With just over 60% of US families consist of two working parents, there is no shortage of a need for childcare. The options can be overwhelming to sort through! I spoke with Jennifer Yamuder, a Matching Specialist with Cultural Care Au Pair, to get answers to the most common questions potential host parents have when deciding if an au pair is the right decision for their family.
How old are au pairs and where are they from? Do they have experience providing child care?
Au pairs are between the ages of 18 and 26 (27 in their extension term). They come from 30 countries, including: most of Europe, parts of Latin America, and three countries in Asia. The au pairs we place must have child care experience and references, which we verify either over the phone or in person. If care is to be provided to children under age 2, the au pair must have significant documented experience in that age range.
Cultural Care provides potential host families with a detailed profile, completed by the au pair, with information about her life, family, education, and driving experience, among other topics. They also include any personal information that may be pertinent to their host family, such as allergies and dietary restrictions.
Do they have special training/education? Are they CPR certified?
Prior to coming to the United States, all candidates must complete an online training in their home country. Once they arrive in the US, all au pairs placed through Cultural Care attend a mandatory, in-person training at our school in Tarrytown on the Marymount College Campus. During that training they receive their Red Cross CPR training and certification.
What restrictions are there on the working hours and duties of au pairs?
They can work a maximum of 45 hours a week, but you cannot use more than 10 hours in any given day. Families with school-aged children gravitate towards the au pair program because the time between school drop off and pick up does not count towards their weekly hours. It is also required that your au pair have off 1.5 consecutive days a week and, once a month, those days must fall on Saturday and Sunday (and both be full days).
Au pairs can perform household chores related to the children. Examples include: preparing formula, cleaning bottles, preparing/cleaning up meals for the children, doing the children’s laundry, straightening up the playroom, etc. They cannot go into host parents bedrooms/bathrooms to clean; their job is focused on child care, with a little cleaning thrown in.
If you have a child under 3 months of age, another adult must be home when the au pair is providing care.
It is also required that au pairs take two classes in their free time, usually at a local college.
What do host families need to provide? Do host parents have any responsibilities other than providing the au pair with food and shelter?
Host families should expect to make sure their au pair has the kind of food she likes to eat in the home. We suggest taking her/him to the grocery store upon arrival to get a sense of food preferences. Au pairs come to the US with a cultural exchange visa; there is a spirit to the program that is different than hiring an ordinary nanny. Your au pair expects to live with your family, celebrate holidays and traditions, and eat meals with you (if you typically eat together).
What is the cost to get an au pair, and what can a host family expect to pay weekly?
The annual cost to participate in the au pair program is $8,695. Your au pair is paid a stipend, which is just under $200/week (regardless of the number of children you have). This works out to approximately $375/week if you add the stipend, educational allowance, and agency cost.
What if the au pair is not a good fit for our family or she becomes homesick?
If there is an issue with your placement, we will help you find a replacement at no additional cost.