By Sabina Mollot
New York Kids Club, the chain of kids’ learning and recreational centers that includes a location on East 22nd Street, might seem like an unlikely place to hold a speed dating event. However, attendees of this upcoming event won’t be there in search of romance. Instead, the kids club is aiming to play matchmaker for nannies and the families who need them.
Jessica Wolf, the company’s director of business development and marketing, explained that for some time now, she’s been a member of numerous Facebook groups for parents as well as some for nannies. Parents will frequently ask on their respective groups if anyone knows a good nanny while the nannies will also be in search of work in their own networks. But, since the groups are separate, there wind up being many missed opportunities for connections.
The idea that potential employees and employers could conduct brief interviews and then later mingle over wine and cheese also sprang from a recent event NY Kids Club held just for nannies. Nannies in attendance got to hear about “the ten steps to nanny success, which incorporates how to find happiness within your job,” explained Wolf, who added that this event was very well received. “The nannies absolutely loved it and we found that a lot of nannies came to find jobs or tips for trying to transition” from working for one family to another.
The upcoming event will play out like traditional speed dating — there will be three minutes to get introduced and ask questions with a bell signaling when it’s time to move on. Questions will be pre-vetted, with Wolf explaining that this is just to keep the conversations from veering off into small talk.
“We figured we should have purposeful questions,” she said. “When there’s mingling, you can of course ask more questions.”
If the event gets a good turnout, NY Kids Club would make it a regular thing, like the nanny-only event is becoming, at the Upper East Side and Upper West Side locations.
So far, however, Wolf said the speed dating concept has gotten encouraging feedback from both nannies and parents.
While she isn’t sure, percentage-wise, how many families are looking for a new nanny at any given time, Wolf has noticed that parents, once their kids start going to school full time and need nannies less, will frequently want to leave their nannies’ numbers somewhere at their kid’s center.
“They don’t want to just abandon someone who’s been with their family,” she explained.
Additionally, perhaps not surprisingly, due to most parents’ work schedules, it’s nannies, not parents, who mostly accompany kids to classes and programs at NY Kids Club. But when nannies are in search of work, Wolf noted, many are reluctant to look through an agency because of the expense.
At this time, there are two speed dating events scheduled, open to all parents and nannies, even those who aren’t NY Kids Club members. There is no cost to attend though there will be a fee for no-shows, probably around $15, Wolf said. To attend, RSVP online.
The first event will be held on April 19 at 7 p.m. at 601 Amsterdam Avenue and 89th Street and the second will be held on April 20 at 7 p.m. at 38 East 22nd Street.
The Gramercy location, one of the earliest centers to open, currently serves around 1,000 kids, mostly from the surrounding neighborhoods, with classes taking place every hour the location is open. There are a total of 12 centers, mostly in Manhattan, as well as in Brooklyn and Long Island City.