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The Stamford Advocate, June 1, 2004

Agency: Nannies should expect surveillance

By Eve Sullivan
Staff Writer


STAMFORD -- The owner of a nanny placement agency tells prospective nannies they should expect to be videotaped while they are working.

Mark Lenes, owner of Wee Care Nanny Agency in Stamford, tells job-seekers that 90 percent to 95 percent of families have surveillance in their homes.

"We tell everyone, you can basically expect that it's there," he said. "It's a safeguard."

Though Lenes does not have statistics on how many families set up surveillance, he knows the numbers are growing and the technology is becoming more advanced.

Lenes shows the applicants the tip of a pen and says some of the surveillance cameras can be that small. But, he also says, if the nannies are doing their jobs, they have nothing to worry about.

"Most people say, 'I have no problem with it. If they want to use a camera, that's fine,' " Lenes said.

A small number of applicants are caught off guard when told about the camera, commonly known as a "nanny cam," and that they must have a criminal background check, Lenes said. One applicant asked to take a break to put money in the parking meter and never returned, he said.

The owner of a local nanny-cam business said cameras can be placed in household objects, including kitchen appliances and books.

It was one such camera that taped Marketa Vitkova, a 26-year-old Stamford nanny, allegedly shaking and slapping a 8-month-old boy under her care.

Vitkova, who was arrested last week, faces charges of first-degree reckless endangerment, risk of injury to a minor and third-degree assault in the alleged attack.

Authorities said the family had a camera in place for two months before capturing the assault on tape May 11.

Lenes called the recent incident "horrible" and said he does extensive screening to ensure that nothing like that happens through his agency. He said he places about 150 nannies a year.

"They are very in demand," Lenes said. "It's finding the right one which is the hard part. They have to mesh with what the family is looking for."

Lenes said Wee Care doesn't take anyone unless he can verify that they have one year of experience working in a home.

The nannies come from throughout the world, including local towns, the Caribbean and Europe, and are matched with homes in Fairfield County and New York, Lenes said. They range in age from their 20s to 50s, he said.

Au pairs are generally younger, fresh out of college and move to the United States for a year or two as a cultural exchange, usually through Au Pair America, Lenes said.

Lenes, who has been in business for almost five years, said he screens applicants over the phone and accepts 30 percent to 35 percent of those who call. Each applicant then meets with him and fills out an application.

After placing each nanny, Lenes said he encourages them to go for a half day, then a trial week. He then contacts the nanny and the family to find out what they think about each other.

Lenes said there are plenty of red flags that should go up when placing a nanny, such as when past employers cannot be reached or can be reached only by cell phone.

Other bad signs are when numerous former employers live out of the state or the country, making it hard to verify employment; the applicants give tenuous explanations for wide gaps in work history; or have worked for many employers over a short period of time.

Lenes said families should beware of potential employees who tell them they will bring identification "next time," but fail to do so, or those who carry a driver's license from states in which they have not lived or worked.

Lenes suggests families take at least five weeks to find the right person and never hire out of haste or desperation. He recommends speaking with as many past employers as possible and informing them all information will be kept confidential.

Ideally, Lenes said parents should seek out individuals who have been working locally and get written authorization to conduct motor vehicle and criminal background checks in the state where the applicants have lived or worked.

The New York Times, May 2, 2004
Who's Watching the Children?
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/05/02/nyregion/02ctylett.html

The Norwalk Hour, November 1, 2007
Who's watching your nanny? A: Everyone
http://www.thehour.com/story/41837


Press Release:
Mellisa Peckham Named to the Board of Directors of the Association of Premier Nanny Agencies
Stamford, Connecticut
November 13, 2007

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Press Release- Mellisa Peckham, co-owner of Wee Care Nanny Agency in Stamford, Conn., was named to the Board of Directors for the Association of Premier Nanny Agencies (APNA).

Mellisa co-founded Wee Care Nanny Agency, LLC. in 2001. Mellisa has an excellent working knowledge of the industry from both sides; she joined the APNA to encourage all agencies to uphold strong ethics and outstanding service as expected from all APNA agencies. Mellisa has many years of experience in sales, marketing and client services. As the mother of two young children, she realized the need for a friendly and professional service.

“I am extremely honored to be joining the APNA’s Board of Directors”, said Ms. Peckham, “and look forward to supporting the Association’s mission of promoting high ethical standards in the nanny and household staffing industry. I hope to be a big part of their increased visibility and enforcement of professional industry standards.”

The Association of Premier Nanny Agencies, established in 1993, promotes best business practices in all areas of the nanny placement and household staffing industries. Its member placement agencies adhere to APNA’s Code of Ethics and Standards of Ethical Practices.

Wall Street Journal, March 26, 2007
Day Care is Linked to Behavior Lasting Through 6th Grade

http://theapna.org/blog/2007/03/26/day-care-is-linked-to-behavior-lasting-through-6th-grade/

Local children's Center Opening in 2010, October 22, 2009

Wee Care Nanny Agency is proud to recognize and support Healing Hearts Pediatric Therapy Center in Stamford, Connecticut. The Healing Hearts special needs therapy center is scheduled to open in winter 2010. It will provide 10 types of therapy, including, occupational, speech and physical therapy. Healing Hearts will provide specialized therapeutic treatments for children with cerebral palsy, autism, motor-development delays and other neuro-motor disorders. To volunteer, make a donation or get more information please contact Kim Colletto at (203) 355-9395.www.healingheartscenter.org