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We're offering an early spring salad mix here: a report on the International Nanny Association's periodic Survey of Nanny Salaries and Benefits, a story about bees, and a health note on the updated classification of autistim in children. Dig in!

State of the Union: Nannies & Their Employers - Update 2009/2010

The latest update by the International Nanny Association (INA) of its periodic Survey of Nanny Salary and Benefits should interest both nannies and families: it addresses the state of the nanny in the United States and provides stats for both nannies and families seeking to understand chronic issues.

INA has done four surveys since the early '90's. This edition is a lot to wade through: many numbers, too many decimals (667 respondents, not thousands), and the order of information is sometimes confusing. Were offering some actual numbers to help you with perspective. That said, all these INA stats are listed with highest percentage first, so one way to get a quick picture is to read just the first few responses to each question. Most respondents:
  • noted that they were indeed nannies (not baby-sitters,) and not employers
  • were educated (high school up to four years of college)
  • had CPR training
  • were currently employed
  • had years of experience (much of it in longer-term jobs)
  • had taxes withheld
  • had paid vacation, holidays and sick days
  • were paid when employers themselves had days off
  • and got a raise in 2008.

While only 30 nannies reported having any nanny training, that is almost twice the number reported ten years ago, in the 1998 Survey. But the term nanny is now widely accepted, as demonstrated in the fact that 574 of the 667 respondents did refed to themselves that way.

And the level of education justifies the more professional title: just 3 reported elementa-ry schooling only, whereas in 1998, 38 out of 100 reported their education as nothing specific, almost 20 times as many as now.

If you see nannying as short-term or interim employment (e.g., for students or the un-employed), here is something: only 40 of the 2009 respondents had less than three years experience, compared to 59 of 100 in 1998. That would represent about a tenfold increase in nannies working long-term.

Longevity in a single job is up as well. In ’98 a year or more was considered the standard; this time, all 667 reported two years or more in at least one job. And the cur-rent position had lasted for 2 or more years for 433 nannies (65% -- with larger num-bers, percentages help!).

Suffice it to note that being a nanny holds more promise (and more prestige) than it did a decade ago. The accomplished nannies who responded this time represent an army of nannies who did not respond, -- but are they less accomplished, less educated, or less experienced?

Browse the whole Survey, especially the salary reports, and see what ] you think. FYI, INA notes pay by state; therefore the numbers are necessarily small, but nevertheless useful. Included also are comments from nanny respondents and a brief comparison with the 2006 edition of the Survey.

Bees On Earth

I recently attended a workshop on beekeeping. It was at our local organic foods market and taught me a bunch of things, including some that would be of interest to parents. And even some, to kids!

Briefly, honeybees are essential to healthy crops, pollenating all kinds of flowering plants that cannot bear fruit without their help. Bees are suffering a bit of a crisis now, as they are delicate creatures. Factory farming methods have led to the collapse of hives in many parts of the country, threatening crops and ultimately our food supply.

Honeybees are unlikely to attack and sting unless frightened, as they are by nature rather passive. Children should be taught not to fear them, because the best way to get stung is to smack at them. The best idea is to let them alone -- they may visit to check out a child’s exposed arm, but then they’ll fly off in search of something even sweeter. And unlike flies, which return again and again to the same spot, they seldom come back. Bees are interested in flowers, not in people. (Even a wasp will not sting if no one disturbs it. As a young camper I learned to let them be after sitting by mistake on a couple of yellowjackets and getting really stung. The very effective treatment was wet mud, the sticky gloppy, brown kind, which drew out the sting fairly quickly.)

Honeybees, by the way, are tan and ivory, or brown and ivory, not black and yellow. Bumblebees and yellowjackets are black and yellow and are not honeybees. Other bees do pollenate plants, but they don’t make honey.

That said, all kinds of insects will be attracted to skin or hair that smells truly sweet, so it’s not smart to wear perfume and scented lotions outside in warm weather, for nannies, parents or children. Most kinds of lotions are available unscented, and often hypoallergenic.

Tidbits to Tell Children
Of the three kinds of bees -- worker, drone and queen (contrary to an old New Yorker cartoon, there are no “consultant bees”) -- the queen lives longest, as much as five years, although she can work for only about two. Drones are the only males around the hive, and there aren’t that many of them as there’s not that much for them to do except mate with the queen.

The queen’s job is laying eggs, thousands and thousands of them -- no wonder she quits so soon! But if she didn’t lay so many, she soon wouldn’t have any workers, because each worker lives only three weeks (maybe because they’re so small and they work so hard?). The hive needs new workers all the time (unemployment rate = 0).

To ensure that the children will be healthy, the worker bees constantly feed the queen the best bee food of all: royal jelly. When the old queen gives out, a few babies are selected -- princesses, you might say -- and fed royal jelly until one is finally chosen to be the new queen. Royal jelly is chock full of nutrients and can be given to people to treat allergies (check with you allergist -- there are restrictions!). It’s what makes the queen grow to be the biggest of all in the hive, and it’s what makes her strong and fertile.

Worker bees are all-round workers: on emergence from the honeycomb where they are nursed and born, they immediately become nurses themselves, tending the next batch of babies. They quickly graduate to other roles, in a standard progression -- cleaning, nectar-gathering, feeding the queen, cooling the hive in warm weather (by fanning their wings), protecting the queen from cold weather, and more. Then, if there is an unanticipated shortage of workers for a particular job -- a freeze, a heat spell, a need to tend the queen, workers can shift back into that role, as they already know it.

Honey for Humans
Finally, honey comes in many shades, from clear and pale, prized for its mild flavor, to dark and thick, with strong flavor, with creamy honeys in between. Honey is a natural preservative that will last on the shelf for years. It also has curative properties and has been used as a salve for wounds. Honey that crystallizes can be liquified with a little heat, although too high a heat (or commercial pasteurization) will destroy much of its curative power.The darks bits that show up in raw honey can be pollen or bits of wings, but are not apt, in a quality product, to be dirt; they can be eaten harmlessly.

Finally, while raw (unpasteurized) honey contains the most live nutrients, it is not generally recommended for children before 1 year of age: depending on its source and the processor, it can contain residues of pesticides harmful to infants. Again, check with your allergist. However bee pollen and raw honey are used to counter allergies in older children. In this case, look for locally produced honey as it should be most effective against allergies likely to be suffered in your area.

Mental Health in Children: Asperger’s, Autism

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM), used by mental health professionals to ensure consistent diagnosis, will update soon. The new edition seeks to redefine the difference between Asperger’s syndrome and autism.

The decision is that they are related, -- degrees of a single affliction, now to be called Autism Spectrum Disorder, and probably abbreviated to ASD....

The advantage of the change is that children diagnosed with Asperger’s will be eligible for treatment and schooling that are now restricted to those diagnosed autistic. The disadvantage is that children who had a mild form of autism diagnosed as Asperger’s may now be branded autistic and put into special classes against their family’s wishes.

If your child or a child in your care is diagnosed with a disorder on the autism spectrum, you will need to understand the spectrum itself and where the child stands on it. Over time, you will want to pinpoint his or her needs, taking a direct role in the choice of classes and teachers. Ask your pediatrician to help you here, read everything you can, and consider an autism support group for parents, caregivers or your child -- here’s a list.>

If a child’s skills are sufficient for mainstreaming, that could spare him or her from misbranding as different from other children.

If skills are not up to mainstreaming, it will mean seeking or accepting help through special programs. In your school or school system, children may even be eligible for individual help, allowing them to stay in class with friends.

You will need to understand the curriculum, both the standard one and that of special offerings, their respective goals, and how these goals relate to your child. Ask such questions as whether this will be a permanent assignment, or temporary, for skill-building. What skills are emphasized and how are they best developed? How can you help at home?

Parents with a nanny who helps them follow through on educational goals are especially lucky to have that support and should encourage it. But parents must also know what’s happening and support the nanny’s efforts. This will be a learning experience for all.
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These articles provide information of a general nature only, and should be used only to supplement your knowledge. We hope you find the articles interesting, but cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of any information contained in these articles. Nothing in these articles is intended as a substitute for professional medical advice. You should always consult with your own physician if you have any concerns about your own health or the health of your child.