Business recently moved to 3765 E. Sunset Road
By GINGER MIKKELSEN
VIEW STAFF WRITER
Lexy Lionel’s business role models come straight from the movies: Walt Disney’s “Mary Poppins,” Maria Von Trapp in the “Sound of Music,” or maybe even “Mrs. Doubtfire,” minus the whole cross-dressing thing.
“All over the world the art of being a nanny is highly regarded. There is nothing more important than caring for children. We’re hoping to bring the status of the nanny up here too,” Lionel said.
In 1987 Lionel went on a trip for her in-laws’ wedding anniversary. Her challenge was to find a temporary baby sitter for her 3-month-old child. A Los Angeles agency stepped in, found a nanny and impressed Lionel so much that she modeled her Nevada business, Nannies & Housekeepers U.S.A., after the agency.
Through Nannies & Housekeepers U.S.A., Lionel provides permanent, temporary and even one-night child-care providers to families from around the valley. The business has grown so much in the last year that Lionel was able to move her staff to new offices at 3765 E. Sunset Road.
“We moved Feb. 15 and we have almost four times the space here,” she said.
Along with the increase in office size, Lionel is expanding her mission to include a baby-sitting registry. In the past, she offered temporary baby sitters primarily to hotels like the Bellagio and the Four Seasons at a rate of $25 an hour.
“We had to charge that much because they still operated as our employees. The liability insurance alone is incredible,” Lionel said.
For a $249 annual fee, families can have access to the baby-sitting registry. When a baby sitter is needed, the parent calls and Lionels staff finds an available sitter to do the job.
Baby-sitter reservations must be made at least four hours in advance, Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Once the baby sitter has completed the job, the client pays the sitter $10 an hour directly. Prices for Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve are higher. Clients may use the service up to 48 hours per month.
Lionel reasons that 48 hours per month is plenty for parents seeking a weekly date night, or for families who already have child-care but would like to give their nanny the weekends off.
Anything more than 48 hours per month requires a permanent referral contract.Lionel said parents using the service more than 48 hours per month will want permanent referral to guarantee the same child-care provider comes every time. When permanent referral of a nanny is desired, Lionel finds three or four applicants for a family to choose from.
“They’re all qualified. They all can do the job,” she said. “But it comes down to a chemistry thing. Do you want this person in your home? We’re matchmakers.”
Lionel said many parents run an advertisement and then interview and hire their own baby sitter. So the business owner set out to provide a screening process individual families would have a hard time duplicating.
Every applicant is required to fill out a 12-page application. Then come criminal background checks, professional reference checks and drug screenings. At least one year experience working as a full-time child-care provider is required before an applicant can even enter the screening process.
“We go the distance,” Lionel said. “Out of every eight applications we get, only two will qualify. We make the investment in time.”
Many of the child-care providers in the registry are teachers by day. Lionel said one of the nannies was even a Disney Teacher of the Year nominee.
Lake Elementary School kindergarten teacher Marissa Nitura signed on in an effort to earn extra money while spending time with children.
“I love kids, so this is fun for me,” Nitura said. “I only teach in the mornings, so this really helps.”
Manch Elementary teacher Alison Cherry laughed when asked if she could handle a large family of children.
“I take on a whole classroom full of children every day, so this is nothing,” she said.
Capp sends all her baby sitters ready to entertain children. Through a partnership with FAO Swartz, the agency secured nanny bags filled with basic developmental toys.
Nannies & Housekeepers U.S.A. office staff member Briana Wiegand, an elementary education student, said the pre-screened toys range from Lamaze infant fairy tale books to educational computer games or even classics like Memory, chess and checkers.
“Every nanny does something personal,” Wiegand said. “That’s more important than the bags. Those are just toys. But the parents are excited to see the bags because much of our care takes place in hotels and there’s not a lot of stuff for kids to do there.”
For families who would like to try the service before signing on for the annual fee, Lionel does offer a one-time service fee of $30. She is also considering expanding into providing a registry for temporary caregivers for seniors. Those interested in Nannies & Housekeepers U.S.A. can call 451-0012.