What is an au pair?
An au pair (or aupair) is a child care provider much like a nanny or babysitter, but she or he is usually from a foreign country and lives with the host family for a time period of approximately one year. A 6-12 month extension may be given.
Should you hire an au pair? – If you don’t know much about au pairs, or have never even heard of an Au Pair before, here is a little information as well as some benefits and drawbacks to hiring one. After reading through the following information, you should be better prepared to decide if an au pair is right for your family.
*According to the U.S. Department of State Regulations, Au pairs are:
- typically foreigners between the age of 18 and 26
- proficient in English
- secondary school graduates or equivalent
- fully capable of participating in the Au pair program as evidenced by passing a physical
- trained in child development (received 24 hours of instruction)
Au pairs are usually young women but are occasionally young men who come to a country and live with a host family free of charge. In exchange for room and board and a weekly stipend, the au-pair cares for the children of the host family for up to 10 hours per day and up to 45 hours per week. Background checks and reference checks are done on each aupair and they each receive at least 8 hours of child safety education.
What are the benefits to hiring an au pair?
- Au pairs provide private care for your children in your home usually for less than the cost of a nanny or babysitter or even a traditional daycare facility.
- Aupairs are paid a flat rate regardless of how many children you have. This can be a huge cost savings for families with several children as most other forms of childcare charge extra for each additional child.
- Because au pairs are paid a flat rate you won’t get charged a per minute late fee like many daycare centers do.
- Many times an au pair’s duties include light housekeeping and getting dinner started. This is particularly beneficial to single parent families but any family would enjoy this benefit I’m sure!
- Au pairs are usually required to have a driver’s license so they can drive the children to their activities or play dates. When children are in a traditional daycare center, they often can’t join many activities due to the fact that they are in daycare during the hours in which they would need to take lessons.
- Children may learn about the aupair’s culture and may even learn to speak a bit of his or her language.
What are the drawbacks to hiring an aupair?
- If your aupair gets sick and is unable to care for the children, there is no back-up as there would be at a daycare facility. Also, the au pair is allowed 2 weeks of vacation per year so again you would need back up or be forced to take vacation at the same time as the au pair.
- If you would like to check your au pair’s references yourself, it is very difficult since she or he is from another country. Even if you are able to reach their references by telephone, there is no guarantee that they can speak English. (Agencies DO check references)
- If your childcare needs exceed 10 hours per day or 45 hours per week, you would have to pay a nanny, babysitter, or other childcare provider for the additional hours in addition to your aupair’s stipend.
- It can be tough adjusting to having a new person living in your home. And, you usually don’t get to meet the aupair in person until she or he begins working for you.
Overall, an au pair is a great choice for a child care provider but you need to decide if an aupair is right for your family. To find an aupair in your area or for more information take a look at Care.com. Care.com has Aupairs and nannies ready to work for you. Some live-in nannies and babysitters refer to themselves as au-pairs but are not part of the foreign aupair program. So to do your own aupair vs. nanny comparison, check out Care.com’s website and view available child care providers now! Help is on the way!.
*US Department of State Regulations