The concept of the Au Pair originated in Europe after World War II. Before the war, an abundant supply of domestic servants had been available to look after the children of middle and upper class families, but changes in social attitudes, and increases in wages and taxes after the war, made the old system inaccessible to most middle class parents. At the same time, social change increased the number of middle class girls who needed to earn their own living, and rising educational ambitions for girls made experiencing foreign cultures and learning foreign languages more common aspirations. However, due to the stigma attached to being a “servant”, an essentially working class status which even working class people were repudiating, this potential supply for domestic labor could only be utilised if a new non-servant role was created. Thus the Au Pair, who was supposed to be treated as a member of the family rather than a servant, and was not required to wear a uniform. – “Au Pair.” Wikipedia: The Online Encyclopedia. 4/13/2011 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Au_pair
Before 1986 there was no legal way for American families to enjoy the benefits of a cultural childcare experience. Interest in an Au Pair Program began when two agencies applied to the United States Information Agency (USIA) to conduct a program under the Fulbright-Hays Authority. They tested the program with approximately 200 Au Pairs. The Au Pair Program officially began in 1988 when Congress instructed that the program be continued. Then, in 1989, the program was expanded to include six additional government designated companies. Go Au Pair is one of the originally designated Au Pair Agencies and has been administering the program for over 20 years. Today, there are approximately 12,000 Au Pairs in the United States.
1994 – The U.S. Department of Labor (DoL) determined that the Au Pair stipend constitutes “wages” because an employer-employee relationship exists between the Au Pair and Host Family. Accordingly, the stipend given Au Pairs must conform with minimum wage law and adjustments. The forumula they use to calculate the stipend is, 45 hours per week multiplied by the minumum wage minus a DoL determined credit for room and board equals the weekly stipend.
1995 – The Department of State (DoS) put into effect, by official proclamation, regulations governing the program. These were the first comprehensive regulations addressing Au Pair and Host Family selection, screening, and placement.
1996 – The Au Pair stipend is set at $128.25 per week.
1997 – Additional regulations were published in the Federal Register, providing further clarification regarding Au Pair screening and training. The Au Pair stipend was set at $139.05 per week.
1999 – Congress extended the Au Pair Program under the DoS, Educational and Cultural Affairs Bureau.
2001 – The EduCare program, for Host Families with school-aged children who need less hours of childcare per week, was established.
2004 – Government visa regulations changed allowing Au Pairs to extend their stay in the U.S. for an additional 6, 9, or 12 months.
2008 – The Au Pair stipend is set at $176.85 per week.
2009 – The Au Pair stipend is set at $195.75 per week.