Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Easy, No Cook Summer Recipes for Au Pairs and Nannies

Best Ice Pops:

Berry Smoothie Pop:
Blend raspberries (about 6 oz), 1 1/2 cup plain yogurt, 3/4 cup water, and mint (either a handful of fresh mint leaves, or 2 tsp mint syrup). Blend really well and freeze.

Banana, chocolate, and PB Pop:
Mash a few bananas, add a dash of milk, a little peanut butter, and chocolate sauce to your liking. Mix, smooth, and freeze.

Pina Colada Pop:
Blend pineapple juice, coconut, and banana in a blender. Pour into molds and freeze.

Your Choice Fruit and Your Choice Juice Pop:
Pour one cup of any flavor 100% juice into a blender and then add small chunks of any fruit. Blend the juice and fruit until smooth, but allow several small pieces of fruit to remain. Pour the mixture into plastic ice pop molds or Dixie cups. Place the cups into the freezer for about one hour or until slightly firm. Put a Popsicle stick into each frozen ice pop and return them to the freezer for at least four hours.

Banana Milkshake
Strawberry jam
1/2 pint milk
1 banana

Get kids to chop bananas into chunks.
They can pour milk into the blender.
Kids can put banana into blender.
They can then add the jam.
Put lid on blender and blend for a few seconds

Fruit Salad
2 bananas
6 strawberries
2 Kiwi fruit
12 Red grapes
2 apples
1/4 pint orange juice
Any other fruit the kids love!

Have the children slice the bananas.
Kids can wash and slice strawberries.
Children can peel and then slice the kiwi fruit.
Wash and cut grapes in half.
Chop apple you can leave the peel on if you wash the apples.
Mix in a bowl.
Pour orange juice over fruit so it doesn't turn brown and tastes really sweet.

Tuna Pitas
1 (6-ounce) can white tuna, packed in water, drained and flaked
3/4 cup shredded carrots
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
1/4 cup mayonnaise
2 pita rounds, halved

In a medium bowl, combine tuna, carrots, and onion.
Add mayonnaise.
Have children mix gently to combine.
For each sandwich, spoon about 1/3 cup filling mixture into a pita half.
Serve at once or cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Strawberry Soup
4 cup(s) fresh strawberries , hulled and sliced
1/3 cup(s) ginger ale
1/3 cup(s) sugar
1/4 cup(s) milk
1 tablespoon(s) lemon juice
1 teaspoon(s) vanilla extract
1 cup(s) sour cream
(optional) sliced strawberries, for garnish

Place sliced strawberries in blender or food processor and blend until smooth.
Add ginger ale, sugar, milk, lemon juice, and vanilla extract; blend.
Pour into mixing bowl and whisk in sour cream until smooth.
Cover and chill for 2 hours.
Garnish soup with sliced strawberries, if desired.

Do you have any favorite no cook summer recipes to share that we haven't thought of?

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

New Nanny-Pay Legislation a “Wake-Up Call” for Working Parents

There is an article about the NY Nanny Law on the Wall Street Journal blog by Sue Shellenbarger. Click here to see the article. Click here too refer back to our article on the topic. Then answer: How do you feel about the Nanny Law?

125 Lead Tainted Foods the Kids You Care for Might Be Eating

After learning that the sunscreen industry isn't regulated we have some more sobering news to watch out for -- lead found in children's and baby's foods.

On June 9, 2010 the Environmental Law Foundation (ELF) filed Notices of Violation of California Proposition 65 Toxics Right to Know law, alleging the toxic chemical lead was found in a variety of children’s and baby foods. The specific food categories included apple juice, grape juice, packaged pears and peaches (including baby food), and fruit cocktail. A complete list of the companies and products named appears with the notice and is located on the ELF web site.

Lead has been and continues to be released into the environment from decades of lead-based pesticide application, use of leaded gasoline, and lead paint, and burning of coal in power plants. The lead in the environment then can make its way into the food supply. But not every category or even foods within categories contains lead. There are things that consumers can do if they are concerned about their families’ exposure to lead.

o Make informed choices.
o Demand information before you buy.
o Advocate for cleaner food and more comprehensive environmental
health policies.

Apple Juice
UNSAFE APPLE JUICE

For the following products, one or more samples exceeded the Prop 65 limit of 0.5 micrograms of lead per serving:

Beech Nut 100% Apple Juice
Earth's Best Organics Apple Juice
First Street 100% Apple Cider from concentrate
First Street Apple Juice from concentrate 100% juice
Full Circle Organic Apple Juice
Gerber 100% Juice Apple Juice
Great Value 100% No Sugar Added Apple Juice
Hansen's Natural Apple Juice
Kroger 100% Juice Apple Juice
Langers Apple Juice 100% Juice
Minute Maid Juice Apple - 100% Apple Juice
Motts 100% Apple Juice
O Organics Organic Unfiltered Apple Juice Not From Concentrate
Old Orchard 100% Apple Juice
Parade 100% Juice Apple
Raley's Premium 100% Apple Juice not from Concentrate
Safeway 100% Juice Apple Cider
Safeway 100% Juice Apple Juice
Stater Bros. 100% Juice Apple Juice
Sunny Select 100% Apple Juice
Trader Joe's Certified Organic Apple Juice, pasteurized
Tree Top 100% Juice Apple Cider
Walgreens Apple Juice from concentrate 100% juice
Walnut Grove Market 100% Apple Juice

SAFE APPLE JUICE

For the following products, NO samples exceeded the Prop 65 limit of 0.5 micrograms of lead per serving:

Great Value 100% Apple Juice not from concentrate
Harvest Day 100% Apple Juice from Concentrate
Kirkland Fresh Pressed Apple Juice Pasteurized
Martinelli's Gold Medal Apple Juice 100% pure from US grown fresh apples
R.W. Knudsen Organic Apple Juice unfiltered
Raley's Everyday 100% Apple Juice
Sunny Select 100% Unfiltered Apple Juice
Trader Joe's Fresh Pressed Apple Juice all natural pasteurized, 100% juice
Tree Top 100% Apple Juice
Tree Top Three Apple Blend 100% Fresh Pressed Juice

Grape Juice
UNSAFE GRAPE JUICE

For the following products, one or more samples exceeded the Prop 65 limit of 0.5 micrograms of lead per serving:

365 Everyday Value Organic 100% Juice Concord Grapes
First Street Grape Juice from concentrate 100% juice
Gerber 100% Juice - White Grape Juice
Great Value 100% Grape Juice
Kedem Concord Grape Juice 100% pure grape juice
Kroger Grape Juice 100% Juice
Langers Grape Juice (Concord)
Langers Red Grape Juice
O Organics Organic Grape Juice from concentrate
R.W. Knudsen Just Concord Grape Juice
R.W. Knudsen Organic Just Concord
Raley's 100% Grape Juice
Safeway 100% Juice Grape Juice
Safeway Organic Grape Juice
Santa Cruz Organic Concord Grape Juice
Stater Bros. 100% Juice Grape Juice
Stater Bros. 100% Juice White Grape Juice
Sunny Select 100% Grape Juice
Trader Joe's Concord Grape Juice made from fress pressed organic concord grapes
Tree Top 100% Juice, Grape
Valu Time Grape Drink from Concentrate
Walgreens Grape Juice from concentrate 100% juice
Walnut Acres Organic Concord Grape
Walnut Grove Market Grape Juice
Welch's 100% Grape Juice (from Welch's Concord Grapes)
Welch's 100% Red Grape Juice from Concentrate

SAFE GRAPE JUICE
For the following products, NO samples exceeded the Prop 65 limit of 0.5 micrograms of lead per serving:

Old Orchard Healthy Balance Grape

Packaged Pears
UNSAFE PEARS

For the following products, one or more samples exceeded the Prop 65 limit of 0.5 micrograms of lead per serving:

Best Yet Bartlett Pear Halves in Heavy Syrup
Del Monte Diced Pears in Light Syrup
Del Monte Pear Halves in Heavy Syrup
Del Monte Pear Halves, Bartlett Pears in 100% real fruit juice from concentrate
Dole Pear Halves in Juice
First Street Diced Pears
First Street Sliced Bartlett
Full Circle Organic Bartlett Pear Slices
Gerber 3rd Foods Pears [Baby Food]
Great Value Bartlett Pear Halves in 100% Juice
Great Value Bartlett Sliced Pears in Heavy Syrup
Market Pantry Diced Pears in Light syrup
Maxx Value Pear Pieces in Light Syrup
Polar Pear Halves in light syrup
S&W Natural Style Pear Slices in Juice
S&W Sun Pears Premium
Safeway Lite Bartlett Pear Halves in Pear Juice
Safeway Pear Halves in Light Juice
Sunny Select Pear Halves in Pear Juice
Trader Joe's Pear Halves in white grape juice
Truitt Brothers Pacific NorthWest Bartlett Pear Halves, in pear juice from concentrate
Valu Time Irregular Bartlett Pear Slices
Walnut Grove Market Natural Pear Halves in Heavy Syrup

SAFE PEARS

For the following products, NO samples exceeded the Prop 65 limit of 0.5 micrograms of lead per serving:

Eating Right Kids Diced Pears Fruit Cups
Stater Bros. Diced Pears Snack Bowl

Packaged Peaches
UNSAFE PACKAGED PEACHES

For the following products, one or more samples exceeded the Prop 65 limit of 0.5 micrograms of lead per serving:

Best Yet Yellow Cling Peach Halves in Heavy Syrup
Del Monte Freestone Peach Slices in 100 % Juice
Del Monte Sliced Yellow Cling Peaches in 100 % Juice
Del Monte Sliced Yellow Cling Peaches in heavy syrup
Dole Diced Peaches, Yellow Cling in light syrup
First Street Yellow Cling Peaches in heavy syrup
Gerber 3rd Foods Peaches [Baby Food]
Golden Star Peach Halves in Heavy Syrup
Great Value Yellow Cling Sliced Peaches
Libby's Yellow Cling Peach Slices No Sugar Added (Sweetened with Splenda)
Market Pantry Diced Peaches in light syrup
Polar Peach Slices
Raley's Sliced Yellow Cling Peaches in Heavy Syrup
S&W Natural Style Yellow Cling Peach Slices in Lightly Sweetened Juice
S&W Premium Peach Halves Yellow Cling Peaches in light syrup
Safeway Diced Peaches in Light Syrup
Safeway Yellow Cling Peach Slices in Pear Juice
Simple Value Yellow Cling Peaches in light syrup
Stater Bros. Yellow Cling Peach Halves
Stater Bros. Yellow Cling Sliced Peaches in heavy syrup
Sunny Select Yellow Cling Sliced Peaches in Pear Juice
Trader Joe's Yellow Cling Peach Halves in while grape juice
Valu Time Yellow Cling Peach Slices
Walnut Grove Market Natural Peaches Sliced Yellow Cling in Light Syrup

SAFE PACKAGED PEACHES

For the following products, NO samples exceeded the Prop 65 limit of 0.5 micrograms of lead per serving:

Dole Diced Peaches, Cling in Light Syrup
Dole Diced Peaches, Freestone in Light Syrup
Dole Sliced Peaches
Eating Right Kids Diced Peaches in Extra Light Syrup
Stater Bros. Diced Peaches Snack Bowl

Fruit Cocktail
UNSAFE FRUIT COCKTAIL

For the following products, one or more samples exceeded the Prop 65 limit of 0.5 micrograms of lead per serving:

Best Yet Chunky Mixed Fruit in Pear Juice
Chef's Review Fruit Cocktail
Del Monte 100% Juice Fruit Cocktail
Del Monte Chunky Mixed Fruit in 100 % Juice (peach, pear, grape, etc.)
Del Monte Fruit Cocktail in Heavy Syrup (peach, pear, grapes)
Del Monte Fruit Cocktail No Sugar Added
Del Monte Lite Fruit Cocktail in Extra Light Syrup
Dole Mixed Fruit in Light Syrup
Eating Right Fruit Cocktail packed in Sucralose
Eating Right No Sugar Fruit Cocktail
First Street Fruit Cocktail in heavy syrup
Golden Star Mixed Fruit in Light Syrup (peach, pineapple, pears)
Great Value No Sugar Added Fruit Cocktail
Kroger Fruit Cocktail in Heavy Syrup
Kroger Lite Fruit Cocktail in Pear Juice
Kroger Value Fruit Mix (Peaches, pears, grapes)
Libby's Fruit Cocktail No Sugar Added (Sweetened with Splenda)
Market Pantry Mixed Fruit in light syrup
Maxx Value Fruit Mix in Light Syrup (peach, pear, grape)
Mrs. Brown's Fruit Cocktail in Heavy Syrup (peaches, pears, grapes)
Polar Mixed Fruit
Raley's Fruit Cocktail in Heavy Syrup
S&W Natural Style Fruit Cocktail in Lightly Sweetened Juice
Safeway Fruit Cocktail in Heavy Syrup
Safeway Light Sugar Fruit Cocktail
Safeway Lite Fruit Cocktail in Pear Juice
Stater Bros. Fruit Cocktail in Heavy Syrup
Sunny Select Fruit Cocktail in Juice

SAFE FRUIT COCKTAIL
For the following products, NO samples exceeded the Prop 65 limit of 0.5 micrograms of lead per serving:

Del Monte Mixed Fruit

Do you have any of these products in the home you work in? If so, will you show the parents this information to make different food selections for the children and babies you care for?

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Beware of Sunscreens in Hall of Shame

EWG's Sunscreen Hall of Shame

Last week we discussed that the Food and Drug Administration has not finalized sunscreen safety standards since 1978. Therefore the Environmental Working Group (EWG) has reviewed the latest research on sunscreen. (Just type EWG in our search to see the other articles on the topic).

Despite the unknowns about sunscreen efficacy, public health agencies still recommend using sunscreens, just not as your first line of defense against the sun. The EWG recommends using sunscreens, but also look for shade, wear protective clothing, and avoid the noontime sun before relying solely on suntan lotions.

Here is just some of the EWG Sunscreen Hall of Shame:
Banana Boat Baby Max Protect, SPF 100
Sky-high SPF protects against sunburn but leaves skin exposed to damaging UVA rays. This is just one of at least 79 sunscreens on the market this year with high SPFs (greater than SPF 50+), this product protects babies from UVB radiation and the sunburns it causes but leaves them exposed to UVA radiation that penetrates deep into the skin. UVA is known to accelerate skin aging and cause skin cancer (IARC 2009).

A standard industry sunscreen model estimates that the actual UVA protection factor for this sunscreen is only 9.3 – a far cry from 100 (BASF 2010). The best possible UVA protection in U.S. sunscreen lotions is currently about 20 (BASF 2010).

Sunscreen makers are waiting for the FDA to decide whether to approve a wider selection of chemicals that could help boost UVA protection. In the meantime, high-SPF products may tempt people to stay in the sun too long, suppressing sunburns but upping the risks of other kinds of skin damage. EWG recommends that consumers avoid products labeled with anything higher than “SPF 50+” and reapply sunscreen often, regardless of SPF.

Hawaiian Tropic Baby Creme Lotion SPF 50
Advanced UVA protection”? Not so much. Many U.S. sunscreens claim to provide “broad spectrum” protection that blocks both UVA and UVB rays, but the reality is that they don’t. Hawaiian Tropic Baby Creme Lotion SPF 50 lists “Advanced UVA protection” on its web site and “UVB/SPF with UVA” on its label. But it would earn only 1 star in FDA’s proposed 4 star UVA labeling scheme, according to EWG analysis using a standard industry sunscreen model.

Hawaiian Tropic is not required to back up its claim of “advanced UVA protection,” and the fact is that no currently available sunscreen chemical has been shown to block UVA rays effectively. Regulations in Japan and Australia prohibit making such claims altogether for products that provide such weak UVA protection (Diffey 2009), but there is no such restriction in the U.S.

Based on a review of partial label information published by online retailers, EWG researchers identified 218 beach sunscreens that claim “broad spectrum” or “full spectrum” protection for 2010. Many would garner only “low” or “medium” UVA protection in FDA’s proposed labeling system.

Aveeno Baby Continuous Protection SPF 55
Mild as water.” Sure it is.
Can a product be “mild as water to the skin” if the label warns to “Stop use and ask a doctor if rash or irritation develops and lasts”? And certainly when swallowed this product is nothing like water: “Keep out of reach of children” and “get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away,” reads the warning label.

Panama Jack Naturals Baby Sunblock SPF 50
Potential hormone disruptor in baby sunblock.
Panama Jack advises users of this baby product to “apply liberally.”

Scientists who have researched a key sunscreen chemical in this sunblock, the potential hormone disruptor oxybenzone, advise the opposite: “It would be prudent not to apply oxybenzone to large surface areas of skin for extended and repeated periods of time, unless no alternative protection is available. There may be an additional concern for young children who have less well developed processes of elimination, and have a larger surface area per body weight than adults, with respect to systemic availability of a topically applied dose” (Hayden 1997).

Oxybenzone is readily absorbed through the skin; government studies have detected the compound in 97 percent of the population (Calafat 2008). In rodents, it mimics estrogen and increases the weight of the uterus (Schlumpf 2004). In people, higher maternal exposures to oxybenzone have been linked to decreased birth weight in girls (Wolff 2008).

This Panama Jack sunscreen is one of at least 26 sunscreens offered in the 2010 season with the word “baby” in their name and the chemical oxybenzone on their ingredient list. EWG advises consumers to avoid sunscreens containing oxybenzone. Plenty of safer products are available.
One more thing: This so-called “natural” sunscreen contains at least ten compounds that do not occur in nature. Most are made from petroleum

Baby Blanket Tender Scalps Scalp Sunscreen Spray for Babies SPF 45+

“Instantly provides 45 times your babies’ natural protection,” claims the manufacturer. While that may be true for UVB rays and the red burns and blisters they cause, it’s not the case for UVA. This product would earn only one of four stars for UVA protection in FDA’s proposed rating system, according to EWG’s analysis. Your baby’s scalp may not get burned, but UVA rays could instantly penetrate deeply and cause skin damage and trigger cancer later in life. At least 18 other products EWG assessed claim “instant” or “immediate” protection.

For more EWG Hall of Shame please click here.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Children's Books About Water Safety

Weekly Trip to the Library for Nannies and Au Pairs

On Thursday we linked to the NY Daily News report of a nanny and a child in her care had drowned in a residential pool. Click here to see that story.

With this tragedy on our minds it's only fitting to recommend two children's books about water safety for this Saturday's Weekly Trip to the Library for nannies and au pairs.

Treasure at Sea for Dragon and Me, Water Safety for Kids (and Dragons)
Jean E Pendziwol (Author), Martine Gourbault (Illustrator)


A girl and her dragon friend go to the beach with her father and learn water-safety rules as they play at being pirates and finding treasure. The rhyming text works fairly well. Created in pencil crayon, the cartoon illustrations convey the lessons clearly for the most part. However, in one instance, the girl points to a no diving sign and tells her friend not to dive off the dock because of shallow water; then, according to the text, she jumps into the water and stands on her hands to illustrate. The accompanying picture shows her feet sticking straight up out of the water, possibly giving the mistaken impression that she actually dove in. A "Dragon's Water Safety Rhyme" and a safety checklist are included. This offering is on an important topic for which there is a scarcity of easy material. For this reason, it might be considered for purchase, although it's not particularly outstanding in text or art.
Reveiw By Judith Constantinides, formerly at East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, LA Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Watch Out! Near Water (Watch Out! Books)
By Claire Llewellyn (Author) Mike Gordon (Illustrator)



Young children need to understand the different ways to keep safe when in or near water — whether at the swimming pool, at the beach or lake, or out in a boat. With humorous artwork and simple text, this book also contains notes for child caregivers and parents to help them use the book most effectively.

In this children's book, kids are taught the importance of learning to swim, and are advised on following safety rules in pools. They are also instructed on the extra care they must take when at the seashore, and the need to follow safety rules when they are in open boats. The book gives kids safety advice that applies inside and outside the home, while they are traveling in a car, and when they are enjoying nature and having outdoor fun. The lessons illustrated in all Watch Out! books help children identify safety issues and avoid potentially dangerous situations. Appealing cartoon-style illustrations on every page.

Stop by next Saturday for another Weekly Trip to the Library for nannies and au pairs. If you have any book suggestions for nannies or au pairs please let us know by sending an email to Stephanie@bestnannynewsletter.com.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Au Pairs and Nannies Can't Be Too Safe this Summer

Make Water Safety Your Priority
By American Red Cross

After learning about the tragic drowning death of a nanny and a child under her care in a pool yesterday (click here to see the story) it is vital to remind nannies and au pairs of the importance of practicing water safety and drowning prevention.

Each year, more than 830 children ages 14 and under die as a result of unintentional drowning. On average, an annual 3,600 injuries occur to children due to a near-drowning incident. Home swimming pools are the most common site for a drowning to occur for a child between the ages one- to four-years. Click here to see a "Drowning Prevention Fact Sheet."

Here are water safety tips from the American Red Cross:

  • Only swim in designated areas supervised by lifeguards.
  • Always swim with a buddy; do not allow anyone to swim alone. Even at a public pool or a lifeguarded beach, use the buddy system!
  • Ensure that everyone in the family learns to swim well. Enroll in age-appropriate Red Cross water orientation and Learn-to-Swim courses.
  • Never leave a young child unattended near water and do not trust a child’s life to another child; teach children to always ask permission to go near water.
  • Have young children or inexperienced swimmers wear U.S. Coast Guard-approved life jackets around water, but do not rely on life jackets alone.
  • Establish rules for the family and enforce them without fail. For example, set limits based on each person’s ability, do not let anyone play around drains and suction fittings, and do not allow swimmers to hyperventilate before swimming under water or have breath-holding contests.
  • Even if you do not plan on swimming, be cautious around natural bodies of water including ocean shoreline, rivers, and lakes. Cold temperatures, currents, and underwater hazards can make a fall into these bodies of water dangerous.
  • If you go boating, wear a life jacket! Most boating fatalities occur from drowning.
  • Avoid alcohol use. Alcohol impairs judgment, balance and coordination; affects swimming and diving skills; and reduces the body’s ability to stay warm.

Prevent Unsupervised Access to the Water

  • Install and use barriers around your home pool or hot tub. Safety covers and pool alarms should be added as additional layers of protection.
  • Ensure that pool barriers enclose the entire pool area, are at least four-feet high with gates that are self-closing, self-latching, and open outward, and away from the pool. The latch should be high enough to be out of a small child’s reach.
  • If you have an above-ground or inflatable pool, remove access ladders and secure the safety cover whenever the pool is not in use.
  • Remove any structures that provide access to the pool, such as outdoor furniture, climbable trees, decorative walls, and playground equipment.
  • Keep toys that are not in use away from the pool and out of sight. Toys can attract young children to the pool.

Maintain Constant Supervision

  • Actively supervise children whenever around the water—even if lifeguards are present. Do not just drop your kids off at the public pool or leave them at the beach—designate a responsible adult to supervise.
  • Always stay within arm’s reach of young children and avoid distractions when supervising children around water.

Know What to Do in an Emergency

  • If a child is missing, check the water first. Seconds count in preventing death or disability.
  • Know how and when to call 9-1-1 or the local emergency number.
  • If you own a home pool or hot tub, have appropriate equipment, such as reaching or throwing equipment, a cell phone, life jackets and a first aid kit.
  • Enroll in Red Cross home pool safety, water safety, first aid and CPR/AED courses to learn how to prevent and respond to emergencies.

Does the home you work in have a pool? What safety features does the family use?

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Swiming Pool Horror, Nanny and Child Die Story from NY Daily News

Here is a horrific story reminding nannies and au pairs to use caution this summer.

Swimming pool horror claims three-year-old on Long Island

A 3-year-old Long Island girl and her nanny died tragically after they were found floating in the deep end of the family's swimming pool yesterday, police said.

Naama Markovits' 5-year-old brother made the horrific discovery about 2:30 p.m. and alerted a worker who was painting the family's Lawrence home.

"My sister and the nanny are floating in the pool!" the boy screamed frantically, cops said.

The painter, Jony Granados, made "a heroic effort" to pull the girl and nanny Lorena Canales-Mejia out of the pool, perform cardiopulmonary resuscitation on them and dial 911, said Nassau County Police Detective Lt. Kevin Smith.

Naama was later pronounced dead at a Queens hospital.

Canales-Mejia, 32, a native of El Salvador, was placed on life support, but she passed away several hours later, police said.

Smith said Canales-Mejia was watching the girl and her older brother while their mother was away from home, along with a third child.

Canales-Mejia may have slipped into the deep end of the in-ground pool and dropped the child, Smith said.

Click here to see the story in the NY Daily News.

If you are a nanny or au pair do you have basic water safety training or lifeguard training?

Tan Does Not Mean Healthy!

Sun Safety Tips for Kids
Photo from Getty Images

Since the Food and Drug Administration has not been regulating the sunscreen industry the Environmental Working Group (EWA) has developed a database evaluating sunscreens. This week we have posted interesting facts about sunscreen.

Today we will share the EWA's tips on keeping children safe from the sun.

The EWA explains that kids are more vulnerable to sun damage than adults. A few blistering sunburns in childhood can double a person’s lifetime chances of developing serious forms of skin cancer. The best sunscreen is a hat and shirt. After that, protect kids with a sunscreen that’s effective and safe. Take these special precautions with infants and children:

Infants

Infants under six-months should be kept out of direct sun as much as possible. Their skin is not yet protected by melanin.

When you take a baby outside:

  • Cover up with protective clothing, tightly woven but loose-fitting, and a sun hat.
  • Make shade with a stroller’s canopy or hood. If you can’t sit in a shady spot, put up an umbrella.
  • Avoid midday sun — take walks in the early morning or late afternoon.
  • Follow product warnings for sunscreen on infants under six-months old – Most manufacturers advise against using sunscreens on infants or urge parents and caregivers to consult a doctor first. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that small amounts of sunscreen can be used on infants as a last resort when shade can’t be found.
Toddlers and Children

Sunscreen plays an essential part of any day in the sun. However, young children’s skin is especially sensitive to chemical allergens as well as the sun’s UV rays.

When choosing a sunscreen, keep these tips in mind:

  • Test the sunscreen by applying a small amount on the inside of the child’s wrist the day before you plan to use it. If an irritation or rash develops, try another product. Ask the child’s doctor to suggest a product less likely to irritate a child’s skin.
  • Slop on sunscreen and reapply often, especially if the child is playing in the water or sweating a lot.
  • Send the child their own sunscreen for daycare and school. Some childcare facilities provide sunscreen for the kids, but you should send their own brand if you prefer a safer, more effective brand.
Sun Safety at School

Sometimes school and daycare policies interfere with children’s sun safety. Many schools treat sunscreen as a medicine and require the child have written permission to use it. Some insist that the school nurse apply it. Other schools ban hats and sunglasses on campus.


Here are a few questions to ask your school:

  • What is the policy on sun safety?
  • Is there shade on the playground?
  • Are outdoor activities scheduled to avoid midday sun?
Teens

Tan does not mean healthy! Teenagers coveting bronzed skin are likely to sunbathe, patronize tanning salons, or buy self-tanning products. Not good ideas. Researchers believe increasing UV exposure may have caused the marked increase in melanoma incidence among women born after 1965. Tanning beds expose the skin to as much as 15 times the UV radiation of the sun and likely contributed to melanoma increases. Many chemicals in self-tanning products have not been tested for safety; the major self-tanning chemical, dihydroxyacetone, is not approved by FDA for use in cosmetics around the eyes.

Here are a few more tips for teens:

  • Make sunscreen a habit for every outdoor sport and activity.
  • Find sun-protective clothing, hats, and sunglasses that you like to wear.
  • Parents and caregivers need to be good role models – let the teen see you protecting yourself from the sun.

Do you think the family you work for practices proper sun safety?

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Sunscreen: A False Sense of Security

Don't Rely Only on Sunscreen for Sun Protection

We have been discussing the sunscreen tips by the Environmental Working Group (EWG). The EWG explains that sunscreens prevent sunburns, but beyond that simple fact surprisingly little is known about the safety and efficacy of these ubiquitous creams and sprays.

1. There’s no consensus on whether sunscreens prevent skin cancer.

The Food and Drug Administration’s 2007 draft sunscreen safety regulations say: “FDA is not aware of data demonstrating that sunscreen use alone helps prevent skin cancer” (FDA 2007). The International Agency for Research on Cancer agrees. IARC recommends clothing, hats and shade as primary barriers to UV radiation and writes that “sunscreens should not be the first choice for skin cancer prevention and should not be used as the sole agent for protection against the sun” (IARC 2001a). Read more.

2. There’s some evidence that sunscreens might increase the risk of the deadliest form of skin cancer for some people.

Some researchers have detected an increased risk of melanoma among sunscreen users. No one knows the cause, but scientists speculate that sunscreen users stay out in the sun longer and absorb more radiation overall, or that free radicals released as sunscreen chemicals break down in sunlight may play a role. One other hunch: Inferior sunscreens with poor UVA protection that have dominated the market for 30 years may have led to this surprising outcome. All major public health agencies still advise using sunscreens, but they also stress the importance of shade, clothing, and timing. Read more.

3. There are more high SPF products than ever before, but no proof that they’re better.

In 2007 the FDA published draft regulations that would prohibit companies from labeling sunscreens with an SPF (sun protection factor) higher than “SPF 50+.” The agency wrote that higher values were “inherently misleading,” given that “there is no assurance that the specific values themselves are in fact truthful…” (FDA 2007). Scientists are also worried that high-SPF products may tempt people to stay in the sun too long, suppressing sunburns (a late, key warning of overexposure) while upping the risks of other kinds of skin damage. Read more.

4. Too little sun might be harmful, reducing the body’s vitamin D levels.

Adding to the confusion is the fact that sunshine serves a critical function in the body that sunscreen appears to inhibit — production of vitamin D. The main source of vitamin D in the body is sunshine, and the compound is enormously important to health – it strengthens bones and the immune system, reduces the risk of various cancers (including breast, colon, kidney, and ovarian cancers), and regulates at least 1,000 different genes governing virtually every tissue in the body. (Mead 2008) Read more.

5. The common sunscreen ingredient vitamin A may speed the development of cancer.

Recently available data from an FDA study indicate that a form of vitamin A, retinyl palmitate, when applied to the skin in the presence of sunlight, may speed the development of skin tumors and lesions (NTP 2009). The sunscreen industry puts vitamin A in its formulations because it is an anti-oxidant that slows skin aging. That may be true for lotions and night creams used indoors, but FDA recently conducted a study of vitamin A’s photocarcinogenic properties, the possibility that it results in cancerous tumors when used on skin exposed to sunlight. Scientists have known for some time that vitamin A can spur excess skin growth (hyperplasia), and that in sunlight it can form free radicals that damage DNA (NTP 2000). Read more.

6. Free radicals and other skin-damaging byproducts of sunscreen.

Both UV radiation and many common sunscreen ingredients generate free radicals that damage DNA and skin cells, accelerate skin aging, and cause skin cancer. An effective sunscreen prevents more damage than it causes, but sunscreens are far better at preventing sunburn than at limiting free radical damage. While typical SPF ratings for sunburn protection range from 15 to 50, equivalent “free radical protection factors” fall at only about 2. When consumers apply too little sunscreen or reapply it infrequently, behaviors that are more common than not, sunscreens can cause more free radical damage than UV rays on bare skin. Read more.

7. Pick your sunscreen: nanomaterials or potential hormone disruptors.

The ideal sunscreen would completely block the UV rays that cause sunburn, immune suppression, and damaging free radicals. It would remain effective on the skin for several hours and not form harmful ingredients when degraded by UV light. It would smell and feel pleasant so that people use it in the right amount and frequency. There is currently no sunscreen that meets all of these criteria. Read more.

8. Europe’s better sunscreens.

Sunscreen makers and users in Europe have more options than in the United States. In Europe, sunscreen makers can select from among 27 chemicals for their formulations, compared to 17 in the U.S. Companies selling in Europe can add any of seven UVA filters to their products, but have a choice of only three when they market in the U.S. Read more.

9. The 33rd summer in a row without final U.S. sunscreen safety regulations.

In the United States, consumer protection has stalled because of the FDA’s 32-year effort to set enforceable guidelines for consumer protection. EWG has found a number of serious problems with existing products, including overstated claims about their perfomance, and inadequate UVA protection. Read more.

Nannies and au pairs, how do you protect your charges from the sun?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Best Sunscreens

The Good News: EWG's Best Sunscreens

Yesterday we posted a link to the Environmental Working Group (EWG) database which is an in-depth analysis of the safety and effectiveness of more than 700 name-brand sunscreens. The new database lists products that offer the best combination of safety and effectiveness: they are formulated with the safest chemicals, are most effective at protecting against sunburn, and help prevent long-term damage caused by the sun’s UVA rays, which are linked to skin aging, wrinkling and, potentially, cancer.

This is the EWG's List of Best Sunscreens:


Badger

Beyond Coastal

California Baby

Caribbean Solutions

Dessert Essence

Episencial

Estion

Jason Natural Cosmetics


Kabana Skin Care

L’uvalla Certified Organic

La Roche-Posay

Little Forest

Loving Naturals

Miessence

Purple Prairie Botanicals

Soleo Organics


thinkbaby and thinksport

Trukid

UV Natural

Vanicream

Monday, June 21, 2010

Beware of Sunscreen?

Environmental Working Group Rates Sunscreen Safety

Summer officially starts today! When working as a nanny or au pair protecting children with sunscreen is a huge concern. Child caregivers must apply sunscreen on children when playing outdoors this summer.

But, the Environmental Working Group (EWG) released the first-ever, in-depth analysis of the safety and effectiveness of more than 700 name-brand sunscreens.

The new database lists products that offer the best combination of safety and effectiveness: they are formulated with the safest chemicals, are most effective at protecting against sunburn, and help prevent long-term damage caused by the sun’s UVA rays, which are linked to skin aging, wrinkling and, potentially, cancer.

The analysis found that 84 percent of 785 sunscreen products with an SPF rating of 15 or higher offer inadequate protection from the sun’s harmful rays, or contain ingredients with safety concerns.

Ironically, some popular sunscreen chemicals break down when exposed to sunlight and must be formulated with stabilizing chemicals. Others penetrate the skin and present significant health concerns.

It is scary to try to figure out which sunscreens to use. The FDA has already said that SPFs greater than 50 are misleading. It has even done research about the vitamin A in many brands and how it can accelerate the development of skin tumors and lesions.

“Always use sunscreen,” said Jane Houlihan, Vice President for Research at EWG, “but not all sunscreens are created equal.”

Houlihan continues, ”Our research shows that some products are far more effective than others, while presenting fewer safety concerns. Before we launched this website, the consumer had no way to identify the safest and most effective sunscreens.”

“The SPF rating on the product is helpful, but it is only part of what a consumer needs to know,” said Houlihan. “Our rating system includes critical information on UVA protection, how stable the product is in the sun, and potential health hazards of the product’s ingredients.”

The report and website rank products for combined safety and effectiveness, help consumers recognize bogus claims on sunscreen products, and provide tips for safety in the sun.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has not finalized comprehensive sunscreen standards that have been in development for 29-years. When complete, these rules will standardize a rating system for UVA protection, and prohibit misleading and inaccurate claims such as “waterproof” and “lasts all day” that are commonly found on sunscreen products.

Top Sunscreens

The EWG top-rated sunscreens all contain the minerals zinc or titanium. They are the right choice for people who are looking for the best UVA protection without any sunscreen chemical considered to be a potential hormone disruptor. None of the products contain oxybenzone or vitamin A and none are sprayed or powdered.

Click here for the top sunscreens.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

What Do You Give Your Dad Boss for Father's Day?

Weekly Trip to the Library for Nannies and Au Pairs

Father's Day is celebrated in the U.S. tomorrow, Sunday, June 20, 2010. A perfect gift to give your Dad Boss is a book written for fathers. Of course you can choose a book on a topic the father loves, such as a favorite sports team. But, I love giving a children's book about a father's love for his children that the father can read to his children. A book written for father's in family section of a book store is a great gift too.

Click here to see our list of children's book for Father's Day.

If you prefer just making a gift with the children to give to their father, here are some fun gift ideas for Father's Day:

A personalized mug: Buy a kit at the craft store and have the children paint or color the mug for their father.

Picture frame: Either buy an inexpensive frame for the children to decorate or they can make their own gluing together Popsicle sticks or craft sticks. Place a photo of the child(ren) in the frame as a keepsake.

A personalized t-shirt, cap, or tie: Using fabric paints children can personalize clothing for their father.

Hand print stepping stone: Kits for hand print stepping stones are available at craft stores.

Tennis balls or golf balls: What sport does the father play? Purchase equipment for the sport.

Sports team t-shirts or caps: Find the father's favorite sports team clothing at a local sports store.

Do you give a gift to your Dad Boss for Father's Day? If, so what do you give?

Friday, June 18, 2010

Are You a Calm or Hysterical Caregiver?

Visual Cliff Experiment from Mind in the Making by Ellen Galinsky

In Mind in the Making, Ellen Galinsky has grouped research into seven critical areas that children need most: (1) focus and self control; (2) perspective taking; (3) communicating; (4) making connections; (5) critical thinking; (6) taking on challenges; and (7) self-directed, engaged learning.

For each of these skills, Galinsky shows caregivers what the studies have proven, and she provides numerous concrete things that you can do to strengthen these skills in children. They are the skills that give children the ability to focus on their goals so that they can learn more easily and communicate what they have learned. These are the skills that prepare children for the pressures of modern life, skills that they will draw on now and for years to come.

All week we have been reviewing video clips from the vook (video book) Mind in the Making by Ellen Galinsky. Below is the Visual Cliff experiment by UC Berkely Professor, Jo Campos. We communicate with children in many ways and in this experiment we see that visual communication with caregivers, especially parents, is essential in the development of babies.

In this experiment, a baby is placed on a large box that’s covered by a piece of clear plexi-glass. Halfway across, there’s what looks like a drop, though it’s clearly safe to cross thanks to the sturdy platform. On the opposite side of the platform is the baby’s mother, either making a smiling face (signaling to the baby that it’s okay to cross), or a fearful face (which tells the baby to stay put).

As Amy McCampbell (who helped film and narrate the vook) explains, "The experiment is so powerful. You can really see the babies reading their parents to try to figure out what to do."

She continues, "If you’re around kids, you see this phenomenon all the time. A child falls, and then looks up to an adult to see how they’re supposed to react. Calm adult, calm(er) child. Hysterical adult… well, you can imagine."

Watch the Visual Cliff experiment below. Then let us know: are you a calm caregiver or a hysterical caregiver?




Thursday, June 17, 2010

Infants Crave Social Interaction

The Still Face Experiment by Dr. Edward Tronick
From Mind in the Making by Ellen Galinsky

This week we have posted video clips from the Vook Mind in the Making by Ellen Galinsky. In this video clip you will see the "Still Face" experiment. After watching this emotional experiment you will never ignore an infant again! Seeing the children desperately try to gain the attention of their mothers is heart breaking.

This experiment clearly shows that even the youngest infant understands emotions and needs social interaction. Dr. Tronick started studying this 34-years ago when people didn't think that infants could engage in social interaction. But in this "Still Face" experiment you will clearly see how desperate infants are trying to coordinate their emotions and communicate their intentions to their mothers.





Have you read the book Mind in the Making or uploaded the Mind in the Making vook? What are your thoughts?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Helping Children Make Connections - An Essential Life Skill

For the past few days we have been showing video clips from the Vook Mind in the Making by Ellen Galinsky. Here is another fun video clip from Mind in the Making that shows how children make connections, one of Galinsky's seven essential life skills.

Making connections is at the heart of learning—figuring out what’s the same and what’s different—and making unusual connections is at the core of creativity.

In a world where information is so accessible, it is the people who can see connections who are able to go beyond knowing information to using this information well.

Think about your most recent “aha” moment—when you suddenly understood something that you didn’t understand before. Chances are this “aha” moment involved seeing a new connection.

Making connections involves putting information into categories as well as seeing how one thing can represent or stand for something else. Ultimately, it involves:

· figuring out what’s the same or similar;
· figuring out how one thing relates to another; and
· finding unusual connections, often by being able to inhibit an automatic response, by reflecting, and by selecting something that is connected in a different way.

When playing games like Chutes and Ladders ask the child to say the number of the spaces she lands on, and not just the number on the spinner. so she can learn how the numbers relate to each other.

Judy Deloache of the University of Virginia shows the importance of understanding symbolic representations in the video clip below.




Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Marshmallow Test

How Nannies and Au Pairs Can Teach Children Focus and Self Control, an Essential Life Skill

If you missed the June, 2010 issue of Be the Best Nanny Newsletter you missed our review of the new book by Ellen Galinsky, Mind in the Making. But, you can still view a video clip below from Mind in the Making by Ellen Galinsky below.

In Ellen Galinsky's new book, Mind in the Making, the acclaimed author explains that children need to learn focus and self-control in order to achieve their goals, especially in a world that is filled with distractions and information overload. It involves paying attention, remembering the rules, thinking flexibility, and exercising self-control.

In the Marshmallow Test, a classic study by Walter Mischel of Columbia University, when children were give a choice between one marshmallow now or two marshmallows later, some could wait for the larger treat and some couldn't. If the child is able to delay gratification they are increasing learning ways of managing frustration and ways of managing distress. These skills lead to less drug use, higher educational level attainment, are much less likely to have low self-esteem and to engage in bullying behavior with other people.

Games to Play to Teach Children Focus and Self-Control:

Simon Says Do the Opposite: Watch the video below to see how to play.

Guessing Games: For example, “I am thinking of an animal with a name that sounds like rat.”

I Spy: Tell the child what you spy (“I spy something in this room that is green”) and the child has to guess what it is.

Puzzles: Find the picture by putting the pieces back together.

Red Light/ Green Light: One person is the stoplight. The stoplight turns around. When the stoplight says, “Green light!” the children run towards the stoplight, who can turn around and say, “Red light!” at any time. Any child spotted moving after the stoplight says, “Red light!” must go back to the starting line.

Musical Chairs: Make a circle of chairs and have each child line up behind a chair. Then put on some music and remove one chair. When you stop the
music each child must sit down on a chair. The child without a chair is out. Keep playing until the last player in a chair wins the game.

Bell Game: Give each player a bell. The must walk, but the goal is that nobody should make a sound with the bell.

Here is a video about the Marshmallow Test and how to play "Simon Says, Do the Opposite. "




Sunday, June 13, 2010

Video of How Babies Grow Up to Use Words and Learn Language

Video of Anne Renald Experiment from Mind in the Making by Ellen Galinsky

I was fortunate to attend a book signing for Mind in the Making by Ellen Galinsky in May, 2010. I was so inspired by the presentation that I reviewed Mind in the Making by Ellen Galinsky in the June 2010 issue of Be the Best Nanny Newsletter.

The author hired New Screen Concepts to help film the experiments discussed in the book. Viewing the vook (video book) brings the research to life. By uploading the vook to your computer, i-phone, i-pod, or i-pad you can actually see how children learn, not just read about the research in black and white print.

The "essential life skills" that Ellen Galinsky has spent her career pursuing, with more than a hundred of the most outstanding researchers in child development and neuroscience are: focus and self control, perspective taking, communicating. making connections, critical thinking, taking on challenges, and self-directed, engaged learning.

In the video clip below you will see an experiment by Anne Renald of Stanford University. Her research shows that how families talk to children makes a big difference in how children associate sounds. The experience of hearing a lot of diverse and rich language effects the efficiency in which children learn. Playing "I Spy" is a fun way to connect Dr. Renald's research with children's learning.





I highly recommend Mind in the Making book or the vook (video book) to inspire you to help teach children the seven essential life skills.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Review of Mind in the Making by Ellen Galinsky

Weekly Trip to the Library

By now subscribers should have received their June 2010 issue of Be the Best Nanny Monthly Guide. In the June 2010 issue of the nanny trade publication we discuss the new book (nine years in the making) Mind In the Making by Ellen Galinsky.

Noted author and researcher Ellen Galinsky set forth to film children about how they learn. But when she asked children about learning she found that many students were expressionless and had lost the fire-in-their-eyes with a passion to learn. What happened to these kids? Passion to learn is instinctual in young children. You can't stop young children from learning.

To find out, she decided to find the best research-based advice for caregivers and parents on how to raise children with a passion to learn, to be well rounded, to achieve their full potential, to help them learn to take on life's challenges, communicate well with others, and remain committed to learning.

She concisely lists the "essential life skills" that she has spent her career pursuing. She describes simple everyday things that all caregivers can do to build these skills in children for today and for the future.

What is most special about her achievements is that she has also published a vook Mind in the Making. A vook is a video book you can watch. You can download the video book to your i-phone, i-pad, i-pod, or online. When I was a psychology major in College I remember learning about many of the experiments included in the book, but to see them video taped (rather than just reading about them in black and white print) really brings the research to life.

Since we already printed our book review in Be the Best Nanny Monthly Guide, we encourage you to watch this video in which Katie Couric interviews Ellen Galinsky in the sidebar to the right.

This upcoming week we will post some short sample videos showing the research discussed in Mind in the Making.



Ellen Galinsky, President and Co-Founder of Families and Work Institute (FWI), helped establish the field of work and family life at Bank Street College of Education, where she was on the faculty for twenty-five years. Her more than forty books and reports also include Ask The Children and the now-classic The Six Stages of Parenthood. She has published over 100 articles in academic journals, books and magazines.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Reflections on Health Care for Nannies

By Polly Psi
Image from ProCon.org

Over the past few weeks we have attempted to take a sober look at the complex and voluminous health care legislation and to present a clear and simple timeline of changes to take effect during the process of implementation. Discarding the hyperbole and demagoguery of political operatives, we found a lot to like about the bill, and some shortcomings. We shall end this series about health care reform with some observations that are uncovered by a mere timeline.

Clearly, the number of citizens and valid residents eligible for insurance will increase the pool of covered patients. And, if these newly insured people are to be integrated into an already overpriced health care system, changes in the pricing and delivery of services will be necessary.

Chronic illnesses, preventable hospital care, and long-term care are the main factors that drives the increases in patient costs and rising insurance premiums. The reform package as a whole emphasizes prevention and wellness programs, more efficient care management by providers and local long-term care facilities.

The most noticeable change likely to occur is between the patient and the type and the venue of the provider. In order to lower costs, the patient might be initially examined by a physician's assistant, or other trained provider supervised by a physician, but with less training. The patient may not be seen by the physician for common self-limiting diseases, but only for chronic, traumatic, or life threatening illnesses. More research-based protocols are intended to divert patients from specialists to primary care providers.

Instead of a hospital emergency room being used for primary care, those patients who are now uninsured will likely have options for care. Those now on Medicaid, the low-income and uninsured, will be encouraged to find a health care "home" that will provide both preventive service and care for illnesses. These "homes" might be located on non-traditional locations such as pharmacies or supermarkets.

Advances in technologies will allow patients to be "examined" with use of video conferencing equipment or by a computer camera. Thereby "office" visits without going to the office. Telemedicine should be particularly useful for the home bound and the 20% of Americans living in doctor-poor areas.

A cloud of data will be established containing general information about the conditions likely to afflict people of a certain ethnicity, socio-economic status, and age. This cloud of data will also contain the records of you and your family. The digitization of medical records and standardization of claim forms should significantly lower administrative costs.

One factor of cost control not reformed by this bill is that of medical malpractice insurance. Unless there is a national plan to control malpractice insurance costs and to cap lawsuit awards, the cost of care and the use of defensive testing is certain to keep rising.

For most people, the health care changes will cause no changes except for some initial administrative paperwork. The health care changes are intended to broaden care to the poorest, sickest, and most elderly among us. This expansion is occurring while simultaneously trying to reduce per capita cost, now the highest in the world. Some decry these changes as the onset of a "nanny nation." We hope the nation will be so fortunate and that the changes are so successful that they approximate the care a nanny provides.

Do you think health care reform will help you?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Health Care Reform Timeline 2014 and 2015 and Beyond

In the year 2014
Image to left from conservationreport

Insurance plan reforms:

Create temporary reinsurance program to cover high-risk individuals.

Allow states to merge individual and small group markets.

Limit waiting periods for coverage to 90 days.

Limit deductibles to $2000 for individuals and $4000 for families.

Require renew-ability of plans by limiting rating variations and controlling criteria used in ratings. Limits ability of companies to increase premiums due to health status, gender or age, among other factors.

Allow states to mandate formation of Basic Health Plan for uninsured individuals with low income.

Eliminates discrimination based on current health regarding new or renewal policies.

Medicare:

Establish a national Payment Advisory Board to recommend laws that will reduce per capita spending of Medicare.

Increase payments to providers based on the percentage of patients that are uninsured and on the percentage of uncompensated care.

Require Medicare plans to pay out 85% of premiums as benefits.

Reduce the amount of copay and out-of-pocket amounts that are required for an enrollee to become eligible for Medicare Part D.

Medicaid:

Expand eligibility to additional non-Medicare individuals under age 65 based on income.

Reduce certain allotments to states.

In the year 2015

Create a value-based payment system to increase quality of care for Medicare enrollees.

Continue expanding access to evidence-based care.

Promote quality and efficiency in order to extend the solvency of Medicare.

Impose excise tax on the most expensive insurance plans to be paid by insurance companies.

Encourage multi-state insurance plans.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The New Nanny Law: A Step in the Right Direction

Graphic from RaceWire The Colorlines Blog

The new Nanny Law in New York will hopefully give both domestic employers and in-home employees a clear guideline for what is fair when negotiating a new contract.

The Nanny Law allows penalties against those who do not follow basic labor laws. But, it is largely unenforceable unless someone makes a complaint. While the law will put pressure on parents that hire nannies to adhere to the regulations so that a blemish not appear on their legal history, in this economic downturn, both nannies and employers may still prefer to work, and to pay, off-the-books.

The number of nannies, babysitters, elder caregivers, and housekeepers in New York is as difficult to determine as it is hard to gauge the size of the underground economy. Many employed as child caregivers are people unaware or unwilling to assert their rights.

Outside of the largest metropolitan areas, the law may have little effect. In rural areas, people may assume the duties of a nanny are available far below minimum wage.

I don't think the law will lead most parents who already employ a nanny to find another child care option. The Nanny Law follows the same labor laws already in existence in the United States. For example, no one, no matter their occupation, is supposed to make under minimum wage. It is just a matter of regulating the laws and whether workers are willing to accept or reject jobs that don't offer the standards of labor laws.

Educated, experienced, professional in-home child care providers don't even consider jobs that do not offer the rights listed in the new law. I think the best nannies already work for great employers and know not to accept jobs that offer lower than minimum wage, without paid vacation days and holidays, and some paid sick days (plus plenty of other benefits). If the parents can already afford a great nanny these very simple changes won't make the difference between keeping an experienced and educated caregiver to a less expensive child care option.

Some suggest the new Nanny Law will force parents to fire their nannies to hire au pairs. Let's not forget the Au Pair Program in the United States has many of the same rules already. In fact, au pairs cannot even work as many long hours as nannies (only up to 45 hours of child care per week). The rules of the Au Pair Program in the United States include that au pairs are provided a private bedroom, meals, remuneration tied to the minimum wage ($195.75 in July 2009), 1½ days off weekly, plus a full weekend off each month, two weeks paid vacation (and this new Nanny Law only requires one week paid vacation), and the first $500 toward the costs of required course work to be completed at an accredited institution of higher education in order to satisfy the requirements of the educational component of the program. Au pairs are not to serve as general housekeepers or assume responsibility for household management.

Nannies can work longer hours, take on any housekeeping responsibilities or household management duty she is willing to do, when au pairs cannot. So, if any of those factors are essential to working parents, than they obviously won't fire their nanny to hire an au pair.

But, au pair regulations are are hard to enforce unless the au pair complains (as I predict will be the case with the Nanny Law) so many au pairs do, and will, work overtime hours for under the minimum wage. Just having guidelines for au pairs and laws for nannies isn't enough to make changes for everyone -- but it is a step in the right direction!

The real deciding factor will be if the new law can be regulated. Currently nannies must negotiate a good salary and benefits themselves and I don't think that will change. Parents will still offer jobs that break the law and nannies will still have to either accept of reject positions that will break the labor law. Will nannies continue to accept jobs offering no vacation time even with the Nanny Law? Absolutely.

A web site on labor laws reads, "Good labor laws are only as good as their enforcers, which is something that we should consider: a country can put anything it likes into its legal code, but legislation is useless without inspection agents and law enforcement to back it up. For example, most countries have laws against child labor, but the use of child labor is a perennial problem in the developing world."

But, even though child labor laws may not be 100% effective, would anyone suggest they are usless laws or we don't need such laws? Of course not!

I feel the Nanny Law is a step in the right direction. I think all workers (immigrant or not, salaried or hourly, part-time or full-time) deserve basic labor rights.

How do you think the new Nanny Law in New York will effect nannies, employers, nanny placement agencies, and other child care industries in the state?