America's First Au Pair Program

Trusted live-in child care — since 1986

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Au Pair in America - Press Release

For Immediate Release

MEDIA CONTACT:
Mike Liberty, AIFS
(203) 399-5187, mliberty@aifs.com


Nation's First Au Pair Agency Turns 30
Au Pair in America Celebrates Three Decades of Au Pair Cultural Exchange


Stamford, Conn.- June 9, 2016 – This year marks the thirtieth anniversary of au pair exchange and a pioneering organization in Stamford, Connecticut. A little more than 30 years ago, Au Pair in America reached out to the U.S. Department of State to propose blending child care and cultural exchange opportunities in response to a national shortage of quality, live-in child care. As a result, Au Pair in America welcomed the first group of au pairs to the United States, in June 1986.

That first group of au pairs arrived from Western Europe to study, to experience life in the United States firsthand and to provide child care. They participated in the pilot program for what has developed into the Au Pair program of the U.S. Department of State. To date, more than 100,000 international au pairs have journeyed to the United States with Au Pair in America.

Au Pair in America Sr. Vice President and Director Ruth Ferry shares, "It was a moment of triumph and celebration moving from what was a pilot program in 1986 to a program central to the objectives of the Department of State's people-to-people exchanges with the full backing of Congress. After permanent regulations in the mid 1990s, we were able to recruit beyond Western Europe and opened up globally. That was huge."

The au pair model of child care originated in Europe. Meaning "on par," au pair was used to describe students providing child care services in exchange for opportunities to travel throughout the continent. Au pairs would participate as temporary members of the families they cared for, differentiated as such from traditional, live-in household staff. In exchange for room and board, a living allowance and the opportunity to study and explore a new location as part of a local family, au pairs provided child care and performed child-related chores.

In the mid 1980s, as more mothers began working outside of the home, American families were seeking child care options to help manage the challenges of two parents in the workforce. Based upon the European model of au pair child care, Au Pair in America proposed the idea of combining cultural exchange and child care to create fulfilling opportunities for au pairs and host families. Aware that the au pair concept had benefited Europeans since the close of World War II, Au Pair in America reached out to the Department of State to create a legal program based on that model and help families stateside.

Ferry explains, "Families choose the program to have someone home with the kids and then begin to recognize the value of a different culture living in their own home and what that does for their children. It opens up the world for them, on their own doorstep. These children realize that the world is much bigger for them."

Three decades later, Au Pair in America is established as the nation's oldest au pair agency. The organization began in the age of landlines and now thrives in the age of smartphones. Much has changed since the first group of au pairs arrived; political boundaries have been redrawn, governments have restructured and technology has exploded. What hasn't changed is the human interaction and cultural exchange on a personal level that is unique to au pair child care.

Regarding the future, Ferry declares, "Au Pair in America is positioned for continued leadership with an eye on what is happening in our global world and how we play a small part in that. Our role is to bring people together one family and one au pair at a time — to make a positive difference. We look ahead with our focus on that and the safety of those that are engaged in that exchange."

The nation's first and largest au pair program, Au Pair in America combines live-in child care and cultural exchange for a mutually rewarding and enriching experience for the entire family. Au Pair in America receives applicants come from nearly 60 countries. Headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, Au Pair in America maintains offices in five countries with a network of more than 600 employees worldwide.

For more information about Au Pair in America, visit www.aupairinamerica.com. To learn more about the U.S. Department of State's Au Pair program, visit http://j1visa.state.gov/programs/au-pair/

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The nation's first and largest au pair program, Au Pair in America combines live-in child care and cultural exchange for a mutually rewarding and enriching experience for the entire family. Au Pair in America receives applicants come from nearly 60 countries. Headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, Au Pair in America maintains offices in five countries with a network of more than 600 employees worldwide.

 

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