Disaster Planning with Allergies

Being prepared for natural disasters and emergencies is crucial for anyone reliant on special medications or foods. No matter where you live, it pays to be ready! Having been through our fair share of hurricanes, we can let you know what we’ve learned:

Pay attention to any announcements or instructions if there’s a threat or emergency in your area. If you have advance warning, evacuate early. It’s worth it to avoid traffic, gas lines and empty shelves in stores.

Always keep basic supplies and necessary medications on hand in good quantities. If possible, stay a month ahead of any prescriptions.

Establish a Family Emergency Plan

Put together an Emergency Supply Kit|

If you have pets, know ahead of time what you will do with them

If anyone has disabilities or special needs, review FEMA’s special instructions

Educate your children about what to do! Here’s a great coloring book from FEMA to help approach the subject in a friendly way:

In addition to those excellent resources, I’d like to add the tips and tricks I picked up myself:

In a disaster zone, stores won’t be open, perhaps for weeks. Travel may be impossible due to an inability to get gasoline. So you might have to be on your own or reliant on agencies like FEMA, the Red Cross and charitable organizations for awhile. But their supplies are limited too.

Have at least 3 days worth of shelf-stable allergen-free food for allergic kids. I’d recommend having all of the family’s food allergen-free for a few reasons. If emergency services are unavailable, there’s no reason to risk cross-contamination or accidental ingestion. And if you find that there is food available, but it’s not suitable for the allergic person, the rest of the family will be able to use the available resources while extending the supply of allergen-free products.

Keep allergy and medical alert information on every member of the family indicating their needs. This can be critical when emergency services are strapped for resources and it’s possible for people to be separated.

Make plans to keep any medication dry and at the right temperature for the duration of the event. Even in a relatively small disaster, you can be without electricity for an extended time. For some, that may mean storing ice. In the winter, firewood can help.

Try to keep plenty of gasoline in your car at all times. You may have to drive some distance to seek shelter or to find an open station, so if you’re accustomed to letting your fuel tank get low before refilling, it’s a good idea to change that habit.

Have a black Sharpie pen in your emergency kit. In a worst-case scenario, write important information on each family member’s arm. Name, address, a contact number for someone in an unaffected area, and any medical problems like allergies can be written. If you are separated from your children, that information can be critical and writing it on them ensures that it won’t be lost. It’s a harrowing thought, but during Katrina we saw parents putting children aboard helicopters for evacuation while the adults remained behind. Those kids had to later be identified and reunited, and having that information on them can be a big help. And even if your children are old enough to tell rescuers, the confusion of an evacuation can leave anyone too overwhelmed to think and and communicate clearly.

Article from www.Allermates.com

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

What do you think we do better than any other agency?

We sent out a survey to over 7,000 Chicago Nannies, Housekeepers, House Managers and Chefs and here are just a handful of the great responses!

What do you think we do better than any other agency?

You have the best jobs in Chicago!

You are better at matching families with nannies


Great response time

I’ve never been with any other agency. I only need you as you are the best!

You are very professional. I really like it that you post the jobs you have to offer. It is somewhat of a guideline to figure out the demand for this line of work as well as for salaries, etc. Everybody that I know that has heard about your agency agrees on that.

You do not take money from the employee and send regular updates.

You look over our profile and interview in person to really get to know what we want and then try very hard in finding us a family

great communication

For me you are the best at everything

Professional, time efficient, great trainings and classes, fast response

Speed of response


I had been placed previously with another  agencies  and  what I really like is that I always get a call back or an answer to my emails and that shows how professional you guys are.

Take care of the client and the nannies

You are try hard to get me job,  other places, once I registered, they didn’t care and there was no contact with the people at the agency whatsoever, but this agency, I feel there is some personal contact.

You do what you say you are going to do and you communicate!!! I can’t tell you how many times I have registered with a “prestigious” agency, experienced the hype and excitement about being involved with them and then never hearing from them again. First Class is a refreshing change to my experiences in the industry. Keep up the good work.

First Class is honest about job  postings and doesn’t cancel on you or give you the impression that there is a position for you that does not really exist like other local agencies.

I am already so impressed with your agency reaching out to me so much considering I haven’t even finished the application! You guys are the best!

Thank you to all the amazing applicants who took the time to answer our questions! We are always looking for better ways to serve you. Feel free to contact us anytime!


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

National Nanny Training Day 2013 Sponsors

Make sure and visit these amazing companies who have helped support National Nanny Training Day 2013!































































Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

New Nanny Training coming to First Class Care

Connection-Centered Discipline Nanny Certification
The path to better behavior from kids and a more collaborative relationship with parents

Training by Lora Brawley coming to First Class Care in June 2013

The Connection-Centered Discipline program is built on the concepts of Positive Discipline, an internationally recognized approach that hpositive disciplineas hundreds of thousands of fans. It’s used in homes, churches, and schools around the world with kids from toddlers to teens. And there are over 30 published Positive Discipline books dedicated to every age group, family situation and unique challenge including children with special needs, Why? Because it works for reasons that we can feel good about. It focuses on connection, cooperation, respect, kindness, and encouragement. But it does so without being permissive or indulgent. It’s the perfect balance between Kumbaya and “It’s my way or the highway!” parenting.

Are you in the right place in your career for this training?
If you’re new to Positive Discipline, this training will teach you an effective step-by-step approach that will equip you to handle whatever discipline issues come up.

If you’re currently using Positive Discipline, this training will deepen your understanding and practice of the approach and give you fresh ideas on how to handle challenging behaviors and ages and stages transitions.

This certification also includes in-depth training on creating a collaborative, mutually supportive relationship with your employers. You’ll learn proven nanny / family team building strategies and have access to parent tip sheets exclusively designed for and available through this program.

So wherever you are in your career, this training will help you move to the next level.


Who should attend? Nannies who want to…
become more skilled at identifying and working with the “why” behind challenging behaviors in order to make long-term and lasting changes in kids’ attitudes and group of nanniesactions.

learn successful strategies for defusing sibling rivalry and ways to teach kids real world problem solving skills.

master the art of encouragement, focusing on effort and improvement, and let go of the habit of empty praise.

understand how to ground discipline decisions in the three aspects of respect: the adult respecting the child, the adult respecting herself, and the adult respecting the needs of situation.

become more intentional and purposeful in their words, actions and reactions.

make themselves more valuable and marketable in today’s super competitive job market.


The Connection-Centered Discipline Nanny Certification program includes:
• exclusive training program designed especially for nannies
• local 2 day weekend intensive or 8 week online course with a 2 hour class each week
• interactive format filled with experiential activities and large and small group discussions
• one-on-one assessment and coaching session at the end of the program
• Nanny Certification
• 1 year membership in private SMART Discipline discussion and practice group
SMART Discipline Nanny Certification• training manual
• resource library filled with downloadable tip sheets to share with parents
• webpage dedicated to telling to parents why having a Connection-Centered Discipline Certified Nanny is valuable to their family
• audio training on how to translate your new certification into a higher salary during your job search or yearly performance evaluation

Connection Centered Discipline Nanny Certification $295

Check out our events calendar to find out when it is coming to Chicago!

Posted in childcare classes | Leave a comment

What You Need To Know About Nanny Payroll Tax

Employing someone in your home, such as nanny or housekeeper, is a genuine business and is recognized as such by the federal, state, and local governments. According to the IRS, once an employee is paid $1800 a year (or more) in compensation from one employer, those wages are subject to Social Security and Medicare tax withholding.  GTM Payroll Services is one of the premiere nanny tax and household payroll companies in the country. We asked them questions clients frequently need answered to help you learn more about the process:

Why do I need to worry about nanny payroll tax?
As an employer, you are legally obligated to be in compliance not only for you, but for your employee as well.  By not filing the proper payroll and tax paperwork, your employee won’t have the appropriate unemployment insurance coverage, Social Security tax credit, workers’ compensation coverage, or employment history. By being in compliance, you avoid back tax penalties and interest from both the state and the IRS.

Where do I begin?
Here are some key steps to take once you hire an employee:

  • Obtain an employer identification number
  • Have the employee(s) complete form W-4 if you will be withholding income taxes
  • Obtain form I-9 for employee eligibility verification
  • Apply for your state unemployment identification number and state withholding number
  • Apply for your state’s New Hire report
  • Obtain form 1040 ES for estimated tax payments
  • Check  the workers’ compensation insurance requirements for your state
  • Establish a regular pay period schedule and communicate it to your employee(s)
  • Keep records in a safe place for at least 5 years or longer, depending on your state’s requirements

What about workers’ compensation?
Many states require this coverage for full or part-time employees. Having a policy will cover necessary medical bills and a portion of your employee’s wages should he/she be injured on the job. You shouldn’t assume that you’re covered for this under a Homeowners’ Policy. Many times, a separate policy needs to be set up. Check with your state’s requirements for coverage.

What information will I need to collect from my nanny?
A nanny must provide his/her name, address, and Social Security number and complete a W-4 form to properly calculate the withholdings for income tax purposes.  Also, your nanny must complete an I-9 form for employment eligibility and provide you a voided check if you will be paying via direct deposit.

How do I figure taxes into the offer I present a new nanny?
Make sure you and your employee are clear on whether you will be paying gross wages or net wages. Should you decide to withhold taxes for your nanny, as the employer, you will make the tax payments to the IRS and State on your employee’s behalf.  If you have negotiated a gross pay with your employee, withholding for them does not affect your employer tax liabilities.  These are calculated on top of gross earnings and employee taxes are withheld from the gross pay.

Are there companies that can help me with this?
To many people, the nanny tax seems overwhelming, time-consuming, and frightening.  This is why people turn to companies who specialize in managing household employment matters and can handle these details for you. GTM Payroll Services is one of those companies, and for an average of around $60 per month, the headaches would be handled for you and you would be left with the peace of mind of knowing that you are doing what is required of you as a legit employer.

Are there certain things I need to collect from my nanny throughout the year?
No, unless there are certain changes, such as a new address, if your nanny changes banks, or you agree on a different withholding arrangement.

For more information on Nanny Taxes contact Jonita at GTM for a FREE Consultation! (888) 432-7972 ext. 7224

Check out the great GTM Tax Calculator to help with budgeting
Posted in benefits, hiring a nanny legally, Nanny Taxes | Leave a comment

Chicago Area Nannies & Other Child Care Pros Have New Source For CPR Instruction

First Class Care Makes Safety a Priority

CHICAGO, IL,  January 3, 2013—Northbrook, IL-based First Class Care (www.firstclasscare.com ), Inc. recently announced that the firm is now offering adult, children, and infant CPR for nannies, other childcare providers and families.

“Adding the CPR class to our continuing education program is just one more way to help our nannies and their families stay as safe as possible,” said Erin Krex, president of First Class Care, which is a member of the Association of Premier Nanny Agencies (www.theapna.org). “Offering a CPR class closely aligns with our commitment to provide our nannies and clients with opportunities to increase their knowledge and comfort level when it comes to caring for children.”

The next class, opened to the public, scheduled for January 12, 2013 will be taught by Steve Krex who is an Emergency Response Instructor and certified to teach CPR and First Aid. “I enjoy teaching CPR, because it gives me an opportunity to really make a difference in someone’s readiness in case of an emergency,” he said. “We never like to anticipate something like needing to perform CPR, but it’s always good—especially where children are involved—to be prepared.”

Course Details (http://www.eventbrite.com/org/2347615072?s=10278724
Introduction of the chain of survival, CPR for the Adult, Child, and Infants. Choking for the Adult, Child, and Infant. Use of the Automatic External Defibrillator (AED). We will also discuss special considerations, legal issues, blood borne pathogens, heart attack, stroke and choking. A workbook will be provided during the three-hour class, and, upon completion, the students will have access to a digital workbook on the EMS Safety site for two years. Also, students will receive an EMS Safety CPR / AED card, which is good for two years.

As an APNA member organization, First Class Care must abide by the organization’s strict code of ethics and maintain high standards of professional industry practices as set forth by the association. “The trainings that First Class Care offers nannies is just one example of how they have earned their position as a leader and innovator in our industry,” said Daryl Camarillo, APNA president.

About First Class Care: First Class Care, Inc. is a Northbrook, IL-based Domestic Care Agency serving Chicago and the suburbs.  The company is a fully licensed and bonded Domestic Employment Agency and Illinois Home Services Placement Agency.  First Class Care offers its clients a variety of services including nannies, newborn care, housekeepers, house managers and elder care companions. The agency was named “Agency of the Year” by the Association of Premiere Nanny Agencies.

Posted in childcare classes | Tagged | Leave a comment

5 Great Holiday Recipes from First Class Care Chefs

Enjoy these 5 great recipes provided by First Class Care Chefs!

Banana Bread by First Class Care Chef Dana

6 bananas, overripe
1/3 c yogurt(I prefer vanilla greek, but any will work)
2 eggs
1 T vanilla
3/4 c raw sugar
6 T. butter, melted and cooled
2 c flour
¾ t baking soda
½ t salt
1 c chocolate chips or nuts (can omit)
Preheat oven to 350. Grease 3 mini loaf pans or 1 large loaf pan.

Smash bananas, leaving some small chunks. Add yogurt through butter and combine. Mix dry ingredients. Add to banana mix. Mix just until combined. Add chocolate chips if using. Scoop into prepared pans. Bake approximately 25 min(small loaf) or 50 min(large loaf). Let cool 25 minutes. Invert onto cooling rack and allow to cool completely before storing.

*Freezes beautifully!


Holiday pot roast-Japanese style by First Class Care Chef Vee

1 pound of beef stew meat-it can be chuck, short rib, etc
1 sliced onion
1 diced potato
1/2 cup of peas
1 cup of dashi or miso soup
2 tablespoons of sake, sherry, or chinese rice wine
2 tablespoons of sugar
1/4 cup of soy sauce
2 tablespoons of sugar

Brown beef in a dutch oven, add onions cook for 5 minutes more, and the rest of the ingredients and simmer until beef is tender. About 1.5 hours. You can add different vegetables, like cabbage, carrots, daikon, tofu, etc

Adjust seasoning to taste- it can be sweeter, saltier, etc…


Italian sausage soup w/ white beans, kale & sun dried tomatoes by First Class Care Chef Lori

Yield: Serves 12 as a side-dish or 6 as main-course
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 pounds Italian sausages (hot or mild), casings removed
1 medium chopped onion
2 cloves minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper (optional, do not need if using hot sausages)
1 large head kale, chopped
½  cup dry white wine
3 cups white beans (cannelloni or great northern), rinsed, drained – I cook dried beans*
3 cups chicken stock or canned low-salt chicken broth
15 ounces petite diced tomatoes
½ cup sun dried tomatoes (rinsed if packed in oil) otherwise dry are fine

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium-high heat. Working in batches, sauté sausage until cooked through, breaking up with back of spoon, about 6 minutes per batch. Using slotted spoon, transfer sausage to bowl, leaving drippings in pot. Reduce heat to medium; add onion to pot and sauté until translucent, about 5 minutes.  Mix in garlic and crushed red pepper (if using). Add kale and sauté until wilted, about 2 minutes. Add wine and cook 2 minutes. Add beans, diced tomatoes, sun dried tomatoes, stock and sausage and simmer 10 minutes to blend flavors. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

*in order to cut down on sodium, I cook my own dried beans.  Cook a pound at a time in a pressure cooker along with 8 cups of water and a bit of olive oil.  High pressure for 33 minutes.  Freeze leftover beans in freezer  bags to use later.


Turkey, White Bean & Green Chile Chili by First Class Care Chef Lori

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 cups diced yellow onion (about 2 medium)
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
2 teaspoon dried oregano
2 (15.8-ounce) cans Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes, no salt added
1 (4 ounce) can diced green chilies
4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
1 pound ground turkey breast
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 8 minutes or until tender and golden. Add chili powder, minced garlic, and cumin; sauté for 2 minutes. Add oregano and beans; cook for 30 seconds. Add broth, diced tomatoes and green chilies; bring to a simmer. Cook 20 minutes.

While chili is simmering, cook the ground turkey in a skillet sprayed with non-stick spray until no longer pink.  Add the cooked turkey to the chili and cook 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated. Remove from heat. Add chopped cilantro, lime juice, salt, and pepper, stirring well.

Yield:  8 servings (serving size: about 1 cup)

Serve with tortilla chips, optional Mexican shredded cheese and additional lime wedges.


Snickerdoodles (Vegan/Gluten-free/Nut Free) by First Class Care Chef Marni

2  cup gluten-free all-purpose flour
2/3  cup sugar
¼  teaspoon cream of tartar
1  teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2  egg replacers (vegan option) or 2 eggs (non-vegan option)
1/2  cup Earth Balance (vegan option) or butter (non-vegan option)
Cinnamon sugar for rolling: 1 tbsp sugar + 1 tsp cinnamon,      mixed together

First, prepare the egg replacers and set aside. In a medium sized bowl cream together the sugar, Earth Balance, and vanilla until well combined. Add in egg replacers and beat for about 1 minute.

In another bowl, whisk together the cream of tartar, baking soda, flour, and cinnamon. Slowly add the dry mixture to the wet mixture, mix until combined. Use your hands to knead together the dough. Shape the dough into a ball and wrap it in plastic wrap. Place in the fridge for 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Lay Parchment paper over your baking sheet. Roll 1 to 2 tablespoons of dough into a ball. Roll the ball in cinnamon sugar mixture, press the ball with a fork to flatten slightly. Repeat until you’ve gone through the cookie dough.

Bake for 10-12 minutes. For chewy cookies, bake for 10 minutes; crispy cookies, bake for 12 minutes.

Cool for about 10 minutes. Enjoy!



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

10 Great Gift Ideas for Your Nanny

Whether you have a live-in nanny or share your nanny with a friend, you know how important she is to your family.  Show your appreciation for her love, hard work and dedication with the perfect gift. Think about your nanny, her likes and interests, and be sure to get the kids in on the fun too!  Although there are so many variables that affect how much you will spend, it’s generally appropriate to consider something equal to one or two week’s pay. Here are some ideas to fit a variety of price points:

Spa Day Who doesn’t love a day of pampering?  And, can you think of anyone more deserving than your hardworking nanny?  Choose a spa that’s close to her house so she can easily get there on her day off.

Plane Ticket Home Give your nanny the gift of travel with a plane ticket to see her family. Be sure to check with the airlines for special offers like the ability to transfer miles or the option for the recipient to earn bonus miles for future travel.

Extended Vacation Time Offer your nanny some much deserved paid time off.  Add a few days to a scheduled vacation or offer her some time off in the next couple of months.

Gift Cards Always a great option!  Get creative by pairing a restaurant and movie gift card, for example.  If your nanny has children of her own, choose something her whole family can enjoy.

iPad  Help your nanny stay organized and connected with an iPad or other tablet.  (You might be surprised when she loads it with apps for your kids!)

Ticket to National Nanny Training Day How about a ticket to this continuing education, all-day event? Your nanny can increase her skill set, network with other nannies and have the chance to win tons of great giveaways.

Electronics Maybe it’s a new cell phone, blu-ray player, new television or something for her kitchen.  Listen to what your nanny and her family need and surprise her with something truly special.

Memberships Consider a gift that really speaks to your nanny’s interest like a one-year membership to a museum, gym or botanic gardens.

Tickets How about a set of tickets to a sporting event or musical so your nanny can share a special day with her family and friends?  Consider adding money for a parking pass too!

Bonus By far the most popular to give (and receive!).  The average end of the year bonus is equal to one or two weeks of pay.  For newer employees, calculate one day of pay for each month of employment.


Erin Krex is a mom and the founder and owner of First Class Care, Inc., Chicago’s premiere domestic placement agency. Erin believes that outstanding childcare is fundamental for creating harmony at home. Erin is an active member of APNA (Association of Premier Nanny Agencies) and was on the INA (lnternational Nanny Association) Board of Directors for four years. Erin has been honored with StartUp Nation’s Leading Moms in Business award three years in a row and also holds the title of 2010 APNA Agency of the Year winner. As a business owner and working mother with domestic help, Erin frequently writes and speaks on subjects related to best practices for both families and employees. Erin is Bump Club Chicago’s resident childcare expert and provides classes to families about how to hire a nanny. To date, Erin has placed more than 3,000 nannies all across the Chicago area.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/firstclasscare

Twitter: @FirstClassCare

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Crafts for Kids – Homemade Christmas Ornament

Seed Bead Ball Ornament

By: Amanda Formaro
Difficulty: Very Easy
Age: 4 and up

Get ready for the ooh’s and ahh’s from this super easy project! In fact, have several ball ornaments ready for the kids, because before you know it they’ll be done and they’ll want to make another!

What you’ll need:

  • Glass ball ornament
  • White craft glue
  • Wide paintbrush
  • Seed beads
  • Bowl
  • String for hanging

How to make it:

  1. Place the seed beads into a bowl.
  2. Pipe glue all over the ornament and spread it around with a paintbrush, creating an even coat.
  3. Hold the ornament by the hanger and roll it around in the seed beads. The beads will stick to the ornament, but you can lift beads with your fingers and sprinkle them on to fill any missed spots.
  4. Run some string through the ornament hanger and hang somewhere safe to dry.


  1. This is such a simple project, that even the smallest of children can do it. Because the seed beads are very small, be sure to supervise and don’t allow children to put beads into their mouths.
  2. Seed beads can be found in the jewelry department of your local craft supply store.
  3. White school glue can be used in place of white craft glue.

For more details: http://crafts.kaboose.com/seed-bead-ball-ornament.html

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

National Nanny Training Day in Chicago

1 Day
6 Amazing Sessions
Networking with the Best Nannies in Chicago
Thousands of Dollars in Raffle Prizes

First Class Care, Inc. is excited to be the Chicago SPARK Awards sponsor of National Nanny Training Day! We are having a full day of training featuring several amazing speakers in a variety of categories to help you increase your skills.

Along with all 6 great training sessions, we will have raffle prizes, goodie bags and an amazing lunch provided by First Class Care and our sponsors. You will go home with a certificate indicating your participation in National Nanny Training Day.
All nannies are welcome!

8:30am – Check in
9:00am – Rowdy Play: A key to healthy, happy children
10:00am – Developmentally Appropriate Practices and Activities for Nannies to Utilize with Young Children
11:00am – Effective Limit Setting – It is Easy as 1, 2, 3
Noon – Buffet Lunch provided by First Class Care and our Sponsors
1:00pm – Homemade Baby Food + Smart Snacks for All Ages
2:00pm – Get a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T
3:00pm – Nanny Panel – Q & A with your piers



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment