Vanessa has been helping us survive parenthood for about 4 years now. We have four kids ages 10, 7, 7, and 4. One of our twins is autistic, but they all can be confoundingly challenging in their own unique ways and Vanessa always rises to the occasion when presented with those challenges.
Beyond basic care, Vanessa's particular strength is in the intellectual stimulation that our children receive not only from the interesting activities and outings that she independently plans and executes, but in day-to-day interactive play and conversation. She is reliable, trustworthy, and always does her best to accommodate schedule changes as necessary. We recommend her for any child care role unreservedly.
After Vanessa had been taking care of my infant daughter for about a month, I wanted to call everyone I’d ever babysat for and apologize. Her babysitting vs. mine was like Beethoven to a 3rd grade piano recital. I could not believe my luck as a new parent in finding her. – every week I was blown away at her talents. Not only because of the activities Vanessa did with my daughter (girl literally knows every awesome child-friendly activity within a 50-mile radius), but also by the way she interacted with my daughter: with love and attention. After my second daughter was born, Vanessa cared for the two of them as effortlessly as she did for only one. Some sitters just show up and watch your kids; Vanessa nurtures them. Every time I tell my children that Vanessa is coming to see them, I get the same reaction: utter delight.
There truly is no greater joy for me as a mom to observe my children bonding with adult mentors other than my husband and I. I was lucky enough to witness this at a very young age for my kids. Vanessa came into their lives and treated them like little humans, not babies and they in return treated her with respect. She instilled a love of reading, crafts, and imaginary play. They adored their minutes, hours days and over nights with her. Even after years without Nessa, ( since she moved to MA) they still speak of her so very fondly. She will remain in our hearts forever. She is a gem that gave so freely to my family. She were there when my mom died and when my brother tried to take his life. Vanessa kept the abnormal very normal for us... words will never be enough to thank her.
Vanessa helped my preschooler adjust to a new classroom and build confidence. While other teachers and providers in the daycare problematized or punished my son’s behaviors, Vanessa understood his tears or frustrations to be part of his response to his parents’ recent separation, and she treated him with compassion and respect for the challenging emotional circumstances of his life, proactively helping him name and manage feelings without judgement.
We found Vanessa through our friends. She has been their nanny for many years. We have hired her for date nights and long weekends when we had to be away. I trust her completely with our children and pets. She is incredibly patient, kind yet firm when it's necessary, and understands and accommodates our children's nuero-diverse needs deeply. Vanessa is easy to talk to and is very thorough in preparing for longer term care (or, beyond an overnight). She is uniquely equipped to care for children with more challenging needs and is amazing with any family pet. The true test she passes is that our kids are thrilled when she walks in the door and ask for her first when we need care. I recommend Vanessa without hesitation.
It has been my pleasure to know Vanessa Steck for about sixteen years. Most of my experiences with Vanessa occurred as I was serving as Minister of Religious Education at Cedar Lane Unitarian Universalist Church in Bethesda, MD. I am now retired after working with children, youth, teachers, and parents for my entire working life. During my decade at Cedar Lane I was responsible for overseeing programs and ministries for children and youth as well as for their parents. It was there that I had the pleasure of working with Vanessa. She worked as a volunteer with almost all age levels - as teacher for babies, preschool, grade 6, grade 8, grade 9, and grades 10-12. During that time she took the initiative to suggest and then write needed revisions to parts of our curricula. She also worked successfully to develop team approaches with other teachers with whom she taught. She communicated easily with parents and found ready volunteers from that group to assist as needed. Her direct work with children and youth of all ages was creative, warm and age appropriate. It is not a stretch to say that she was quite beloved. I, on behalf of the church, eventually hired Vanessa to be paid Coordinator of Youth Activities (grades 9-12) with stunning results. Participation in youth activites took a huge jump and the depth of youth involvement increased. Vanessa is a wonder, the kind of person I would entrust with children or youth of any age. She is also very adept at identifying issues, seeking outside help as appropriate, innovative in using resources to meet changing program needs, and is a fun, sensitive and caring person. In summary, Woo Hoo!!!! She is outstanding.