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Au Pair Experts Interview with Au Pair Clearinghouse
Mary Kass, President of Au Pair Foundation
Mary Kass has spent the greater part of her professional career working for the mission of cultural exchange. She opened Au Pair Foundation, located in Novato, California, in 2006. Mary graduated from Marquette University and has a Master's degree in Psychology. In our interview, Ms. Kass talks about new changes at her au pair agency, Au Pair Foundation, and how the economy is affecting the au pair industry and shares her expert advise on how host parents can match with a great au pair.
Located in Novato, California, Au Pair Foundation offers a personal & hands-on approach with each of their host families and au pairs. This boutique agency prides itself on excellent customer service, a responsive staff that is available 24/7 and receives good ratings for their phone service and website features. You will want to read this interview if you are interested in a small agency that works very hard to deliver excellent customer service!
Read more about the President of Au Pair Foundation in her bio.
Edina Stone: Thank you Mary for talking to the Clearinghouse! I was very happy to have had the opportunity to speak to your former director, Olivia Frere, who gave us an interview in 2011. I know she has moved on to bigger and better things, and I am wondering, who is overseeing the everyday running of Au Pair Foundation today?
Mary Kass: Thank you for allowing me to provide information about Au Pair Foundation (APF) to you! Yes, APF has welcomed a new team to provide our program with some excellent guidance and support.
Exclusive Interview with the Vice President of Au Pair Care, Heidi Woehl
Heidi Woehl has been the VP of Au Pair Care since 1997.
In our interview, Heidi talks about what makes Au Pair Care one of the leading au pair agencies in the industry, au pair trends, host family changes over the years, most popular au pairs today and how her agency meets the challenges of providing excellent customer service and well-screened au pairs.
What Heid Woehl has to say about Customer Service
Woehl: Au Pair Care has been sponsoring au pairs since 1989 and over the past 20 years our program has gone from sponsoring a few 100 au pairs to several thousand annually. We are one of the largest agencies in the U.S. I am also very proud to say that the majority of Au Pair care managers have been with the company for over 15 years (including myself)...We've focused on growing the program steadily and responsibly so we can provide great service across the country.
Au Pair Trends
Woehl: Au pair trends do continually change. When the Department of State first created the au pair program, the majority of au pairs were recruited from European countries - England and Ireland were the most popular countries. In the 1990's, as Eastern Europe began to open up, the industry saw an increase in au pairs coming from countries such as the Czech Republic, Poland, Estonia, Hungary. A few years ago, countries such as Brazil and other South American countries began recruiting even larger numbers of au pairs.
Host Family Trends
Woehl: We are serving more families who have more children and lots more families with multiples! Hosting an au pair is a very affordable and practical solution for larger families...
Find out more about why this agency might be a good choice for your family!
Interview with Marisa Lonic, Director of Au Pair Academy
Au Pair Academy Director Marisa Lonic has a very diverse international, instructional and management background. Growing up, she lived in both Italy and New York and has traveled extensively.
"Having lived in another country, I can relate to what our au pairs are going through when they arrive at the Academy - they are excited, nervous and not sure what to expect. The Academy environment is supportive and educational so our au pairs can be confident about the year ahead."
Marisa received her Masters of Education while studying in Padua, Italy and has held positions at the high school and college level teaching Spanish and Italian. Prior to joining AuPairCare, she was a manager and trainer for a diverse team of foreign language and ESL instructors in Manhattan.
Edina: We are thrilled to be speaking to Marisa Lonic today about the Au Pair Academy located in New Jersey. Marisa, welcome to the Clearinghouse and thank you for the opportunity to learn more about AuPairCare’s training of their au pairs. When I interviewed Heidi Woehl, VP of AuPairCare, in 2010, she spoke about the great job the Au Pair Academy is doing to prepare new au pairs for their new year abroad with American families.
I am looking forward to learning more about the Au Pair Academy and the training Au Pair Care au pairs receive.
Natalie Jordan Discusses NEW Cultural Care Improvements
Natalie Jordan is the Senior Vice President of Cultural Care Au Pair and has been with the agency since 1999. She focuses on customer service and maintaining oversight of all program regulations. She works closely with the U.S. Department of State to ensure the highest levels of compliance. Ms. Jordan is the author of a Cultural Care blog called Nat's Chat where she offers information, guidance, ideas and support. She is a graduate of Franklin & Marshall College, in PA and studied at Oxford University in England.
Natalie Jordan talks to the Clearinghouse about new developments at Cultural Care! Read about the training au pairs receive at their Au Pair Training School, located at St. John's University in NYC; their new au pairs from China and Thailand; the return of the Irish au pair and Cultural Care's new and improved recruitment and screening methods.
Exclusive Interview With Natalie Jordan, Senior VP of Cultural Care
Natalie Jordan shares her experience working in the au pair industry for over 20 years and releases an exclusive announcement just for Au Pair Clearinghouse's members:
Jordan: An important distinction between Cultural Care Au Pair and every other au pair agency is our recruitment structure. Let me explain the au pair recruitment process.
Over the years, 80-90% of our au pairs have been recruited through these Cultural Care offices and the small balance was recruited through a handful of trusted agents. All other organizations rely on agents for the vast majority, if not the entirety, of their au pair recruitment efforts.
Agents are independent companies based locally in a sending country who partner with various au pair and other travel organizations and are paid on a commission basis.
We are happy to announce here at Au Pair Clearinghouse that starting this fall 2010, we will no longer recruit through any agents...
Find out how this change can affect the quality of au pairs at Cultural Care going forward!
Exclusive Interview with Tanna Wilson, Go Au Pair's Managing Director
We are happy to talk to Tanna Wilson, au pair expert and Managing Director of Go Au Pair, about Chinese au pairs and why they may be a good choice for your family's childcare needs. Educated parents want their children to be exposed to the new China and to start learning Mandarin - hosting a Chinese au pair may be the answer!
Tanna Wilson has been the Managing Director at Go Au Pair since 2008. Wilson's background with Go Au Pair spans over a decade with tenure as a Flight and Placement Coordinator, and most recently, as the Director of International Relations.
Wilson graduated in Travel and Tourism and has used her scholastic experience extensively during her time with Go Au Pair and while serving on the International Au Pair Association's (IAPA) Executive Board for three years.
Having traveled to over 20 different countries, Wilson enjoys her opportunity to visit new countries and experience new cultures and languages.
Exclusive Interview with Nancy Felix, Author of Oh My, Au Pair! A Complete Guide to Hiring & Hosting an Au Pair.
Author and expert host parent, Nancy Felix talks about why she hired her first au pair over 10 years ago and what she has learned after 14 au pairs! Whether you are trying to decide if an au pair is right for your family or you have hosted an au pair before and want a better experience, her book is a must-read. Nancy tells Edina why she wrote the book and how to avoid the pitfalls of hosting an au pair. Overall, this expert host mom and author highly recommends au pairs as a good, reliable childcare
Read an excerpt from our interview with Nancy Felix:
Felix: Over nine years, I had thirteen au pairs. In the community I lived in, I was the go-to person for anyone thinking about the au pair program. I was always happy to share my stories – some good, some bad, and some just plain crazy! So, I decided to write the book.
The agencies are big business…it is their job to make matches and sell the program. They definitely highlight the positive aspects of having an au pair but there is so much more a host parent needs to know…
Another challenge is that first time host parents can only handle so much information…. It’s hard to think through all the situations that you might need to be prepared for. This book walks someone through all aspects of having an au pair…from hiring through hosting.
Interview with Michael McHugh, Director of Au Pair USA
Michael McHugh has been the Program Director of InterExchange Au Pair USA, based in New York City, since 2004. Michael fell in love with cultural exchange during a year-long study abroad program to the U.K. and specifically sought out a career that would allow him to continue promoting these ideas to the larger world.
Since then, he has lived and worked in Japan for three years and France for one year before returning to New York in 2002 to work for InterExchange. Au Pair USA, located in New York, is a mid-size program, servicing between 500-700 host families a year.
International Author and Academic, Dr. Mark Gaulter and CEO of Expert Au Pair, Interviews with Au Pair Clearinghouse.
Dr. Gaulter discusses his agency, located in St. Petersburg, Florida, and makes an important announcement about an exciting new program for families with special needs children.
He also explains what a pre-match is and how it can put money in your pocket:
Gaulter: I’m really happy that we’ve been able to increase our prematch discount through the end of the year. A discount of a thousand dollars is a phenomenal deal that should help families at this difficult time.
Find out why every au pair from Expert Au Pair comes with a book. Read about two new countries that offer highly motivated au pairs dedicated to their jobs. Dr. Gaulter shares his expert advice on hosting an au pair for the first time and talks about his own personal experience with his first au pair.
Dr. Gaulter says, "Having au pairs adds a global perspective to your children's lives, the value of which cannot be overestimated."
Exclusive Interview with Psychologist Who Developed Popular Au Pair Screening Test
Dr. Flowers co-designed the Booraem-Flowers Au Pair Psychometric Test used by several leading au pair agencies, including Au Pair Care.
John Flowers received his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology as a Woodrow Wilson Fellow and was a Professor of Social Ecology at the University of California at Irvine before his current position at the Chapman University as a Professor of Psychology.
Dr. Flowers’ areas of research are cognitive-behavioral therapy process and outcome studies with special emphasis on group therapy, and in addition to numerous publications he has been an editor of three of the foremost journals devoted to group therapy.
Edina: We are delighted to speak with Dr. Flowers, the co-developer of the well-known au pair psychometric test, Booraem-Flowers.
Thank you very much Dr. Flowers, for agreeing to interview with the Clearinghouse!
Dr. Flowers: It's a pleasure
Edina: What is your au pair screening test designed to measure?
Flowers: It is designed to detect candidates who may be unsafe for children in either the candidate's judgment or the candidate’s ability to control their emotions in stressful situations.
Edina: This is an important test that can eliminate a parent’s uncertainty of hiring a foreign childcare giver over the phone. How does the test get scored and what are the criteria for determining what is “unsafe for children?” Can you also tell us which agencies use your test?
Michael Cody, Director & Owner of Planet Au Pair, speaks with Edina Spanish Au Pairs
Edina: Thank you Michael for taking time to interview with the Clearinghouse. Our readers are very interested in au pairs from Spain. Would you tell us about yourself and your company, Planet Au Pair?
Michael Cody: Planet Au Pair is an au pair agency we started in 1992 by sending Spanish au pairs to England and the USA. We started getting requests for English speaking au pairs from Spanish families so we started doing that as well, getting English speaking au pairs through local newspaper ads.
Once the Internet was available in Spain, we were the first Spanish au pair agency online and we have expanded immensely and place au pairs throughout Spain, Western Europe and the USA.
Edina: American host parents are eager to host with au pairs who speak Spanish. Public schools across the country are adding Spanish to their core curriculums and parents know having an au pair who is fluent can help their child learn Spanish.
Exclusive Interview with Tamaki Bowman, CEO of AuPair International Japan (AIJ)
AIJ, is a “sending agency” from Japan that recruits au pairs from Japan and sends them to the USA through two of the 12 Department of State approved au pair agencies: Au Pair International and Au Pair Foundation.
Ms. Bowman shares her insights and expertise working with Japanese au pairs.
Bowman: .. Japanese au pairs are are extremely patient. They don’t lose their temper easily - this is a cultural difference as we are taught to be patient by our parents in Japan.
In Japan, families and relatives live together or close to each other, and have strong ties for generations. I see the same tradition here in the U.S. A sense of family is very strong in Japan, and people normally value their family and take care of their family members very well.
All our applicants have a strong interest in working in the U.S. as an au pair with a main goal of learning English and developing a wonderful relationship with their host family. We give them a very detailed orientation about the program during the screening process, so all of our au pairs have the right expectations and understanding of the program by the time they arrive in the U.S. As a result, our applicants fully understand that living and working in the U.S. is a one-of-a-kind experience and is a very serious commitment.
Hear more about au pairs from Japan, how well they drive and all about their maturity and high academic achievements - you may be pleasantly surprised!
.".........Read this interview.
Dr. Daniel Miller, Author of new research book, Au Pair, Interviews with Edina Stone
Dr. Miller, professor of anthropology at the University College London and Zuzana Burikova, an ethnologist at Massaryk University in the Czech Republic, recently published their book, Au Pair, after a year’s research in the UK. Dr. Burikova interviewed 50 au pairs working in London (some changed households, so in total they represented 86 host families).
All the au pairs were from Dr. Burikova’s native land of Slovakia. The research focused on one of the largest groups of the approximately 90,000 au pairs working in Britain today. Dr. Miller discusses the exploitation of au pairs, what to know before matching, the difficult relationship between host moms and their au pairs, and why it's important to avoid stereotyping and making cultural assumptions.
"I had sixteen au pairs during the period my children were growing up and mostly these were very successful and I came to know some very good and interesting people we remain in touch with."
"I would like to say I am delighted that someone has made the effort to actually read this book and not misrepresent it and we hope that this is genuinely useful to anyone who wants to have a better understanding of au pairs. Thank you Edina." Dr. Miller
Interview with Ms. Gloria Grabois, LAR (Local Agency Representative) of Go Au Pair.
My Personal Bio by Gloria Grabois – LAR for Go Au Pair.
I was born in Chile and I am also a citizen of the United States and Croatia. My family background is Croatian, French and Spanish. I came to the US as a young student and then moved here permanently as a young woman. Since a very young age I have had the opportunity to travel widely, including Europe, Asia, Africa, North, Central and South America. I speak several languages, including English, Spanish, French, Portuguese and Italian. I have a degree in Early Childhood Education with a concentration in Psychology and Special Education. I have been with Go Au Pair since December 1991 and over the years I have serviced over 500 families. I do as much volunteer work as I can, focusing on education and literature and I am a member of the Junior League of the Oranges and Short Hills. I live in South Orange, NJ with my husband, 20 your old son, who is a senior in college, and 3 dogs: Lola, a 10 year old black Lab, a 3 year old miniature pinscher and a 3 month old Maltese Shitzu mix.
Edina's Exclusive Interview with Top Cultural Care Golden League LCC, Deb Schwarz
Deb Schwarz, LCC for Cultural Care
Deb lives and works in Marin County, California where she services over 60 au pairs since 2003. She has a BA in Psychology from Wake Forest and a Master's in Market Research from the University of Georgia. Deb is well traveled and has lived in England, Scotland, Australia, Boston and NYC. She was among the top 1% in the country to be inducted into Cultural Care's Golden Heart League, which recognizes the best and brightest of their LCCs.
This is part one is a series of interviews with LCCs and counselors. Deb talks with Edina about Matching and how to find the best au pair 'fit' for your family and the Top Most Important Au Pair Qualities to look for when interviewing an au pair. If you live in Marin County, CA, you need to read this interview!
Exclusive Interview with Au Pair Foundation
Olivia Frere was born in France but grew up in California. Olivia has traveled abroad extensively since moving to the States and has a passion for cultural exchange.
Olivia was very excited to join the the Au Pair Foundation team in 2010 as Program Manager. Since then, Ms. Frere has expanded the program into several new states, which increasing significantly the numbers of repeat and extension host families.
In our new 2012 interview with Ms. Frere, learn about Au Pair Foundation's plans to recruit from Costa Rica and their new Chinese au pairs who have nursing experience and training. Au Pair Foundation, a small agency located in Novato, California, takes great pride in their hand's on & personal customer service.