What is an au pair? In order of importance:
1. A Family Member
Au pairs are young men and women from foreign countries whom, in exchange for childcare services, live with a host family for the opportunity to live the American life for one year. The term ‘au pair’ is a French word meaning on par or equal to. This describes the type of relationship an au pair has with his/her host family. They live with you and are respected as a member of your family while providing childcare and a cultural experience for the household.
Au pairs are enthusiastic young adults that consider the opportunity to visit the United States a chance of a lifetime! In order for your au pair to travel to the U.S., they went through an extensive application and qualification process, in addition to a financial contribution of their own. In return, they are eager to experience the following:
- To live with an American host family
- Feel safe and welcomed in his/her new home
- To be received as a family member
- Attend an accredited college/university
- Explore the United States
- Experience American culture
- Participate in family activities
- Attend outside group events
- To practice his/her English
- Share her/his language with your family
- Tour the surrounding area
- Meet and make new friends
- Have an enriched experience
2. An Employee
An au pair can provide your family with full-time, customized childcare and light housekeeping for approximately $341 per week regardless of the number of children in your home.
A Standard Au Pair can provide childcare up to 45 hours per week, no more than 10 hours per day. They must have 1 1/2 consecutive days off per week, 1 complete weekend off per month, 2 weeks paid vacation, and a weekly stipend of at least $195.75. As part of the cultural exchange, the au pair must take 6 credit hours of education during their year and host families pay a tuition contribution up to $500.
An Educare® Au Pair can provide childcare up to 30 hours per week, no more than 10 hours per day. They must have 1 1/2 consecutive days off per week, 1 complete weekend off per month, 2 weeks paid vacation, and a weekly stipend of at least $146.81. As part of the cultural exchange, the au pair must take 12 credit hours of education during their year and host families pay a tuition contribution up to $1,000.
3. A Young Ambassador
GOODWILL AMBASSADOR – An individual from one country who resides in or travels to another country, in a diplomatic mission or international friendship mission, at a peer level. Goodwill ambassadors general deliver goodwill or promote ideals from one population to another.
A host family has a special privilege and a truly unique opportunity to experience the world in the comfort of their home. As they welcome au pairs into their homes, they are promoting mutual cultural understanding and contributing to public diplomacy and foreign policy. Children will receive a global education as they learn about the au pair’s country and culture. Hosting an au pair is a great way for children to be introduced to different languages and to become prepared to succeed in a multi-cultural society.
What are an au pair’s qualifications?
Every applicant has passed Go Au Pair’s uniform screening process. Therefore, while searching for an au pair you can focus on the important characteristics that make each au pair an unique individual.
- Age 18 to 26 years old
- High School graduates (or equivalent)
- English speakers
- Prior experience as child care providers
- Interviewed in person and in English by a Go Au Pair International Representative
Go Au Pair’s Additional Requirements:
- Completed an application
- Written a ‘Dear Host Family’ letter
- Provided a photo collage
- Passed a criminal background check
- Passed a psychometric test
- Completed a physical exam by a doctor
- Recognized character and childcare traits that they possess
- Provided at least 2 childcare references
- Provided at least 1 character references
- Received 32 hours of childcare training from Go Au Pair
Go Au Pair’s New York Introductory Workshop:
The workshop is a recommended, but optional, training in addition to the required 32 hours of training which is received in the Au Pair’s home country. The objectives are to reduce culture shock, teach first aid and CPR skills, and experience New York City. If an au pair does attend the live training, there is no additional cost to the host family or au pair. Some topics covered during the three day workshop include:
- Review of driving in the U.S. such as signs, rules, policies
- Movies, TV and music ratings
- American holidays
- American food
- Cell Phone billing and international calls
- Personal space
- Educational requirements review
- Insurance coverage review
- CPR and First Aid Classes
What are an au pair’s duties?
It is important that you understand the program before deciding if you and your family will benefit. Please keep in mind that while you are an employer of the young person who will care for your children in the next year, you are also a host. The au pair is a guest in your home and in the United States, perhaps for the first time, and how you interact with the au pair will create powerful and lasting images about our country and its people. The ultimate responsibility of the well being of your children continues to rest with you, and you must be prepared to work with the au pair to establish the best care for your children.
Acceptable Au Pair Duties:
- Direct childcare and supervision
- Picking up children’s area
- Vacuuming children’s area
- Dusting children’s area
- Making children’s beds
- Doing children’s laundry
- Preparing children’s meals
- Washing children’s dishes
- Homework assistance
- Driving children to school and activities
- And, of course, caring for her own living area
Unacceptable Au Pair Duties:
- Family grocery shopping
If, for example, on the way home the au pair is driving past the grocery story and you discover you are out of milk, you may ask your au pair to stop and pick it up. If the au pair uses her own pocket money, you must reimburse her. Try not to make instances like this recurring.
- Replenishing parent food items
Of course, you can ask the au pair to pass you the mash potatoes. But, if the mashed potatoes are in the kitchen and you’re in the formal dining room please retrieve them yourself.
- Preparing and serving meals for parents
Dinnertime is a family event and dinner should be prepared as a family, of which the au pair is a part. A romantic dinner for two or an authentic cultural meal can be an au pair’s gift to her host parents but is not her responsibility no matter how well she cooks.
- Cleaning up & washing parent’s dishes
Dinnertime is a family event and dinner should be cleaned up as a family. If you have lunch in your home office you can’t expect an au pair to come in after and clear your mess.
- Doing parent’s laundry
This includes dropping off and picking up dry cleaning.
- Cleaning parent’s bedroom or private bathroom
- Heavy housecleaning that requires inspection
Au pairs don’t clean garages, basements, or attics. They don’t do baseboards, scrub tile, run a carpet cleaner or clean light fixtures. Spring cleaning and yard sales tend to be family events, you may ask him/her if (s)he’d like to participate but it cannot be required. The au pair’s capacity could be to assist the children with their duties.
- Caring for other family’s children
Play dates are great! But your children’s friends must have their own childcare giver or parent present.
- Overnight care that exceeds 10 hours.
If you work an 8 hour night shift and your commute is 1 hour there and 1 hour back, this is acceptable. However, with romantic getaway weekends for two childcare needs to be supervised by friends or family, not the au pair.
If you have a task that you would like your au pair to perform, but it is not included in the list of common au pair duties, a good way to determine whether or not it conforms to program regulations is to apply it to the following two questions: 1) Would the activity be performed by a caregiver in a day care facility? 2) Does the duty have the word “children” in it? If the answer is “yes” to both questions, the work assignment is likely to be in compliance with the DoS, and can be included in your au pair’s work schedule. If you have any questions regarding an au pair’s childcare duties, please don’t hesitate to contact me.