Getting Started With Au Pairs - An Educated Parent Makes the Best Childcare Consumer
Working parents are responsible for choosing the best childcare for their children. Today, with 2 paycheck families, we cannot get by with the help of family and friends - parents need reliable, cost-effective and convenient childcare. Most of us today need full-time childcare.
As a parent, it is your responsibility to ensure that your child is safe and happy in a childcare environment that is both safe and nurturing.
Not all childcare options are the same - there are safety issues, regulations to consider and, of course, cost.
When you compare the 3 most popular childcare choices, au pair care is the most affordable option.
However, not all au pair agencies are the same. We make your search for the best au pair agency easy - let us do the work for you! Do your homework before you sign on the dotted line!
Three Most Popular Childcare Choices Available Today:
Day Care Centers
Pros: USA Today reported (2010) that over 19% of children are enrolled in center-based childcare centers. Fees are calculated per child and most daycare centers are usually reasonable for the average family's budget, but only if you do not have more than 2 children. Parents like the idea that their child will be supervised and cared for by multiple caregivers and the hours of operation cover the traditional, 8-9 hour work schedule.
Cons: Screening of daycare workers varies greatly from one state to another. Most daycare centers are not required to administer a psychometric test that has to be implemented in all legal au pair agencies. Psychometric tests can flag poor judgment, propensity for drug and alcohol addictions, immaturity and more.
Costs may be high depending on your area and if you have multiple children (daycare charges per child), daycare can be very expensive! The average cost is about $200 per week, per child or $800 a month. You have to deliver and pick up your children and if you are late at pick-up, you may be charged extra.
For parents who do work over the traditional 8 hour a day job, daycare can be very expensive and inconvenient. In addition, if you child is sick, you cannot drop them off and then you stay home with your child. If you need coverage on weekends, you will spend extra $$$ for a babysitter.
Costs for Daycare: Daycare charges per child. The average cost can run from $675 - $800 per month, per child.
Pros: The great thing about a nanny is the "in-home" care they provide. Most parents like the idea their child is at home and they don't have to drive to daycare twice a day. In addition, with a nanny at home, if the child is sick, no problem!
Parents also enjoy the flexibility a nanny brings to their family - not only will a nanny care for your child, they can cook, clean and do the child's laundry! A real bonus for busy parents! Nannies tend to be older, more mature and have more experience caring for children compared to many daycare workers and au pairs.
Cons: Unless you hire an nanny through a reputable agency, their experience can vary greatly - and they may not be licensed as a "professional" nanny. Today, in our hard economic times, parents are more willing to hire anyone with some experience who call themselves "nannies." If you do hire through an accredited and licensed daycare center, you will pay top dollar! Nannies also charge per child. The high cost of nannies continue to be prohibitive to most working families.
Many nannies today do not live-in. If you nanny does not live in, you also lose the flexibility of coverage at the end of the work day and on weekends. In addition, most nannies will charge you more if they work "overtime." In addition, most nannies will not work more than 9 hours a day.
Costs for a Nanny: Average costs can range between $300 - $700 a week or $1200 - $2800 a month.
Au pairs provide up to 45 hours of childcare a week, and up to 10 hours a day. Having a live-in caregiver, who provides individualized care for their children, is a great feature for working parents! Au pairs are available nights, weekends and
are energetic and loving caregivers who get to know your children and you entire family while providing a cultural experience for all to enjoy.
In addition, you pay the same amount no matter how many children you have! Your children have the advantage of experiencing another culture and possibly learning another language. Many upscale American parents hire Chinese au pairs in order to introduce Mandarin to their young children. USA Today's statistics show more than 23,000 American children are learning Chinese (2010).
Au pairs are young, eager and are willing to do things with your child that an older nanny might frown upon and daycare cannot provide: day trips to museums and library events, zoos, hiking, parks and daily walks in the neighborhood.
Cons: Looking for the right agency can be confusing - all their websites and literature pretty much say the same thing. Only recently can parents read reviews and ratings of the 12 legal agencies that operate in this country. Parents also need to make sure they understand the cultural exchange program and the needs of the au pair. She wants to attend college and make friends and do some traveling in her year abroad. She is often young and inexperienced - you as the parent are ultimately responsible for assessing her driving abilities, language skills and childcare experience!
Are you ready for a young person to join your home as an "equal" or as an family member? Are you ready to supervise an 18, 19 or 20 year-old? There are hard questions you must ask yourself before you hire an au pair.
Costs for an Au Pair: Au pair agencies charge program fees, in addition to the yearly stipend you pay the au pair (total: $10, 179.00). Agency fees start at $5,600 and cap at $9000. You have to do your homework online to compare the best prices.
On average, an au pair will cost between $300 - $370 a week. An au pair starts at $300 per week, and that is based on one family, not per child.
Do Your Homework Before You Choose Childcare
What ever kind of childcare you choose, you are ultimately responsible for checking references, childcare experience and interviewing each daycare center, au pair or nanny before you sign on the dotted line. Doing your homework, gathering as much information as you can on each option is easier than ever today with the Internet.
What can be difficult is parents have too many choices! So many daycare centers, nannies and au pair agencies! It is easy to become overwhelmed with so many choices - take the time to do your research and then imagine each option. What feels right? What makes the most sense, financially for your family? What best fits your schedule?
If you do choose to join the cultural exchange program and welcome an au pair into your home, make sure you carefully compare and examine each of the 12 au pair agencies and their different fees; unique features and specialized programs! No two au pair agencies are alike!
Would you like to know which agency is rated the BEST by host parents?
Which agencies have been sued for child abuse?
Do you want to know what unique programs each agency offers?
Looking for a great driver?
Do you need an au pair that speaks good English?
If you have an infant, make sure you choose the best infant program available today.
If you answered yes to any of these questions, read this important host family tip before you host an au pair!