Is Daycare the Death Trap Detractors Make It out to Be?

It’s not what the internet makes it out to be.

“That’s why I’d never put my child in daycare.”
Because nearly every story about daycare deaths goes viral, every few weeks the internet is full of people making this judgment of the family who has recently expressed tragedy. Such comments imply that whatever fates befell the children in these stories are the fault of their parents for placing them into daycare, which are often portrayed as decrepit and dangerous places.
There is certainly more that can be done to ensure children are safe when outside their parents’ care, just as there is more to be done to ensure children are safe when in their parents’ care. But to lay the blame on grieving parents for placing their children in daycare is the wrong reaction, leading parents who choose daycare to feel shame about a perfectly reasonable choice.
Mercifully, accidental deaths are extremely rare at daycares, and deaths due to abuse and neglect are rarer still. The available literature about daycare-related deaths shows how infrequent these incidents actually are and suggests strategies for how to make them even less likely in the future. Although this information won’t halt the flood of internet commentary, perhaps it can help parents can make informed choices about their children’s care.

Defining daycare

“Daycare” is any care provided during the day that is not from the child’s legal guardians. It is a catch-all term for child care that takes place in a variety of settings: a child-care center, a private home, or even in the child’s own home in the case of a nanny.
Nearly all child care centers and even many private home daycares are licensed. “Unlicensed” can be a confusing term, suggesting that a daycare provider is acting illegally, but many states do not require licensure for certain types of caregivers.

Daycares and SIDS

One way to determine daycare safety would be to think about how much time children spend in the care of others versus in the care of their parents. Then weigh the death and injury rates among the daycare-using and non-daycare-using populations to determine whether one scenario is safer than the other. That data does not exist for all types of injuries or deaths, but some types of deaths, such as SIDS deaths, are nationally recorded. That data can serve as a starting point for studying daycare safety.
One study of sleep-related infant deaths that often resurfaces when a child dies at daycare is this study of SIDS in daycare centers. The researchers estimated that, for babies who spend around 40 hours per week in daycare, about seven percent of SIDS-related deaths should happen in a daycare setting. But they concluded that over 20 percent of SIDS-related deaths in 11 states between 1995 and 1997 occurred in daycare settings, a finding which suggested that daycare settings were less safe than home care.
One problem with this study, however, is that 17 percent of the SIDS deaths reported during the researchers’ timeframe were excluded because the researchers could not determine the location of death. Although the researchers indicated that the 17 percent of excluded cases contained similar demographic diversity of the main sample, those 17 percent would be really important to making determinations about the likelihood of death in a childcare setting.
Another problem was the length of time that researchers assumed children were in child care settings. The researchers estimated that children spend 40 percent of their time (a 40-hour work week) in daycare – a figure they realize may not be appropriate, given that many parents work longer hours. Both the excluded cases and the assumption about hours spent in care make it difficult to derive sound conclusions from the data.
But these two factors are perhaps less important than the largest problem with the study: how it has been interpreted. The researcher’s finding is used as evidence that child care centers are more dangerous than home care. The study did not draw a specific conclusion about child care centers, but rather all forms of care outside the home. The researchers found that 60 percent of the SIDS deaths in out-of-home care were at a family member’s home. Daycares run out of private homes represented 12.2 percent of SIDS deaths. Child care centers – the image that most often comes to mind when we think “daycare” – represented just 2.6 percent of SIDS deaths.
Of course, the 17 percent of cases excluded from the original sample could make these numbers much different. But it appears that SIDS deaths were less likely to occur in child care centers than in other care arrangements. Given that many of the children in the sample were found on their stomachs, the researchers suggest one reason for the higher incidence of SIDS deaths among infants in child care is that some caregivers are less educated about SIDS risk than others. This helps explain the difference in SIDS death rates in private homes, where licensure is not always required versus child care centers, where licensure is required and often includes SIDS awareness training.

A question of timing

For 99 of the cases in the above study, researchers also had information about the length of time children had spent in daycare at the time of their deaths. They found that for this small sample, one third died during the first week of care, and one sixth died on the first day of care.
What the study fails to consider is when SIDS is most likely to occur: between age one and four months. Because these deaths occur at roughly the time that their parents return to work, children who die from SIDS in daycare are used as evidence for the safety risks posed by daycares. But what if we are looking at correlation, not causation?
Researchers examining the relationship between preterm infants and SIDS found that very preterm babies who die of SIDS tend to die at around 20 weeks of age, while babies who were early term and full term die earlier, at about 15 or 14 weeks, respectively. Fourteen weeks, 15 weeks, 20 weeks: those ages all suggest that the most likely time of SIDS will occur after a parent has gone back to work, given that our current national legal family leave is 12 weeks and roughly a quarter of women who return to work after having a baby do at eight weeks.

Daycare deaths caused by abuse or neglect

Parents concerned about abuse or neglect by a daycare provider can take small comfort in the fact that parents, more than any other group, are the most likely perpetrators of such violence against children. According to a CDC report, in 2014, parents were responsible for 79.3 percent of fatalities for children through age four.
“Nonparents” were responsible for 15.7 percent of those fatalities, but “nonparents” is an extremely broad category, including, among others, both extended family members and daycare workers. It’s clear, then, that parents are more likely to be the perpetrators of lethal abuse or neglect than daycare providers.
But that’s not what we think when we read about daycare-related deaths in the news. In his sensationally-titled “The Hell of American Daycare“, Jonathan Cohn profiles a mother whose daughter died after being trapped in a house fire at a family daycare. It’s a tense, slowly-unfolding, horrifying piece, the kind that makes you hold your breath as you scroll, hoping the story isn’t going where you think it will.
But of course, it does, and readers are further drawn into the fire and its aftermath as well as Cohn’s interviews with daycare inspectors, one of whom would not trust her own children with more than 20 percent of the daycares she has visited.

Beware the solitary news story

Daycare deaths like the one Cohn profiles are, from a clicks-and-shares perspective, “perfect” news stories: they offer single, poignant, terrifying stories that burn into our memories and stoke our greatest fears. These kinds of stories can lead us to an inflated sense of risk about daycare, because we’re less likely to see a news story that reports on how a daycare center is doing everything right and all the kids are happy and healthy.
We’re also likely to read such stories as sort of coded messages about the parents whose children die in daycare. Because those deaths happen disproportionately at lower-cost and sometimes unlicensed centers, there are issues of race and class involved that can lead readers to assume that the parents have done something wrong, that they haven’t done their due diligence in checking out the child care center, or that it was their own behavior that required them to need child care in the first place.
Parents who read these sorts of stories should not interpret them as an indictment against daycare more broadly, but instead as an opportunity to identify systemic problems with daycare. The widely different rates of SIDS-related deaths in different types of daycare situations is one such example. That SIDS deaths appear to be higher in private homes than in daycare centers suggests that parents who wish to use in-home care should check for common risk factors associated with SIDS (such as smoking) and confirm that their providers are aware of current infant sleep guidelines.

Beware the solitary caregiver

Stories about daycare deaths start to make daycares themselves look dangerous, simply because all daycare deaths have one thing in common: the deaths occurred during daycare. But looking at these stories more closely, it’s possible to identify other common variables. Another feature of these stories is a caregiver left alone with children, or, as was the case with the case profiled in Cohn’s article, a caregiver who left the children alone.
Many states have required infant-caregiver ratios that, when followed, ensure that no single employee is overwhelmed by watching too many children at once. Daycare.com provides state-by-state licensing requirements for caregivers, including the infant to caregiver ratios required by each state. For 30 states, as well as the District of Columbia, the ratio for infants to caregivers is 1:4 – one adult for every four children. In 10 more states, that ratio is 1:5. In Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana, New Mexico, and South Carolina, the ratio is at its highest: 1:6. Kansas, Hawaii, Maryland, and Massachusetts share the lowest infant-caregiver ratio, which is 1:3.
Many states also have maximum class sizes with adjusted ratios. For example, Wyoming has a 1:4 ratio for infants, but a maximum class size of 10. Classrooms with 10 infants require three caregivers, shrinking the ratio below the 1:4 requirement for smaller classrooms. Other states permit slightly different mixes of children, depending on their ages. Idaho, for example, works on a points system, which assigns points to different age groups (two points for children under 24 months, 1.5 points for two to three years of age) and allows each caregiver a total of 12 points, which would translate into an infant-caregiver ratio of 1:6, but could also mean four infants and four five-year-olds.
In many states, the infant-caregiver ratios are different for “family care” situations, which means that children are taken care of in a private home rather than a dedicated center. Many states don’t require licensure for family care until a certain number of children are in the home. In 12 states, licensure is required for even one child. In Arkansas, Indiana, Iowa, Mississippi, New Jersey, North Dakota, and Virginia, licensure isn’t required until there are six kids. In South Dakota, it’s 13 kids. Many states do not consider the provider’s own kids in the regulation threshold.
When interviewing a daycare provider, it may not be enough for parents to ask whether or not a center adheres to that legal caregiver ratio, as it’s unlikely a provider would volunteer that the center was acting illegally or irresponsibly.
Instead, it might be more valuable for parents to ask what the back-up plan is when a caregiver has to be absent. How does the daycare provider ensure the appropriate ratios are met? Are children sent home? Are substitute caregivers called in? Who are the substitutes? A daycare provider with answers to these questions is less likely to be in charge of too many children at once, ensuring that all of those children can be safely cared for.

9 Ways to Assemble an Arsenal of Awesome Babysitters

Never miss another date night.

I have twenty sitters in my phone. My friends sometimes wonder how I’ve acquired so many. I sometimes wonder why my friends don’t have more. Babysitters are everywhere—if your eyes are open. Here are some places to find your next sitter.

1 | The Internet

I’m lucky to live in a college town, where the online university job board is free and available to the public. Other free ways to find childcare online include your local moms’ Facebook Group and Craigslist. One of my friends perused Craigslist’s childcare section on a whim and found one of the best nannies she’s ever hired.

For a fee, there are plenty of services available. Popular sites like Care.com and SitterCity offer access to sitters in your area for a monthly fee. The Sitter app lets you find new sitters, add sitters you already know to your network, schedule, and pay your sitter via credit card. While it’s free to search and book sitters, under three of Sitter’s four membership tiers you’re charged a percentage of your payment to the sitter.

2 | On-Site Services

Sometimes it’s easier to bring the kids to the childcare rather than bringing the childcare to the kids. Services like PR Kids and Helpr fill this need. PR Kids offers on-site childcare at select running races and triathlons in Colorado, allowing parents the convenience of dropping kids off next to the start line, and the joy of seeing the kids cheer at the finish. Helpr provides on-site childcare for special occasions including weddings, corporate events, and conferences in Southern California.

3 | Through Friends

Finding a sitter is like dating. While many hunt online, some prefer their potential sitter (or date) to be vetted by a friend. One of my best sitters was a friend of a friend. Though she had zero childcare experience, she had a fantastic character reference. I didn’t need a baby whisperer. I needed someone I could trust to follow instructions, and to be punctual and kind. Because of her relationship with my friend, I was (relatively) relaxed about returning to work after my maternity leave.

4 | In Your Neighborhood

Post a message in your neighborhood email list, Facebook group, or Nextdoor, or tack a “help wanted” note to a physical bulletin board, if you have one. If those fail, take a walk in your ‘hood with your kiddo(s). If anyone so much as smiles in your direction, introduce yourself and ask if they or anyone they know would be interested in watching your little angels.

5 | Restaurants

While you may have the Happy Hour menu at the forefront of your mind, the quest for potential sitters should always be in the back of it. Barring a creepy vibe, be ready to strike up a conversation with anyone who throws a peek-a-boo, a silly face, or a wink in your kids’ direction. Be open to anyone who offers a sympathetic smile when your kid throws food or a tantrum. If you’re shy, have a couple of drinks before saying hello. We found one of our best sitters sitting at the next table over, enjoying a margarita on Cinco de Mayo.

6 | The Park

Be on the lookout for anyone with kids who appears well rested and patient; this should limit your chance of mistakenly targeting another parent instead of a sitter or nanny. While the person in question may already be employed as a nanny, you never know what the situation is. Perhaps her employer is about to relocate, or she needs a few extra hours. Wear dark sunglasses if you feel more comfortable eavesdropping behind them. If the nanny seems responsible, kind, and more interested in the little ones in her charge than her phone, go for the ask. Worst case, she turns you down.

7 | Traveling? Ask the Hotel

Maybe you’re traveling with your kids for an adult-only wedding, or you want to enjoy dinner at a place with tablecloths on your vacation. You are not alone. Many resorts have a list of names to share with their guests. When our eldest was eight months old, we traveled to Aspen for our friends’ wedding, where we rented a VRBO. One quick phone call to the wedding venue (a hotel), yielded multiple phone numbers of local preschool teachers. The first one we called was available, and she turned out to be awesome.

8 | Your Kid’s Preschool or Your Gym’s Childcare

The caregivers at the gym childcare or your child’s preschool may be looking for extra hours. A major plus is that you and your kid already know and them. If you go this route, you save yourself the initial interview, in which you determine that the caregiver is neither sketchy nor flaky. As a bonus, the gym or childcare facility has probably already completed a background check.

9 | Gymnastics Class

Music, dance, art, swimming lessons, and karate are also options. If your child is enrolled in an activity, consider asking the instructor if he or she is available for babysitting. Such instructors tend to be great with kids, and many are students who would love to earn extra income through babysitting. And if it doesn’t work out, keep an open mind. My daughter’s gymnastics instructor was happy to watch our kids, but she wasn’t available on the date I needed. She introduced me to her roommate, who ended up being great fit for our family.

The world is full of babysitters. Your next sitter could be the hostess who chats up your preschooler as she sets the crayons and the kids’ menu down, or the friendly lady working the front desk of your gym. (True story: I have found sitters in both of these situations). They say when the student is ready the master will appear. I say, when the parents need a few hours to themselves and start thinking outside the box, the sitters will appear.

Will Artificial Intelligence End Parents’ Work-Life Struggles?

Easy access to robots (assuming they’re affordable) may impact how we approach our relationships, and create and re-create family.

Ever since the second International Congress on Love and Sex with Robots took place a few months ago, there has been a deluge of articles talking about marriage between humans and robots and how sexbots might impact marriages, for better or worse.
For every robot enthusiast, like artificial intelligent expert and Love and Sex With Robots author David Levy, who predicts human-robot marriages within in the next few decades, there’s a naysayer, like Kathleen Richardson, founder of the Campaign Against Sex Robots, who worries that “the creation of such robots will contribute to detrimental relationships between men and women, adults and children, men and men and women and women.”
Which sounds a lot like the people warning us about how marriage between interracial couples, or same-sex couples, or how the increase in divorce will ruin the institution of marriage. Actually none has ruined the institution of marriage – in fact, they’ve just added to the number of people marrying. Instead, love-based marriages, the increased desire for independence and the availability of choices, especially for women, nowadays have done enough “damage” to the institution – if you want to call it “damage,” which I don’t. Instead, they’ve helped people realize marriage isn’t the only way to live.
These are things I’ve talked about before. I’ve also talked about how robots might impact romantic relationships before, too — the movie Her beautifully asks us to question, what is a relationship? — so it doesn’t make sense to regurgitate old ideas.
But since the recent spate of articles, I’ve been thinking about other ways robots will impact us beyond sexbots, because they’re surely going to be part of your future and mine. Certainly when it comes to work; this is a given. As well as self-driving transportation of all sorts. And even if you have no desire to have sex with — let alone marry — a robot, easy access to robots (assuming they’re affordable, a big unknown but presumably not initially) may impact how we approach our relationships, and create and re-create family.

Elderly care

Say, taking care of an elderly parent. Caregiving is an essential part of society but typically seen as women’s work, thus undervalued and underpaid — if paid at all. In fact, more and more working women over the age of 50 are leaving their careers to care for an elderly family member — at great personal loss, financially and emotionally. What if a robot could do that for us? A few years ago I interviewed Christopher Ford, who made his movie Robot & Frank — about the bond between an elderly man and a robot — after watching the struggles his parents faced while caring for their elderly parents, his grandparents. Would robotic caregiving be a bad thing? Would it be better than putting an ailing parent in a nursing home? Would it free up adult children — again, overwhelmingly women— from that responsibility so they wouldn’t have to disrupt their career?

Child care

What about caring for your own child? Would you choose a robotic nanny to help raise your kids so you wouldn’t have to opt-out — or struggle with work-life issues? What if a self-driving car would pick up your kids from school and take them to their various after-school sports and activities? Would that relieve some of the parental duties, again overwhelmingly the women’s role, that make having a career and a family seem so daunting? Will having a robotic caregiver make marriages more egalitarian? Would the robotic caregiver have a gender — and will that just perpetuate gendered caregiving?

Single parenting

What if you’re a single person who wants to have a child but hasn’t found a romantic partner to have one with, or perhaps isn’t even interested in having a romantic partner; would having a robotic caregiver make your life easier, or perhaps even make you more likely to have a child on your own? And, if so, would that mean fewer people would actually choose to marry, or even cohabit, given how “there is evidence of a certain fatigue with the difficulties of dealing with people,” as Sherry Turkle, a clinical psychologist and professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, notes.
I think the emphasis and perhaps freakout about sexbots is obscuring other discussions about how robots likely will be intertwined in our relationships, romantic or not. Artificial intelligence is a growing part of our future, and not just when it comes to sex.
This piece was originally published on Vicki Larson’s blog OMG Chronicles.

14 All-Important Tips Every Nanny Needs You to Know

Many things make a world of difference in the lives of families, and the nannies they work with. Here’s a list of pointers that may come in handy.

Having a nanny can be a truly wonderful experience. After all, a nanny is not simply an employee. It is quite possible she’ll become an integrated part of your child’s life, and yours too.
When your nanny first begins, you may realize there’s much more involved than you had ever imagined. Is she self-employed, or should she be claimed as an employee? Is a nanny contract really necessary? How do I get this right?
I’ve worked as a nanny with a variety of families. There are many things that make a world of difference in the lives of families, and the nannies they work with. Here’s a list of pointers that may come in handy:

Don’t underestimate the nanny contract

Laying out a contract for a nanny may seem unnecessary. Maybe you bonded instantly during the interview and it seems like you’re on the same page for everything. Or maybe you’re worried that suggesting one implies that you don’t trust her.
A contract ensures that you and the nanny have discussed terms, and come to an agreement on things like responsibilities, hours, pay-rate, overtime, vacations, holidays, sick days, and the like. Put it in writing so that it can be referred back to. That way everyone’s needs are explicitly stated and the chances of misinterpretation and feelings of frustration are minimized. It’s also helpful to review the contract each year together just in case updates are necessary.

Help her help you

When it comes to having someone else watch your children, the first thing on your mind is safety. That means making sure your nanny has everything she needs, not only to keep an accident from happening but to be able to handle one it does:

  • Keep an easy-to-access list of emergency numbers including Poison Control, the local hospital, your pediatrician, and a ranking of family members to contact.
  • Have a first-aid kit readily available in the home, and a small, portable kit for the nanny to toss in a bag, the stroller, or the car on outings.
  • As soon as your child is mobile, have safety locks and gates in place – especially gates on steps and to areas of the house that are off-limits.
  • Provide a secure place for the child to play while the nanny uses the bathroom, installs the car seat in her car, or cleans up a particularly fun (i.e. big) mess.
  • All safety straps for strollers and high chairs should be in place and fully functional, even if you choose not to use them.
  • If there is a dangerous new habit your child has picked up, pass that along to the nanny.

Morning updates are crucial

There’s no denying just how trying mornings can be. Getting out of the house on time each day may even seem like a recurring miracle. One thing you don’t want to forget is to give your nanny a quick morning update.
Just a few minutes spent filling her in on your ever-changing child can make a real difference in the day. For instance, has your child started potty training or teething? Are they having trouble napping, or suddenly prone to emotional outbursts? It’s a small way to ensure that your nanny is going in fully armed and ready for anything the day throws at her.

Keep the necessities out

When your nanny begins, let her know where things like jackets, shoes, sunscreen, paper towels, and cleaning products can be found, and keep these items located in the same easy-to-find spots. Your nanny doesn’t know your house like you do, and the time spent figuring out how to clean a spill or find the mittens is time your nanny isn’t spending having fun with your child.
Your nanny isn’t expecting a sparkling house. However, keeping things functional is helpful. If the toddler has just wet themselves while potty training and the baby is having a meltdown, your nanny won’t be able to respond as quickly if she then discovers that the way to the laundry room is blocked, the paper towels are gone, and the trash can is overflowing.

Be honest about when you’re getting back

Your nanny has a life after work, or in some cases, more work after work, and it can cause her to feel that her time isn’t valued if you’re consistently coming home late. If you are running behind, text or call to let her know so she can plan accordingly. If the lateness is recurring, then it’s time to revisit the schedule portion of the nanny contract. Of course, don’t forget to pay her for that extra time.

Responsibilities should be realistic

A nanny will typically complete tasks associated with the children, such as picking up toys, keeping their rooms cleaned, washing dishes used throughout the day, and doing the children’s laundry. If there are tasks required beyond that, discuss them with her and include them in the contract.
For the extra tasks, extra pay is expected. Also, keep in mind when considering extra chores that a nanny doesn’t get normal breaks. Overloading her with tasks can result in her feeling run-down, and unable to dedicate the energy level you hope for to your children.

A penny saved, could be a penny lost

If you’re expecting to take a lot of time off throughout the year for vacations, or family visits, inform your nanny before she starts. If you don’t have dates, an overall estimation of how much time throughout the year you will not need her will help. Always assume that your nanny is counting on every cent she earns because in most cases, she absolutely is.
You want to find someone who can match your schedule without inadvertently sacrificing expected income. This also includes last minute days off and half days. Those can really add up. Losing your favorite caregiver is not in anyone’s best interest.

Understand what self-employment really means

Childcare is expensive. In an attempt to minimize expenses, many parents will choose to hire their nanny as an independent contractor. On the surface, this does appear to be a great option. The truth is, however, that when a nanny agrees to be self-employed, they are often getting the short end of the stick, and neither they or the parents realize it – until tax season, that is.
When a nanny is recognized as an employee, parents are required by law to withhold the nanny’s portion of social security and medicare taxes from her paycheck, and make contributions to social security, medicare, and possibly even state and federal unemployment funds themselves.
These taxes are known as “Nanny Taxes” or “Payroll Taxes.” But when your nanny works as an independent contractor, she is then expected to pay the entire amount of those taxes out of her own pocket and is no longer eligible for unemployment if she is let go.
It can be even worse if a nanny is informed of being an independent contractor just as tax season begins, resulting in a huge debt she has not had the year to save up for.
Misfiling in regards to your nanny could even be interpreted as tax evasion by the IRS. Sorting out payroll for your nanny may seem daunting. There are many resources online that make it simple to understand payroll taxes and how they affect your family. There are also payroll services that make calculating each week’s paycheck easy.  

Avoid cabin fever

Being a nanny is an immensely rewarding position. It’s not without its challenges, however. Spending hours alone with a child can be isolating and lonely at times. Be sure that you’re allowing her the opportunity to take the children to places where both she, and your child can be social. It will benefit not only your nanny, it will also encourage your child to be active, well-rounded, and to develop important social skills.

Don’t forget reimbursement and petty cash

Money for your child’s lunch, project supplies, or special activities should never come out your nanny’s pocket. Either have her keep receipts so that you can compensate her on payday, or have cash set aside in a special envelope or wallet that she can use specifically for the child.

Take it one step at a time

Life is crazy – I don’t need to tell you that – and your little ones are just as susceptible to feeling overwhelmed as you are. Sometimes, a lot of transition can be difficult and lead to aggression, regression, sudden outbursts, and separation anxiety.
Having a new person in the house taking care of them might prove to be more than they’re ready for. Consider making the transition easier by speaking to your child often about a nanny coming into the house and what this will mean for them.
You could also have the nanny come over for short visits beforehand to allow your little one time to become comfortable. You may even consider waiting on hiring a nanny until your child is in a better place to handle the situation.

Build a united front

When it’s time to hire a nanny, both you and your spouse/partner should be on the same page regarding key components of raising a child. If one parent is okay with your nanny letting the baby “cry-it-out,” but the other is not, this can lead to confusion and tension for everyone, including the child.
This also means reinforcing the nanny’s judgment calls. If a parent is regularly disregarding the nanny’s rules in front of the child, this not only undermines the nanny’s authority, but it teaches your child to do the same. If you don’t appear to respect her rules, the child won’t either.

Collaboration is key

Having a nanny is very much a collaboration. Communicating openly and often with her is key. That means considering your nanny’s suggestions, incorporating certain techniques that you notice work, and sharing with her any new tricks you’ve discovered.
It also means being honest with your nanny if you notice her handling a situation in a way that makes you uncomfortable, or that you don’t think is actually helping. This will help create consistency and allow you both to come up with more effective game plans that benefit your little one.

Let her know she’s valued

The families that best connect with their nannies are the ones that take the time to get to know her and show her she is valued. Just a few minutes spent talking about things other than the children with your nanny reminds her that you care for and respect her. Polite conversations about school, her family, or weekend plans will allow her to feel better connected to you and your family, which will make you more approachable if there is an issue.
If you see her going above and beyond to do something special for your child, let her know that you noticed it, and appreciate it. Bonuses and raises to reward her for her performance are important and should be considered, too. Everything she does is because she cares deeply. She wants to be shown the same consideration.
What do you think of the tips above? Have any of your own? Feel free to add them in the comments below.

It's Not Too Late! 6 Resolutions We Hope Our Elected Officials Make This Year

In case they haven’t finished their list of goals yet, we have six suggestions for family-friendly resolutions we hope our policy makers are going to keep this year.

Forget eating healthier and exercising more. Throw out that day planner – you’re never going to use it anyway. Let’s talk about some resolutions that will truly have a profound impact – the ones our elected officials are making.
In case they haven’t finished their list of goals yet, we have six suggestions for family-friendly resolutions we hope our policy makers are going to keep this year.

1 | Protect health care for all Americans

The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, earns the first spot on our resolution list because it’s already in danger. House Speaker Paul Ryan and President-Elect Donald Trump have vowed to repeal the health care law this month, promising they will come up with a replacement plan sometime in the next two years, before the repeal would officially take place.

This approach is dangerous, however, as it could lead the insurance market to the brink of collapse and cost an estimated 30 million Americans their health insurance. When our lawmakers set out to reform health insurance law this year, it is absolutely necessary they have a plan in place before they vote to repeal, and guarantee all Americans – mothers, fathers, single adults, and kids – keep their access to health insurance.

2 | Ensure all parents have access to paid leave

When the ball dropped, millions of people resolved to “spend more time with family.” But for many new mothers and fathers, that might not be a promise they’re able to keep if they don’t have access to paid parental leave.

During President-Elect Trump’s campaign, he recognized the need for new mothers to spend time recovering from birth, promising six weeks of paid leave. While this is a step in the right direction, his plan leaves out many parents – including new fathers wishing to bond with and care for their child – as well as parents who grow their family through adoption.

Paid leave is essential for family health and well-being. Our lawmakers should guarantee it’s available to all parents.

3 | Protect our common home

Recycle more. That was my New Year’s resolution last year. I finally bought some bins and stopped cringing every time I threw away an empty milk jug. This small step probably hasn’t had much of an impact on protecting the earth from climate change, pollution, and landfill waste. But luckily, our lawmakers wield much more power than I do and have an opportunity to really make a difference.

The majority of Americans think that our government currently is doing too little to protect the environment. Keeping the Clean Power Plan in place and following through with the Paris Climate Accords are great places for our lawmakers to start.

This year, we hope that our elected officials remember that when they cast their votes, they’re making life-changing decisions about our children’s future home.

4 | Invest in early education

Every new parent makes the same promise to themselves – to give their child the best possible start in life that they can. Forty-two states have taken the same pledge, by providing state-funded preschool to help all kids reach their full potential.

State legislatures are often tempted to cut funding for preschool and shuffle the money to something flashier like tax cuts or new highway projects, but they must remember that investing in early education is good for the economy: for every dollar states spend on preschool, they net a $7 return as the child grows.

Providing our children with the best start possible should be an easy choice for lawmakers this year.

5 | Make child care affordable

“Save more money for college” tops the list for many moms and dads this January, but for parents of young children, they might already be writing checks to a daycare that’s more expensive than their local college. In 33 states, average childcare costs exceed in-state tuition, and parents are feeling the strain.

President-Elect Trump has put forth a plan to address the rising cost of childcare, but critics note the plan focuses heavily on deductions, which mostly benefit wealthy families. Lawmakers should recognize the importance of having safe, high-quality, affordable childcare, and make sure it’s available to all families.

6 | Expand the Earned Income Tax Credit

Lawmakers of both parties have long sought to improve the lives of working Americans, typically through different means. But in the 1980s, under President Ronald Reagan, they came up with a solution that has lifted millions of families out of poverty – the Earned Income Tax Credit.

The Federal EITC gives working families a tax credit equal to a certain percentage of their income, up to a maximum of $3,359 for families with one kid, and $6,242 for families with three or more kids. The credit promotes work, reduces poverty, and promotes children’s well-being. Over half of all U.S. states also have a state EITC, and lawmakers in states that don’t should make it their goal to expand this credit and help lift more families out of poverty.

Happy and healthy families – that’s what we all want for 2017. With affordable health care, access to paid leave, a healthy environment, quality early care and education, and a tax code that helps working families, our lawmakers can help make it happen. We hope that our elected officials will make family-friendly legislation a top priority this year.

And if they don’t? I’m going to pick up the phone, write a letter, speak up at town hall meetings and continually remind them about the needs of the families whom they represent.

That’s my New Year’s resolution.