Nannies & Housekeepers
Nannies are more than just Babysitters
In the NEWS
It’s not unusual for Dawn Schrader to race up and down the hallways of Las Vegas’ grand hotels or jump rope inside their luxurious suites.
Those are just a couple of ways the local professional nanny entertains her young charges while their vacationing parents leave them in her care for a few hours to have dinner and see a show, or for an entire day while mom and/or dad attends a business meeting, convention or other event.
No matter the assignment, Schrader, who has worked for the Las Vegas-based Nannies & Housekeepers U.S.A. agency for nearly five years, reports to every job dressed in the company’s uniform (khaki pants and a polo shirt) and toting a “Mary Poppins”-type bag brimming with age-appropriate activities for the little ones.
“I always try to bring games, books, crafts, coloring (supplies),” as well as “something fun,” like a beach ball, explained Schrader, a 47-year-old North Las Vegas mother of two. “I love to watch what they connect with. Some children are artistic and love to draw and color. Some kids are hands-on and like to play.”
Schrader is one of the more than 250 nannies employed by Nannies & Housekeepers U.S.A. The licensed employment agency was founded a dozen years ago by Lexy Capp, who noticed a lack of nanny agencies when she moved to Southern Nevada from Los Angeles in the late 1980s.
“You used to hear the word ‘nanny’ and you’d think, ‘That sounds expensive.’ But now, a lot of people need a nanny,” Capp said. “It’s not like it used to be when extended family (lived) within a five-mile radius” and could help parents with child care. “So there’s a real need for this, and there’s an art to it.”
Capp has expanded her business over the years to also provide such services as household management, personal chefs, butlers, drivers and personal assistants. Most services are available on a permanent, temporary or on-call/as-needed basis. The company has also developed on-call baby-sitting, housekeeping and pet-sitting registries, for which clients pay a membership fee to utilize services.
Nannies can be hired to work in area homes, as well as at hotels. Salary costs vary depending on each job’s specific requirements, but Capp said her nannies usually start out earning $12 per hour.
“In Europe, the art of being a nanny is highly regarded. Over there, when you say you’re a nanny, it’s like being a doctor,” Capp explained. One of her goals when founding Nannies & Housekeepers U.S.A., which last year was named national agency of the year by the Association of Premier Nanny Agencies organization, was to develop that type of credibility for the profession stateside.
“I think families are understanding that there’s a difference between a baby sitter and a nanny,” said Becky Kavanagh, co-president of the International Nanny Association, which will host its annual conference in May in Las Vegas. Nannies & Housekeepers U.S.A. is among the trade association’s 800 members worldwide.
Nannies “really have to be passionate about working with children,” Kavanagh said, and be “really fascinated by children and able to meet their developmental needs, so they do have to have some understanding of those milestones and how to get the child to the next one. I think they have to be fun-loving. Yes, you get to play, but play is the work of a child, so it is a serious business.”
In an effort to hire what she calls the “cream of the crop” for her agency, Capp requires that all nanny candidates be at least 20 years old, legal to work in the United States and have at least two years of previous experience in the field with verifiable references. Nannies must also be first-aid trained and CPR certified. Applicants are subjected to various extensive background checks and drug screenings.
As many as 80 percent of the nannies on her staff are college educated, estimates Capp, who has employed current and retired schoolteachers and principals, foster parents and even doctors to work as nannies. “We want simply the best serving the best,” she explained. Nannies & Housekeepers U.S.A. accepts employment applications on its website, lasvegasnannies.com
Capp requires her staffers to participate in intensive, ongoing training seminars and workshops, including the company’s monthly “Steps to Excellence” events, where guest speakers include service-industry professionals from around the globe.
Nannies & Housekeepers U.S.A. will host an event April 28 in honor of National Nanny Training Day, being celebrated in cities throughout the United States and Canada. Nannies and child care providers (including those not affiliated with the agency) are welcome to attend the local event, being held at the Tuscany, where guest speakers will attempt to raise awareness about the importance of training for early child care providers, as well as the level of quality nanny care. Additional information is available at lvnntd2012.eventbrite.com
“In the private service industry, it’s very important that we’re there to equip these (employees) to really go the distance and know how to serve,” Capp said. “It’s a privilege and an honor to be able to serve in someone’s home, so we equip them and motivate them and inspire them to do their job to the best of their ability.”
Even when clients are of the four-legged variety. Capp recalls an unusual pet-sitting assignment her agency once fulfilled for a woman vacationing with her small dog at an upscale Las Vegas resort. “She was going out to dinner,” and while under the pet sitter’s watch, Capp said, “her request was that the dog’s sweater be changed four times.”
Nannies & Housekeepers USA (702) 451-0021