Childcare is one of the most challenging and significant decisions a family can make. As parents, we want a stable, yet flexible option that will also provide our kids with a nurturing, loving and enriching environment they’ll enjoy. It’s a tall order! This month, we decided to explore a lesser-known—but increasingly-popular—childcare option that families across the United States have been utilizing for over thirty years: Hosting an au pair!
What exactly is an au pair, you may ask? An au pair is a young adult between the ages of 18-26 from another country who comes to the U.S. on the Department of State’s Exchange Visitor program to live with a host family. The program is federally regulated and allows au pairs to provide up to 45 hours per week of childcare while experiencing life as part of an American family. For host families, it’s a reliable, flexible and trustworthy childcare solution that brings a uniquely cultural and fun new dynamic to the home—and for au pairs, it’s a chance to see a new corner of the world, meet new people and broaden their horizons.
We recently sat down with Cultural Care Au Pair, the country’s largest and most experienced au pair agency, to learn a bit more about the program and get answers to some frequently asked questions.
Why do families choose to host an au pair for their childcare needs?
Hosting an au pair offers flexibility that other childcare options can’t provide. Since au pairs live with their host family, they are able to provide childcare before and after school, during snow days or sick days, and on weekends. Living with you leads to a quick sense of mutual trust, and your au pair comes to know your kids’ needs and schedules as well as you do. They truly become an extended member of the family.
We often hear from host families that they first decided to host an au pair for the flexibility and individual attention their children will receive. What host families come to appreciate as much as the childcare, however, is the extension of their own family, and the lifelong global relationships they make with their au pairs. We find that families who are in need of childcare, and are open to welcoming a new family member, are the best fit for our program.
What qualifications does a person need to have to be considered as an au pair?
All Cultural Care au pairs are between the ages of 18-26 and have a minimum of 200 hours of childcare experience. They must have graduated from high school, have a driver’s license (or be able to obtain one) and be proficient in English. They also undergo a thorough screening process that includes verification of their education, a criminal background check, and a personality profile. Finally, they must provide three personal and professional references.
What countries do au pairs come from?
Cultural Care au pairs come from Europe, Latin America, and Asia—au pairs on our program come from over twenty countries! All au pairs on our program are personally screened by staff. Many families choose au pairs from specific countries because of their own genealogy or heritage, or because they want their children exposed to a particular culture and language. Other families are open to hosting from anywhere!
Where can families go to learn more about the au pair program?
Families can go to culturalcare.com for more information about the program. Should they decide that the program is right for their family, they can create a profile and fill out the save-as-you-go registration at their convenience. Once the registration is submitted, a Cultural Care matching specialist will be in touch to get them started!