Thursday, April 30, 2009

Birth Order and Personality Types

Nannies and Au Pairs Can End Birth Order Stereotypes

Birth order does seem to affect personality traits in siblings. But you can end these stereotypes when working with your charges.

Parents often have high expectations for firstborns. Firstborns often are eager to please their parents, have high expectations for themselves, are conscientious, and perfectionists. Sometimes they put too much responsibility on themselves and grow up too quickly. Nannies and au pairs can end these stereotypes by trying not to expect too much from the firstborn. Nurture their playful side. Don’t place all of your attention on their external accomplishments. Let them know how much you appreciate them simply for being themselves.

The middle child often doesn’t get as much attention from the parents or caregivers as the oldest child did simply because there are two children to care for instead of one. Rather than fade into the background middle children tend to become very social and independent. To end this stereotype nannies and au pairs should make sure not to let the middle child feel overlooked. Make sure to give them extra attention. Play games or have one-on-one chats to give them some of the attention they crave.

By the time the youngest child is born the parents are more relaxed with their parenting style. While the youngest child may feel they are living in the shadow of their other siblings they actually get much attention for being the adorable and charming one. With the added attention the youngest siblings are often irresponsible. Au pairs and nannies can do the youngest child a favor by not treating them like “the baby.” Give them age-appropriate tasks and help them set age appropriate goals.

End these social stereotypes and help each of your charges develop to their best potential.

Have you had issues with birth order stereotypes with siblings?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Daily News Article About Labor Rights

Domestic workers push labor rights bill
Daily News
By Patrice O’Shaughnessy

Members of the Domestic Workers Justice Coalition, a group that works to organize several domestic worker unions, held a rally Saturday, March 4th, 2009.

Tuesday, Ana Ontiveros will not make her usual daily trip from the Bronx to her job as a housekeeper in Manhattan. Instead, she'll take a day off without pay and board a bus to Albany with dozens of other housekeepers, nannies and maids to rally the state Legislature for a domestic workers' Bill of Rights.

"They expect a lot of people to come to Albany," said Ontiveros, 36. "The farm workers are coming with us, and students who support us."

She said she has a good job, cleaning for a family, and sometimes baby-sitting if the nanny isn't there.

But she doesn't get sick days or overtime or medical benefits. She works 10 hours a day, for $12.50 an hour.

She has never been physically abused by employers, but she said, "I hear a lot of stories about people abusing workers, or they don't pay them, or fire them for no reason."

In 2007, she was part of a group of workers who went to the Long Island courthouse, where a wealthy couple was tried and convicted of beating and enslaving their housemaid, one of the most egregious cases to come to light in this nation.

"That happens," Ontiveros said. "Sometimes, you think in this country that can't happen."

The workers will call on the Legislature to pass the bill (A1470/S2311) to establish labor standards for the household workforce and prevent cases of abuse, such as that of a nanny named Patricia Francois.

Earlier this month, Francois announced she had filed a lawsuit against her former employers - an affluent Manhattan couple - for assault and battery and for not paying her overtime.

She claims the man gave her a black eye after she tried to stop him from yelling at his daughter.
She was aided in bringing the suit by Domestic Workers United, an advocacy group.

The organization says there are more than 200,000 nannies, housekeepers and caregivers in the New York City area, working out of the public eye, without legal protections offered to other workers, such as overtime pay, time off and health care.

The rally in the state capital is one of several events during the National Week of Action for domestic workers' rights. There will be rallies all over the state, and workers will gather in churches to push for the bill.

The legislation has moved out of the Assembly and Senate labor committees.
"Our job is not recognized like a real job," Ontiveros said. "We want to push Albany to pass the bill."

Ontiveros joined Domestic Workers United a couple of years ago. The group helped her to place an ad and find a job.

"I'm working because they helped me," Ontiveros said.

Ontiveros came here from Mexico City 17 years ago.

She worked in a factory at first, then worked as a school aide before becoming a housekeeper.
She and her husband have three children. Lately, he can't find work in construction, his trade.

Her two teenage sons go to Catholic high school, and her younger son attends Catholic grammar school.

"I'm working to send my sons to school," she said.

Of course, the recession has put a lot of these workers out on the street. I asked Ontiveros if even more will lose jobs if employers are required to pay overtime, medical benefits and other costs, and can't afford to have a housekeeper or nanny.

"Some are afraid people won't afford it and will fire them," she acknowledged.

"My boss, he really needs people to work for him, watch the kids. He has the money, and we are happy working. It's better to pay us good money, so we're happy with each other.

"My kids love me," she said of her charges. "If I go to another job, I know someone else will take care of them, but...." She paused, a catch in her throat.

"I love them."

But she must think of her own children.

"I want them to go to Catholic school. I want them to have things," she said.

So she will forgo a precious day's pay to risk bettering her job situation, to ensure a brighter future for her kids.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Positive Nanny Article

Here's a link to an upbeat, positive article about a nanny working happily in New Jersey found in the Fremont Tribune.
Fremont grad works in New Jersey as a nanny
By Debra Jacobsen/Tribune correspondent
Tuesday, Apr 28, 2009 - 10:49:54 am CDT

It Isn’t Luck When Siblings Get Along

Handling Sibling Bickering
Siblings cannot get along perfectly all the time. Even the sweetest children bicker with their siblings. But, if children see how their caregivers appropriately handle conflicts then common sibling bickering can actually help teach sisters and brothers how to resolve conflicts, share, problem-solve, manage frustration, compromise, and to respect others.

Here are some ways to handle sibling bickering:

1. Ignore Them: If you hear siblings bickering first determine if you should ignore them and let the children work out the problem themselves.

2. Encourage Sharing: Typically siblings argue about sharing. They argue that their sister or brother is using their personal toys without asking first or when the other sibling does not share with them. If necessary use a common kitchen timer and pick a time allotment for each toy. For example, tell the children they each get five minutes with the toy. See how to encourage sharing by clicking here. Learn even more about getting children to share by clicking here.

3. Are They Tired, Bored, or Hungry? If the bickering continues, determine if one of the child’s basic needs are not being met. For example, if a child is tired, hungry, or bored all you may need to do is give the kids a break, some lunch, and a fun game or craft project to do.

4. Are They Jealous? Sibling rivalry is caused by jealousy. To reduce jealousy between siblings make an effort to listen to them and empathize with how they feel.

5. Do They Feel Ignored? Children often misbehave to gain attention or power. A child would rather be bad to get attention than to be ignored. Although the youngest child often requires more attention from the nanny, it is important to make time to play and listen to each child individually.

6. Do Not Take Sides: Taking sides just increases sibling rivalry. Many nannies and au pairs think they know who causes most of the sibling conflicts, (usually the older sibling). But, unless the caregiver is in the room and actually sees what started the bickering, the nanny or au pair should not take sides. If one child needs to go to their room, then send them all to their rooms. If a sister or brother misbehaves and both are sent to their rooms, they will become more willing to resolve their conflicts themselves.

6. Use Positive Reinforcement: To encourage good behavior provide the children with activities they can do together. Always positively reinforce children for appropriate behavior. Tell them how proud you are of them for sharing and playing nicely together. To learn more about positive reinforcement click here. Learn more about positive discipline by clicking here. See more creative ways to encourage children to behave by clicking here. There are even more ideas for rewarding good behavior by clicking here. For older children consider these ideas.

7. Listen: Listen to each child and validate their feelings, no matter how trivial it may seem to an adult. Each child should know you understand their feelings even when you may not agree with their actions

8. Never Yell: Nannies must model appropriate behaviors. The nanny must practice what she preaches. Yelling at children to stop yelling does not work. Nannies need to remain calm and tell children what they want them to do.

9. Punishment: Inappropriate behaviors such as hitting, breaking things, swearing, and name-calling should never be tolerated from children and using punishments may be necessary. Caregivers can allow children to help create a punishment chart so the children know ahead of time what consequences will result from bad behavior. “Time-outs” can also be used for to help calm children down during a conflict.

If nannies and au pairs can help siblings develop a loving relationship not only will it make their jobs easier but they will be most precious to the parents and they will be most appreciative.

Do the siblings you care for bicker? What do you do about it?

Monday, April 27, 2009

How to Prevent Swine Flu

Swine Flu Now in America
In Mexico the number of swine flu deaths rises to 149. To see aritlce click here for link

In the United States we now have 40 cases of confirmed cases. Click here to visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention web site for current stats.

U.S. Human Cases of Swine Flu Infection
As of April 27, 2009 1:00 PM ET
California 7 cases
Kansas 2 cases
New York City 28 cases
Ohio 1 case
Texas 2 cases
TOTAL COUNT 40 cases in United States

International Human Cases of Swine Flu Infection Visit: World Health Organization

Here is information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about the swine flu:

What are the signs and symptoms of swine flu in people?
The symptoms of swine flu in people are similar to the symptoms of regular human flu and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine flu. In the past, severe illness (pneumonia and respiratory failure) and deaths have been reported with swine flu infection in people. Like seasonal flu, swine flu may cause a worsening of underlying chronic medical conditions.

What should I do to keep from getting the flu?
First and most important: wash your hands. Wash your hands and the hands of your charges with soap and warm water. Wsh for 15 to 20 seconds. When soap and water are not available, alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers may be used. You can find them in most supermarkets and drugstores. If using gel, rub your hands until the gel is dry. The gel doesn’t need water to work; the alcohol in it kills the germs on your hands.

Also try to stay in good general health. Get plenty of sleep, be physically active, manage your stress, drink plenty of fluids, and eat nutritious food. Try not touch surfaces that may be contaminated with the flu virus. Avoid close contact with people who are sick.

What else can I do to protect myself from getting sick?
There is no vaccine available right now to protect against swine flu. There are everyday actions that can help prevent the spread of germs that cause respiratory illnesses like influenza. Take these everyday steps to protect your health:

• Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
• Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze. Alcohol-based hand cleaners are also effective.
• Avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth. Germs spread this way.
• Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
• If you get sick with influenza, CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

In children emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
Fast breathing or trouble breathing
Bluish skin colorNot drinking enough fluids
Not waking up or not interacting
Being so irritable that the child does not want to be held
Flu-like symptoms improve but then return with fever and worse cough
Fever with a rash

In adults, emergency warning signs that need urgent medical attention include:
Difficulty breathing or shortness of breath
Pain or pressure in the chest or abdomen
Sudden dizziness
Severe or persistent vomiting

Can I get swine influenza from eating or preparing pork?
No. Swine influenza viruses are not spread by food. You cannot get swine influenza from eating pork or pork products. Eating properly handled and cooked pork products is safe.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Chicago Tribune Article About Nannies

The following article can be found at:

Lose the anxiety, find a sitter,0,4480663.story
By Heidi Stevens

Tribune newspapers
April 26, 2009

Whenever people ask why I chose a group day-care setting, rather than a nanny, when my daughter was an infant, I rattle off answers about socialization and lower costs and wanting my child to learn how to share and blah, blah, blah. The truth, of course, is much more embarrassing.

I conducted exactly two nanny interviews, and while both women were perfectly sweet and probably wonderful at their jobs, I couldn't shake the fear that I would return home from work one day to find my "nanny" had kidnapped my daughter and fled for the hills, never to be heard from again. In fact, I sort of worried about a mid-interview kidnapping. I know. Pathetic.

But finding a good baby-sitter (not necessarily a full-time nanny) does not have to be an exercise in anxiety and blind faith. It also doesn't have to mean hiring a blood relative or the neighbor next door, which seemed to be the dominant options a generation ago.

"The baby-sitting landscape has changed dramatically in the last 10 years," says Genevieve Thiers, founder and CEO of, a national online child-care service. "The Internet has become the place du jour to find a baby-sitter or a nanny."

Thiers says two major cultural shifts have changed the way we find sitters. "We've become much more transient, where we move from major city to major city, so we touch down and have no network. No family, no friends -- sort of a stranger-in-a-strange-land situation," she says. "In addition to that, the rise in extracurricular activities among high school students has led to the students becoming less and less available."

But Thiers contends that searching for a sitter today is actually safer and more reliable than ever provided you follow the correct steps. Whether you use a service like Sittercity, which has a database of more than 100,000 baby-sitters and nannies organized by ZIP code, or conduct your own search on- or offline, employ these tips for a worry-free hunt.

Know the lingo. Are you looking for a mother's helper (usually a younger sitter who comes over to tend to the kids while a parent is home), a baby-sitter (who comes to your house for fewer than 20 hours a week at an hourly rate) or a nanny (who spends 20 or more hours a week in your home and is paid like a full-time employee)? State your needs upfront.

Ask the right questions. Thiers says her big three are: "Do you know CPR, first aid and the Heimlich maneuver?" "What is your experience?" and "What are your theories on discipline?" You'll have a lot more questions about your specific needs, of course, but those three are critical.

Think about age. "The market trend is toward 18-plus sitters," Thiers says. "But the most important thing is for parents to have a clear picture of what they want before they jump in." Older sitters (meaning post-high school) are often more mature, have more experience and usually can drive. They also tend to charge more. Younger sitters may have a little more energy and engage your kids in more play. College-age sitters, once a rarity, according to Thiers, are quite prevalent now. And they tend to be available on weekends.

Know the going rate. You can find a rate calculator at but in general you should expect to pay $10-$14 an hour, depending on the sitter's age and experience, the number of children she/he will be watching and your proximity to a big city.

Talk money. Thiers recommends asking an interviewee about his/her preferred rate before making an offer. If it's much higher or lower than what you were planning to pay, you may want to reconsider your rate, assuming you like the candidate. Younger sitters will often answer, "I don't know," Thiers says, in which case you can throw out a number you're comfortable with and see how they react. The key is for you to go into the interview knowing what you plan to pay.

Screen them. Always ask for references and always check them out. Thiers recommends going a step further and conducting a statewide or national background check as well. You can use LexisNexis, or just Google "background check" and find another outlet. Most checks cost between $10 and $80, depending on how far-reaching they are. All sitters listed on Sittercity have already been put through a national background check.
Copyright © 2009, Chicago Tribune

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Dear President Obama Letters of Hope From Children Across America

Weekly Trip to the Library

Dear President Obama
Letters of Hope From Children Across America
By Bruce Kluger and David Tabatsky

On November 5th, 2008, writers Bruce Kluger and David Tabatsky had a simple idea: to recapture the exhilarating spirit of the 2008 presidential election from the perspective of our nation’s youngest citizens.

They emailed a handful of friends, asking them if their children had something they wanted to say to President-elect Barack Obama. Those friends forwarded the email to their friends—and within six weeks, Kluger and Tabatsky had received nearly one thousand submissions.

In the end, the same infectious enthusiasm that had fueled the Obama campaign itself produced this landmark book, Dear President Obama: Letters of Hope from Children Across America (Beckham Publications Group), a remarkable collection written and illustrated by 179 children from all regions of the country.

The 179 children ultimately selected for Dear President Obama represent a wide spectrum of socio-economic backgrounds—from the seventh-grader in a Manhattan private school, to a classroom of children in one of the poorest communities in Lincoln, Nebraska. Yet despite their differences, their letters are uniformly inspirational, as the young correspondents enunciate their hopes, fears and dreams about the world they live in, and their boundless excitement about the historic election that took place during their young lives.

“Kids really get it,” writes veteran TV journalist and longtime host of Nickelodeon's Nick News, Linda Ellerbee, in her foreword to the book. “They believe they can change their world. And that is the kind of honesty you will find in these pages.”

Do you have a book review to share with nannies and au pairs? Email to share your book ideas. Stop by next Saturday for another "Weekly Trip to the Library."

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Fun Earth Day Acitivities

Growing Plants
Seeds, Shallow dish of water, Planters, Potting soil
Soak seeds from an orange, apple, grapefruit, lemon, or lime in water for a day or two. Fill several planters with potting soil and place three or four seeds in each one about half an inch deep. Water the seeds, place the pots in a sunny spot, and watch for the green shoots to grow. You can try plantings seeds in a pattern or shape: a letter, number, square, or circle.

Nature Hunt
One paper bag per child and one list of natural objects to collect per player
Give each child a paper bag and a list of natural objects (a bird's feather, a leaf, a smooth rock, a pine cone, a wildflower, and so on) to collect. Give the same list to all the players or have each player look for a different group of objects. Challenge the children to find all the objects on their lists. Set a time limit: perhaps ten or twenty minutes to find ten objects. The first player to find all the items on his list is the winner. A child may play this game alone or with others. For a group of children, pair up non-readers with readers.

Make A Terrarium

· A clear glass container with a wide neck to allow your hand in
· Small stones or gravel
· Activated charcoal (get from pet store)
· Potting soil
· Small sponge
· Piece of screen, mesh, or cheesecloth
· Plants or moss
A terrarium is a completely self-supporting ecosystem. The plant life replenishes the air with oxygen, light shining through provides the light and power source, and water comes from the moisture in the soil. As the dead leaves fall off, they decompose providing food for the soil. How to make one:
1. Select your plants. They should be small, like shade, and not grow too fast or too tall.
2. Put gravel on terrarium floor.
3.Sprinkle a small amount of activated charcoal on top.
4.Cover with a piece of screen with a slit cut in the middle.
5.Slice the sponge to one third inch wide and stick it in like a candle between the slit in the screen and anchor it in the gravel. The sponge will bring moisture up to the plant roots.
6.Cover with potting soil.
7.Gently make small holes and place plants in them, packing the soil loosely around them.
8. Spritz the plants with water and cover. Add small figures.
The terrarium may look a little limp for a few days but will get used to its new environment in no time.
Do you have a favorite Earth Day project or activity to do with children?

Monday, April 20, 2009

How Nannies and Au Pairs Can Make Earth Day Everyday

Teaching Children to be Green

We constantly hear about global warming and the need to preserve the Earth’s environment. Everyone cares about the environment, but some feel overwhelmed that the issue is too huge for them to make a personal impact. Yet, very simply lifestyle changes can make a great impact. Both adults and children can do little things that help us reduce, reuse, and recycle.

Great power lies in the hands of nannies and au pairs that consistently teach children to reduce, reuse, and recycle. To teach children to respect the environment, we must live green and value our natural world, especially when our charges look up to us. If we truly care about children we must take better care of Earth and teach kids how to do the same.

Easy things nannies, au pairs, and children can do daily include using reusable mugs and water bottles, recycle aluminum, and plastic food containers, and turn off the lights and televisions when leaving rooms.

When shopping for groceries caregivers should show children how to look for recycling symbols on the products they buy. Purchase items in recyclable packaging whenever possible. Carry reusable shopping bags, and buy in bulk when possible to minimize packaging waste.

Sprinkle a few seeds in a portion of the family’s garden or in pots or planters and encourage the children to water them and see the plants grow. It is most enjoyable to plant vegetables or fruits such as lettuce, strawberries, tomatoes, or carrots that can be used in the children’s meals.

Bicycle or walk to school, activities, and playdates when possible.

Teach children to turn off running water while brushing their teeth or washing their faces and hands. Use a kitchen timer to encourage older children to take shorter showers.

Read Earth friendly children’s books to the children in your care and watch Earth friendly movies.

Subscribe to fun children’s magazines published by the National Wildlife Federation which include: Ranger Rick, Just for Fun, Animal Baby, and Your Big Backyard During the year subscriptions make great birthday gifts for the children’s friends.

Some other ways to encourage the family you work for to reduce is by asking the parents if you can reduce the use of paper by canceling unneeded catalogs at:

Rather than throwing away small used clothing the parents can receive a tax deduction by donating the children’s small clothing to Goodwill, or the Salvation Army. You can also donate gently used toys and clothing to a local thrift store, or a neighbor or friends with smaller children in need.

What do you have the children do daily to reduce, reuse, and recycle?

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Earth Day Movies to Watch With Kids

Typically Best Nanny Newsletter discourages nannies and au pairs using the television as an electronic babysitter. But there are several great family movies that caregivers can allow children to view that fit the theme of Earth Day.

Fly Away Home
Thirteen-year-old Amy is forced to start life over with her estranged father after her mother dies, finds herself playing mom after hatching a group of abandoned goose eggs. When it’s time for the geese to fly south for the winter, it is up to her, her father, and their homemade airplanes to lead them to safety. If developers hadn’t torn up the geese’s natural home they never would have gotten into this mess; but then again, then we’d never have this inspirational tear-jerker. What’s even more inspirational, this story is true! Details: Directed by Carroll Ballard and written by Robert Rodat, this movie stars Jeff Daniels and Anna Paquin. Rated PG for an opening accident scene and some mild language.

March of the Penguins
This documentary follows the annual journey of the arctic penguins making their way to their breeding grounds and the rituals they instinctually follow to mate and breed. Though they can’t speak, these wonderful penguins seem almost human in their devotion to tradition, their children, and love.
Details: Directed by Luc Jacquet and written by Jordan Roberts, this movie is narrated by Morgan Freedman. Rated G.

Free Willy
Doing time at a marina for vandalism, a young boy befriends an orca whale through the tank’s glass. After uncovering the plot of the marina owner to “dispose” of the orca for poor performance in front of an audience, it is up to this youngster to “Free Willy.” Details: Directed Simon Wincer and written Keith Walker, this movie stars Jason James Richter and Keiko the Orca Whale. Rated PG for some mild language.

After mankind has used up all of the Earth’s resources and abandoned it for a new, lazier frontier in space, it is up to Wall-E, a garbage collecting robot, to convince the human race to return and re-cultivate. The chubby space dwellers will make you get active and keep the earth clean. Details: Directed by Andrew Stanton and written by Andrew Stanton, Pete Doctor and Jim Reardon, this movie features the voices of Ben Burtt, Elissa Knight, Jeff Garlin and, the most interesting voice actor, MacInTalk. Rated G.

FurnGully: The Last Rainforest
The fairies of FurnGully, a beautiful and enchanted rainforest, are in mortal danger when human loggers come, cut lumber, and release the oil monster Hexxus from his tree imprisonment. When the fairy Christa accidentally shrinks Zak, a human logger, they, along with their friends Batty, Pips, and Beatle Boy, are the only ones who can save the forest. The idea of a hidden fairy world and a bat that raps will make you think twice before not reusing that next brown paper bag. Details: Directed by Bill Kroyer and written by Jim Cox and Diana Young, this features the voices of Robin Williams, Christian Slater and Samantha Mathis. Rated G.

Ant Bully
When 10-year-old Lucas Nickle attacks an ant colony, he is shrunk down to their size and sees just how hard it is to be an ant. The story helps us to appreciate ants while learning about friendship, courage and “ant”i-bullying.
Details: Directed and written by John A. Davis, this movie features the voices of Julia Roberts, Nicolas Cage and Meryl Streep. Rated PG for some mild rude humor and action.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Earth Day Children's Books

Weekly Trip to the Library

Wednesday, April 22, 2009 is Earth Day. This week borrow children's books about respecting the environment when you visit the library. Here are some suggestions.
Recycle A Handbook for Kids
By Gail Gibbons
Ages 4 to 8
Gail Gibbons simply, succinctly, and clearly explains how recycling conserves energy and reduces pollution as it decreases waste. She shows basic steps involved in making new-from-used paper, glass, cans, and plastic: old bottles crushed, and melted, for example, and aluminum cans ground into chips, melted into bars and pressed into thin sheets. The captioned panels and running text stress the need for reducing waste and saving natural resources. The book ends with a mention of the ozone layer and the limited potential for recycling polystyrene, followed by 14 facts about garbage.

Every Day Is Earth Day
By Kathy Ross
Ages 5 to 8
A craft book for children that stresses the need to recycle and reuse things. The crafts range from a bag saver to save plastic bags, to a nest-building supply box for birds, to a talking Earth puppet that kids can use to spread the message about caring for the environment. Clear step-by-step instructions with pictures are given for each craft. Projects are simple enough for young children to be made from recycled and other easy-to find materials. Great book for school and for parent involvement at home.

50 Simple Things Kids Can Do to Save the Earth
By Earth Works Group
Ages 6 to 9
It's easy-to-do and kid-friendly projects show that kids can make a difference, and each chapter is packed with tons of links to groups and resources. What makes this book stand out, though, is that it doesn't just inform kids, it encourages them to make a difference by providing them, their friends and their families the tools to take action.

Earth Book for Kids: Activities to Help Heal the Environment
By Linda Schwartz
Ages 8 to 11
Creative ideas with easy-to-follow instructions show kids how to make their own paper, compare phosphate levels in detergents, test the effects of oil pollution, conduct a recycling survey, create a trash sculpture, redesign a package, chart a flush, measure acidity, and make a difference in many other exciting ways.
The Garbage Monster
By Joni Sensel
Ages 8 to 11
When Jo is slow to take out the trash one evening, the garbage comes to life and hauls her outside instead. The beast threatens mayhem throughout the neighborhood, but Jo is undaunted. She plucks him limb from limb, finding another use for his cardboard head, fibrous fanny, and other various parts. By the time she is done, Jo sees how recycling can be a resourceful way to put the beast back in his place-and make an unpleasant chore more fun. This book brings to life the benefits of recycling and the hazards of a wasteful attitude.
Stop by next Saturday for more book reviews. If you have a book to share email

Friday, April 17, 2009


How Au Pairs and Nannies Can Help Teach Children to Share
By Cathy Malley
Cooperative Extension Educator, Child Development
University of Connecticut
Cooperative Extension


  • that it is not easy for young children to share.
  • that you should be a good example and show the children how to share.
  • that you should encourage and help children while they are learning to share.


This fact sheet will help you help children learn to share. Also, it will help you to understand young children and know what to expect from them.


Some toddlers share without being asked and without being taught to. However, learning to share is hard for most children. Young children think about themselves and what they want or need. Thinking about the needs of others is the beginning of learning to share. Two- and three-year-old children should not be expected to share. They are still working on meeting their own needs. By age four, many children will share some of their things. By age six or seven, children begin to understand how to cooperate with other children. Playing in groups gives children a chance to learn about sharing and taking turns.

You may decide that all toys and games belong to the group, not to any one child. As the care provider, you need to explain that to the children. Then show them what you mean. For example, when a child has finished using a group toy and another child picks it up, say out loud that it belongs to that child now. When he is done it will belong to the next child, etc. Explain to the children that this is called "sharing." If they want a toy back, they will have to wait for another turn. Explain this process to all the children. Then follow through with your promise.

Tell the children rules in a way that they understand. You could say, "First you go down the slide, then John, and then Sandy. This is clearer to children than saying, "You must all take turns."


  • Read books about sharing to the children. Your local children's librarian may be able to suggest some books and videos about sharing.
  • When playing "turn taking" games, be sure that each child has a chance to go first.
  • Support and praise children when they share. For example, say, "I liked the way you let John play with that toy. You must be proud of yourself."
  • Do not force young children (less than three years old) to share. This may cause the children to resent sharing.
  • Set a good example. Talk about sharing. Share with the children.
  • Sharing can be fun. Children need to try it to learn it.


Think about what you would do in the following situations. Discuss your solutions with another childcare provider. Did you come up with similar solutions?

1. Emily keeps taking the teddy bear from John. What can you do to help?

2. Terry always wants to be first. He screams when he can't be. What can you do to help Terry?

3. Matt will not let go of a toy. What can you do?


  • Every day, do something in which you share or take turns with the children.
  • Talk about sharing. Talk about how good it feels when others share with us.


Growing With Children circular HE 198 *Learning to Share*, Alabama Cooperative Extension Service, Auburn University, Auburn, AL 36849.

*Positive Parenting Practices, Teaching Children to Share*, letter #9. West Virginia University Cooperative Extension, Morgantown, WV 26506.

*Being Alone, Being Together* by Terry Berger, Raintree Edition, Milwaukee. Distributed by Children's Press, Chicago, IL.

*Frederick* by Leo Lionni, Pantheon, New York, NY 10022 (1967).

*Uncle Elephant* by Arnold Lobel, Harper and Row, New York, NY (1981).

*What Mary Jo Shared* by Janice May Udry, A. Whitman, Niles, IL 60648 (1966).

*Hiding House* by Judith Vigna, A. Whitman, Niles, IL 60648 (1979).

National Network for Child Care - NNCC. Part of CYFERNET, the National Extension Service Children Youth and Family Educational Research Network. Permission is granted to reproduce these materials in whole or in part for educational purposes only (not for profit beyond the cost of reproduction) provided that the author and Network receive acknowledgment and this notice is included:

Reprinted with permission from the National Network for Child Care - NNCC. Malley, C.. (1991). *Learning to share*. (Family Day Care Facts series). Amherst, MA: University of Massachusetts. Any additions or changes to these materials must be pre-approved by the author .

Gretchen May
University of Massachusetts at Amherst
206 Skinner Hall
Amherst, MA 01003
VOICE: 413-577-0332
FAX: 413-545-1002

Thursday, April 16, 2009


How Au Pairs and Nannies Teach Kids To Share

Children cannot understand the concept of sharing until they are between three and four years old. Until that time they will need adult supervision to encourage sharing.

When visitors come over it is a good idea to put each child’s favorite toys and belongings away so that the children are not pressured into sharing their most precious treasures.

Place labels on toys before bringing toys to playgroup. Clearly marking toys encourages children to share their things with their friends since it ensures that the toys will be returned to them.

Before friends come over to play, take a moment with the children you care for to explain what is expected of them. You might say to a child, “If you put a toy down, then you have finished playing with it allowing others to play with it for awhile. If you still have the toy in your hand, you may continue and keep playing with the toy."

To help solve the problem stay at a close range when one and two year olds play. Children younger than three years old should not be expected to share without supervision.

Timing turns: Calmly show the children how sharing works. Let them know you will be setting a time limit for how long each child can play with a toy, (using a kitchen timer works well). When the children hear the timer ring, then it is the other child’s turn to play with the toy.

Give the toy a time-out: When all else fails and a specific toy is causing a problem and a child won’t share, remove the toy and place the toy in a time-out.

Don’t penalize for the occasional slip up of not sharing: If it’s only on the odd occasion a child is not willing to share, remove the object rather than lecturing the child.

Do you have any tips or advice about teaching children to share for nannies or au pairs?

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Nanny Share Family

Innocent Mistake Disqualifies Tax Breaks
By Breedlove & Associates

Nanny Share arrangements become increasingly popular during tough economic times because they allow families to split the cost of the caregiver's wages as well as most of the associated costs. In addition, both families are entitled to the same childcare tax breaks as single-family employers. Since the employer tax expense is much less for a Nanny Share family, paying legally can create a significant financial benefit.

This combination of wage and tax savings can make it significantly cheaper to share a nanny than to employ one alone. However, in order to realize these savings, both families must establish themselves as separate employers and meet all state, federal - and sometimes local - employment regulations.

This case dramatizes the negative financial consequences of mismanaging the tax and payroll process in a Nanny Share arrangement.

The Mistake

Family A and Family B each have two young children and agree to employ a nanny to care for all four children at the same time. While the families agreed to split all costs right down the middle (including wages, taxes, CPA fees, etc.), the payroll and tax filings were managed entirely through Family A - with Family B reimbursing Family A at the end of each pay period.

At the end of the tax year, Family B tallied up their reimbursement checks and submitted them to the husband's HR department in order to take advantage of their dependent care account.

The Law

In a Nanny Share arrangement, the law views both families as separate employers.

In order to be legal, each family must:
  1. Set up state and federal household employment tax IDs
  2. File a New Hire Report
  3. Withhold the proper taxes from the nanny's pay
  4. Prepare and file state & federal employment tax returns and remitting their portion of the employee and employer taxes (based on their portion of the wages)
  5. Provide a Form W-2 to their employee at the end of each calendar year
  6. File Forms W-3 and W-2A with the Social Security Administration each year
  7. Prepare and attach a Schedule H to their Form 1040 federal personal income tax return

In other words, both families are required to meet the exact same obligations as all other household employers. While it seems more convenient to let one family handle everything, this practice is illegal. It also disqualifies the "other Family" (in this case, Family B), from taking advantage of the childcare tax breaks.

The Mess

  • In January of 2006, Family A and Family B agreed to a total salary of $32,000 for their nanny. Family A agreed to pay the full $32,000 in wages and get a reimbursement check from Family B each bi-weekly pay period for their half of the salary.
  • Family A presented their payroll and tax filing receipts to the husband's HR department and their CPA. They were very pleased to get a tax break totaling $2,500.
  • Family B also pursued their tax break, but they were denied the $2,500 savings since they had not met all the requirements of the state and federal tax process. Family B's HR department was forced to reject Family B's receipts. The IRS viewed Family B as having no proof that they paid legally - no tax accounts, no tax payments, no tax returns on file, etc.
  • Since neither Family A nor Family B knew the law before they set up their payroll process, Family B argued that it was not fair for them to be penalized while Family A benefited. They asked Family A to split the savings for 2006 and beyond.
  • Family A and Family B ultimately called Breedlove & Associates to solicit a professional opinion on the best way to proceed.

The Outcome

Both families joined Breedlove & Associates in January of 2007. They decided to swallow the loss from 2006, but since then Family A and Family B have been fully compliant and able to receive their full tax breaks.

How the Whole Thing Could Have Been Avoided

If the families had called a household employment payroll and tax expert like Breedlove & Associates at the outset, they would have learned that each family is considered a separate employer and could have easily - and affordably - complied with all federal and state laws. In addition to being risk-free, this would have allowed both of them to take full advantage of the tax breaks available for childcare expenses. A little knowledge on the front end would have saved them a significant amount of money, time and stress.

In these tough economic times, if you start seeing more Nanny Share arrangements, please remember that this innocent mistake is extremely common. You'll be a hero if you can steer your clients to these significant savings while dodging all the legal landmines. We're more than happy to be an extension of your team and provide each family with a quick, individualized consultation. In less than 10 minutes, we can explain the law, run budget scenarios and make sure their savings are optimized.

If you'd like to include information about the legal and tax consequences of Nanny Share arrangements, just let us know.

For more information about household employment tax and labor law,please visit us at or call us at 888-BREEDLOVE (273-3356).We're here to help our agency partners provide their candidates and clients with information, tools and resources that improve the employment relationship, eliminate legal risks for all parties, and generally increase the professionalism of the industry.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Nanny Sharing in a Tough Economy

The Logistics of the Nanny Share

With the country in an economic recession there has been a lot of media coverage about nannies losing jobs and coming up with creative ways to keep their jobs. For example, some nannies have accepted less hours or less money to keep their jobs.

Other nannies agree to take on more household responsibilities like housekeeping, see

Others agree to work for two families to keep working as nannies full-time. See about nanny sharing.

We spoke with Katelyn Montgomery, a 25-year-old nanny in Ridgewood, New Jersey who has experienced changes in her nanny job in the economic recession. Katelyn was solely working for an affluent family with one pre-school child and loved her nanny job. But the father (who wishes to remain anonymous) who had been working on Wall Street lost his job in November, 2008.

“At first the parents agreed they still needed me to work for them full-time so the father could search for a new job,” says Katelyn.

“But after the holidays and he still had not found a job the parents and I brainstormed about different ways to keep me employed, at a time when they needed to save money,” explains Katelyn.

The nanny continues, “I am very good friends with the mother next door to the family I work for and we see each other every day that I work.” She continues, "The neighbor has a child the same age we like a lot." Katelyn’s employers discussed the nanny helping the neighbor out a few hours a week as a way to reduce the cost of her full-time employers.

“The idea of sharing me as a nanny for the two families sounded great because I like both families and could still keep my job,” explains Katelyn.

So, in February, 2009 Katelyn started working in a “Nanny Share.” Nanny Sharing is when two families share the nannies services.

“Three days a week the neighbor's child comes to the house I have been working at for years and two days a week we all go to the neighbor’s house,” explains the nanny.

Although Katelyn is grateful she is working and the families are working together so she does not lose any income she admits, “It is hard working for two different families each week.”

“The first thing I had to do is raise my hourly rate because I am now taking care of two children every day instead of just one,” says Katelyn.

Other problems for Katelyn have been, “Now I have to wash two families worth of children’s laundry instead of one. Each family disciplines their children differently. Both parents have different rules about television watching. One of the families has a huge pet dog which I didn’t realize was going to be so difficult to manage,” says Katelyn.

She continues, “Adjusting to working in a new home environment with a new child has been really challenging.”

Katelyn says her biggest challenge so far working in a nanny share is, “When one child was sick they both get sick. But, the children have different pediatricians and they had to tag along to both doctor’s offices with me.”

“But, I am happy to be working and do like the parents and children,” says Katelyn.

She admits, “An advantage is that both children like playing with one another and keep one another occupied. I also like that they are learning to share with one another.”

Although the parents that have hired Katelyn wish to remain anonymous, they share the following tips with other parents considering a Nanny Share. The father who lost his job in November, 2008 recommends, “If parents are considering a Nanny Share arrangement they should definitely share the nanny with close neighbors they are friendly with, not strangers.”

“The two sets of parents should sit down and create a contract alongside the nanny together so that neither family is a more desirable job than the other,” explains the father.

He continues, “You don’t want parents working against the other.”

The father continues, “Parents have to be more flexible when sharing a nanny. They have to reduce their housekeeping expectations and understand the other family’s needs are important for the nanny too.”

Kathy Webb of HomeWork Solutions says:

"Benefits of Nanny Share include:
· Children are with friends and neighbors not strangers
· Much more affordable
· Minimum sickness
· No late fees when running a few minutes behind
· Bottles made and dinner table set
· Light housekeeping and laundry
· Professional, prompt, courteous service
· Professionally screened caregiver

The downsides of a Nanny Share include:
· Vacation scheduling for the nanny becomes complicated by the differing schedules of two families.
· Disagreements one family has with the nanny could overflow to the other family.
· Over time, families may develop differing philosophies about things such as appropriate television viewing, homework, housekeeping, playmates, and playgroups.
· Liability and homeowners insurance will not likely cover an accidental injury the other child suffers. The host family should consider this carefully and a discussion with a licensed insurance agent is recommended.
· If one family leaves the share. This can leave the remaining family in a financial bind as the nanny will expect her full income. This should be planned in advance when the relationship starts. Nanny Share families should have a minimum notice (four weeks is suggested) of intent to leave the share, or pay the nanny in lieu of the notice.
· Parents must consider who pays for food and supplies used in the home."

Katelyn says, “Although working in a Nanny Share can be challenging, it is also fun. I high recommend nannies consider working in a Nanny Share rather than losing her income during the recession.”

Katelyn’s employer who lost his job in 2008 sums up, “Rather than losing your great caregiver considering a Nanny Share with a family you already know and trust is a great way to keep your nanny.”


Do you work in a Nanny Share? What has your experience been?

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Easter Children's Books for Nannies and Au Pairs

Weekly Trip to the Library

Love One Another: The Last Days of JesusBy Lauren Thompson
For Ages: All
Publisher: Scholastic
This book retells the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. The simple, straightforward text is enhanced by the sensitive artwork of Elizabeth Uyehara, oil painting on canvas done in a primitive style. She effectively illustrates the story without using images that would frighten small children. The positive ending, as the tomb is emptied and Jesus appears to his despondent disciples, stresses his universal message of peace, love, and forgiveness. The book is appropriate for non-Christian readers, as no mention is made of Jesus's divinity or the exclusivity of Christianity.

The Story of EasterBy Patricia A. Pingry
Publisher: Ideals Publications
For Ages: Infant to Preschool
The book discusses the celebration of Easter and the story of Jesus' life, Resurrection, and love. It shares the basic religious values surrounding the Easter season at a level that the toddler can relate to.

EasterBy Miriam Nerlove
For Ages: 3 to 6
Publisher: Albert Whitman
With rhyming text and simple illustrations, Miriam Nerlove tells the story of a brother and sister and their family’s Easter celebration. It includes decorating Easter eggs, finding Easter baskets full of candy, going to church and hearing the Easter story, enjoying a family dinner with their grandparents, going on an Easter egg hunt, and sharing candy eggs. This is a good book to use to introduce a child to the various aspects of Easter celebrations.

Queen of Easter
By Mary Engelbreit
For Ages: 4 to 8
Publisher: HarperCollins
Anne Estelle wants a fancy Easter hat so she can be "Queen of Easter" in the neighborhood Easter parade. She is very disappointed when her mother buys her a plain hat. When Ann Estelle leaves her new hat on the porch, a robin builds a nest in it and lays eggs. What's Ann Estelle to do? There's lots of fun in this picture book written and illustrated by Mary Engelbreit. Her colorful borders and crisp illustrations are a joy. At the back of the book is a nice surprise: an Ann Estelle paperdoll, complete with an Easter dress and hat.

The Story of Easter
By Christopher Doyle
Publisher: Concordia Publishing House
For Ages: 5 to12 years old
This is the Easter story based on the biblical accounts in Matthew 21-26, Luke 22-23, John 13, 17-21, and Acts 2. Doyle effectively captures the drama and significance of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection in his narrative. I particularly like John Hayson’s delicate, yet dramatic, watercolor illustrations. It covers Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem through Pentecost.


Stop by next Saturday for another trip to the library.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Health Insurance for Au Pairs

J1 Visa Health Insurance is Obligatory for Exchange Visitors
By Armen Wilson

Health insurance is for everyone. If you believe that you are absolutely fit and there will be no need to visit a doctor in near future, you cannot be more off target. There is no special time for an accident to take place. Any time is a good time for accident to occur and your life can become miserable from that moment on.

To deal with all those circumstances, health insurance is essential. In fact, there are lots of situations where you don't have another choice but to go for the health insurance. One such situation is when you may be traveling to U.S. on J1 visa. What it means is that whether you are visiting as an exchange visitor, au pair, scholar, trainee, or research student, you must have a health insurance otherwise your visa will not remain valid.

J1 visa health insurance and some regulations:

When you will be in the U.S., you will find that rules and regulations are associated with everything. Health insurance is not an exception. For J1 visa health insurance, you will have to face following rules and regulations.

• If you are visiting as J1 exchange visitor, you must not only have J1 visa insurance for yourself but you must have insurance for your J2 dependent as well. Always keep in mind that if you don't carry exchange visitor health insurance, your sponsor will have no choice but to terminate your exchange visitor program.

• Although you need J1visa health insurance, there are several unauthentic sites which should be avoided. Shop from an authentic site offering immediate confirmation with proof of insurance.

• At the time of buying do keep in mind that insurance must offer medical benefits up to $50,000 per illness, repatriation of remains up to $7,500, expenses associated with medical evacuation up to $10,000 and deductible should not be more than $500 per accident.

The fact of the matter is that if you are coming to United States on J1 visa, you must have J1 visa health insurance.

But, keep in mind that unlike in many other countries, where government assists you in dealing with health care expenses, you will have to deal with everything on your own while visiting USA. Not to mention that health care expenses in U.S. are crushing and health insurance is the only way to deal with those expenses. So, find a right carrier to get your insurance.

http://www.nriol.netoffers quality J1 visa health insurance to US residents. It is also a perfect place to get quick quotes on medical insurance for international student and travel insurance for tourists. Not only does it provide immediate confirmation but it also offers proof of insurance after purchase.

If you are an au pair what has been your experience with J1 Visa health insurance?

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Hiring a Nanny Discussed on Forbes Website

The Most Important Hire You'll Ever Make
Melanie Lindner, 04.08.09, 6:00 PM ET

You're working even harder in the recession, but you have kids to raise too.

While computers, smart phones and other gadgets have made us more productive, there just aren't enough hours in the day to do it all. Hence the 1.3 million Americans who identify themselves as childcare providers, both in facilities and in private homes, according to the latest figures from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Not that all of those nannies can find steady work these days. Last year, unemployment for in-home childcare providers jumped to 13% from 8% in 2007, estimates the International Nanny Association. "There are many more out-of-work nannies now than six months ago because so many parents have been laid off," says Susan Tokayer, president of the INA. And fewer nannies who do have gigs are lucky enough to receive health benefits through their employers.

Nabbing a good nanny takes time, diligence and a little bit of cash--all worth the investment, given what's riding on the decision. The good news is that, in a recession, there's more talent to choose from.

Once you've decided to hire a childcare professional, you need to narrow down exactly what you expect him or her to do. Are you looking for a part-time or full-time employee? Do you want the person to live in your home? Will he or she be traveling with the family? Will there be any additional responsibilities outside of child care, such as laundry, cooking or errands?

"I spoke to one mother recently who wanted to know if it would be appropriate to ask her current nanny to start taking on some house cleaning, allowing her to let go of her cleaning lady and save some money," says Tokayer. "Generally speaking, that's something that should be worked out in advance. And any nanny with a college degree is going to hesitate to clean beyond messes made by the children." What is fair game: light housework, like the children's laundry, meal preparation and tidying up bedrooms and playrooms.

Before you get seduced by the convenience of live-in help, think hard about whether you'll want a non-family member around at all times. Many families can't make the adjustment. "Turnover rates for live-in nannies are extremely high," says Patricia Cascio, owner of Morningside Nannies, an agency in Houston, Texas.

The next step is to canvass the ranks. Word-of-mouth referrals are always nice, but they may not do the trick. Nanny agencies charge a $2,000 to $3,000 finder's fee, or roughly 10% of a nanny's salary, says Deborah Smith, president of Parents With Nannies, an industry group based in Brick, N.J.

If your budget is tight, you could always run your own advertisement in a local newspaper for a smaller fee than going through an agency. The downside: Running an ad will scare up all sorts of takers, whereas agencies offer "pre-screened, ready-to-go nannies," says Smith.

When evaluating candidates' qualifications, look for experience over a formal degree in early childhood education, says Susan McCloskey, vice president of Nanny Poppinz, a placement agency with 23 franchise locations throughout the U.S. At a minimum, you'll want your nanny to be certified in CPR and first aid (nearly 83% are, according to the INA's 2008 Salary and Benefits Survey).

Next comes the interviewing process, which has several components. Tokayer suggests meeting with potential hires at least three times before pulling the trigger.

The first meeting should take place without the children present. Ask about the candidate's experience, schedule flexibility and any heath-related issues that could hinder performance. The second meeting is often a "working interview," in which parents pay the nanny to watch the children for a few hours while they observe. The final meeting can cover a range of issues, from vacations to health benefits.

Even if you think you've found a perfect fit, don't go on instinct alone. Before you trust a nanny with your children, do a background check to ensure that their story adds up. Agencies earn their fees, in part, by doing such pre-screening. Aside from criminal-history searches, "we also run a search with the Department of Motor Vehicles and employment references before sending our nannies out to meet with families," says McCloskey.

If you'd sleep better knowing you did your own vetting, services such as Verifications Inc. and LexisNexis perform full background checks in two to three days for $50 to $100. While there are inexpensive online services that claim to do the job in 24 hours, Smith suggests going with an outfit that promises to send a representative to the courts to peruse official government documents, which generally takes a few days.

Once you're satisfied with your selection, put together a written work agreement that covers daily responsibilities, holidays, overtime compensation and salary. To determine the appropriate salary, consider the cost of living in your area, the number of children the nanny will be caring for and the responsibilities you'll be asking of the person, including overnight care, housework and errands.

Nannies polled in the INA's latest survey earn between $300 and $1,000 per week. Of those responsible for overnight care, 85% receive additional compensation ranging from $25 to $125 per night. Of those who travel with the family, 55% say they receive additional pay ranging from $50 to $175 per day.

As for taxes, the law treats domestic employment like a small business, so it's important to be sure to file the appropriate documentation with the government and your employee. As the employer, you are required to pay half the Social Security and Medicare taxes (7.65% of the employee's wages), as well as federal and state unemployment insurance. Services like GTM Associates and Breedlove and Associates can handle everything from payroll to taxes for your nanny. One last step: Make sure your new nanny is covered under your homeowner's insurance policy in case of an accident in your home or on your property.

According to Tokayer, the most common mistake parents make when hiring a nanny is "not being specific enough about their expectations." If you want the nanny to take vacation at the same time you do, come clean; likewise, she adds, if errands play a role, establish the specific means of transportation ahead of time: "Those kinks should be worked out in advance."

In Pictures: Six Steps To Hiring A Great Nanny
In Pictures: Seven Tips For High Performance Under Stress
In Pictures: How To Figure Out Your Best Job Fit

Should Nannies Purchase Discount Prescription Drug Cards?

Are Discount Prescription Drug Cards a Form of Affordable Health Insurance?

In all likelihood, you have probably seen them - whether you are at Walgreens, CVS, or any various pharmacy across America, discount prescription drug programs seem to be offered everywhere. You can peruse an array of discount prescription programs online, and emails are often sent to elicit enrollment into different plans. So, what exactly are discount prescription drug cards?

They are nothing more than membership cards that supposedly give you access to discounts on brand name and generic medications. Almost all drug stores and supermarkets sell them, giving their members access to discounts for thousands of brands. For an annual fee, an individual can receive reductions in the cost of many of the medications he or she already uses. Annual fees are also available for families.

Other discount prescription drug programs do not charge any fee. For instance, some will allow you to download a free prescription drug card online, instantly providing you access to savings on drugs at pharmacies across the United States. They will often list the following as the benefits of the program:

* No deductibles
* No waiting period
* No pre-existing exclusions
* Everyone qualifies
* Instant activation

They may even offer a medication pricing tool to find out how much your prescription will cost, as well as a pharmacy locator to find pharmacies in your area that participate in this program. Are such programs considered a form of affordable health insurance?

The answer is, quite simply, no. Although discount prescription drug cards provide a savings for individuals and families who require an assortment of medications, they are not really a form of affordable health insurance. Instead, they are more of a supplement to existing health insurance. However, even if one does not have health insurance, he or she still can utilize the benefits from these types of programs in order to receive lower costs for prescriptions that are necessary to obtain.

Not all discount prescription drug cards are for everyone. Some find a significant savings while using one of these cards, while others find little to no saving at all. Some programs have restrictions, such as income limits and age limits, while others claim to provide discounts to everyone with no constraints. Some discount plans can be used in addition to one's health insurance, while others can only be utilized if the person or family does not already have access to prescription benefits in existing insurance coverage.

Although discount prescription drug cards are not considered a form of affordable health insurance, it may prove to be a wise decision to use them as additional coverage that will reduce the costs of medications. This is especially the case for those who find their monthly prescription bills to be very costly.

The Affordable Health Insurance Network is an online resource that provides free tips and secrets on how to obtain affordable health insurance.

Have you used a discount prescription drug card? Would you recommend nannies use a discount prescription drug card?

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Nanny Tax Time Tips

Investing Time Now Avoids Legal Problems
By Breedlove and Associates

With the income tax deadline rapidly approaching, it's a good time to share a few tax-related tips, reminders and updates - along with some helpful resources for additional information. Investing a few minutes now may help you avoid expensive, time-consuming legal problems.

1. If you paid a household employee more than $1,600 during the 2008 tax year - or more than $500 during any calendar quarter of 2008 - you may have tax obligations that need to be addressed prior to filing your personal federal tax return. Obligations are complicated and can vary depending on the details of your situation so we won't try to list them all here. If you think you may have obligations, we strongly advise you to talk to a tax and labor law expert who specializes in household employment. As a client of ours, we've arranged a complimentary, no-obligation phone consultation with one of the nation's leading household employment experts, Breedlove & Associates (1-888-273-3356). In about 10 minutes, they can asses your individual situation, run payroll scenarios, help you budget, maximize your tax breaks and generally answer all your questions.

Note: While some families choose to pay their employee "under the table," please understand that this practice is illegal and potentially very expensive. The IRS and the state unemployment office are aggressively enforcing the law with steep penalties (and occasionally even time in prison - a couple was recently sentenced to 14 months after violating the restitution terms of their probation stemming from a felony conviction for household employment tax evasion). Although prison is very rare, please be forewarned that expensive, time-consuming legal problems are becoming increasingly common.

2. There are tax breaks which can offset - sometimes even exceed - the employer tax obligations, so there is very little financial incentive to take the risk noted above. Those who pay legally have two tax break options: 1) Flexible Spending Account and 2) Child/Dependent Care Tax Credit. For more information about how to maximize your tax breaks, contact Breedlove & Associates (1-888-273-3356; or the IRS (1-800-829-4933;) or a tax professional.

Note: Your income tax return will ask you for a Federal Employer Identification Number (FEIN) in order to take advantage of these tax breaks. Please note that the FEIN needs to be registered to you (establishing a household FEIN is one of the first steps in fulfilling the legal obligations outlined in #1 above).

3. If you pay a service to help you with household payroll and tax filings, the fees are tax deductible.

4. More than likely, your employee will see significant benefits from the recently-enacted Making Work Pay initiative. In addition to lower tax rates, the Earned Income Tax Credit has been expanded to provide more tax relief to lower-wage workers, especially those with children. For more info about the EITC, visit While there, your employee may want to check out the IRS Free File Program, which provides free tax preparation service to American taxpayers earning less than $56,000 per year.

We hope this information helps make tax time a little easier and a little less expensive. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to call.

In an effort to help you strengthen your business practices and steer clear of legal trouble, The Legal Review by Breedlove & Associaties will share findings from relevant legal cases. We've found that the easiest way to gain a practical understanding of complex tax and labor law is by reviewing real-life situations. These stories will illuminate potential legal landmines for your agency and/or your clients, and more importantly, show you how to avoid them.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Nanny Tax Season and Health Savings Accounts

2009 Health Savings Account Contribution Limits
By Adam Hyers

Yesterday we discussed Health Savings Accounts (HSA). With a new year comes increased amounts that health savings account (HSA) owners may contribute to their plan. HSA's contribution amounts will differ depending on whether the insured owns an individual or family plan.

Contribution Limits for 2009
The individual contribution limit for 2009 is $3,000 while families can contribute as much as $5,950.

These dollars can be used to pay for a variety of qualified medical expenses including doctor's office visits, prescription drug coverage, dental bills, meeting the policy deductible, co-insurance, as well as several other items. The IRS furnishes a list of qualified medical expenses at their website.

Health Savings Accounts Explained
All insurance companies offer health savings account qualified plans. Typically, the health insurance has a higher deductible and lower premiums. The insured can contribute to their HSA each year and then write that amount off of their income taxes - much like an IRA contribution.

The HSA will grow tax deferred and dollars spent on qualified medical expenses are withdrawn tax free. Typically, this type of insurance is appropriate for consumers who desire lower premiums and are also comfortable with some out of pocket expenses. The insurance company usually covers expenses at 100% after the deductible has been met.

Advantages of HSA's
Health savings accounts can be valuable for those who like to keep control of their health insurance dollars. In this way, the consumer can use their savings for routine doctor office visits, generic prescriptions, and other first dollar expenses.

Additionally, HSA qualified plans can be less expensive than traditional coverage offering the same deductible. Family plans usually only have one deductible that needs to be met before the insurance coverage begins whereas traditional plans might have two or more deductibles that need to be met. HSA plans are not right for everyone, but are an important addition to health insurance marketplace.

A.M. Hyers has been working in the insurance and investment industry for over ten years. He owns and operates Hyers and Associates, Inc. an independent insurance agency doing business in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. His agency offers insurance products in the individual, family, and small business group marketplace. They use the leading national insurance carriers to quote health insurance, health savings accounts, dental, and vision plans. Other lines of insurance offered include life insurance, disability insurance, and long term care insurance. They use several carriers to quote Medicare supplement plans and Medicare Part D coverage for seniors. Additionally, the independent agents of Hyers and Associates Inc. offer fixed, indexed, and immediate annuity policies for individual and group retirement plans. Health savings account and health insurance quotes for those in Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Indiana, Missouri, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. Visit them at:

Do you have an Health Savings Account? Would you consider starting one?