Q: Why do host families choose Au Pair in America over other au pair agencies?
A: We are the nation’s first legal au Pair agency, and we were instrumental in creating the standard program regulations in tandem with the Department of State in 1986. Our international partners supply a steady stream of excellent candidates. We also have a robust infrastructure to support the participants through various phases of the program.
Q: What support does Au Pair in America provide for host families?
- Placement Coordinator – a matching expert who will assist you throughout the selection process .
- Community Counselor – your local contact who will support the match once the au pair is in your home.
- Regional Program manager – provides managerial support if problems arise
- 24-7 emergency line staffed by managers.
Q: Tell me about the three program options?
- Standard – the majority of our pool, can assist with childcare up to 45 hours per week/ 10 hours per day.
- Extraordinaire – relatively small percentage of the pool, higher tier of the Standard program. To meet the criteria the au pair needs to have either a degree in a childcare related field, 2 years of full-time relevant experience or 1 year as an au pair before
- EduCare – for children 5+ years old who are in school full time. Offered in select locations only. Can assist with childcare up to 30 hours per week/ 10 hours per day.
All au pairs must have at least one weekend off per month and 1.5 days off per week.
Q: Do you service all areas?
A: We service most metropolitan areas and continue to explore new markets where we believe the program will flourish. Register with us to see if we service your area.
Q: What are the requirements for a potential host family
Host family applicants who join the Au Pair in America program must:
- live in one of the 180 “cluster” areas in the United States serviced by a Community Counselor. Please call us at (800) 928-7247 for assistance.
- provide an appropriate private room and three meals a day for the au pair.
- be U.S. citizens or legal permanent residents fluent in spoken English.
- adhere to the program’s Host Family Agreement, which specifies that the host family:
- limit child care to a maximum of 45 hours per week if participating in the Standard au pair or Extraordinaire programs; 30 hours per week for the EduCare program. The scheduled hours may not exceed 10 hours per day or extend over more than five and a half days. At least one day off is to include the Sabbath if requested.
- pay a weekly stipend based on the program option selected. (refer to chart for minimum stipend levels)
- give the au pair or companion one complete weekend off each month. (Friday evening to Monday morning)
- facilitate your care provider’s requirement to enroll in and attend an accredited post-secondary institution to fulfill the Educational Component requirement.
- provide a minimum of two weeks paid vacation for each 12 month exchange term (prorated for extension periods of 6 months), in addition to regular weekly/monthly time off.
- include the au pair or companion whenever possible in family meals, outings, holidays and other events.
- provide automobile coverage for the au pair/companion if she is driving your vehicle(s) and list her as an operator on your insurance policy to be fully protected.
- encourage the au pair/companion to return to her home country at the end of her 12-month visa term or, in the event she is authorized to remain for an extension period, at the conclusion of that period. Agree not to support her sponsorship for another visa status before her return to her home country.
- provide the opportunity (and transportation) for the au pair/companion to attend regular monthly “cluster” meetings with the Community Counselor.
- participate in an annual host family workshop planned by your Community Counselor.
- maintain monthly contact with the Community Counselor.
- have one or both parents or other responsible adult remain home during the first three days after the au pair or companion’s arrival to help train and acclimate her to child care responsibilities, the home and community.
- never leave an au pair in sole charge of a child under three months of age.
- sign an agreement with the au pair/companion upon her arrival which outlines days and hours of child care services to be provided.
Q: Do you work with single parents?
A: Absolutely! We are proud to serve all family structures. You will have the opportunity to talk about your unique family and all you have to offer in the family essay.
Q: Do I have to commit for a year?
A: All out-of-country au pairs are committing to a one-year contract, with the option to extend for 6, 9 or 12 months. When matching with an out of country au pair, the family must be willing to commit to a one year. If you do not require coverage for a year, your option would be to match with an extension au pair who is extending for 6 or 9 months. This extension pool is limited, so we strongly encourage you to be open to full year out of country placements.
Q: Can au pair provide pet care? Can they drive my elderly parents to doctor visits?
A: The au pair’s focus is on the minor children. They can interact with the family pets, but caring for them cannot be a part of their built-in responsibilities. The same would be true for elderly family members.
Q: Can an au pair get side jobs while in the US? Can they work at a restaurant or babysit other people’s children?
A: The au pair cannot take any additional paid jobs while on the au pair program/J1 visa. They can get involved in community service, volunteer and participate in interest specific clubs, but cannot take additional paid jobs.
Q: What if I need my au pair for more than 45 hours per week? I work 12 hours shifts. Can I pay overtime?
A: Per program regulations, an au pair cannot provide child care assistance for more than 45 hours per week, 10 hours per day. You would need to secure supplemental childcare for any hours in excess of what is allowed based on Department of State regulations.
Q: Do au pairs attend college while in the US?
A: There is a modest academic requirement that can easily be fulfilled through accredited colleges and universities – 6 credits for Standard or Extraordinaire, 12 credits for EduCare.
You Community Counselor will provide school options to your au pair.
Q: What kind of screening does a host family go through?
A: Host families are required to submit:
- Sample schedule
- Professional & personal references
- Background checks for all adult family members living in the home.
The community counselor will schedule a house interview to meet the family members and check the au pair’s room to ensure compliance with Department of State regulations. The host family file must be complete 30 days prior to the au pair’s arrival.
Q: What screening process do au pairs go through?
A: Qualifying au pairs for the program is a meticulous, multi-tier process that involves:
- Reference check: personal & professional, you can find translations of these references in the au pair application, criminal background check
- Personal meeting with an interviewer (see Interview Report in au pair application for details)
- English proficiency test (required by some countries like Brazil and Colombia)
- 16PF Personality test to ensure resilience and adaptability.
- Physical Exam report must be submitted prior to departure to ensure the au pair meets our medical guidelines.
Q: What are the requirements for being an au pair?
A: The candidates must meet the following requirements
- Between the age of 18 and 26 (under 27 at the time of arrival)
- Hold an equivalent of high-school diploma
- Speaks and understands English.
- Hold a valid driver’s license.
- Unmarried at the time of application to the program
Have at least 200 hours of documented childcare experience within the past 3 years (most have many more than that). This experience should not all come from family members.
Q: What makes an au pair infant qualified?
A: The candidate needs to have at least 200 hours of documented experience with children under the age of 2. In addition to this experience, they must be willing to care for infants.
Q: What documents do I need to start interviewing au pairs?
A: Be sure to have the following documents in place before reaching to any candidates
- Photos – they don’t have to be studio quality but should represent the immediate family members the au pair will be interacting with.
- Essay – in the portal there is a link to a sample essay that you can use as a stepping stone to drafting your own.
References and the background check can be submitted after you match.
Q: I have a child with special needs / medical condition. Can I host an au pair?
- We have au pairs with hands-on experience with specific conditions, and many are willing to learn new caregiving routines.
- If you checked off the “special needs” box, your search will render only those candidates who indicated special needs care willingness.
- Be sure to describe your child’s diagnosis in the essay so the prospective au pairs have a clear understanding of the special care required.
Q: How can we ensure that the au pairs are compatible with our pets?
- During the application process you can check any relevant boxes under “pets”.
- The au pair needs to have indicated compatibility with that specific pet in order to show up in your search. Example: if you have cats, and the au pair indicated they are allergic to them, they will not come up in your search.
- Include photos of your pets in your photo gallery so the au pair can see the size of the animal.
- Be careful with the “other” pets box to avoid unintended mismatches. When in doubt, ask your Placement Coordinator.
Q: How far in advance should I start the matching process?
A: Ideally you should start your search process 3-4 months in advance of the desired arrival date to ensure ample time for interviewing and visa processing without the pressure of deadlines.
(Insert matching guide)
Q: Who will help me with the matching process?
A: You are strongly encouraged to connect with your designated Placement Coordinator. Your local Community Counselor’s job is to provide local support once the au pair is in your home. Your counselor can educate you about the size, composition and activity of the cluster. The Placement Coordinator will help you navigate the pool and secure a suitable match.
Q: How do I connect with the Placement Coordinator?
A: There are several ways to connect. Upon application, you will receive a welcome email with your Placement Coordinator’s contact information.
- Set up a call during their office hours (9-5 EST)
- For coverage outside of our regular business hours, you can request a placement consultation through your host family portal.
- Communicate via email. If you don’t have time for a phone call, you can send your preferences to your placement coordinator in email format.
Q: What will be covered during the placement consultation?
A: The Placement Coordinator will review your application.
This consultation is your chance to discuss your specific preferences such as:
- Driving experience
- Swimming abilities
- Hobbies, interests and other self-identified skills
The Placement Coordinator will go over the following points:
- Features of the portal, the content and functions of various tabs
- The protocol for initiating contact, conducting interviews, making an offer and finalizing the match in the portal
- Timeline for obtaining the visa
Q: What does the au pair interviewing process look like?
A: Here is a brief outline of the process:
- The Placement coordinator will be assigning applicants and you can also self-search. It’s a collaborative effort.
- When you see someone you like, click on “get au pair’s contact” and follow up with a personalized email to introduce yourself and propose a time to skype or facetime.
- Reach out to multiple candidates at a time to be able to compare and contrast the applicants and create more options to choose from.
- Once you are ready to commit to a candidate, make an explicit offer via email or video chat, and once they agree to be your au pair, click on “match with this au pair” and follow the prompts.
- ( Insert Interview quick guide)
Q: What if I reach out to an au pair and they don’t get back to me?
A: You can wait for 24-48 hours for a response, and if you don’t hear back, check your spam first, and then click on “having trouble contacting this au pair”, which sends a message to our UK office. Our colleagues in London will follow up with the candidate.
If, despite our efforts, the au pair still does not respond to you, we recommend that you remove them from your interview list to open up a spot for someone else. New applicants enter the pool every day, and we recommend you ‘cast a wide’ net and give other candidates a chance. Focus on those who are responsive and show active interest in your family.
Q: The au pair I am interested in is asking for a higher weekly stipend. Is that normal? What are other families offering?
A: The au pairs have always been allowed to negotiate a higher weekly stipend, and it’s become more common in recent years. Stipend discussions* are a part of the interviewing/negotiating process., If a candidate’s stipend request is outside of your budget, you do not have to agree to it . Focus on the full picture that you and your family can offer.
*Placement Coordinators do not know how much other families are offering, as we do not participate in those discussions.
Q: Do I have to buy a separate car for the au pair?
A: That depends on your specific situation and budget. For many families driving the kids to school and activities are a big component of the au pair’s job. They either designate a separate vehicle or just add the au pair to their car insurance plan and let them use one of the existing vehicles. Host families are required to provide transportation to and from classes and cluster meetings.
Q: How many interviews should I conduct on average?
A: There is no magic number of interviews. It depends on factors like how broad or narrow your search criteria is, your timeline for arrival, how far in advance you are looking, and how much time you can dedicate to the search process. You must have at least 1 video chat or phone call with an au pair before making an offer to match.
Q: Which platforms do you use for video chats?
A: You can pick a platform that works for both of you, that offers the best quality sound and picture. Many au pairs use Skype. Some prefer WhatsApp. You can also use Zoom or Facetime. Strong connectivity is key to a productive interview.
Q: How do I finalize the match?
A: Here are some tips:
- Having several options. In a perfect world, you would have 2-3 finalists on your short list. If your first choice does not say “yes”, or needs more time, you have other options to explore. If you put all your hopes in one candidate, and they decline your offer, you will end up back at square one – and you want to avoid being in that situation. Remember, every candidate has something unique to offer.
- Make an official offer to your first choice. Explicitly state your eagerness to match and verify that the au pair feels the same way. If they agree on the spot, you can proceed with clicking on “match with this au pair” and follow the prompts to select a start date, sign the match agreement and pay the match fee. At this point that au pairs application is taken out of circulation, which means nobody else can approach them and you are unable to review other au pairs. If the au pair explicitly declines, move to your next shortlisted candidate.
- Waiting for the au pair’s decision. If the au pair needs time to consider your offer, agree on a timeline and try to stick to it. They could be considering other offers or wanting to honor previously scheduled interviews. 48-72 hours is a reasonable timeframe. Until you get a firm “yes” from your top pick, continue to stay in touch with the other candidates on your shortlist.
- Support from your placement coordinator. While we do not influence the au pair’s decision, we can try to get more insight into where they are in their matching process. We can reach out and ask if there are any additional questions or reservations about matching with a particular family, which can speed up the decision-making process.
- Be sure to enter the match promptly. Sometimes the family is away from the computer and unable to enter the match right away. The au pair continues circulating in the system appearing as though they are still available. In some cases, au pairs interpret that as a sign of hesitation on the family’s part. It’s also frustrating for other families to reach out to a candidate only to find out that they are verbally committed to someone else. So please do your best to finalize your match promptly.
Q: If I have questions after the match is made, who is my point of contact?
A: We have a designated Post Placement Coordinator, Michelle Librandi @mlibrandi or 203-399-5052 who will be happy to answer any questions leading up to your au pair’s arrival.
Q: How long does it take to process the au pair’s visa?
A: Most countries take 6-8 weeks to process the visa. You can find the timelines under your Resource Tab, Travel & Flight section.
Q: My au pair got a visa. I need them ASAP! When is the flight booked?
A: In most cases the flight can be booked within 2 weeks of the visa being granted verbally.
Q: I see all arrivals are on a Wednesday? Can we pick another day?
A: All out of country au pairs arrive on a Wednesday to your home.
Q: What if the au pair’s visa is denied?
A: Unfortunately, we cannot guarantee any au pair’s arrival. We have no control over the decision of the embassy officer. It’s a good idea to have backup childcare in place in case your chosen au pair cannot arrive due to visa denial (or any other unforeseen circumstances).
In case of a visa denial, host families can write a letter of support for the au pair, if you both agree to give the process another try, but you should continue exploring other options during the appeal process.
Ask your Placement Coordinator for assistance if you wish to continue exploring au pair candidates.