Finding qualified child care is one of the most important things you’ll do as a parent. You may be considering hiring an au pair instead of using a babysitter or taking your child to day care. Before choosing the right individual for your family, you need to know several things about au pairs.
What is an Au Pair?
Au pair means “on par” or “equal” in French. This individual provides child care while living with a host family. This is usually part of an international cultural exchange program. An au pair would likely be responsible for several general duties such as:
- Watching and playing with your children
- Taking and picking up your children from school and other activities
- Preparing meals and snacks for your children
- Doing your children’s laundry and cleaning their rooms
Why Would You Choose an Au Pair?
Finding reliable, trustworthy child care can be difficult. Having someone who lives with your family instead of taking the children to day care or hiring a babysitter has several advantages. When choosing an au pair, you not only receive the live-in convenience of child care, you and your family will learn about an entirely different culture. An au pair often becomes part of the family. “Au Pair En Route” describes several benefits of hosting an au pair:
- The au pair only takes care of your children.
- Your children will learn about another country’s cultures and customs.
- Child care in your home fits your personal schedule.
- Your children are cared for in a safe and familiar environment.
How Does It Work?
Au pairs are young visitors from various countries who travel to the United States on a J-1 Visitor Exchange Visa. The United States Department of State regulates agencies that recruit and hire au pairs. Agencies often have au pairs from all over the world. France, Germany, Mexico and China are just a few of the countries that participate in these types of programs.
As a host family, you fill out an application and set up a profile with whatever agency you chose. A placement coordinator assesses your family’s needs. You choose from a large list of prospective au pairs and begin the interviewing process. Once you have selected the right individual, it normally takes about four to six weeks to process the paperwork and arrange for a flight to the United States.
What Are the Costs?
After deciding to choose an au pair, you’ll need to know what costs are involved. According to “Au Pair in America,” there is an initial match fee of $425, the annual program fee of $8,675 and a minimum weekly pay for the au pair of $195.75. Costs may vary between agencies.
Other costs include room and board and general living expenses. This varies considerably among families. The au pair will expect to have a private bedroom and regular meals. If the individual will be driving, additional insurance coverage will likely be needed.
Finding the Right Resource
Selecting the right individual to watch your children and live in your home is a decision you want to make carefully. When looking for an au pair, it’s important to find good resources to guide you through the process. ClassifiedAds.com is a great resource tool to help you get started. It provides sources for both au pairs and EduCare companions.
It’s important to know how finding and hiring an au pair works, how it can benefit your family, and what costs are involved. After you understand the process, get started by using a quality resource such as our website to help you find an au pair who meets the needs of your family.