Au Pairs in America - What You Need to Know about Au Pairs!
If you are reading this, you may be thinking about hosting an au pair to care for your children. Many parents are not really sure what an au pair is. Most think an au pair is a young nanny - not so!
Let's explain what an au pair is (and what she is not): Au Pair is a French phrase that translates, loosely, "as an equal" or "on par." She is not considered a nanny, she is not even considered an "employee" - an au pair is a young foreign woman, who desires to come abroad for a year, live with an American family, experience a new culture, travel and make American friends.
Note: young foreign men are also au pairs, but to facilitate ease of writing and reading, when we refer to "she" we mean both sexes. Male au pairs are usually referred to as "Mannies."
In "exchange" for living with an American family, au pairs understand that they are required to give you up to 45 hours of childcare a week, but no more than 10 hours a day. You will "host" the au pair by providing a room, food, a car, cell phone and a weekly stipend of approximately $190 a week.
This arrangement is referred to as the Cultural Exchange Program that began in 1986 and is under the supervision and guidance of the United States Department of State. The U.S. government makes clear that au pairs are not employees:
When you sign a contract with an agency, you are not "hiring" an au pair, you are "hosting" her for 12 months.
You are not required to pay childcare taxes; her stipend is not "pay" and she is therefore not required to pay taxes.
Your au pair's J1Visa will expire in a year. You will have to start your search again for another au pair for the new year.
The Cultural Exchange Program started with 300 au pairs, most of them coming from 2 or 3 countries (England and Ireland were the two most popular countries in the 80's).
Since the 1990's, 30,000 au pairs in any single year. In addition, au pairs are now recruited from over 60 countries! The majority of au pairs no longer come from England and Ireland - most are arriving from Western Europe, parts of Asia and Eastern Europe.
The Cultural Exchange Program is a highly innovative and very cost-effective way for busy parents to provide safe and reliable childcare for their young families. There are 15 U.S.A. au pair agencies operating in America at this time.
The 15 Agencies are also referred to as the "legal" au pair programs because they operate within the government regulations of the Dept. of State and they must adhere to their rules and requirements.
In exchange for joining the Dept. of State list, the au pair agencies agree to provide au pairs with medical insurance; basic training; legal services (if required); local support during the year; crisis intervention and mediation and air fare.
Au pair agencies also agree to provide host parents with well-screened au pairs (including criminal background checks, psychometric testing, medical clearance and references); assistance with finding and matching with an appropriate au pair; local support during the year; crisis intervention and mediation and 24 hour emergency 800 number.
There are other ways to hire an au pair, and in order to avoid paying "program fees" parents can search online and find an au pair through non-government regulated programs. If you choose this route, you are basically on your own for the flight, care and management of the au pair.
If something goes wrong with the au pair, or the relationship between you and the au pair turns sour, you are now the responsible party and you must solve the problem(s) than can and do arise when you have a young, often inexperienced, childcare giver living in your home. When using these kinds of companies, do beware of Internet au pair scams.
Not all au pair agencies are the same!
AuPairClearinghouse is the first and only National Consumer Website for Parents that offers practical and much-needed information on all legal agencies - parents need to know which agencies are program leaders; which agencies offers new and innovative programs with the best matching services; find out which agency recruits the best drivers; and what agency websites have all the technology "bells & whistles!"
AuPairClearinghouse reviews and rates all U.S.A au pair agencies and lets parents choose which agency best fits their childcare needs. Until now, no parent had access to this kind of program comparison and ratings!
Need to know which au pair agency receives high ratings for overall customer service? Or best quality au pairs? Best drivers, au pairs that speak good, clear English? We give you that information by collecting host parents' reviews and ratings on our yearly Host Family Au Pair Agency Satisfaction Survey!
AuPairClearinghouse compare costs and post daily discounts, alerts you to hikes in program fees; prints all au pair news stories and agency press releases and offers an interactive blog and Family Forum where host parents share their advice, complaints, testimonials and au pair expertise!
Our Mission is to provide the best professional tips and advice on how to navigate the Cultural Exchange Program so you can make the best au pair choice for your children.
We have more ratings and reviews on all au pair agencies than any other website available today.
We are growing to serve you better with a wealth of information on hosting au pairs!
Our information pages below provide agency information; au pair resources and cultural information on the most popular countries au pairs are recruited from.
An Educated Parent Makes the Best Childcare Consumer!
Read More About Au Pairs:
Let's Talk Au Pairs - All the Au Pair Articles!
Hosting An Au Pair - How to Get Started!
Do's & Don'ts When Considering Au Pairs
Au Pairs And Not Nannies
Most Popular Childcare Options