [explicative]) gang members had to provide proof of a beat down in order to get initiated into the gang,” stated Bail Bondsman Richard Cyr.  Defending Attorney Deron Damian Freeman denied that it was gang affiliated and said Kershaw regrets being a part of it at all.

“I hope he realized it’s the wrong thing to do and is going down the wrong road, but ‘I’m sorry’ does little for the victims,” said the judge.

A friend of Kershaw describes him as someone who seemed to have a lot of things going for him.  He worked full-time, went to school, and had never been arrested before this incident took place.   “I can’t understand why he would want to do that,” she stated.  “He was such a mellow guy,” she said.

The victim did not press charges on his attackers.  Kershaw was arrested pursuant to a warrant.

Kershaw will not be released from custody.  The hearing is schedule for June 2, 2011.

~ Jaymi Harrison

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