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Nanny mission 

click to enlarge CARING ABOUT KID CARE :  Ashlee Leonardo recently moved from Seattle to the Central Coast, where she found a need for quality nanny services. She’s pictured here with her husband Tony and daughter Syndee. - PHOTO BY STEVE E. MILLER
  • CARING ABOUT KID CARE : Ashlee Leonardo recently moved from Seattle to the Central Coast, where she found a need for quality nanny services. She’s pictured here with her husband Tony and daughter Syndee.

Ashlee Leonardo has turned her passion into her profession.

The University of Hawaii psychology and child development graduate recently started San Luis Nannies—a professional and affordable nanny placement service that matches unique family needs with qualified, prescreened nannies.

“I noticed a lack of service and heard from a lot of parents that they were having hard times finding well-qualified nannies. Many were using Craigslist as a last resort,” said Leonardo, who recently relocated from Seattle to the Central Coast with her husband Tony. “I really wanted to find my own personal niche in the community, and I feel this service is really needed.”

Leonardo has a lifetime of nanny experience: She began babysitting in her hometown of Hamilton, Montana, worked her way through college as a nanny in Hawaii, and later took on a professional career in childcare in Seattle. Now Leonardo is sharing her knowledge with families throughout the Central Coast.

“Helping with homework, shuttling children to their activities, and prepping dinner—having a nanny is really like having another teammate at home,” she said. “You can’t beat that one-on-one attention, especially when kids are young. Kids really thrive from going to the park, library, or music circle time at Boo Boo Records.”

San Luis Nannies takes the time to interview and prescreen select candidates in an attempt to find the perfect match for parents and nannies.

The agency requires its employees speak fluent English, be capable of driving, be legal to work in the United States, and have excellent references. Many of the nannies have college degrees, speak multiple languages, have musical talent, and have preschool/elementary teaching backgrounds. Additionally, the nannies must have at least two years of prior experience.

Once a match is made, the family can set up a work schedule that can range from full to part time.

“Even if it’s only for a few hours a week to do errands, for time for themselves, or to get caught up at the office, it’s a very valuable service,” Leonardo said of the benefits of having a nanny.

Most families pay between $10 to $20 per hour, which Leonardo said is a great deal.

“I think sometimes people have the misconception that having a nanny is really expensive,” she said. “Look at how much after-school programs cost. School is a long day for kids, and daycare makes it a really long day. It’s nice for kids to be at their own home.”

As a new mother, Leonardo understands the importance of having a nanny. “A nanny cannot replace a parent,” Leonardo said. “But it’s as close as you can get.”

For more information about San Luis Nannies’ services, visit or call 904-3237.

Fast fact

Arroyo Grande will celebrate its 100th anniversary with a Century Bike Ride on June 25. This bicycling event is designed to encourage families or small groups to ride together and accumulate 62 miles (a metric century) of pleasant rural bicycle riding. For example, a family/group of three would only need to ride 20 miles together to complete a metric century. For people who want a greater challenge, the individual metric century course will include longer routing with more climbing. The course, with three designated routes, will be open and monitored for seven hours, from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. The three route lengths are 20 miles, 30 miles, and 62 miles. The start and end for all routes will be the Arroyo Grande Rotary Bandstand and Heritage Park. The event will feature a bandstand area with live music, vendor booths, and a BMX exhibition area. For more information, visit

Intern Kai Beech compiled this week’s Strokes and Plugs. Send items for consideration to

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