Sunday, September 30, 2012
"BEIJING — The youngest son of Bo Xilai, the former Communist Party leader who is expected to be tried on a wide range of criminal charges, has released a statement defending his father as “upright in his beliefs and devoted to duty.”"
'via Blog this'
"Will Harry Potter fans enjoy JK Rowling's first adult book, "The Casual Vacancy"? The answer, I believe, is yes."
'via Blog this'
"ZHENGDING County, China — Thirty years ago, a young government official with a plum job in Beijing made an odd request: reassignment to a poor rural area."
'via Blog this'
Saturday, September 29, 2012
"Competing teams of Australian scientists have given that country a significant lead in an increasingly intense international competition to build a working quantum computer."
'via Blog this'
"Kenneth Saul "Ken" Rogoff (born March 22, 1953) is currently the Thomas D. Cabot Professor of Public Policy and Professor of Economics at Harvard University. He is also a chess Grandmaster."
This Time is Different: Amazon
'via Blog this'
By DAVID TREUER
Published: September 29, 2012
A version of this op-ed appeared in print on September 30, 2012, on page SR8 of the National edition with the headline: Kill the Indians, Then Copy Them.
"IN the noisy American debate over immigration reform, something important seems to have escaped notice: time, and common-sense decisions by Mexican migrants, have brought us nearly everything immigration reform was supposed to achieve."
'via Blog this'
WORKING out of cramped, bare offices in a downtown building here in Washington, President-elect Obama’s economic team spent the final weeks of 2008 trying to assess how bad the economy was. It was during those weeks, according to several members of the team, when they first discussed academic research by the economists Carmen M. Reinhart and Kenneth S. Rogoff that would soon become well known.
Ms. Reinhart and Mr. Rogoff were about to publish a book based on earlier academic papers, arguing that financial crises led to slumps that were longer and deeper than other recessions. Almost inevitably, the economists wrote, policy makers battling a crisis made the mistake of thinking that their crisis would not be as bad as previous ones. The wry title of the book is “This Time Is Different.”
In my interviews with Obama advisers during that time, they emphasized that they knew the history and were determined to avoid repeating it. Yet of course they did repeat it. After successfully preventing another depression, in 2009, they have spent much of the last three years underestimating the economy’s weakness. That weakness, in turn, has become Mr. Obama’s biggest vulnerability, helping cost Democrats control of the House in 2010 and endangering his accomplishments elsewhere.
Entire books and countless articles have taken Mr. Obama to task on the economy, and administration officials have a rebuttal that makes a couple of important points. The Federal Reserve and many private-sector economists were also too optimistic, Obama aides note. And they argue that the Senate would not have passed a much larger stimulus in 2009, given Republican opposition, regardless of the White House’s wishes.
But from these reasonable points, the Obama team then jumps to a larger and more dubious conclusion: that their failure to grasp the severity of the slump has had no real consequences. Even if they had seen the slow recovery coming, they say, they couldn’t have done much about it. When Mr. Obama has been asked about his biggest mistake, he talks about messaging, not policy.
“The mistake of my first term — couple of years — was thinking that this job was just about getting the policy right,” he has said. “The nature of this office is also to tell a story to the American people that gives them a sense of unity and purpose and optimism, especially during tough times.”
We can never know for sure what the past four years would have been like if the administration and the Fed had been more worried about the economy. But my reading of the evidence — and some former Obama aides agree — points strongly to the idea that the misjudging of the downturn did affect policy and ultimately the economy.
Mr. Obama’s biggest mistake as president has not been the story he told the country about the economy. It’s the story he and his advisers told themselves.
The notion of insurance is useful here. Suggesting that Mr. Obama and his aides should have bucked the consensus forecast and decided that a long slump was the most likely outcome smacks of 20/20 hindsight. Yet that wasn’t their only option. They also could have decided that there was a substantial risk of a weak recovery and looked for ways to take out insurance.
By late 2008, the full depth of the crisis was not clear, but enough of it was. A few prominent liberal economists were publicly predicting a long slump, as was Mr. Rogoff, a Republican. The Obama team openly compared its transition to Franklin D. Roosevelt’s and, in private, discussed the Reinhart-Rogoff work.
So why didn’t that work do more to affect the team’s decisions?
There are two main answers. First, the situation was unlike anything any living policy maker had previously experienced, and it was deteriorating quickly. Although officials talked about the Depression, they struggled to treat the downturn as fundamentally different from a big, relatively brief recession.
“The numbers got ramped up,” one former White House official told me, referring to the planned size of the stimulus in late 2008. “But the basic frame did not get altered.” In particular, the administration did not imagine that the economy would still need major help well beyond 2009 and that Congress would not comply.
The second problem was that Mr. Obama and his advisers believed — correctly — that they and the Fed were already responding more aggressively than governments had in past crises. Even before the election, President George W. Bush signed the financial bailout, a decidedly un-Hooveresque policy. The Fed began flooding the economy with money. The Obama administration pushed for the stimulus and, with the Fed, conducted successful stress tests on banks.
Whatever the political debate over these measures, the economic evidence suggests they made a large difference. Analyses by the Congressional Budget Office and other nonpartisan economists have come to this conclusion. Europe, which was less aggressive, has fared worse. And the chronology of the crisis tells the same story.
In 2008 and early 2009, the global economy was deteriorating even more rapidly than in 1929, according to research by Barry Eichengreen and Kevin H. O’Rourke. Global stock prices and trade dropped more sharply. But the policy response this time was vastly different, and by the spring of 2009 — just as the measures were taking effect — the economy stabilized.
In this success came the seeds of future failures. Knowing in late 2008 how much policy help was on the way, Mr. Obama and his economic advisers decided that the disturbing pattern of financial crises was not directly relevant. “In a way, they fell into a ‘This Time Is Different’ trap,” another former White House official said.
A banner headline in The Financial Times in June 2009 pronounced the White House “Upbeat on Economy.” Nine months later, after the recovery had run into new problems, the administration said the economy was on the verge of “escape velocity.”
Even now, the Obama team sometimes suggests that the weak recovery isn’t related to the financial crisis. Some problems, like the rise in oil prices, are not in fact related. Many others, like Europe’s troubles and this country’s still-depressed consumer spending, are.
Imagine if the transition team had instead placed, say, 25 percent odds on a protracted slump. Political advisers like David Axelrod would have immediately understood the consequences. Mr. Obama’s policies would look like a failure during the midterm campaign, and the prospects of winning additional stimulus would dwindle. Which is exactly what happened.
Contemplating this outcome, the new administration would have had urgent reasons to take out insurance policies. For starters, Mr. Obama would indeed have told a different story about the economy. Rather than promising a “recovery summer” in 2010, he and his aides would have cautioned patience. Bill Clinton’s recent Democratic convention speech was a model.
More concretely, the administration would have looked for every possible lever to lift the economy. Despite Republican opposition, such levers existed.
Upon taking office, Mr. Obama could have immediately nominated people to fill the Fed’s seven-member Board of Governors, rather than leaving two openings. Ben S. Bernanke, the chairman, works hard to achieve consensus on the Fed’s policy committee, and in 2010 and 2011 the committee was skewed toward officials predicting — wrongly, we now know — that inflation was a bigger threat than unemployment.
TWO more appointees may well have shifted the debate and caused the Fed to have been less cautious. After the vacancies were finally filled this year, the Fed took further action.
The administration also could have added provisions to the stimulus bill that depended on the economy’s condition. So long as job growth remained below a certain benchmark, federal aid to states and unemployment benefits could have continued flowing. Crucially, these provisions would not have added much to the bill’s price tag. Because the Congressional Budget Office’s forecast was also too optimistic, the official budget scoring would have assumed that the provisions would have been unlikely to take effect. They would have been insurance.
Perhaps most important, the administration might have taken a different path on housing. With the auto industry and Wall Street, Mr. Obama accepted the political costs that come with bailouts. He rescued arguably undeserving people in exchange for helping the larger economy. With housing, he went the other way, even leaving some available rescue money unspent — at least until last year, when the policy became more aggressive and began to have a bigger effect.
No one of these steps, or several other plausible ones, would have fixed the economy. But just as the rescue programs of early 2009 made a big difference, a more aggressive program stretching beyond 2009 almost certainly would have made a bigger difference. It would have had the potential to smooth out the stop-and-start nature of the recovery, which has sapped consumer and business confidence and become a problem in its own right.
By any measure, Mr. Obama and his team faced a tremendously difficult task. They inherited the worst economy in 70 years, as well as an opposition party that was dedicated to limiting the administration to one term and that fought attempts at additional action in 2010 and 2011. And the administration can rightly claim to have performed better than many other governments around the world.
But their claim on having done as well as could reasonably have been expected — to have avoided major mistakes — is hard to accept. They considered the possibility of a long, slow recovery and rejected it.
In the early months of the crisis, Mr. Obama and his aides made clear that they would try to learn from the errors of the Great Depression and do better. They achieved that goal. They also left a whole lot of lessons for the people who will have to battle the next financial crisis.
A version of this news analysis appeared in print on September 30, 2012, on page SR1 of the National edition with the headline: Obamanomics: A Counterhistory.NYT
Friday, September 28, 2012
"PARIS — President François Hollande, a Socialist who won election this year on a pro-growth platform, presented a budget on Friday that would produce the biggest cut in the public deficit in 30 years while raising the top rate for the wealthiest taxpayers to 75 percent."
'via Blog this'
"BEIJING — Chinese leaders announced on Friday that Bo Xilai, a disgraced Communist Party aristocrat, had been expelled from the party and would be prosecuted on criminal charges, as the date for the 18th Party Congress, climaxing China’s once-a-decade leadership transition, was scheduled to start on Nov. 8."
'via Blog this'
In September 2012 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released the findings of its National Child Restraint Use Special Study, a national survey of child restraint system use in children from birth to age 8.
The study revealed five significant and common car seat mistakes.
1. Using the wrong harness slot. When it comes to car seat harnesses, best practice dictates that in rear-facing seats the slots at or below the child’s shoulders should be used. For forward-facing seats, the slots at or above the child’s shoulders should be used. According to the study, when the wrong slots are used it can increase the risk of excessive excursion.
2. Improper chest clip positioning. The proper place for the chest clip to be positioned is at armpit level. When the chest clip is positioned over the abdomen, down by the crotch, or not used at all it can also increase the risk of excessive excursion.
3. Loose installation. Car seats should not move more than one inch front to back or side-to-side across the belt path. Loose installation may allow for excessive movement of the seat which could increase the risk of injury.
4. Loose harness straps. The harness straps of a child’s car seat should be snug and there should be no slack when pinched at the child’s shoulder. Loose straps not only can result in a greater risk of excessive excursion, but can increase the risk of ejection and injury.
5. Improper belt positioning in booster seats. When riding in a booster seat, the lap belt should lie snugly across the child’s thighs, not across the stomach, and the shoulder belt should lie snugly across the shoulder, and not the child’s neck, chest, or face. Improper positioning of seatbelts can increase the risk of excessive excursion and abdominal injury.
The study also cited that one in five parents do not read any instructions when installing their child’s car seat. Reading the car seat installation manual carefully can help prevent critical misuses that can increase the risk of injury in the event of a motor vehicle crash.
SafeKids and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administrator encourage everyone to conduct an at-home car seat safety check.
In addition to reading the car seat installation manual, parents and caregivers should be sure that:
1. The child is in the right seat for his age, weight, and height.
2. The car seat is placed in the back seat and that all children under the age of 13 ride in the back seat.
3. Children use rear-facing car seats for as long as possible, until he outgrows the seat.
4. The installed seat can’t be moved more than one inch front to back or side-to-side along the belt path.
5. The child’s harness is in the correct slots and that, when in use, they’re adjusted snugly with the chest clip at armpit level. Parents and caregivers should not be able to pinch the straps at the child’s shoulder once he’s properly fastened in.
When it comes to car seat safety, parents and caregivers must be on the same page. An agreement to follow best practices should be made and parents and caregivers should commit to ensuring that all passengers are properly secured in an appropriate car seat restraint system at all times.Taken From Au Pair Care
Your child’s room, whether he’s a newborn or a teenager, should be a safe haven for him to retreat to. Ensuring that his personal space is as safe and free from potential hazards as possible is a parent’s responsibility, and it can seem like a daunting one. While every room and every house will contain their own individual hazards and injury risks, these 10 tips can help you reduce some common dangers in your child’s room.
- Use Low-VOC Paints – VOCs, or volatile organic compounds, are harmful substances that evaporate from paint as it dries. Many of these are toxic to humans and can be released from the paint for years after it’s been applied, making it a dangerous choice for kids’ rooms. If you’re decorating a nursery for a brand new bundle of joy or painting your tween’s room in a new house, it’s best to opt for low-VOC paint to protect his respiratory system.
- Keep Crib Bedding Simple – Fluffy, elaborate bedding is the cornerstone of dream nurseries and is showcased prominently in decorating magazine nursery features. These soft pillows, snuggly comforters, and beautiful crib bumpers are all aesthetically pleasing, but they can also be deadly. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that bedding for babies be as simple as possible to reduce the risk of SIDS, so if you do opt for the elaborate bedding set you’ve been dreaming of, you should remove it all before putting your baby down for the night.
- Use Safety Rails on “Big Kid” Beds – When your toddler graduates to a “big kid” bed he should have safety rails on the bed until you’re absolutely sure that he won’t take any midnight tumbles. For older children with bunk beds, those rails should be in place for as long as the top bunk has any chance of being used. Even teens and young adults shouldn’t sleep in loft beds or top bunks with no safety rails.
- Install and Maintain Smoke Alarms – Smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors are such obvious safety measures that they can simply slip parents’ minds. Be sure that you install and maintain these alarms, changing the batteries twice each year and testing them periodically to ensure their functionality.
- Anchor Shelves and Heavy Furniture to Walls – Children will, when left to their own devices, scale shelves, chests, and dressers to reach items that are calling to them from high off the ground. Because you can’t thwart this dangerous behavior 100% of the time, it’s best to ensure that all of these pieces of furniture are securely anchored to the wall to prevent them from tipping over and falling on your child as he climbs them.
- Choose Safe Window Treatments – While you should never place a baby’s crib or a child’s bed near the window, you should still make sure that all blind cords and curtain ties are out of reach to reduce choking and strangulation risks. There are cord winders on the market specifically designed to keep window treatments kid-safe.
- Keep Toys Age-Appropriate – When a friend or relative gifts your child with an expensive or heirloom toy, it’s tempting to put it in your child’s room before he’s quite old enough to play with it. If these toys have small pieces that present a choking risk, heavy pieces that could fall on him, or moving parts that could pinch, it’s best to keep them in storage until he’s old enough for those toys to be safe for him.
- Opt For Toy Boxes With Removable Lids – Old-fashioned toy boxes with hinged lids can crush your little one’s fingers if they fall, which isn’t altogether unlikely. To keep tiny hands safe, it’s best to opt for toy boxes with lids that are completely removed.
- No Locking Doors – Your child’s room should not have a door that locks if he’s very young, to prevent him from accidentally locking you out and finding himself stranded in his bedroom alone. If his doorknob does have a working lock, you should at least ensure that you can easily and quickly pick the lock yourself from the outside. If not, the knob should be changed.
- Choose Night Lights That Stay Cool – When little ones aren’t quite comfortable in the dark, a night light can be their best friend. Some models can generate quite a bit of heat, however, leaving the bulb hot enough to scorch sensitive skin. If your child needs a night light in his room, be sure to find one that stays cool to the touch. For all outlets, remove the standard outlet plate and replace it with a protective outlet cover. This will keep unused outlets secure and will automatically slide shut when cords are unplugged.
After setting up your child’s room, it’s best to walk through it with your eyes open to any possible safety hazards. Crouch, kneel, or crawl to get on your child’s level, paying close attention to anything that he can easily reach.Taken From Babysitting
Because a working parent’s professional holiday schedule rarely coincides with their children’s school holidays, spring break can present a childcare logistics nightmare for parents who are unable to take extra time off work. One week is just long enough to make stringing together a handful of separate caregivers a challenge, but doesn’t seem to be long enough to justify the hiring of a private nanny. Rather than taking paid personal or vacation days to stay home with your children, consider one of these 10 spring break childcare options.
- Consider a High School Student – If you have a high school-aged babysitter that frequently cares for your children on evenings and weekends, she might be the ideal solution to your spring break childcare conundrum. In most cases, entire school systems share scheduled breaks, meaning there’s a very good chance that she’ll be out of school for her own spring break while you’re children are released from their classes.
- Contact a Nanny Agency – Many parents never consider contacting a nanny agency for spring break or summer vacation care because they assume that these agencies only handle permanent postings. However, there are actually many nanny agencies on both the local and national level across the United States that offer temporary nanny placement services for just these sorts of situations.
- Begin Interviewing For a Temp Nanny Well in Advance – If you’re considering a temporary nanny you hire yourself, rather than one suggested by an agency, you should conduct the interview and screening process well in advance. Obtaining the results of background checks and reference inquiries can take longer than you may first think which could leave you scrambling to complete the process when spring break arrives.
- Look Into a Nanny Share – Asking friends, neighbors, or family members that engage full-time nannies if they would be willing to consider a nanny share can be a great way of finding temporary childcare. Provided that the nanny in question is willing to extend her services for the week and her employers aren’t opposed to the idea, a nanny share might be a viable solution.
- Discuss the Possibility of Family Care – There are several reasons why parents with extended family nearby opt not to use family-based childcare, not least of which is the possibility of dispute over payment or hours. If you have family nearby and a member is willing to provide limited childcare for the week of spring break, the short duration of the appointment might prevent any problems.
- Check Out Community Programs – Community centers, like the YMCA and locally-run organizations that are similar often have spring and summer programs in place for children. These programs keep kids entertained and out of trouble, and may be more popular with older children than the idea of a nanny or babysitter.
- Contact Your Place of Worship – Some religious organizations and places of worship have school break programs in place that provide spiritual instruction and childcare during the time that school would normally be in session. Contacting a member of your clergy should help you find any pertinent information.
- Participate in a Childcare Co-Op – Babysitting cooperatives are becoming more and more popular with urban and suburban parents, and might be just the solution you’re looking for. Structuring a childcare “trade,” or co-op, is a great way to ensure that your children are in the hands of a trusted, capable parent while you’re at work, and you can then return the favor for them on evenings or weekends. These arrangements are especially effective when your children are friends with the other co-op parents’ children, as it feels less like being babysat and more like a play date.
- Explore Center-Based Care Options – While some daycare centers do not accept temporary enrollment over spring and summer break for older children, there are many that do. Exploring the center-based care options at your disposal for the week of spring break may be the best option for your family, depending upon your individual needs.
- Place and Answer Classified Ads – In the months leading up to spring break, placing and answering classified ads, either online or in print, can help you secure a temporary childcare provider. Should you choose this route, it’s important that you carefully check her references and run a thorough background check before she begins working.
If you’ll be hiring a babysitter or temporary nanny to care for your children in your home over the week of spring break, it’s important that you research and adhere to the tax laws of your state, as well as any and all Federal tax laws. Depending on how much she earns for the week, you may be required to pay employment taxes in order to be compliant with “nanny tax” laws.Taken From Summer Nanny
The highest priority of any parent or quality childcare provider is ensuring the safety of the children under their care. The world can be a very dangerous place, and many of the hazards are all but hidden to inexperienced youngsters. If you’re responsible for the wellbeing of a child and are the owner of an iPhone, there are several applications in the App Store designed to help you keep your little ones safe. From product recalls to content filters, here are 10 of the best child safety apps available for the iPhone.
- FBI Child ID – No parent or caregiver wants to think about the possibility of a child going missing, but unfortunately from time to time it does happen. With the free FBI Child ID app you can save and organize personal information relevant to your child for use by law enforcement professionals. The app also provides tips for helping keep kids safe from harm in the first place, making it a great resource for anyone responsible for the care of a child.
- Consmr Reviews – Grocery, Baby & Health Product Barcode Scanner – Choosing the best and safest products for your child can be a challenge when you’re browsing the available options at a brick-and-mortar store, as there are no helpful product reviews sitting on the shelves alongside the many options. With this free app, you’ll be able to scan product barcodes to access allergy information, hidden food ingredients, and product reviews from real users.
- Sex Offender Search – While you cannot legally act on the information in any way, being aware of any sex offenders that live in your area is essential for the parents and caregivers of children. Registering for an account will also allow you to sign up for monthly update emails that notify you of any new offenders in the area, keeping your knowledge of the neighborhood and its residents current.
- Child Safety Poison – Kids, especially very young ones, explore the world using all of their senses to gather information. Unfortunately that means that a lot of dangerous substances can end up in their mouths. It only takes a single unsupervised moment for a child to gain access to and ingest poisonous substances, but this $4.99 app will let you know exactly how to treat a child who’s managed to swallow any one of the 252 household substances or 72 plants stored in its database. Of course, Child Safety Poison is no substitute for medical attention, which you should seek immediately if you suspect that a child has ingested a poisonous substance.
- Evoz – Imagine being able to listen to your baby from the office, the gym, or during your morning commute with a few taps of your iPhone’s screen. With the free Evoz app, that scenario is no longer a far-fetched one. The app will even push notifications or send emails when your infant cries, allowing you to track and monitor sleeping patterns all day long. There are no range limitations, so you can monitor the activity in your home and your baby’s sleeping habits from anywhere.
- iHound – Using GPS technology, iHound allows parents to track the movements of every member of the family. Know when your children arrive at their designated destinations, and if they leave them unexpectedly. In addition to providing you with valuable information regarding the whereabouts of your children, iHound also allows you to communicate with a lost or stolen iPhone.
- Nearparent – When children get old enough to explore the world and spend relatively unsupervised time with their friends, the ability to check in periodically to let you know they’re okay is invaluable. As an added bonus, this free app also allows parents to receive notifications when a child leaves a designated “safe” zone and gives you contextual weather warnings.
- Life 360 Family Locator – Know where every member of your family is at any given time and stay informed of any safety hazards in their area with Life360′s Family Locator. Available for free in the App Store, this app even allows you to track family members that have regular cellphones. There’s no need to buy pricey smartphones for young children in order to keep tabs on their location.
- Pocket First Aid & CPR from the American Heart Association – Knowing how to properly perform CPR and administer first aid is one of the most essential skills a parent or childcare provider can master. From the United States’ largest and most venerable voluntary health organization, Pocket First Aid & CPR provides you with valuable information, including child and infant CPR techniques.
- Mobicip – Before presenting your child with his first iPhone, be sure to install this $4.99 app to protect him from questionable or objectionable content. Your youngster will only be able to access age-appropriate content, even providing safe and non-threatening YouTube usage.
While your iPhone can be a powerful tool for ensuring the safety of your children or charges, it’s important to remember that it can also become dangerous if it presents a distraction. Never text, email, or use complex apps while driving or performing other tasks that require your full attention. Be sure to comply with all local and state laws regarding the use of a hands-free headset for voice calls while driving, and that your phone use doesn’t affect your ability to supervise the children under your care.Taken From Babysitting Jobs
Many times the need to make a hiring decision about a nanny candidate is one where time is of the essence. Parents need to find the right person for the very important task of taking care of their children, and oftentimes they need to make their hiring decision sooner rather than later so that they can return to work or secure a caregiver they know is in high demand. When there is pressure to make a quick hiring decision, sending an e-mailed thank you letter is appropriate, according to Monster.com.
According to interviewing etiquette, a thank you letter should be sent within 24 hours of the interview. In the digital age, having an email from a nanny candidate pop up in a parent’s inbox will keep the nanny’s name in the front of the parent’s mind and present the parent with an opportunity to quickly respond. In fact, in some cases, the thank you letter could make the difference between a nanny getting the job or not. A quickly sent thank you letter shows a family that a nanny is highly interested in the position and has a courteous, respectful nature.
When sending a thank you letter, nannies should be sure to thank the parents for the opportunity to interview for the position. Nannies should stress how interested they are in the position and include how their qualifications will complement the job’s requirements and the family’s expectations. If a nanny forgot to tell the family any of her qualifications, this is her last chance to do so before the parents make their decision. Nannies should recap any conversational highlights so that a positive impression stays fresh in the parent’s mind after reading the letter. Nannies may also wish to include something personal about the children in the letter to show their interest in them. The focus of the letter should be on the connection the nanny felt with the family.
If there’s time, nannies should follow up with a hand written letter. This is another opportunity to keep their name in front of the employer. A handwritten letter is better than a formal, typed letter because of the intimate nature of the position a nanny is applying for.
Lastly, nannies should read over the e-mail before it is sent off. They should make sure that there are no typos, misspellings, or grammatical errors. The tone should be friendly, but still businesslike. Nannies should not be presumptuous, but should make it known that they are interested in the job.
To make sure the e-mail is opened the subject line should be clear and read something like, “Thank you – Nanny Position”. The body of the e-mail will look much like a regular letter. Use Mr. or Mrs. and the last name in the salutation. Close the letter with a proper closing, using sincerely or kindest regards. The nanny should include her name, e-mail, and phone number on the bottom of the letter so that their contact information is readily available.
Remember that the thank you letter is not the place to ask questions about salary or benefits. Those details should be discussed during a second interview, once the nanny and parents have both expressed an interest in working together. Thank you letters should be brief and to the point.Taken From Nanny Interview Questions
Whether the appeal is based on smaller class sizes, higher educational standards, or spiritual instruction, some parents view a private education as a non-negotiable expense when it comes to the care of their children. Depending upon the area and the focus of the school, however, tuition can be quite pricey. Saving for private school isn’t always easy, but the global village created by the blogosphere allows other parents and financial experts to share their advice and opinions. If you’re looking for the best way to finance a private education for your child, these 30 blog entries are great places to start.
Coverdell Education Savings Accounts
Created as an incentive for parents to save money for contributions towards their children’s educational costs, Coverdell Education Savings Accounts are designed to allow parents to contribute up to $2,000 each year without being taxed for distribution. Any public, private, or religious school that provides either elementary or secondary education is considered an eligible expense, meaning that these accounts can be used for your child’s private elementary or high school education. These five blogs examine Coverdell Education Savings Accounts in greater depth.
- Coverdell Education Savings Accounts
- Coverdell ESA
- How to Save With Coverdell Education Savings Accounts
- Saving For A Child’s Education
- How to Use a Coverdell Education Savings Account
Though returns on investments in a mutual fund may not be exempt from taxes like contributions to a Coverdell ESA are, they can still be great ways to generate money for use towards your child’s educational expenses. Fees and limited predictability have been known to scare parents away from using mutual fund investments as a means of saving for an education fund, but the government oversight and professional management of investments is appealing to others.
- Mutual Funds: What and Why?
- Bryan Binkholder Discusses Why You Should Ignore Mutual Fund Past Performance Returns
- The Truth About Mutual Funds: Fees: Vs. Returns
- Picking The Best Target-Date Mutual Fund
- Mutual Funds That Reduce Your Taxes
Financial Aid Programs
Many parents are surprised to learn that there are some financial aid programs in place for hopeful private school students, both through the school itself and private foundations. Finding these programs can be slightly tricky, but a visit to the financial aid officer at your chosen school can put you on the right track. These five blogs discuss various financial aid programs for private elementary and high schools, and can give you an idea of what’s available.
- Private School Financial Aid Help
- Financial Aid for Private K-12 Schools
- Financing a Private School Education
- Private Elementary School Loans
- How to Get Financial Assistance for Private School Tuition
Those paper bonds that your grandmother bought for every gift-giving occasion might have gone the way of the dinosaur, but I Bonds are still a low-risk method of saving money to put towards kids’ educational expenses. Purchasing I Bonds during your child’s infancy and early years can help you save a considerable nest egg that can offset tuition costs for quite some time. While this money isn’t exempt from taxes like some other education savings plans, it can still be an effective way of saving for anticipated private school expenses.
- Education Savings Plans
- Investing in I Savings Bonds: Basic Facts
- Help in Buying Digital Savings Bonds
- Income Tax Planning For Savings Bonds
- Investing With Savings Bonds
Private Education Tuition Versus College Funds
While the idea of forgoing a college fund is downright repellent to some parents, there are those who feel that providing a strong, private elementary and high school education for twelve years of their child’s life is a more important and more worthwhile investment than four years of college. Belief that private school students are more likely to receive college scholarships and that university expenses should be the responsibility of a then-adult spur this movement on, as discussed in these five blog entries.
- Investing In Your Child’s Future: Private School or College Savings?
- Should Parents Pay for College?
- Why I Don’t Worry About Paying for My Kids’ College Educations
- I Will Not Pay For My Children’s College Education, Part 2
- Private School Vs. College Savings: Which is the Better Investment For Your Kids?
Just as exceptional athletes and gifted scholars can be eligible for scholarships to offset the expense of their college education, there are various programs around the United States dedicated to providing outstanding students with scholarships for private elementary and high school educations. These five blogs touch upon this subject in greater depth, offering information about such programs and helping to connect hopeful parents with them.
- Private School Scholarship Programs
- Colorado Non-Public School Scholarships
- Scholarship Information
- Financial Aid Information
One of the most appealing aspects of utilizing a dedicated nanny agency to find and hire a nanny is that each candidate has been thoroughly screened and subjected to a series of tests and background checks prior to being hired, saving parents valuable time during the interview process. Though each agency has different standards and policies, there are a few criteria that are common among most of the more popular choices. Here are 10 of the ways that the agency you’ve chosen has probably screened your nanny before her resume ever made its way to you.
- Exhaustive Interviews – Reputable nanny agencies begin the process of accepting a nanny into their job pool or database with an exhaustive interview, much like a standard job interview that parents will later conduct with candidates they’re interested in. These interviews include pertinent questions about their work and educational history, any special certifications they have obtained, and other areas of concern that will later be verified through further screening.
- Drug Testing – Some established nanny agencies also include drug testing as part of their hiring process in order to ensure that childcare providers with substance abuse or addiction problems don’t obtain access to your home and children.
- Criminal Background Checks – While parents who choose to hire a nanny without the services of an agency are beginning to take advantage of criminal background checks, nanny agencies have been conducting these checks for years. Most agencies perform a background check once a candidate has been extended an offer of employment.
- Driving Record Checks – Verifying that nanny candidates have a clean driving record serves more than one purpose; in addition to screening out applicants that have an excessive number of accidents and moving violations, it can also return information regarding intoxicated driving or operating a vehicle while under the influence.
- Education and Credentials Confirmation – Ensuring that each candidate has reached the level of education that they claim is another screening process that many nanny agencies employ, which can eliminate those applicants that claim to have more advanced degrees or a higher education level than they actually possess.
- Resume Investigation – Employment history verification is a standard aspect of the screening process, and is done to ensure that all nanny applicants possess the level of experience that they state on their resume. Some agencies will contact each previous employer on a resume to show their diligence.
- Verification of References – Even agencies that don’t conduct exhaustive resume checks consisting of all or most of a nanny’s previous employers will make an effort to contact each reference that an applicant lists on her resume. Though you’ll probably call or email those references yourself when a promising candidate presents herself, there’s a very good chance that the agency who referred her completed that step when she joined their pool of candidates.
- CPR and First Aid Training Verification – Nannies without first aid and CPR training are often barred from submission to the job pool until they obtain those certifications and show evidence of completion to a placement agency, as the ability to effectively handle emergency care is one of the most important skills any nanny can have at her disposal.
- Psychological Testing – Personality tests and psychological screening are becoming more frequently used by placement agencies as there’s a growing number of services that boast these intensive screenings.
- Social Security Number Confirmation – Confirming that your nanny is legally eligible for employment in the United States or that an American-born citizen is who she claims to be is almost always accomplished through a Social Security Number-driven verification process. For workers that aren’t citizens but are eligible for employment, there are other steps that agencies can take to verify their identity; in the case of United States citizens, this screening process can also return address and employment history going back for several years, making it a valuable tool that nanny agencies seldom ignore.
Controversy surrounding online nanny services often stems from a misunderstanding of their role in the hiring and screening process. While Internet based referral sites like www.enannysource.com or www.nannypro.com give parents access the tools they need to do the same type of screenings that reputable agencies do, they also make it clear to parents that nannies in their pool are not prescreened and that screening potential nannies is the parent’s sole responsibility.Taken From Nanny Background Check
For a professional nanny, securing a post with a high-profile family can be a major accomplishment. Working for a celebrity or public figure can have lots of attractive perks and benefits, but the job also comes with an increased amount of responsibility. If you’ve recently been hired by a political figure or paparazzi target, here are 10 of the things that you should keep in mind.
- Be Prepared for an Erratic Schedule – Working for a celebrity, politician, or even a high-powered executive will almost certainly require you to work long and often erratic hours. Unlike typical posts that are usually more structured, you may very well be called in to work during the very early morning hours or in the middle of the afternoon, sometimes with little notice.
- Avoid The Barest Hint of Scandal – Anyone who is routinely in the public eye must carefully guard their reputation. Keep in mind that your bad behavior could reflect poorly on your employers if it’s discovered, and that you might be under more scrutiny than you bargained for. Accepting high-profile posts will require you to comport yourself with dignity and avoid any hint of scandal that could reflect negatively upon your employers.
- Discretion is Essential – Even if you haven’t signed a nondisclosure agreement, which is exceedingly rare for nannies employed by celebrities or public figures, it’s still important for you to respect your employers’ right to privacy. Spilling any information to tabloids or gossiping with other nannies are quick ways to lose your elite post and never obtain another of its caliber.
- Your Reputation is Everything – Working for families that are under constant public scrutiny will require you to carefully guard your reputation, especially if you plan to move on to other exclusive celebrity posts later. Avoiding any problems that could affect your reputation is imperative.
- Be Respectful of Boundaries – When your celebrity or public-figure employers return home after a challenging day, the last thing that they’ll want to deal with is a star-struck childcare provider. Never ask your employer for autographs or special favors, and respect their right to privacy and relaxation when they’re away from the scrutiny of the public eye.
- Get Ready to Travel – Celebrities, politicians, and other high-profile figures must be ready to travel at the drop of a hat, and often want their children to accompany them. As such, you’ll have to be prepared to travel extensively as well. Make sure that your passport is in order, and that you’re able to accommodate a jet-setting lifestyle.
- Be a Team Player – It’s not unheard of for the ultra-wealthy to employ more than one nanny, meaning that you may have to work with one, two, or even three other people to care for their brood. Nannies who are accustomed to working alone might find this difficult at first, but it is par for the course in high-profile assignments.
- Keep Security in Mind at All Times – It’s an unfortunate fact that fascination with public figures, celebrities, and artists is so great that their children must be guarded more carefully than others. Persistent photographers are a common problem, but you may also have to be concerned with kidnapping threats or stalkers in some cases. Remember that your high-profile charges will require more attention to security than those you’ve worked for previously.
- Don’t Expect Extravagant Perks – While your wealthy and prestigious employer may have the means of providing extravagant bonuses and perks, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they will. Rather than expecting these grand gestures, it’s best to approach the post from the financial standpoint that it’s no different from any other, and perhaps be pleasantly surprised.
- Focus on Your Own Career – Working directly for a celebrity or public figure can cause you to feel as if you have a unique perspective on their problems and concerns. Even if you do have a better understanding of them, it’s important for you to focus solely on your own career, and to leave the management of your employers’ to themselves.
Obtaining a post with a prestigious family means that you have the experience and great reputation necessary to land a coveted post. It’s important that you remember the professionalism that helped you land the job after you begin working for them, and do your best not to get carried away with the excitement of working for a high-profile family.Taken From Become a Nanny
One of the scariest things about hiring a nanny is the thought that your child will not like her and will be miserable under her care while you’re away. When your child is still a toddler there’s a good chance that she won’t have a strong enough grasp of language skills to give you a detailed account of the time that she spends with her nanny, leaving you on your own to determine much of how she feels. If your nanny arrives just before you leave the house and is out the door as soon as you walk in, evaluating the relationship she’s formed with your child can be even more difficult.
- Read Behavioral Cues – Observing how your child behaves when her nanny arrives or leaves is an effective method of gauging her feelings about the situation. Refusing to engage with her nanny when she arrives, fleeing from her when you return home, and showing little interest in any sort of goodbye at the end of the day might be an indicator that she’s not warming to the nanny. If your child is particularly prone to separation anxiety and has trouble when you leave the room, however, this method of evaluating the situation might not be as effective for you.
- Watch Them Interact With One Another – Ideally, your nanny will report to work early enough that you can observe how she interacts with your child before you leave and will remain in your home after you return to give you a summary of the day. It’s natural for your child to be more interested in your presence than that of a new nanny, but if she seems standoffish or hesitant to engage with the nanny, it could be an indicator that their relationship isn’t developing well.
- Ask Verbal Toddlers Questions About Nanny – While even verbally gifted toddlers aren’t likely to be advanced enough to offer you a discourse on the nanny’s methods and temperament, a few pointed questions posed to a toddler with some verbal acuity should give you a basic idea of her feelings regarding her nanny. Keep in mind, however, that a toddler isn’t always able to distinguish fantasy from reality and may inadvertently tell some tall tales along the way. Keeping your questions direct and to the point is the best way to make an attempt at uncovering your child’s feelings toward her nanny.
- Talk With the Nanny – Setting aside a bit of time each evening to ask your nanny for the highlights and big events of the day will allow you to get an idea of how they spend their time together, and how the relationship between them is progressing. An experienced professional will almost certainly address any issues regarding trouble they may be having in terms of establishing a bond, and may offer her own suggestions for ways that the situation might be remedied. A nanny that seems disinterested in your child’s opinion of her, however, simply may not be making any effort toward establishing a connection with her charges.
- Follow Your Instincts – Ultimately, no one knows your child as well as you do, even if she’s not able to verbally express herself very clearly. Following your own instincts regarding the nanny and any relationship that they may or may not be forming is one of the best ways to establish your own peace of mind in regard to the situation. If you don’t feel right about your nanny and suspect that your child doesn’t either, it may be best to end the relationship at the end of her trial period.
While it’s certainly disheartening to think that your child is being cared for by a nanny that she doesn’t like, it’s not necessarily cause for immediate concern or alarmist behavior. A personality clash is rarely indicative of abuse, and may resolve itself as your child becomes more accustomed to her nanny. This especially holds true if your child has never been cared for by anyone outside of her family or is mourning the loss of a beloved former nanny. Assuming that there are no signs of abuse and your nanny seems to be genuinely trying to win your child over, it might be best to take a wait-and-see approach before making any rash decisions. Some children are simply wary of new caregivers and require more time to adjust to a new situation than others.Taken From GoNannies
It’s amazing how much space kids can manage to take up with all of their belongings, despite their small size. Closet space, especially, always seems to be at a premium in the bedrooms of children. Managing the never-ending cycle of new clothes versus the newly outgrown, and organizing them so that they’re easily accessible, can feel like a full-time job after a while. These 10 organizational tips for kids’ closets can help you turn that insurmountable project into one that’s completed over the weekend and easy to maintain.
- Discard Outgrown Clothing – Kids seem to outgrow clothing at a staggering pace, making it easy for them to acquire a lot of clothes in no time at all. Sentimental parents, or those who are considering more additions to the family, may be reluctant to donate those items, despite how much space they’re taking up. If you fall into one of those camps, it’s okay to hold on to kids’ outgrown clothes, but you may want to move them into storage in another part of the house, rather than letting them continue to take up space in their closets.
- Use Bins, Cubbies, and Drawers – One long rod across a closet will only hold so many items, making shelving with bins, cubbies, and drawers a perfect way to maximize on space. Thinking vertically will allow you to store more folded clothing, shoes, and accessories than sticking with the traditional, single rod.
- Rotate Seasonal Clothes – Your little one isn’t likely to need a heavy coat in June or a pair of capris in January. Rotating allows more space for seasonally-appropriate clothing, making it easier for you and your child to see what’s in the closet. Cramming everything into the space will only make it difficult to sort through and manage.
- Label Everything – Those cubbies, bins, baskets, and drawer systems that you installed should be labeled clearly so that both you and your child are able to identify the contents without rifling through them. Unlabeled bins are just asking to be hastily scrambled through and emptied. Kids will rarely replace the contents with the same care that they were originally organized, leaving them a cluttered mess in no time.
- Pair Matching Outfits on One Hanger – Putting matching outfits on a single hanger will allow your child to confidently choose her own clothes, and will reduce clutter within the closet. Reducing the number of hangers will maximize the available space, allowing you more to work with than if each item were hung individually.
- Days-of-the-Week Hanging Shelves – Hanging shelving units with at least seven shelves is a great way to organize kids’ outfits throughout the week. Label each shelf accordingly, and make a habit of choosing an entire week’s worth of clothing at a time. This will simplify your kids’ morning routine, and keep them from rifling through the closet in a frenzy and disturbing your organizational system.
- Opt for Specially-Designed Kids’ Hangers – Because kids’ clothing is so much smaller than that of their adult counterparts, smaller hangers designed especially for their clothes are a better choice. Their more compact shape and design allows you to comfortably hang more clothing than you could with larger, clunkier hangers meant for adults’ clothes.
- Consider Adjustable Systems – Installing adjustable shelving and a closet organizational system will allow your child’s closet to grow with her, potentially eliminating the need for an expensive overhaul when she gets older.
- Utilize Over-the-Door Storage – Closets with traditional doors offer a great opportunity for additional storage through the use of hooks, hanging shoe bags, or additional shelving. Taking advantage of every available inch of space is the most effective way of maximizing a closet’s storage potential.
- Remember That Organization is an Ongoing Project – Maintaining an organized and efficient kids’ closet is an ongoing project that requires periodic culling of outgrown clothes, integration of new items, and adjustments for changing sizes and styles. Making a habit of immediately pulling outgrown items will reduce the frequency with which you’ll have to maintain the project, but will not eliminate that need altogether.
Good organization becomes even more important when more than one child shares a single closet, and can also become more of a difficult task. Working out a system of division and storage is the best way to prevent arguments and excessive clutter, along with labeling each child’s personal areas of the space. Designating a bin at the top of the closet or a hamper as a “donation” box is also an effective way of ensuring that outgrown clothes are taken out of rotation.Taken From Housekeeping
No nanny enjoys having to discuss tough topics with her employer. However, whether it’s discussing the dangers of their toddler riding in a booster seat (even if it’s “just on the weekends”) to reminding them of the inherent risk that comes along with learning to ride a bicycle (never mind without wearing a helmet), nannies are often forced to confront their bosses with safety concerns.
For nannies there is a fine line between being a child’s advocate and being subordinate to her employers. Every nanny has a personal safety line that she simply isn’t willing to cross, regardless of who instructs her to do so. When something her employer does approaches that line, intentionally or not, it’s enough to send a shudder down any nanny’s spine.
While addressing the issue directly in a professional manner is typically the most clear cut way to bring up an issue, for some nannies that type of voluntary confrontation is just too much. For others, they’re well aware that their employer best receives and processes information when seeing it, so they know that sending an email or leaving out literature is the most effective way to bring up tough topics.
So besides simply putting her concerns out there, how can a nanny respectfully broach safety concerns with her boss without coming across as judgmental or insulting?
1. Ask a question. “Oh, does that harness look right to you?” “Have you heard that they recently changed the recommendations on rear-facing seats?” “Did the pediatrician mention anything about giving cough medication to children under two?” “Do you think we should ask the doctor about that?” Asking a question opens the door to discussion. “You know, now that I’ve asked you that I recall reading that the harness should be at or below a child’s shoulders when rear-facing. Let me check the seat manual.”
2. Make a mention. Casually bringing up a topic in discussion is another way to open the door to conversation and request that action be taken. “I saw on the news this morning that a child fell out of a second story window and died. Now is probably a good time to add window guards upstairs.” “I got an alert that drop-side cribs were recalled. I’ll check to see if ours was part of the recall.” “A nanny friend mentioned that her charge was injured when riding her bike barefoot. We should definitely make sure Susie always has her sneakers on when riding.”
3. Send an email link. For employers who are used to receiving important messages digitally, sending an email may be an effective way to bring up a safety concern. “Hey, I came across this video that showed how infants should look when fastened into the car seats properly. Check out the chest clips.” “Did you see the new recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics on treating fevers? See attached.” “Wow, one child dies every week during the summer months in a kiddie pool. Don’t we have that one in the video? We should be extra cautious, for sure.”
4. Leave out literature. Leave a copy of your favorite magazine article or medical study that addresses the topic you want to bring up out and open to the page. Write on a sticky note, “Interesting read” and place it on the page. Follow up the next day by asking if she had a chance to read it.
5. Be a role model. Let the parents see you taking proper safety precautions and hear you talking through why you have specific rules or do things a specific way. Upholding the highest safety standards naturally lends itself to employers comparing the way you both do certain things. While nannies should never put the children in a position to communicate safety messages to their parents, they should be prepared for that to happen. If you have an outspoken youngster, chances are she’s going to tell her parents her car seat buckle isn’t tight enough or that her nanny says, “We always have to wear our helmets when riding our bicycle.”
In an ideal world, nannies and parents would feel comfortable freely offering constructive criticism to each other, but in reality that’s simply not the case. Parents and nannies should strive to have open and honest communication and to discuss any issues or concerns as they come up. For those who get weak in the knees at the thought of having to confront an employer, utilizing a communication technique to bring up the topic allows them to get the job done in a non confrontational way.Taken From 4Nannies