Top Five Misconceptions about Au Pairs
By: Nikki Rene, area director at AuPairCare
What is an au pair? If you answered, “a nanny for rich families,” you would not be alone. This is one of the many common misconceptions people have about au pairs.
In fact, an au pair is a young adult from another country who lives with your family and provides one-on-one live-in child care services in exchange for room and board and a stipend. It is a child care option that is competitively priced with other child care solutions, such as nannies, babysitters and day care centers – with some additional benefits.
Before you rule out an au pair program as a child care option for your family, here is a quick guide that will help you better understand the program.
Myth: Having an au pair is only for high income families
Fact: Hosting an au pair is an affordable child care program for many families across the country. At an average weekly cost of $350 per family, not per child, the au pair program is an especially affordable child care alternative for families with multiple children. Because au pairs provide live-in child care and work up to 45 hours per week, you have the ability to customize your au pairs’ work schedule based on when you need child care.
Myth: Au pairs are not screened or regulated
Fact: All au pair agencies are regulated by the U.S. Department of State and require that au pairs are thoroughly screened, interviewed, tested on English competency, and undergo a comprehensive criminal, personal and professional background check. In addition, many au pairs agencies require au pairs to have first aid and child development training.
Myth: Au pairs don’t speak English
Fact: While au pairs come from many different countries around the world, all au pairs are required to be proficient in spoken English, as regulated by the U.S. Department of State. Au pair agencies conduct an English competency test for all au pair applicants and interview them in English prior to accepting them into the au pair program. Families also have the opportunity to interview au pairs over the phone or on Skype prior to employment.
Myth: International au pairs are all women
Fact: An au pair is any young adult from another country who exchanges child care services for room and board and a stipend. All government-regulated au pair agencies recruit both male and female au pairs. Au pair agencies want to ensure that families can select an au pair that matches their particular needs, skills and background.
Myth: Au pairs are babysitters that speak another language
Fact: Unlike a babysitter, an au pair provides ongoing child care up to 45 hours per week, according to a family’s needs. Au pairs can also perform light household duties associated with children. For example, they can prepare and clean up after meals, do children’s laundry, make the children’s beds, and organize the children’s playrooms/toys. Having an au pair’s assistance with these day-to-day tasks allows you to spend more quality time with your family. In addition, since au pairs are from another country, they provide children and families with a unique window into another culture, sharing games, stories and songs from their home countries.
Myth: Au Pairs only want to learn English and travel
Fact: There are many legal ways for an international person to obtain a visa to the U.S. and travel or learn English. Au pairs are interested in child care and have a love of children. In addition, they have a desire to improve their English, life skills and obtain improved employment opportunities when they return to their home country after the program.