Last January, Shelkov launched a babysitting network initiative from the comfort of her own home and with daughter Liana as her first potential employee. Since then, about 12 families and 14 teens have signed on to utilize the service, and are matched depending on the criteria that both the employee and the employer are looking for.
"I match them up through phone or e-mail and it's up to them to respond," said Shelkov.
Shelkov first moved to Weehawken last November, and started the service as a way to contribute to her new community. She also wanted her daughter Liana to start the learning the responsibilities of having a job.
"There are no jobs available and there are no places that will hire kids under 16," said Shelkov.
The babysitting service opens up opportunities for young teens wanting to get some experience in the work force. Through the network Liana has found steady work with a family babysitting about twice a week.
Since launching in January, Shelkov's babysitting service network has blossomed over the last several months mostly through word of mouth.
"We received a lot of calls and all of them are to my home," said Shelkov, who has now made contact with most of her neighbors. "It was nice to have the phone start ringing again. About two calls a month come in."
So far, eight families have been paired up with responsible sitters, and more families are still interviewing for their ideal candidate.
"[The teens] are interviewing, they're negotiating money, and rejecting positions if it doesn't suit them," said Shelkov. "I think it's a good thing for them because it puts them on the spot, and they learn how to say no [if the job doesn't work for them]."
Shelkov coordinates the contact between interested teens and parents based on what both are looking for, including skills, schedules, and compensation. Parents are put in contact with a sitter, and go through their own interview process.
"I had one family who wanted [the sitter] to be able to read and play in Spanish with their child," said Shelkov. "Now they have a sitter who will do that for two hours every now and then."
The girls and the families set their own rates. Shelkov doesn't receive any compensation.
In addition, the teens also learn how to network to get recommended for other jobs.
Back in January, Shelkov said that babysitting is where many young girls get their first experience in the work force. As a matter of fact, Shelkov started out as a babysitter herself during her teen years.
"I was a babysitter and I learned a lot, and I enjoyed it as well," said Shelkov.
A majority of the girls involved in the services are from the local Weehawken High School, including students in the peer leadership program.
"The [girls] are also learning how to work with kids," said Shelkov. "Some of them have said they want to be teachers."
There are a total of 14 girls that are now working through the babysitting network, who range in ages from 14 to 18 and have signed parental consent. The services are provided for families with children from as young as nine months up to kids in the 6th grade.
"[The families] think it's wonderful period," said Shelkov. "Any family that wants to help a teen, or has work that a teen can do, this is great way to get local kids to do things for them."
In addition to child care services, the network has also made steady contact with a dog walker. So whether families need a sitter for their child or their four-legged best friend, the network will match you up with the sitter right for you.
"It's been fantastic because we have made contact with a wonderful young woman named Liana [Shelkov's daughter] and she's really bonded with our daughter [10 year old daughter] Leila," said Diana Bittern, who first read about the service in the Weehawken Reporter.
"We have never had a babysitter that we considered a friend and Liana is definitely a bright spot in babysitting," said Bittern. "We're very happy."
Since launching, the service has had a 99 percent success rate with mostly positive reviews from the community.
Anyone interested in the babysitting or pet sitting services may e-mail Shelkov at email@example.com.